Thursday, March 23, 2017

Profile of Older Americans 2016

The Administration on Aging has released the 2016 Profile of Older Americans.  Here are the highlights:

Highlights*

  • Over the past 10 years, the population 65 and over increased from 36.6 million in 2005 to 47.8 million in 2015 (a 30% increase) and is projected to more than double to 98 million in 2060.
  • Between 2005 and 2015 the population age 60 and over increased 34% from 49.8 million to 66.8 million.
  • The 85+ population is projected to triple from 6.3 million in 2015 to 14.6 million in 2040.
  • Racial and ethnic minority populations have increased from 6.7 million in 2005 (18% of the older adult population) to 10.6 million in 2015 (22% of older adults) and are projected to increase to 21.1 million in 2030 (28% of older adults).
  • The number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 14.9% between 2005 and 2015.
  • About one in every seven, or 14.9%, of the population is an older American.
  • Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.4 years (20.6 years for females and 18 years for males).
  • There were 76,974 persons aged 100 or more in 2015 (0.2% of the total 65+ population).
  • Older women outnumber older men at 26.7 million older women to 21.1 million older men.
  • In 2015, 22% of persons 65+ were members of racial or ethnic minority populations--9% were African-Americans (not Hispanic), 4% were Asian or Pacific Islander (not Hispanic), 0.5% were Native American (not Hispanic), 0.1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, (not Hispanic), and 0.7% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races. Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 8% of the older population.
  • Older men were much more likely to be married than older women---70% of men, 45% of women. In 2016, 34% older women were widows.
  • About 29% (13.6 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (9.3 million women, 4.3 million men).
  • Almost half of older women (46%) age 75+ live alone.
  • The median income of older persons in 2015 was $31,372 for males and $18,250 for females. Median money income (after adjusting for inflation) of all households headed by older people increased by 4.3% (which was statistically significant) between 2014 and 2015. Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2015 of $57,360.
  • The major sources of income as reported by older persons in 2014 were Social Security (reported by 84% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 62%), earnings (reported by 29%), private pensions (reported by 37%), and government employee pensions (reported by 16%).
  • Social Security constituted 90% or more of the income received by 33% of beneficiaries in 2014 (21% of married couples and 43% of non-married beneficiaries).
  • Over 4.2 million older adults (8.8%) were below the poverty level in 2015. This poverty rate is statistically different from the poverty rate in 2014 (10.0%). In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau also released a new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) which takes into account regional variations in living costs, non-cash benefits received, and non-discretionary expenditures but does not replace the official poverty measure.   In 2015, the SPM shows a poverty level for older persons of 13.7% (almost 5 percentage points higher than the official rate of 8.8%). This increase is mainly due to including medical out-of-pocket expenses in the poverty calculations. 

*Principal sources of data for the Profile are the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Profile incorporates the latest data available but not all items are updated on an annual basis.

The report is available as a word document or a spread sheet with tables.

March 23, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Retiring to Margaritaville?

Are you a Parrot Head? (If you don't know what I mean, the answer to the question  is no).  Whether you are a Parrot Head or not, wouldn't you love to retire to Margaritaville? Now you can! Jimmy Buffet is opening a chain of 55+ communities within the next year or so. Forbes ran a story last week with the exciting news!  Jimmy Buffett To Open String Of Margaritaville Retirement Homes By 2018 explains the plan:  "[t]he golden years are looking even brighter with news that Jimmy Buffett is planning to open a string of luxurious Margaritaville retirement home communities, the first in Daytona Beach, Florida. Retirees will be able to live in a paradise where the party never stops and 'growing older, but not up' is encouraged. The price tag will start in the low $200s and furnished models are scheduled to open in early 2018 for those '55 and better.'"

So what will we do if we live in Margaritaville?  According to the story "[t]his utopia promises retirees exciting recreation, fitness facilities, lap pools, spas, personal beachfront access, unmatched dining and an entertaining nightlife. Minto Communities has 60 years of experience developing award-winning, master-planned communities and building quality homes for over 80,000 families."

You can read more about this project here .

See you there!

PS-have the song stuck in your head yet?

 

March 22, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, Retirement | Permalink

Nursing Home Regs: Admission

Justice in Aging has released a new brief on the revised nursing home regulations this one focusing on admissions,  A Closer Look at the Revised Nursing Facility Regulations Admission. Here's the executive summary:

The revised regulations broadly prohibit facilities from using admission agreements or other documents that waive a resident’s rights. A resident cannot waive the protections of federal nursing facility law, or protections derived from any state or local nursing facility law. A resident also cannot waive his or her right to Medicare or Medicaid coverage, or any responsibility that the facility may have for the resident’s personal property. A facility cannot obligate a family member or friend to become liable for the nursing facility bill, although the facility can require the resident’s agent to agree to pay the resident’s money for the nursing facility expenses. The revised regulations prohibit pre-dispute arbitration agreements, but this consumer protection currently is blocked by a court order. Prior to admission, a facility must give notice of any special characteristics or service limitations.

The brief concludes with 4 suggestions for advocates and residents: careful review of the contract, sign the contract after residency in the SNF has begun, contest contract paragraphs that are improper and get a lawyer.

March 22, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Health Care Bill & Impact on Elders

It's not final, it's not been passed, and changes are likely, but the current health care bill, known as the American Health Care Act, has a significant impact on elders.  Last week's CBO report engendered a lot of discussion about the impact of this new health care proposal. The New York Times ran an article last week discussing it, No Magic in How G.O.P. Plan Lowers Premiums: It Pushes Out Older People.  The article explains that lower premiums are on the way for some under this proposal. But, the way the lower premiums are achieved? "[T]he way the bill achieves those lower average premiums has little to do with increased choice and competition. It depends, rather, on penalizing older patients and rewarding younger ones. According to the C.B.O. report, the bill would make health insurance so unaffordable for many older Americans that they would simply leave the market and join the ranks of the uninsured."

We know that insurers want to have a broad pool to spread the risk. Typically, "older customers cost substantially more to cover than younger ones because they have more health needs and use their insurance more. By discouraging older people from buying insurance, the plan will lower the average sticker price of care."  Ready for some sticker shock?  Under the proposal, according to the story, the plan "increases the amount that insurers can charge older customers, and it awards flat subsidies by age, up to an income of $75,000. ... On premiums alone, prices would rise by more than 20 percent for the oldest group of customers. By 2026, the budget office projected, 'premiums in the nongroup market would be 20 percent to 25 percent lower for a 21-year-old and 8 percent to 10 percent lower for a 40-year-old — but 20 percent to 25 percent higher for a 64-year-old.'"

The story explains that it's not just the premiums that give the whole picture. Tax credits factor into this as well.  Here is where the real sticker shock comes in. "[T]he change in tax credits matters more. The combined difference in how much extra the older customer would have to pay for health insurance is enormous. The C.B.O. estimates that the price an average 64-year-old earning $26,500 would need to pay after using a subsidy would increase from $1,700 under Obamacare to $14,600 under the Republican plan."  Did you see that-an increase from $1,700 to $14,600...

The article also discusses out of pocket costs and more.  The CBO report in pdf is available here.

The semester is quickly drawing to a close, but the bill could be a basis for an interesting class discussion on social policy, if you have time.

 

March 21, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink

Monday, March 20, 2017

The New Health Care Bill

Wonder what is in the new health care bill?  New Health Plan Broken Down appears in the Centre Daily Times on March 12, 2017. The article is written by Amos Goodall, a prominent elder law attorney (and graduate of Stetson's LL.M. in Elder Law). The article explains changes to the individual mandate (penalty repealed and replaced), preexisting conditions protection (none), age-based premiums (5:1 ratio & will be up to states which ration), cost-sharing subsidies (will be eliminated), over the counter drugs (adding reimbursement from HSA, FSA or Archer MSA), Medicaid expansion (changes financing) and per capita caps.

To read more about these and other proposed changes, click here.

Thanks to Amos for sending me the link to the story.

March 20, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Alzheimer's and Marijuana-The Federal Block

I've blogged a couple of times recently about the fight against Alzheimer's disease.  Here's a recent story about research efforts stymied by federal law.  Big Alzheimer's research roadblock: Federal government was published by CNBC on March 9, 2017.   "Promising new research conducted last year at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown that marijuana extracts may hold a key to treating Alzheimer's disease. The next step: To conduct tests on mice and, if the results are promising, move on to human trials. But Salk Institute researchers have run into a major hurdle, and not a scientific one: the federal government. The Salk Institute is based in La Jolla, California — a state that legalized marijuana last November — but it is a federally funded research institute."

The story reminds us that although marijuana use may be legal in several states, it's still not ok at the federal level-it's still a controlled substance. And when a research institute like Salk gets federal dollars for research, there's a problem.

So does this mean a dead end for marijuana/Alzheimer's research? Not necessarily. There is a path, but it won't be a quick or guaranteed one. "In order to acquire marijuana for further studies, the lab must first apply to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which carries out the application process jointly with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Salk researchers sent in their application in December...."  It takes several months for such a request to be approved.  The article discusses the costs of Alzheimer's disease  (which we have written about in prior posts)

The cost to the economy of caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients was estimated to be about $236 billion in 2016. In 2015 a study funded by the National Institutes of Health estimated that the costs associated with late-stage dementia are greater than for any other disease.

During the last five years of a person with dementia's life, total health-care spending was more than a quarter of a million dollars per person ($287,038), about 57 percent greater than costs associated with death from other diseases, including cancer ($173,383) and heart disease ($175,136).

We all know how important it is to find an effective treatment (or even cure?) for Alzheimer's.  For now, the folks at Salk have to wait to hear if they can move forward.

BTW, those astute readers will notice the url for the story includes the phrase "major buzz kill." To  follow up, I'll close now with some my own pithy phrase,  "dude, serious bummer".  You insert your own pithy phrase here.....

March 17, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Call Congress Today on Medicaid and Medicare

Today is Call Congress About Medicaid day. Here is the information from the Medicare Rights Center:

Tell Congress to protect our care by joining today’s national call-in day. Urge your representative to vote “no” on the American Health Care Act... Call 866-426-2631 to contact your member of Congress.

The message is to vote no for changes to Medicaid and Medicare. The Medicare Rights Center also offers a one page issue brief on the proposed changes to Medicare, available here.

Regardless of your views, it is always important to make  your voice heard.

Thanks to Kim Dayton, the elderlawprof blog founder, for sending me a note on this.

 

March 16, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink

IBM Tech to Track Mom to Help Her Stay At Home

Last week Business Insider ran a story on IBM's plan to track elders. IBM wants to protect senior citizens by tracking nearly their every move explains that IBM has been spending a lot of time on a project to discover how to help boomers continue to be healthy and happy. "That research has zeroed in on outfitting boomers' living spaces with artificially-intelligent sensors that can measure things like air quality, sleep quality, movement patterns, falls, and changes in scent and sound."  The data derived, according to the article, can help the kids and doctors "provide people with better care when needed. Critically, the sensors could detect when people deviate from a baseline to offer person-specific alerts." 

IBM is ready for beta testing their projects and in fact, the article explains " IBM announced its partnership with Avamere, a senior health care services company. Over the next six months, IBM will use Avamere's assisted living facilities to perform research on prototype sensors... Across three different locations — nursing facilities, assisted living, and independent homes — the sensors will collect data on people's environment and behavior."  This is not all that IBM is developing. IBM is also working with Rice University on a robot, known as MERA (or "the IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (MERA), which the company has been testing at its "Aging in Place" lab in Austin, Texas....Sensors can detect when the stove's burners are on, or when a person has fallen down. Even in its prototype stage, MERA is equipped with cameras to read facial expressions, sensors to capture vital signs, and Watson-powered speech recognition to know when to call for help."

But what if mom doesn't want all this monitoring (is anyone besides me thinking about mom's privacy?)? IBM's response-the design will not be obvious and will be a gradual and "[I]f IBM's vision becomes reality, by the mid-21st century, millennials won't be guessing how their parents are faring. They'll have all the data they need, and seniors won't feel as if they're under anyone's care — even if the safety net is sitting right beneath them."

Hal, big brother really is watching!

Thanks to Tom Moran for sending me this article.

March 16, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Alzheimer's Disease and Medicare

Yesterday I blogged about the 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures. An article in Huffington Post focused on the impact on Medicare as the Boomers move into that age group where Alzheimer's risk increases. Rising Numbers Of Alzheimer’s Patients Could Bankrupt Medicare offers that

This year, for the first time, total costs related to caring for patients with Alzheimer’s will surpass a quarter of a trillion dollars, according to the Alzheimer’s Association annual report, released Wednesday. 

With roughly 75 million boomers only beginning to reach the age of greatest risk for the disease, the U.S. may be disturbingly close to the tipping point for runaway Alzheimer’s-related health care costs. The 88-page report lays out some sobering statistics, including the possible bankruptcy of Medicare.

The article covers dual eligible, the need for funding and research, and some of the proposals from Congress. "Simply put, Alzheimer’s is a public health crisis. Yet due to the social stigma surrounding dementia, its full dimensions are still cloaked in shadow. Combating the disease is going to require that politicians and members of the public speak out and demand real solutions."

 

March 15, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2017 Facts & Figures from the Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association has released the 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts & Figures report. The report offers an updated terminology

That is, the term “Alzheimer’s disease” is now used only in those instances that refer to the underlying disease and/or the entire continuum of the disease. The term “Alzheimer’s dementia” is used to describe those in the dementia stage of the continuum. Thus, in most instances where past editions of the report used “Alzheimer’s disease,” the current edition now  uses “Alzheimer’s dementia.” The data examined are the same and are comparable across years — only the way of describing the affected population has changed. For example, 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures reported that 5.4 million individuals in the United States had “Alzheimer’s disease.” The 2017 edition reports that 5.5 million individuals have “Alzheimer’s dementia.” These prevalence estimates are comparable: they both identify the number of individuals who are in the dementia stage of Alzheimer’s disease. The only thing that has changed is the term used to describe their condition.

The report contains a lot of good information that would help our students understand dementia and Alzheimer's.  The section on prevalence is sobering. For example, "[a]n estimated 5.5 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017. This number includes an estimated 5.3 million people age 65 and older, and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s, though there is greater uncertainty about the younger-onset estimate." (citations omitted). The report also explores the gender, ethnic and racial factors regarding prevalence of Alzheimer's.  The report gives a breakdown by state. There is an amazing amount of critical information in this report.  The report also includes a special report, Alzheimer's Disease: The Next Frontier.

I'm going to make it assigned reading to my students. Be sure to read this. It's important.

March 14, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Planning Ahead for the What-Ifs In Your Last Years of LIfe

We don't know what the future holds for us, especially in our final years, but we can bet that we may be faced with some health care issues. Wouldn't it be great to have a guidebook for the final years? Well now you can.  According to an article in Kaiser Health News, A Playbook For Managing Problems In The Last Chapter Of Your Life, there is "a unique website, www.planyourlifespan.org, which helps older adults plan for predictable problems during what Lindquist calls the “last quarter of life” — roughly, from age 75 on...“Many people plan for retirement,” the energetic physician explained in her office close to Lake Michigan. “They complete a will, assign powers of attorney, pick out a funeral home, and they think they’re done.”...What doesn’t get addressed is how older adults will continue living at home if health-related concerns compromise their independence." The focus isn't on end of life planning, according to the article, it's the time before. "Investigators wanted to know which events might make it difficult for people to remain at home. Seniors named five: being hospitalized, falling, developing dementia, having a spouse fall ill or die, and not being able to keep up their homes."

The result of the work is an interactive website that deals with issues such as falls, hospitalization, dementia, finances and conversations. The website offers that "Plan Your Lifespan will help you learn valuable information and provide you with an easy-to-use tool that you can fill in with your plans, make updates as needed, and easily share it with family and friends."  Try it!

March 13, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Preventing Alzheimer's?

We all want a cure for Alzheimer's no question.  If not a cure, then a way to prevent it. I blogged twice this week about Alzheimer's so I wanted to add one more story. Newsweek 's cover story for February 24, 2017 focused on prevention of Alzheimer's: The New Offensive on Alzheimer’s Disease: Stop it Before it Starts. The story opens with the news last year that an experimental drug failed to make much of an impact on those in the early stages of the disease. The story focuses on prevention:

This aggressive attempt to prevent Alzheimer’s rather than treating it is the most exciting new development in decades, as well as a radical departure for researchers and the pharmaceutical industry. Traditionally, drug companies have tested their therapies on patients who already have memory loss, trouble thinking and other signs of dementia. It’s been a losing tactic: More than 99 percent of all Alzheimer’s drugs have failed tests in the clinic, and the few that have made it to the market only ameliorate some symptoms. Not a single medicine has been shown to slow the relentless progression of the disease.

But with this new approach, even partial success—an appreciable slowing of brain degeneration—could have a big impact, says Dr. Reisa Sperling, a neurologist who directs the Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. If a drug therapy can push back the onslaught of dementia by five or 10 years, she says, “many more people would die of ballroom dancing instead of in nursing homes.”

There are several ongoing clinical trials focusing on prevention, according to the article. There are also new tools to diagnosis Alzheimer's (where in the past, a brain autopsy was needed),   We need to hope for a success, because otherwise, as the article points out, the numbers are very very bad:

The consequences of failure could be dire. Approximately 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and if no disease-delaying therapies are found soon, that number is expected to nearly triple by 2050, at which point the cost of treating and caring for all those people could top $2 trillion per year, after adjusting for inflation. That’s up from $236 billion today. O ne in every five Medicare dollars is now spent on people with Alzheimer's and other dementias. In 2050, it will be one in every three dollars. And those figures don’t even include the hundreds of billions more in lost wages for family members who take time away from their jobs to care for loved ones. It’s not a question of a day off now and again. People with Alzheimer’s require around-the-clock care—and more than one-third of all dementia caregivers develop clinical depression.

The article also discusses the costs and coverage of any medication that proves successful in preventing Alzheimer's. Stay tuned.

March 10, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Medicare Observation Status-NBC News Story

NBC Nightly News ran a story on March 8 about Medicare Observation Status and the Notice Act. Law Aims to Protect Medicare Patients from Surprise Hospital Bill explains the hospital's disclosure requirement for patients and notes that a bill has been introduced to once and for all solve the problems caused when patients are on observation status. "A bill reintroduced Wednesday by Congressman Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut, would make days spent "under observation" count towards qualification for Medicare coverage."  The story featured comments from Judy Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy and former NAELA President (full disclosure, I serve of the Center's board).

March 10, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cross-Generational Advice: Listen to Your Elders!

You know experience is a good teacher.  So imagine getting advice about retirement from someone who is living it?  The New York Times ran a wonderful article, From the Elders to the Kids: What I Wish I’d Known.  The assignment for a group of "journalism students from five colleges and universities  [was] to talk with retirees, and find out what they wish they had known when they were the students’ age."   The conversations were recorded and can be viewed on the website.  One thing that struck me is that of those individuals featured in the print part of the project retired at a fairly "young" age, ranging between 51 and 67.

Questions included what did the elders wish they had known about retirement when they were the ages of the interviewers, what they wished they had done in preparing for retirement, living a healthy lifestyle, keep active, etc.  In one of my classes, I have students interview someone they know who they consider to be an elder. I'm going to include the "what should I know now about preparing for retirement" to the list of questions the students ask.  Anyone else assign any similar exercise to their students?

 

 

 

March 9, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Register Now-Webinar on Older Adults and Health Care Decision-Making in Clinical Setting

Justice in Aging has sent out a notice about an upcoming webinar at 1p.m. edt on March 22, 2017. Here is the information about the webinar:

When older adults lack the capacity to make important health care decisions for themselves and have nothing in writing naming a person to make decisions for them, how can the right health care decisions be made in clinical settings? Over the past 40 years, nearly every state has passed statutes on health care decision-making. The laws vary from state-to-state, from authorizing living wills or powers of attorney for health care to defining the conditions when withholding or withdrawing life sustaining care is permitted for patients who lack capacity. Despite years of legal guidance, questions remain regarding the statutory applicability in clinical practice. In 2016, the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging (ABA COLA) initiated a national survey to explore health care clinicians’ perspectives on questions regarding capacity and decision-making. Findings explore instances when the law and clinical practice clearly align, when there are consultation differences between lawyers and clinical providers, and outline the areas that still present the greatest challenges for health care decision making in clinical settings.  

In this webinar, David Godfrey, Senior Attorney to the ABA COLA, will detail the survey findings and implications for the health and aging network working with older adults with diminished capacity. The webinar will be accompanied by an Issue Brief that highlights the survey findings and provides recommendations for the field.

To register for this free webinar, click here.

March 8, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Are Inadequately Funded Retirement Plans the Latest Ponzi Scheme?

The teachers' pension fund in Puerto Rico is the latest example of an under-funded government-operated retirement plan. A unique complication of the Puerto Rico teachers' plan is the decision to opt out of Social Security as a separate form of retirement income.  In a recent New York Times article, the reporter makes the the analogy to a Ponzi scheme:

Puerto Rico, where the money to pay teachers’ pensions is expected to run out next year, has become a particularly extreme example of a problem facing states including Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania: As teachers’ pension costs keep rising, young teachers are being squeezed — sometimes hard. One study found that more than three-fourths of all American teachers hired at age 25 will end up paying more into pension plans than they ever get back.

 

“I think they’re really being taken advantage of,” said Richard W. Johnson of the Urban Institute, a co-author of the research. “What’s so tragic about this is, often the new hires aren’t aware that they’re getting such a bad deal.”

 

The problem is magnified by the fact that the Puerto Rico teachers union — like many teachers and police unions around the country — opted out of Social Security long ago, hoping it could save both workers and the government money by not paying Social Security taxes.

 

That decision was predicated on the assurance that the workers’ pensions would be well managed and adequately funded. But in Puerto Rico, as in some other places, that has not been true for decades.

For more, read In Puerto Rico, Teachers' Pension Fund Works Like a Ponzi Scheme.

 

March 8, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Women and Retirement

The glass ceiling has long term repercussions for women. Making less during their working lives may mean they have less for retirement. The New York Times ran an article recently, Money Worries for Retired Women.  Looking at a report, the article notes that

Across all age groups, women have considerably less income in retirement than men, according to a report from the National Institute on Retirement Security. For women age 65 and older, their income is typically 25 percent lower than that of men. As men and women age, the gap widens to 44 percent by age 80.

As a result, women were 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, while women age 75 to 79 were three times more likely to fall below the poverty level than men the same age.

It's not just earning less that contributes to the problem, according to the article. Taking time off to raise a family contributes to this matter. As well, consider if the woman is a caregiver for an elder and has to take a leave of absence.  (We've blogged several times about family caregivers and the impact it has on the caregiver).

Many women take time off to raise children or care for an aging relative, which gives them fewer years to contribute to a retirement plan. Moreover, because employers will often match — up to a set amount — the money an employee sets aside in a workplace retirement account, like a 401(k) or 403(b), those matching dollars are sacrificed.

“Financial problems in retirement and senior debt arise with insufficient income as a result of lower lifetime earnings and less in savings, costs of family caregiving and divorce...”

Don't forget to add increased longevity into the equation and possibility of running out of money in retirement is a real fear.  One piece of good news in the story is that women are working longer, which allows them to save more for their retirement.  "Working longer makes it possible to add to retirement accounts and to avoid tapping into them for living expenses. It also frequently comes with employer-based health insurance. It can also deliver a substantial financial benefit in Social Security... The extra years of earnings at these ages replace earlier years of low or zero earnings in the retirement benefit computation formula...."

March 7, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

In Case You Missed It: Sister Shares Moving Account of Early Onset Dementia

From the Washington Post, an especially moving account written by former White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri about her sister, who died at age 58 following some ten years with "early onset" Alzheimer's:

Every day, more Americans receive the devastating news that someone in their family has this affliction. For now, there is not a lot of hope for recovery. It can make you envious of cancer patients; their families get to have hope. Having come through this experience with my sister, I am afraid that I can’t offer these new Alzheimer’s families hope for a recovery. But I do hope that by relaying the story of my sister’s journey, I can offer them some peace.

 

My sister Dana was brilliant, beautiful, full of positive energy, a force of nature. She was not an easy person. She was driven and successful, and, as the disease progressed unbeknown to all of us, it became harder to connect with her. Ironically, that began to change once she got the diagnosis.

 

When she called each of us with the news, she already had it all figured out. We were all to understand that, really, she saw the diagnosis as a blessing. It was going to allow her to retire early. It would motivate our family to spend time together we would not have otherwise done. It would shorten her life, but she would make sure the days she had left were of the highest quality.

The thoughtful piece can help all of us as we and our family members tackle challenges.  For more, read The Blessings Inside my Sister's Alzheimer's Disease.

March 7, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Retirement, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Dorothy Rice Medicare Pioneer

The New York Times recently reported the death of Dorothy Rice whose work affected so many elder Americans.  Dorothy Rice, Pioneering Economist Who Made Case for Medicare, Dies at 94  explains "Mrs. Rice was an analyst at the Social Security Administration when its study on aging highlighted how about half the population 65 and over had no health insurance — and that those who needed it most were the least likely to be able to afford it."

She wrote a Social Security bulletin in 1964 that described the need for Medicare, how the number of older Americans who were not covered by health insurance  "'include disproportionate numbers of the very old — particularly women — those in poor health, and those no longer engaged in full-time employment.... The high cost of hospital and nursing home care, she added, 'presents special problems for the aged because of their large and often unexpected bills.'"

She was instrumental in estimating costs and learning about the requirements of elder Americans for health care..  Thank you Mrs. Rice.

March 6, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Old Dogs, New Homes!

So how about a post that is a feel good story? The Washington Post ran a story about an uptick in the adoption of older dogs.  Older pets are typically harder to place, so this is happy news. More people are adopting old dogs — really old dogs focuses on those adoption agencies that specialize on adoptions of older dogs, a "growing number of animal organizations focusing on adopting out older dogs, or “senior dogs” that are typically 7 years or older. Their age makes them some of the hardest-to-place animals in a society that still adores romping puppies, although that is changing as books on elderly dogs and social media campaigns convince pet-seekers that the mature pooches often come with benefits, such as being house-trained, more sedate and less demanding of people with busy lifestyles."

For those thinking about bringing a dog into the family, the article offers that this is a good way to get started with pet companionship. There are even hospice for dogs and adopting one in hospice, can make a major difference in the dogs final days.

The article highlights several of those lucky dogs and their lucky owners. We all know about the research regarding the benefit of pet ownership.  Not only are old dogs never too old to learn new tricks, they are also never to old to get new homes.

March 5, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)