Sunday, March 28, 2010

What's Next!

Well, I knew it would happen, and it did. I turned 60 last summer, and, didn't take any of my good advice. I succumbed to the "Oh, my God, I'm old!" syndrome.

I have to say that I was able to make it through the last few months by keeping very busy, and, trying not to notice my creaking knees and stiff back.

We do all, however, have to face the fact that if we are not already on SS, it won't be long. Unfortunately for boomers, the "powers that be" did not take into consideration how many of us there were when they initiated the program. All those census records that we have filled out through the years, apparently didn't give them a clue as to the millions of us that were out here, chugging toward our golden years. Surprise!

Well, it looks like the surprise may be on us in the future, since new statistics indicate that SS will be permanently in the red come 2016.

So, here's the upbeat news of the day. If we make it past the year of the end of the world, in 2012, and, we don't die from waiting for medical treatment in the years that follow, and, a miracle happens that replenishes our SS fund in 2016, we may just make it.

Rock on!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Keep Moving

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I decided to ride the new NorthCoast Trail from Fremont, Ohio to Elmore, which is somewhere around 10 or 11 miles. The plan was to have our son ride back, bring the van and pick us up in Elmore. However, my husband got the really good idea to ride back instead. Needless to say, we made it, but 21 miles was definately the furthest we had ridden for a very long time!

Bicycle riding is supposed to be good cardio exercise and , hopefully, good for the arthritic knees, which I inherited from my mom. It may be a little late, but now I can honestly say that "I now understand what she went through with the pain!"

My husband and I both have the "sissy" gel seats for the bikes, but I am thinking of adding a pillow!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Golden Years

Well, it happened last week. I knew it would, but I had blocked it out of my mind, or tried too. It's one of those crisis events that you tell others is rediculous- and then it happens to you.
In Ohio, we have these discount cards called "Golden Buckeye Cards." I got one in the mail!
Then, it suddenly occurred to me that, yes, my birthday is this week, and yes, I will be old enought for this card.
I have mixed feelings here. On one hand, it's really depressing. On the other hand, what discounts can I get?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Medicare and Social Security

For some of us not yet into the Medicare and Social Security issues, all of it seems complicated. Apparently, it's also going to become more expensive as well. According to many articles written this year, the powers that be, have determined that at least Part A will run out of money around 2017. The government has promised that this will not destroy Medicare, but will require that seniors pay more per month out of their Social Security checks to pay for it. This, on top of the supplemental insurance that we will need to take care of what Medicare does not cover.

If that isn't bad enough, Social Security is predicted to be in serious trouble by the year 2037.

Both of these programs together make up about one third of the federal budget, which is already stretched beyond belief.

My question is, "If we are already in trouble funding Medicare and Social Security, how could we possibly fund a new health care program that would conceivably cost billions?"

(From the Examiner.Com Cleveland June 17, 2009)

On May 12, 2009 the Board of Trustees of Medicare sent their annual report to Congress. This report projects that the trust fund for Medicare Part A is not adequately financed for its needs over the next decade.

Citing the poor economic conditions and lower payroll tax income, the Trustees now project that the funds for Medicare Part A will run out in 2017, two years earlier than originally projected.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Exercise Those Brain Cells

I used to jokingly say that I once took a memory course, but forgot to pay the installment payments. Now, that doesn't seem quite so funny since it seems like I forget things a lot more than usual. And, I'm beginning to wonder if age isn't the only culprit. It might just have something to do with technology itself.
It's a convenient world we live in, maybe too convenient. We use calculators to do our math, GPS to help us get where we're going without reading a map. We push a button to dial the phone, instead of remembering numbers, and use voice reminders and computers to record data instead of writing it down. Many of us wait for the film version of a book to come out rather than read. Store clerks rely on the register to tell them what your change should be, and then, some of them fumble around forever trying to figure out how to count it out.
Last Christmas my sons bought me a Nintendo DS. For those of you not familiar with that, it's a small compact video game that acomodates a large variety of games, and an impressive line of "brain exercisers". I'm not promoting these games, but it seemed reasonable to me that any game that made you think and encouraged quick reflexes could possibly be useful. Basically, the various games challenge you to remember numbers, words, put various things in order, and see how fast you can do math problems. Crossword puzzles, sudoko, ect. are also good pastimes for the mind. Actually, anything that makes you think and takes you and your brain into new and unexplored areas.
While writing this, I was thinking of my grandparents, who went from the horse and buggy life of their youth, to the TV era. They lived well into their 80's, bright and alert, and, in reprospect, I can say that they were always interested in the newest thing that was happening around them. They read, they discussed, and they were forever curious about life.
Besides keeping the brain busy with these tasks, several experts have recommended other activities for those of us past 55. A few of these are continuing education, travel, and branching out into hobbies and new daily detours from the normal routine which apparently help stimulate the brain, and some say, even deter alzhiemers and dementia.
While there seems to still be a lot of debate on whether or not mental exercise can actually stave
off mental decline, and encourage new growth of brain cells, everyone agrees that it can't hurt.

The following was taken from an article in the Washington Post about a study on brain exercise.
"Short Mental Workouts May Slow Decline of Aging Minds Study Finds"

Ten sessions of exercises to boost reasoning skills, memory and mental processing speed staved off mental decline in middle-aged and elderly people in the first definitive study to show that honing intellectual skills can bolster the mind in the same way that physical exercise protects and strengthens the body.

The researchers also showed that the benefits of the brain exercises extended well beyond the specific skills the volunteers learned. Older adults who did the basic exercises followed by later sessions were three times as fast as those who got only the initial sessions when it came to activities of daily living, such as reacting to a road sign, looking up a number in a telephone book or checking the ingredients on a medicine bottle -- abilities that can spell the difference between living independently and needing help.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Red, White and Blue

animated usa flag and sparklers
Originally, the colors used in the flag in 1777 did not have any specific meaning, but the following explanation by Charles Thompson, secretary of the Continental Congress, explained the meaning of the colors in the Seal of the United States.

"The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."

I was mowing at the farm the other day and thinking about the flag, and realized that there are a lot of those values still alive and well in the heartland and across the nation

This is my heartland version of the red, white and blue.

Happy 4th of July !

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Ode to Porches

More and more I am noticing new homes with lovely front porches, complete with wicker furniture, flowers, and antiques. They look lovely. The problem is, I never see anyone on them.
In the "old days" porches were really an important part of everyday life. Dad read the paper there. Mom mended things, or shelled peas, or read. (I know we don't actually do these things much anymore). However, the front porch of the past was the meeting place of the neighborhood, the news front, the political problem solver, the gossip area, the music fest.
Several of the men in our neighborhood would sit on the front porch in the evening and pla
y guitars, or harmonicas. Imagine that!
Neighbors kept an eye on their kids and their neighbor's kids as they rode their bikes or played in the yards.
You were aware of what kind of birds were around your house, and if there was an owl in the area. We noticed the first night that the fireflies came out, and when the locusts started their calling.
Of course, I grant you, that this was before air conditioning, so, sitting on the porch waiting for a breeze was a better alternative than sweltering inside. And, folks didn't have the internet, TV, or video games.
The good thing was, that people got to know their neighbors, took time to visit, and, I somehow believe that sitting and swinging on the old swing was a better stress relief than watching the evening news.
So, here's to the old front porch. Hopefully, we can turn off the tube, or the computer once in awhile and sit out there. You'll be surprised what you can see and hear.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009



The challenge of retirement is how to spend time without spending money.
- Author Unknown

Well, who would have thought that in only a few short years we would actually be thinking about retirement, or actually there already if you're lucky. Retirement was something that your parents did, and was wayyyyyyyyyyy down the road. Well, the road got shorter before we knew it, and now, especially in the current economy, a lot of us are scrambling to figure out if we can actually retire at all. We are seriously looking at our retirement accounts, pension plans, and Social Security facts, figuring up what we will actually need, and praying that we will win the lottery in the next couple of years.
First of all, I am not a qualified retirement analyst (disclaimer here), and I am muddling through this just like millions of others out there.
There are, I discovered, although it shouldn't surprise me, a lot of facets to the whole Social Security angle. Of course, we all know that if you take your SS early, at, say 62, you will get a lot less than you do at 66 or 67. There are two opinions on this- (of course), and what it seems to all boil down too, is a throw of the dice.
Any way you look at it, if you wait until 66 or 67 to retire, and live, say, twenty more years, you are going to collect more in the long run than if you retire at 62. Others have told me that they would rather get "something" now, than take the chance of dying earlier and not getting much of anything back. This is a grim prospect anyway you look at it.
Of course, sometimes we need to retire early, and there is no real choice, due to health problems, loss of job ect.
There are a lot of good websites discussing the pros and cons, complete with retirement calculators, estimated amount of funds needed after retirement, and future inflationary trends,-all of which will give you a massive headache, but are, unfortunately important.

Here are some sites that may be important in your future.

Social Security online

How Baby Boomers Will Change Retirement

Senior Citizens Resources- U.S. Gov.

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