Living 50 Plus - June 2020



JUNE 2020



Practical Tips for Caregivers Facing a Pandemic

resources, a waiting room can be filled with germs that may cause illness. Try to arrange for telephone or video-based appointments when possible and cancel any appointments that aren’t urgently necessary. Keep germs away. Thorough handwash- ing with soap and water is critical. In ad- dition to washing hands after eating and using the restroom, anyone entering and leaving the house should wash his or her hands. Also wipe down high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, remotes and phone key- pads.

These additional tips can help caregivers reduce the pandemic’s impact:

Combat boredom. Despite the good in- tentions of staying away, social isolation can be a real concern for seniors. Prac- ticing social distancing is important for their health, but you can help keep them engaged by increasing phone, video and online interaction, and encourag- ing family and friends to do the same. If your loved one doesn’t already have a cell phone, contract-free plans are available with free activation and special rates for senior users. Many long-term care facilities also offer social distancing activities for residents.

Make backup plans. Most caregiv- ers have plans in place for temporary assistance when things go awry, but COVID-19 is putting many of those short-term solutions to the test. It’s a good time to pull in additional resourc- es so you have extra help waiting if someone you’re counting on falls ill or can’t fill in as planned. A meal delivery service may be a good option if grocery shopping and meal preparation contin- ue to be affected. Reduce exposure.Those who take care of loved ones in their homes or are regular care providers to family members and friends have concerns about exposing this vulnerable group to the virus. Many long-term care facilities have changed their visitation policies. You might be able to visit a loved one through a win- dow, via a balcony or through video chat. It’s also important to minimize time spent out in the community where you could unknowingly contract the vi- rus and pass it to a vulnerable loved one. Shop smart. Because supermarkets and stores with goods identified as “essen- tial” are still bustling with people, it’s important to minimize extra trips and wear a mask when in public. If possible, drop groceries and essentials at the door or arrange for delivery. In addition, some major pharmacies, where AARP members get special benefits on health, wellness and beauty purchases, have in- troduced special shopping hours for se- niors and drive-thru shopping options to minimize person-to-person contact.

(Family Features) Whether your role as a caregiver has you looking out for an el- derly relative, children or both, chances are good that you’ve worried about how the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to affect your ability to provide neces- sary care. Following the most up to date guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first step for care- givers who are looking after loved ones. As caregivers continue to adjust during the pandemic, keep these considerations in mind: • Contact health care providers to ob- tain extra necessary medications and stock up on over-the-counter drugs. • Monitor needed medical supplies re- lated to a loved one’s condition or treat- ments (oxygen, incontinence, dialysis, wound care, etc.) and common supplies such as tissues and cough syrup. • Those with a loved one in a long-term care facility should inquire about any positive COVID-19 cases in the facility, testing procedures for the residents and staff members and be aware of the facil- ity’s protocol if there is an outbreak or positive tests among residents and staff.

Find more resources for caregivers at

Reschedule wellness appointments. Not only are doctor’s offices short on


JUNE 2020 C3



5 Tips on How to Combat Loneliness During Social Distancing

(StatePoint) As a result of the coronavi- rus pandemic, many people are staying in their homes to help prevent the spread of the disease. Feeling lonely from time to time is natural, but this unprecedent- ed time of social distancing could lead to increased loneliness. There are some easy ways to feel con- nected to others, even when you aren’t seeing them in person. Consider these tips from Dr. Doug Nemecek, Cig- na chief medical officer for behavioral health. • Use technology… but not too much. Social media is a favorite and easy way to stay connected to family and friends, but too much use can leave you feeling lonely. Cigna’s 2020 U.S. Loneliness In- dex found that 72 percent of very heavy social media users identify themselves as lonely. Balance technology use with disconnecting and taking time for your- self. Use real-time interactions with others, like video chats, to build mean- ingful connections and limit time spent passively scrolling social media. Read a book, take a walk or do a puzzle after screen time. It may help you feel more connected when you spend time online. • Join a virtual club or group. There are plenty of resources available to find vir- tual book clubs, craft communities or even fitness challenges. You can start a new hobby, learn a skill or find others who are interested in the same things as you, remotely. Once the guidelines for social distancing are lifted, you’ll have new friends you can meet in person.

your house to take a jog around your neighborhood or to walk your dog a few blocks could improve your spirits, refreshing you for the next time you vir- tually connect with others. • Ask those you reach out to how they’re really doing. How you connect with those in your network makes a signif- icant difference in how lonely you feel. People tend to feel less lonely when con- necting on a deeper level. Cigna’s study found that those who do not feel they have close relationships that give them emotional security and well-being have an average loneliness score of nearly 15 points higher than those that do. When video chatting with friends, ask them for their most honest response when you ask how they’re doing. Everyone will likely feel better for it. • Rethink working hours. We spend ap- proximately 90,000 hours at work over our lifetime, so how we spend that time will play an important role in how we feel overall. Improving your work-life balance and connecting with colleagues can reduce loneliness. Your employer may also benefit from you feeling less lonely. Lonely employees are less pro- ductive, produce lower quality work and miss more days of work. So, talk to your boss about slight changes you can make to how you spend your working hours. This could help you feel less lonely and benefit your company. Being unable to spend time with others in-person will likely cause many of us to feel lonely, but there are ways to help lessen those feelings during this chal- lenging time.

• Spend time outdoors. Simply leaving


C4 JUNE 2020



Helping Veterans and Active Duty Military Cope With Social Isolation (StatePoint) As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of veterans and active duty military per- sonnel are on lockdown, many suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), post-traumatic free craft kits since the beginning of the pandem- ic and creating a newly designed kit to help veter- ans make the masks they need to stay healthy and safe. skills, cognitive function- ing, memory and dexter- ity, and can help allevi- ate feelings of anger and the severity of negative behaviors triggered by PTSD and TBIs. little contact from others, (no visitors, no family al- lowed, no volunteers and limited staff interaction), it is particularly import- ant to address suicide prevention, according to McClain. own life. We are hoping to raise awareness and im- prove access to craft ther- apy kits to help mitigate that risk.”

sis can be terrifying and deeply debilitating,” says Joe McClain, retired Navy captain and Help Heal Veterans CEO. “Our goal is to give our veterans what they need to heal during this time of en- forced isolation.” In a recent survey of vets, 94 percent of those polled who use Heal Vets craft kits said the kits helped them have a more posi- tive outlook on life, and 98 percent said the kits took their mind off prob- lems. With many of the nation’s veterans labeled high-risk now in lockdown with

To learn more about Heal Vets and the organiza- tion’s COVID-19 efforts, as well as find out how you can help, visit Heal- Anxiety, depression and other mental health chal- lenges can be exacerbated during this quarantine period. Luckily, there are tangible ways to support isolated and sick veterans in their most significant time of need.

stress disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse. With the additional challenge of social isolation, finding ways to combat depres- sion, anxiety and loneli- ness is critical. That is why Help Heal Veterans (Heal Vets), a nonprofit founded during the Vietnam War, has gone into overdrive, ship- ping more than 90,000

With demands flooding in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kits have been distributed to more than 90 Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers around the country and a large number of military bases, state veteran homes and other locations where the need is great. “The coronavirus is over- whelming, but being alone in a pandemic cri-

Operating on the prin- ciple that not all medi- cine comes in a bottle, Heal Vets distributes kits in craft categories like masks, leatherwork, models, woodwork, jew- elry, paint-by-numbers, needlecrafts, poster art, scrapbooks and more. Crafting can provide therapeutic and rehabili- tative benefits, including improving fine motor

“We’re working closely with the VA Suicide Pro- gram to start including VA-produced suicide pre- vention awareness and education material with our kits,” he says. “Our concern is that during this time of increased stress from isolation and financial uncertainty, some veterans may be at higher risk of taking their


JUNE 2020 C5



As You Age, Keep Nutrition Top of Mind

(StatePoint) Getting proper nutrition can be challenging for everyone, but especially as we age for a variety of rea- sons, including changing tastes, physical or dental conditions, and lack of access to healthy foods. “It’s critical that people of all ages get proper nutrition, but especially seniors, and particularly now with the spread of COVID-19 in the United States,” says Dr. Gina Conflitti, chief medical offi- cer with Cigna’s Medicare Advantage business, which offers Medicare plans in 18 states and the District of Colum- bia. “Good nutrition helps older adults stay active and vital, and can help them stave off or better manage chronic con- ditions.”

Cigna provides the following nutrition tips:

tify possible causes.

• Get help. Some older adults with lim- ited resources may qualify for assistance with food purchases through programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition As- sistance Program (SNAP). Many older adults qualify for this program and don’t know it. One way to verify eligibility is to visit and enter your information under the “Food & Nutrition” section. If you aren’t eligible for this type of as- sistance, you can still find ways to save on food bills, including asking for senior discounts, using coupons, having a store discount card and buying store brands. These are just a few resources. Every individual has unique needs. Cigna en- courages you to talk with your physician for additional information about your personal nutrition requirements. For videos about senior nutrition and some warning signs of malnutrition, visit Proper nutrition is essential to overall health. As you age, keep nutrition top of mind and explore new ways to eat well.

• Adapt to changing tastes. There are a number of ways to change your eating habits to improve your nutrition, from eating more frequent, smaller meals to trying new foods and cooking styles. For tips on preparing healthy meals, visit • See a dentist. A dentist may be able to address any dental problems impacting your ability to enjoy food. If you have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you may have access to dental benefits at no extra cost. Check your plan for details. • Explore options. If mobility is an is- sue, look for local organizations offering transportation or meal delivery to older adults. If you have an MA plan, you may have access to home-delivered meals following a hospitalization. One-third of hospital patients are malnourished at admission and poor nutrition increases their risk of having to return to the hos- pital after being released. Good nutri- tion helps patients regain their strength and energy faster for better recoveries. Check your plan for details.

• Make healthy choices. Add plenty of fruits and vegetables to your plate for colorful, nutrient-rich, fiber-filled meals. Add flavor with spices and herbs instead of salt. Stay hydrated with plenty of water. Even light exercise can stimu- late appetite and strengthen bones and muscles. • Consult your doctor. If your appetite is changing or you’re losing weight, talk to your primary care physician. There could be an underlying reason for these changes. For instance, your medication might be affecting your appetite. Or maybe you’re dealing with depression. Your doctor can work with you to iden-


C6 JUNE 2020



Do Your Part to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

(StatePoint) With many Americans asked to stay at home to help curb the impact of COVID-19, there’s a higher risk of potential prescription drug abuse or prescription drugs accidentally falling into the wrong hands, like those of chil- dren. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Abuse, more than 9.9 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. Additionally, more than 70 per- cent of individuals who illegally use pre- scription pain relievers obtained them through their friends or family, includ- ing through the home medicine cabinet. To help those at home prevent prescrip- tion drug abuse and dispose of unwanted medications in a safe, environmentally responsible way, Susan Peppers, Express Scripts vice president of pharmacy prac- tice, is sharing the following tips.

Medications should be stored in a locked area, out of children’s reach, with narcot- ics and other potentially addictive drugs stored in another secure location. If this isn’t an option, a lock should be added to the medicine cabinet and the key se- cured. • Track treatments. It’s recommended to maintain a master list of the medications stored at home, especially for individu- als with a potential for abuse. That list should include the medication name, the doctor’s name who prescribed it, the dosage and the medication’s poten- tial side effects. Periodically, caregivers should count the medications remaining in the container and make sure it’s the correct amount according to the pre- scribed dosage. Pill boxes with dividers for each day’s medicines are also a good way to track usage. • Don’t share medication. Medication prescribed to one individual isn’t for

anyone else, even if that person is show- ing similar symptoms. Not only is shar- ing medication with someone else ille- gal, but it could lead to dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects due to potential allergies and wrong dosag- es, among other reasons. If an individ- ual has taken medication that wasn’t prescribed to them, they should contact their doctor. • Dispose of unwanted drugs properly. Individuals should follow specific dis- posal instructions on the label, if provid- ed. Otherwise, they can check the Food and Drug Administration Flush List to see if they can flush the medicine down the toilet. If that isn’t an option, indi- viduals can mix the medication with an undesirable substance like used coffee

grounds, cat litter or sawdust, place the mixture in a sealable bag and dispose of it in the trash. Medication containers should be stripped of all personal infor- mation prior to placing them in the trash or recycling. Note that once guidelines are lifted for staying home, individuals can visit the Drug Enforcement Administration web- site to locate a collection site near them as another way to dispose of prescription medications safely. As everyone is spending more time at home, remembering these simple steps can go a long way to help individuals protect their family against prescription drug abuse.

• Keep drugs secure and out of reach.


JUNE 2020 C7




addition, annuities avoid the costs and delays of probate and will go directly to the beneficiaries designated by the client. A deferred annuity allows the earnings to grow tax-deferred which means that you don’t pay taxes on the money until you withdraw the funds. Once you start taking out the money, you’ll only pay taxes on the portion of the investment that is considered earnings. You’d be taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. There are several different types of annuities, some will provide an immediate income stream and others will offer unlimited long-term growth potential. A Single Premium Immediate Annuity allows you to invest a lump sum of money which can guarantee you immediate income that will last throughout your lifetime. Actuarial tables which are sophisticated methods to calculate life expectancy are used to determine the amount the insurance company will pay for either a specified time period known as “Period Certain” or one of several options based on who is to be covered such as you or both you and your spouse. For example, a 70 year old male puts in $100,000 for a 10 year period certain and life. The monthly income stream will continue for the next 10 years. If the client dies within those 10 years, his beneficiary will continue to receive the payments. If the client lives beyond the 10 years, payments will continue for the rest of his life. You can set this up to include your spouse too. As long as one of you lives, the payouts will continue.

conservative investor who wants to know exactly what the rate of return is for their investment. These are similar to a CD at the bank where the funds are locked in for a period of time that the client designates. But unlike CD’s, interest grows tax deferred. Rates are around 3% right now. Clients can withdraw up to 10% to 12% of the funds per year depending on the company with no penalty. Once withdrawals are made, earnings are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. Just as a CD has surrender charges if you take it out early, so does a fixed annuity. For those of you interested in keeping your tiptoes in the market yet want to protect your principle, a Fixed Indexed Annuity may be an opportunity for you. Your funds are not directly exposed to the risks of the market or individual stocks. Rather interest is credited to your account by tying your funds to an index such as the S&P 500, the Dow, 10-year Treasury Bonds, etc. The interest earned is credited on each contract anniversary date and are “locked in”. The interest earned cannot be lost due to market downturns so once interest is earned, it can never be taken away. If the index goes down at the end of the contract year, the interest will be 0%. For example, if your investment makes 8% in year 1 and 5% in year 2 with an upward trend in the index, then slides in year 3, you maintain the interest that you’ve already earned in the first 2 years; you just earn 0% interest in year 3. You’ll lose nothing based on a falling market as you’ll maintain 100% of your principle as well as all your interest already gained.

These generally will run for terms from 5 to 16 years. At the end of the term, you can decide if you want to roll it over and continue or want a monthly income stream. Again, these will allow up to 10% of the account to be withdrawn each year during the initial term and there are surrender charges if you need to withdraw more than that in a year. If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or enter a nursing home, the surrender charges are waived. For clients over age 70 ½ with IRA funds, the required minimum distribution is part of your free withdrawal for the year. Some fixed annuities and indexed annuities also offer guaranteed lifetime withdrawals of 8-10% for as long as a husband or wife may live. Some also contain beneficiary amounts at death. Some others combine annuities with a Long Term Care plan. You put the money in the account and it triples or quadruples if used for Long Term Care and goes to beneficiaries if never used. With any of these types of annuities, your principle is protected. If you are tossing and turning at night as the market rides a roller coaster, you might want to diversify your portfolio and seek some protection for your hard earned savings. There a lots of different options for annuities. Just talk to your friendly insurance agent or give Rebecca Nordquist with Phares Financial Services a call at 308-532-3180 or email at I’ll be happy to visit with you about your options.

By Rebecca Nordquist, RD, MHA, CLTC

Have you been watching the volatility of the stock market in the past few months? Is it making you nervous as you watch your life savings go through the meat grinder? Your goal was probably to accumulate enough wealth during your working career to allow you to enjoy the lifestyle you want in retirement. Once you have it saved, most people want to ensure that preserving their capital is a top priority. If paying attention to the financial markets is keeping you from sleeping at night, you may want to review your financial portfolio. Tucking a portion of your savings into annuities can be a safe haven from market volatility since it preserves your principle. An annuity is basically a contract sold by an insurance company that invests your premium for future growth. Once you’re ready to withdraw money-usually for retirement income-the insurance company will distribute regular payments that can last for a lifetime. In

A Fixed Annuity is designed for a



C8 JUNE 2020


Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8

Made with FlippingBook Publishing Software