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Financial Literacy

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Dear readers.  Regardless of age, it’s hard not to think about money with our current economy.

I do not write about managing finances.  That’s best left to the financial experts.  What I can share with you are some trends and information relevant to financial literacy – “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage one’s financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial security,” a definition use by the President’s Financial Literacy Council.

In January 2001, the Employee Benefits Research Institute conducted their annual Retirement Confidence Survey.  The report had the following headline:  “Confidence Drops to Record Lows, Reflecting the ‘New Normal.’”

Confidence. The Institute found that over one in four (27 percent) workers is not at all confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement.  That’s an increase from 22 percent in 2010.  Rather than making basic adjustments to spending and savings, workers are changing their expectations about living a “new normal” in retirement. Read more »

Losing Weight

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question:  My mother is 86 years old and healthy.  I recently noticed that she is looking a lot thinner, particularly her arms.  Her clothes are loose and her movements are more tentative.  The doctor says nothing is wrong.  Her friends and I keep telling her that she needs to eat more.  I don’t think she is getting enough calories, although what she eats is healthy.  Any suggestions what I can do?   S.R.

Dear S.R.:

The most important step is to be certain that your mother does not have an underlying medical condition causing the weight loss.

Barring a medical problem, your mother might be dealing with a double whammy:  Losing muscle because of normal aging and loosing muscle because she is not consuming enough calories.    Both may cause her to lose weight. Read more »

Best Employers for Workers 50+

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question. I’ve been looking for a fulltime job for the past year and a half.  A few small contracts have kept me busy, but don’t pay enough to cover my living expenses.  Sad to say, my plan is to return to Canada since I just can’t make it here. I wonder, are U.S. employers really hiring workers older than 55?   D.L.

Dear D.L.: Your problem is a complex one.

In today’s economy, it is possible to do everything right yet still not find a fulltime position with adequate pay.  There are at least three obstacles to employment for older adults:  fewer fulltime available jobs, subtle forms of age discrimination in hiring and extended time out of work which lessens the chance of landing a job. Read more »

Internet Dating

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question:  I am in my late-sixties and have been a widow for three years.  My children urge me to date and go online.  I am somewhat reluctant.  I’ve never chased men; they were always after me.  How does one even begin this process?  I have a sense that this online dating is really for the younger folks.  Is that true?  And how do you get over the apprehension?  N.S.

Dear N.S.: It’s difficult getting back into the game after so many years.  Today, the first move is made by both men and women, regardless of age.

Let’s talk about who is engaged in Internet dating.  According to the New York Times’ article, “Second Love at First Click” by Stephanie Rosenbloom (October 6, 2011), people age 55 and older are visiting American dating sites more than any other age group.  Compared to three years ago, there has been a 39 per cent increase.  The number two group is singles 45 to 54.
Read more »

Completing Ten Years

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Dear readers:

It’s hard to believe that I am completing 10 years of writing the Successful Aging column. That means it’s time to ask the question, “What have I learned?

Older adults are fit. In a column about 90- year olds, I referenced a study about nonagenarians conducted at UC Irvine.  A woman from Florida wrote that she was a study participant and just had a visit from two of the researchers.  This active 90-year old described one of her activities.  She wrote a book about socialable bridge (rather than serious bridge) and has a website to promote it at   Age and technology do go together.

Yet not always.  A 90-something woman with no computer called to tell me how much she enjoyed the column.  She was in the middle of scrubbing the floor since her cleaning lady cancelled.
Read more »


Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question.  I am a 75-year old man and until recently have been successful as a serial entrepreneur.  Fast cars (Ferraris) have been my passion as well as expensive watches, fine food and wine.  All have been affordable, but now so much has changed.  My wife who was the love of my life died; I have since remarried. Recently I was diagnosed with asthma; my children do not stay in touch and my latest business is not doing well. I never saved for retirement because I didn’t think I would live this long. To economize I’ve sold the Ferrari, a few of my watches and now am looking for a house that will cost less than the $3,000 a month we currently are paying.  Is this what old age is about?  Many thanks.  A.S.

Dear A.S.

It’s hard to write the script for later life.

What you have identified are painful losses – of financial security, a loved one, health, children and a life style that is down a few notches – not to mention your Ferrari.
Read more »

AARP Annual Expo

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

#485 AARP:  Stakeholders in Aging

Dear Readers:

This week I attended AARP’s annual expo Life@50+ held in Los Angeles.  The event drew about 20,000 people attending 70 different events in a venue encompassing the Convention Center, Nokia Theatre and the Staples Center.  Although the cast of speakers was terrific, what interested me most was the Exhibit Hall.

About 350 exhibitors showed their products and services to crowds milling around from booth to booth.  These exhibitors are the stakeholders in aging. And the 50+ is their target, a $2 to $3 billion market. We know that older adults have more discretionary income than their children and are willing spend it for the right items and services.

Here are a few exhibits that struck me as reflecting new aspects of the aging marketplace.
Read more »

Adopt Rituals to Prevent an Energy Crisis

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question: I am almost 80 and angry – angry at my body because it can’t do what it used to do.  At one time, I was able to climb up on the kitchen counter to reach a high shelf.  I don’t do that anymore.  And, I am tired — too tired to exercise.  By the end of the day, the last thing I feel like doing is going to a gym or even walking.  Is this just fate and something I have to get used to?

Answer: You are not alone.  Fortunately, there is hope. Read more »

We All Can Learn From Active Nonagenarians

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Today, there are almost 2 million nonagenarians in the U.S. That number is expected to reach 2.6 million in 2020 and could reach 12 million in a couple of decades.

We don’t know much about this age group.  In fact, we know more about frail older adults living in nursing homes than we do about active 90-year olds. Read more »

‘Elderhood” Can Be A Meaningful Stage Of Life

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question: I am feeling guilty for not being productive in retirement.  Is this just part of the retirement process?

Answer: Your question leads to a larger one.  And that is, what exactly are the expectations from someone in retirement, particularly if that someone is older?  Is this a new life stage? Read more »