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Any Baby Boomer who has spent time with a friend or loved one afflicted with the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease knows almost immediately what we are asking here: Would it be better to know that one is very likely to be affected by this horrible condition in the future, or is not knowing simply more desirable? Until recently, this has been more or less of an academic question, but a breakthrough by medical researchers at Georgetown University has brought the debate front and center.

It appears that in the not too distant future, doctors will be able to tell their patients whether or not they are at high risk for acquiring Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most feared brain disorders affecting older individuals. For Boomers and other senior citizens, this latest advance in the study of this disease may seem like a godsend, but doesn’t knowing also come with its own set of terrible, or at least, undesirable consequences? The jury is still out on that question, though many people certainly have personal opinions when it comes to knowing one’s potential fate.

According to news reports, a simple blood test may be all that is required in the future to tell whether or not a person has a predisposition for developing problems caused by Alzheimer’s, including mild dementia. Researchers at the Georgetown University School of Medicine have come up with a test that apparently can predict with 90-percent certainty whether an otherwise healthy individual will be afflicted by dementia (or mild cognitive impairment — MCI) and its life-threatening complications within three years’ time. Continue reading →

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Joker01Addiction, as many Baby Boomers and seasoned citizens have learned, comes in all shapes and sizes. While alcohol and drug dependencies are usually at the top of the list of debilitating and potentially life-threatening problems, other habits and obsessions can take their toll on the unsuspecting.

Fortunately, seniors and older Baby Boomers have generally beaten the odds and made it to their golden years with only a few bumps and bruises. But believing one can beat the odds may actually prove to be the downfall of some people as the years pile on.

What we’re talking about spells trouble… with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “G” and that stands for gambling. While we make light of this here, there is no humor in the way in which some aging Boomers and senior citizens can find themselves caught in the downward spiral of a serious gambling addiction. Perhaps you’ve seen the public service messages on TV promoting help for gamblers of all stripes, but it’s those individuals living on fixed incomes with little or no free cash available to feed a gambling addiction who can be truly hit the hardest. Continue reading →

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As many an old hippie might recall, the well-worn adage “Better living through chemistry” can have multiple meanings, especially in this age of miracle drugs and advanced medical cures. Whether one is a confirmed flower child from the 1960s or simply a senior citizen with a few chronic medical problems, it is important for Baby Boomers to understand that there is danger lurking for those who choose to ignore the pharmaceutical elephant in the room.

Popping pills isn't what it used to be in the '60s, though the potential dangers may be just as real.

Popping pills isn’t what it used to be back in the ’60s, though the potential dangers may be just as real.

And, no, we’re not talking about those drug-induced hallucinations “enjoyed” by many enlightened souls during the Age of Aquarius, but the real and actual threat of permanent injury or death that many older people may be facing on a daily basis without even knowing it; a serious danger presented by potentially deadly drug interactions.

According to news reports, the problem of “polypharmacy” (sometimes referred to as polymedicine) has been identified as a key factor in the deaths of more than 100,000 individuals each year; however, it should be noted that the negative effects of Polypharmacy on unwitting individuals should not be confused with the beneficial application of multiple drugs (more commonly known as “combination therapy”) to fight various cancers and other serious medical conditions.

Although the benefits of multiple-drug therapies include enhanced efficacy of treatment, as well as improved safety and tolerability of pharmacotherapy, it is the unexpected or unanticipated side effects from polypharmacy that pose the greatest danger to thousands of people every month in this country. Continue reading →

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Whether you’re a newly-minted senior or one of the many longstanding “seasoned citizens,” Baby Boomers and older folks alike certainly possess a wealth of choice and experience when it comes to treating their grandkids to a good time. As a late-stage Boomer, I can recall the days when I and my siblings were just kids in elementary school going about our tiny lives amid the hazy backdrop of the 1960s.

Remembering those carefree days, filled with walking to and from school, having kickball games at recess, taking in the smells of hot lunches in the cafeteria and the sounds of rustling lunch bags and clanking Daniel Boone, Lost in Space and Barbie-themed lunch boxes, we had few if any concerns in the world.

Now, time can be a rather abstract concept to a grade school kid, but by fourth grade the calendar was a concrete thing to me; a tangible representation of the future, which I and my sisters would use to plan and contemplate distant, yet important events.

Some of the more important mileposts during our “kid-year” were those precious visits from our grandparents. Inevitably, once an arrival date had been established, we would keep count of the days until Nan and Pop would come into town for one of those longed-awaited visits. Usually coinciding with birthdays, holidays and, of course, summer vacation; those were the times for which we truly lived. Continue reading →

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For many, the next bit of news should not come as any great revelation, especially when considering the financial and housing meltdown of recent memory. But here’s the shocking bottom-line assessment: Baby Boomers’ nest eggs are sorely lacking these days.

It’s safe to say that only a very few would have been completely blind-sided by this stunning discovery. And for those who may have passed out from the information, hopefully there are some smelling salts in your medicine chest….

So what of this latest development? Well, economists and other financial experts estimate that the average Boomer — that is, anyone born between 1946 and 1964 — is about $500K short on his or her retirement savings goal. In a nutshell, the outlook for many Baby Boomers and younger seniors seems quite dim when it comes to kicking back and enjoying their golden years. But perhaps you already knew that.

Many Would-be Retirees Now in Survival Mode

For a large number of people, staying in the workforce longer, but likely working just as hard as they did in their younger days, seems to be the standard course of action for those looking not only to shore up an ailing savings account, but also interested in plain old survival. But according to the experts, savings is not the only the issue; there’s debt out there, and apparently lots of it. Continue reading →

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As Baby Boomers, many of us are all too aware of the limitations that age and waning physical ability can present to those of advancing years. Being in our 50s and 60s, my wife and I have seen retired friends and older family members struggle with the realities of diminished motor skills and coordination, not to mention cognitive function. Those common skills once taken for granted in youth and middle age can slowly become degraded over time once we get up there in years. And as important as performing actual activities may be, the falling off of physical ability comes, many times, with a loss of independence and, sometimes, even a person’s feeling of self-worth.

For most Americans, both old and young, a great deal of value is placed on the freedom of movement provided by that indispensable and ever-present appliance: the automobile. Over the past century, personal transportation has become a ubiquitous part of our lives, yet we often forget how tenuous our use of these time-saving machines truly can be. Apart from those who live in metropolitan areas blessed with an extensive and well-maintained public transportation infrastructure, it’s a fair bet that a driver’s license and good working car are indispensable components of a free and unfettered lifestyle.

Driving oneself in old age has been an elusive luxury to many in past generations. This may change drastically for Boomers and future generations of senior citizens.

Driving oneself into old age has been an elusive luxury to many in past generations. This may change drastically for Boomers and future generations of senior citizens.

For those without the means to own, or the ability or training to drive a motor vehicle, getting from point A to Point B — or anywhere in between — can certainly be a major challenge; and while some elderly drivers can still be found on the road well into their 80s, many others can find themselves unable or legally prevented from operating their own automobile. In fact, many Baby Boomers may already have found that their own parents or other family members are no longer able to drive themselves. In such cases, except for those who can walk or ride public transportation, one of the only solutions is to hitch a ride with relatives or younger friends.

No doubt, seeing one’s parents being slowly nudged out of the driver’s seat has made many Boomers think about their own future from the standpoint of personal mobility. The idea of being forced into the role of passenger can make even the most independent senior citizen reconsider his or her ability to navigate life in the not-so-distant future. Forget, for a moment, about the actual imposition on the time and energy of others; but just knowing that one must rely on another’s help for visits to the doctor’s office, shopping trips and other necessary outings can weigh heavily on some people’s minds.

Continue reading →

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While many Baby Boomers are getting up there in years, a good number of us are still, fortunately, working. We say fortunately because the mere fact means that some folks, at least those who are active in the workforce, may still have the ability to generate a little additional income when necessary. While having to work in one’s golden years seems to be less of a blessing and more of a curse, the latest news about healthcare insurance premiums may prompt some seniors and younger Boomers to reconsider chucking their day job and maybe delay that long hoped-for segue into retirement.

What we’re getting at here is reflected in recent news articles that indicate many health insurance companies plan to raise customer premiums by a significant amount this year; significant as in upward of 20 percent or more in some cases. According to reports, the increases may be seen all across the United States as insurers seek to raise premium rates for many of their current policyholders. If the so-called fiscal cliff sent chills up the spines of most people, not to mention small business owners, these anticipated insurance hikes could be even worse.

Paying Bills001a

Rising health insurance premiums may cause seniors and Boomers alike to juggle their finances even more.

Of those who would be the most greatly affected by any rate increases, financial experts suggest that small business owners and those individuals who do not have an employer-provided insurance plan may be the most vulnerable. Considering that rate hike percentages in some areas of the country will be in the double-digits, this is nothing to sneeze at, especially if that sneeze leads to a doctor visit in the near future.

Examples of the coming onslaught of higher health insurance premiums include consumers in the state of California, namely those who are insured with Aetna, Blue Shield of California, or Anthem Blue Cross, the latter of which is seeking a whopping 26 percent rate hike for certain of its policyholders. For many people who pay for their own insurance the threatened increases could equate to several hundred dollars extra a month. Continue reading →

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In my earlier days as a “typical male,” although my wife might argue that I’m more atypical than most, I was not as health-conscious as I probably should have been. And, while I never took up smoking, didn’t drink alcohol, and spent my days working at relatively non-life-threatening desk jobs, I also didn’t spend much time at the doctor’s office. Now, at first blush, one might think, ‘Good for him, he was never seriously ill and didn’t injure himself sufficiently to require hospitalization.’ But that’s not the real point here.


The cold antiseptic doctor’s examination room; not always a comfortable venue. Perhaps better to imagine it as a (preventive) maintenance bay for humans.

Perhaps I should rephrase. Like many young men, I NEVER visited the doctor; not, at least, until I met my future wife and she began inquiring on all manner of embarrassing topics. Even during our first few months of dating, the ever-cautious Mary Ellen asked a LOT of questions, all across the board. But what embarrassed me most was admitting that I had gone nearly two decades without ever having seen a doctor; not once. Shocking, right? Yes, but probably not atypical.

Actually, it’s not quite true that I never saw any medical professional during those years. I’ve always been big on dental health (with thanks to Drs. Noonan and Alderisio), so semi-annual dental check-ups were not part of my avoidance MO, probably because I’ve never been prone to tooth decay. But when it came to internal medicine — general practitioners, ENTs, gastroenterologists, and all of those other helpful doctoring types — never once in more than 19 years did I feel the chill of a cold stethoscope upon my skin. Continue reading →

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As Baby Boomers, many of us either have already reached that so-called magical age where Medicare begins to cover (in part, at least) the cost of one’s medical treatments heading into the future, or you are one of the many millions who are anxiously awaiting the inevitable countdown to Medicare. Whether you’re there already or years away, it’s a fair bet that you have experienced at least one hospital visit yourself or with a loved one that has opened your eyes to the staggering costs of hospital care and other serious medical treatment.


With Medicare alone, covered medical procedures can still hit seniors with some hefty out-of-pocket expenses.

For those born before 1948, who are already taking advantage of Medicare, you have probably learned either through trial-and-error or dogged research and investigation that filling the gaps in government-provided medical insurance can be costly, not only in terms of premiums for Medicare advantage and supplemental plans, but also in terms of co-pays or direct costs that non-covered procedures can result in.

The good news, at least for those yet to enter the realm of the Medicare labyrinth is that enough people are clamoring for facts at the same time that there is more than sufficient information available; one just has to make a concerted effort to begin the search.

Continue reading →

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Several days ago, my wife and I celebrated my birthday, which happens to coincide with the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, otherwise known to the English-speaking world as the Day of the Dead. Without a cultural anchor like Detroit’s Mexican Town, one could be forgiven for thinking “Day of the Dead” is based on an old cult horror film. Apart from its Halloween-esque appearance, Day of the Dead is in reality a festive and colorful celebration established in Mexico hundreds of years ago and observed currently in numerous countries all around the globe.


A devilish band plays a suprisingly happy tune.

Dedicated to the remembrance of friends and relatives who have passed from this life, Dia de los Muertos is considered a mainly Mexican holiday, yet the day itself (actually November 1st and 2nd) is perhaps better known to Roman Catholics as All Saints’ Day or All Souls’ Day. For the population of Mexican Town here in southeastern Michigan, as well as other Mexican and Spanish-speaking areas around the country, this holiday provides an opportunity for family members, neighbors and others in these close-knit communities to share in the prayer and memory of those dearly departed.

Continue reading →