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Family Circle Changes

Family Circle Changes

Family Circle Changes

I was having coffee with a friend recently, and we started talking about the bittersweet family circle changes that occur once your kids start getting married and/or having children.  You begin to realize that you are no longer part of their “immediate family circle”, which is made up of your children’s spouses and/or children.  This realization comes with a somewhat painful jolt.  For the majority of your kids’ lives, you have been the person they turned to for love, support, advice and comfort. It’s tough to realize that you are no longer the center of their universe. Suddenly that role is filled by a spouse and/or children, and it feels like you are on the outside looking in.

It is our jobs as parents to raise a child and have them be able to live life on their own.  It’s important that they know how to do that.  After all, you will not always be around for them.  As we raise our families, we know the day will come when our little ones will grow up and move on to live their own lives.  What we are not prepared for is the different role that we now play in their lives.  “Your” family is now secondary to “their” family.  The focus of their lives is now squarely on their own family, and that is the way it should be.  As parents, however, there is a sadness that we feel as these bittersweet family circle changes begin to happen.

My friend made a very good point regarding this.  She said that as a parent of grown children, you probably talk about your kids a lot. You still love and worry about them, like you did since the day they were born.  Nothing has changed for you.  Unfortunately, things have changed for your children.

Their emotional balance has shifted. Their priorities and their conversations are about kids, jobs, spouses, etc.  Mom and Dad are no longer the center of their emotional universe.  You may think that this sounds a lot like the “empty nest syndrome”.  It’s really not.  It is a step beyond that.  Empty nest is more about the child physically leaving the family home to live elsewhere. It’s a more of a physical absence in our lives, with distance being the cause.

So what does that mean?

It means that we parents are now standing just outside the inner family ring that our children have built.  This in no way means that we are not still involved in our kids’ lives in a meaningful way.  It does mean that we have been replaced as the center of their universe.  This is where the jolt of sadness comes in.  Let’s face it, it’s disconcerting and scary to NOT be the center of the universe for our kids.  Perhaps this is the reason parents don’t talk openly about this issue.  It’s downright uncomfortable to acknowledge our feelings of sadness as these bittersweet family circle changes occur.  It feels selfish on our part to feel anything but happiness for our kids.

We parents need to graciously accept the fact that our children have moved into a new phase in their lives. Talk to friends about the situation, and feel reassured that every parent experiences this.  Think back to when you were raising your own family.  You will see it was the same for you with your parents.  Find ways to maintain strong family ties from just outside your children’s new inner family circle.  To quote my friend, Tobi, “the sadness lessens as we grow into our changing role, and watch our children, with joy, as they tend to their families.”

Head Boomer Sue – www.bestboomer.com

(with special thanks to my friend, Tobie)

Amazing Boomer Adventure

Amazing Boomer Adventure is about two baby boomers who have chosen to embark on an incredible journey.   They sold their house in North Carolina, and have started a two year trip around the globe.    I met Linda and Joe when they were staying in Colorado for three months over the summer.  When I heard their amazing boomer adventure story, I knew it had to be shared with others.

Amazing Boomer Adventure

Joe & Linda

How the Amazing Boomer Adventure Began

Joe and Linda raised their two girls in Alabama and then moved to North Carolina (they now have four grandchildren).  The couple had talked often about what they would do once their kids were grown and on their own.  One of their biggest interests was to travel and see the world.  It came about that a number of things fell into place for them to be able to pursue their amazing boomer adventure.

  1. They decided to sell their North Carolina home of 18 years.  They had updated the home and the real estate market had improved markedly.  The couple knew their home was in the best shape it would ever be, so they put in on the market to see what would happen.
  2. Linda’s mom was ill, and she and Joe decided to rent a place near her.  This allowed Linda to be with her mom.
  3. Their house sold sooner than they expected, and then Linda’s mom passed on.  At that point, they realized it would be the perfect time to travel and pursue their amazing boomer adventure.

Putting the Amazing Boomer Adventure into Action

Linda and Joe decided to take two years and travel.  They put together a list of locations they wanted to visit and began to plan timelines, accommodations and mode of travel.  One of the first decisions they made was to spend several months in each location.  Since some locations were possible retirement spots, it enabled them to truly get a feel for the people and way of life in that particular region.  The second decision was to utilize Airbnb for places to stay in each location . (For more info see https://www.airbnb.com/.)  They feel it is a cost effective way to travel, and usually cheaper than renting a hotel.  Linda and Joe gave away or sold everything in their home.  They loaded up their car, including bikes, and headed out on their amazing boomer adventure.

As I said, I met Joe and Linda in a walking group.  Their energy and zest for life are contagious!  They are extremely active and enjoy walking and biking.  As for the future, they envision themselves “settling down” (I love this idea) somewhere near their children and grandchildren.  Joe and Linda see flexible volunteering in their future.  For now, however, they are living their dream of travel and experiencing an amazing boomer adventure.

Chief Boomer Sue at www.bestboomer.com

 

Unvoiced Boomer Issues

Unvoiced Boomer Issues

There are two unvoiced boomer issues that need discussion.  One issue affects all boomers, and the other is unique to single baby boomers.   Both issues are top of mind for Kris, who is a 65+ year old, single woman.  Kris is independent, very active and in a decent place financially. She pointed out two unvoiced boomer issues that she is currently dealing with:

  Issue #1 – Affordable Housing

Finding affordable middle income housing.  She would like to downsize from her current three bedroom    home to something smaller.  It’s getting more difficult to keep up with the house maintenance the older she gets.  Getting reliable help at a price she can afford has been challenging.  As a result, she is looking at selling her home and moving into a smaller, more maintenance free home.  Kris has been looking at town house options, senior condos, and retirement communities.  What she has found has been discouraging.

Developers have been focused on building high end options, looking to cash in on the much talked about baby boomer wealth.  They have basically ignored building communities that are affordable for boomers with a mid-level fixed income. What these developers did not realize is that there are far more average baby boomers that need affordable housing than there are wealthy boomers.  This oversight is becoming a huge issue for many boomers that want to downsize.  Right now they have two alternatives, high end or low income housing.  Neither one is the right answer for Kris or others like her.

Issue #2 – Single Baby Boomer Issues

Single baby boomers, especially those with no immediate family, are faced with figuring out how to deal with looming aging issues.  Who do they turn to if they have a health issue?  Kris is losing her eyesight.  It is a slow progression, but it has become difficult for her to manage some aspects of her life.  At some point she may not be able to drive.  Can she depend on friends to help out?  Can she afford to pay for all the services she may need?   Then there are finances.  If you become unable to manage your money, whom can you trust to help you? Even boomers with children can experience these same trust issues.

Kris has taken a proactive approach in making sure she has her affairs in order.  She has spelled out what she can in her will, including how she wants to be buried.  The more difficult part finding a person you can trust your money with and one who will honor any end of life health decisions.  It would be smart to create a legal document that spells out how you want things handled. This legal document is referred to in various terms, such as “living will”, health care directive, and advance directive.  The document names all refer to the legal document that describes your wishes regarding life prolonging medical procedures.

Conclusions

I am writing about this today to raise awareness around these two unvoiced boomer issues.  There are no ready answers for either situation.  Boomers need to voice their concern and start dialogues with community leaders and developers to encourage more affordable housing options.  Single baby boomers need to be proactive and begin planning in anticipation of health issues.  Again, raising awareness and beginning discussions can result in creative solutions.

Chief Boomer Sue at www.bestboomer.com

Top Boomer Health Challenges

Boomer Health ChallengesBoomer Health Challenges outlines the key health issues that are plaguing baby boomers as they age.  Physicians are seeing rising growth in all these categories.  While some of these conditions are unavoidable, many of them can be prevented or controlled by lifestyle choices.  Below are the top boomer health challenges:

Boomer Health Challenges

Obesity

Obesity, alone, causes many of the boomer health challenges listed below.  Sadly, this is a condition that can be completely prevented by practicing positive lifestyle choices, such as exercise and a healthy diet.

Type 2 Diabetes

Kidney damage, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, vision loss, and nerve damage are just a few of the health issues that Type 2 diabetes can cause. Be smart. This is a disease that is preventable and controllable through healthy lifestyle choices.

Cardiovascular disease

As one of the top boomer health challenges, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women over the age of 60.  Coronary heart disease, which narrows and/or blocks the arteries carrying blood to the heart is the most common. Do yourself a favor and eliminate tobacco products, control high blood pressure/high cholesterol, exercise, and eat right.

Cancer

There is probably at least one person in your family that has developed cancer.  It is the second leading cause of death among baby boomers.  Early screenings for colon, breast, skin and prostate cancer can catch these diseases in the early stages while they are still highly treatable.

Arthritis and Joint Replacement 

Arthritis and joint replacement are common as we age.  Joint swelling and cartilage breakdown can be very painful.  Treatment options are extremely diverse.  You can choose from medication options, natural healing solutions or actual joint replacement.

Alzheimer’s

Unfortunately for baby boomers, Alzheimer’s disease is dramatically rising in our age group.  There is no cause or cure for Alzheimer’s.  It has quickly become the disease that baby boomers fear the most. While new research has not found a cure, it has begun to identify some key information to aid in identification and treatment.

I hope this information has given you a better idea of the boomer health challenges that we are all facing.  Make your health a priority.  Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way to keeping you healthy.  More importantly, many of these conditions are PREVENTABLE!  Don’t throw away your chance at a happy, healthy boomer life by making poor lifestyle choices.  You can find additional information in a Scripps Health article on the Top 10 Health Concerns of Baby Boomers.

Chief Boomer Sue at www.bestboomer.com

Target Heart Rate Explained

Target Heart Rate Target Heart Rate is something I never really understood.  I’m sure you have seen people running or  working out at the gym who constantly check their pulse or look at their wrist device. Definitely the  serious fitness types.  What exactly they were doing?  Of course I had heard about checking your heart  rate, but I wasn’t all that clear on why is was important. Real life finally helped me understand the  concept better.  I had asked my husband why I ran out of breath doing more exerting activities, even  though I walked on the treadmill regularly.  My husband, who is a Certified Personal Trainer, kindly  advised me that the leisurely strolls I was taking on the treadmill were not getting me to a high enough  level of exertion. He advised that to increase my stamina and physical capability, I had to work within my  target heart rate zone, and gradually build it up to an optimal rate. He explained how it worked and I also did additional research at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Target-Heart-Rates_UCM_434341_Article.jsp.

What Does Your Target Heart Rate Do?

It helps you determine whether you are over-exercising or not exercising enough.  If your optimal heart rate is too high, you’re straining. So slow down. If it’s too low, and the intensity feels “light” or “moderate/brisk,” push yourself to exercise a little harder. During the first few weeks of working out, aim for the lowest part of your target zone (50 percent). Then, gradually build up to the higher part (85 percent). After six months or more, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

It All Starts With Your Resting Heart Rate:

  1. Before you learn how to calculate and monitor your target training heart rate, you have to know your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute while it’s at rest.
  2. It’s best to check it in the morning after you’ve had a good night’s sleep and before you get out of bed. The average resting heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute, but it’s usually lower for physically fit people.  It also rises with age.

How to Calculate Target Heart Rate:

While there may be more complicated ways to calculate target heart rate, we are going to use the easiest way.   Estimate your maximum heart rate by using this formula:  220 minus your age.  So if I am 57, my target heart rate would be 220-57 = 163.  As you exercise, periodically do the following:

  • Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, on the thumb side.
  • Use the tips of your first two fingers (not your thumb) to press lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist.
  • Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute. You want to stay between 50% and 85% percent of your maximum heart rate. This range is your target heart rate.

What’s important to remember is that if your target heart rate is too high, you are straining, which is not good for you.  If it is too low, you are not getting the optimum benefit from your exercise. Hope this helps!

Chief Boomer Sue at www.bestboomer.com

 

Lengthen Lifespan Reap Rewards

Lengthen Lifespan Reap Rewards Lengthen lifespan reap rewards is the real life story of Betty and Harold.  I cannot think of a better way to  start 2015 than to share how this wonderful couple has embraced life, and extended their lifespans in the  process.   Harold is 85 and Betty is 84.  They have been married for 65+ years and have experienced  many ups and downs.  Their love for each other is joyous to see, and their dedication to living as long as  possible is downright inspirational.  So let’s take a peek at how Betty and Harold have managed to  become shining stars in the quest of lengthen lifespan reap rewards.

 Lengthen Lifespan Reap Rewards

I first met Betty and Harold in a walking group I joined when I first moved to Colorado.  They were the walk leaders, and I remember feeling slightly embarrassed that this couple was more active than I was!  Their enthusiasm for welcoming new walkers to the group was so charming that I immediately felt like I had known them forever.  This alone made me want to become a group regular.  Without even trying, they had drawn me into becoming more active.  They were the living embodiment of lengthen lifespan reap rewards.  Without a doubt, the more active you are the longer your lifespan will be.

Betty’s motto is “walk on”.  After four bouts with cancer, this is her daily mantra.  Nine years ago she and Harold became vegans.  Betty was frustrated with doctors telling her there was nothing she could personally do to prevent the cancer from coming back.  Since she was feeling so lousy, she decided to change her diet.  She has felt substantially better since becoming a vegan and Harold has also adopted this lifestyle change.  I am not trying to tout veganism here.  I am simply trying to show people that it is important to take responsibility for their own health.  In this case, rather than depending on doctors, Betty took responsibility for herself.  She worked to find a solution that would help her health and wellness.  Betty and Harold’s greatest desire is to spend as much time as possible with their children, grandchildren, friends and each other.  They know that it takes personal health responsibility to make that happen.

Harold and Betty lead active lives.  For their 50th wedding anniversary they bicycled from Germany to Austria. For their 65th anniversary, the couple biked through Provence, France.  While they no longer bicycle due to Betty’s balance issues, they fill their time with other activities.  Betty and Harold walk at least five days a week at five miles per walk.  Harold will tell you that Betty drags him into all of these activities, but you can tell he enjoys them as much as Betty.  With their goal in mind of living as long as possible, Betty and Harold take responsibility for making it happen.  They are shining examples of lengthen lifespan reap rewards.

We are all capable of extending our own lifespans.  Far too many of us do nothing to help ourselves.  The determined ones, like Betty and Harold, are already achieving the goal of lengthen lifespan reap rewards. 

Baby Boomer New Lives

Baby Boomer New Lives Baby Boomer new lives are become a growing trend.  Unlike our parents before us, Baby Boomers are not  content to sit around and get old.  As a group, we are actively  reinventing our lives, pursuing new goals,  and living life to the fullest.  Below is one example of Baby Boomer new lives.

Three years ago, my husband and I decided to downsize.  Our kids were grown and out of the nest.  We  began the process by going through all of our things and  getting rid of anything we  thought we didn’t  need.  (It is amazing to me how much “stuff” one accumulates in a lifetime!).  Once we did that, we  decided to put our  home of 28 years on the market.  There was a spurt  of real estate activity in our area,  and we thought we would test the waters.  To our surprise, we sold the  house in one week.  Since the buyer wanted occupancy within three weeks, we hadto  scramble to find a place to live and get moved out.  We opted for an  apartment in the area and made the move.  That was the beginning of our version of Baby Boomers new lives.

Baby Boomer New Lives

We found that apartment life suited us very well.  My husband had no yard work to do, cleaning was a breeze (compared to the house), and we felt like we were on a permanent vacation.  In the meantime, my son and his wife had moved to Colorado.  My youngest graduated from college and decided to join them in Colorado.  At this point, both our kids were in Colorado and we wondered what the heck we were still doing in Georgia.  Since we had already downsized, and lived in an apartment, I suggested to my husband that we move to Colorado also.  I was tired of living in Georgia and wanted to try someplace else to live.  My husband was reluctant to make the move initially, but he finally said yes.  Baby Boomer new lives here we come!Baby Boomers New Lives

We found a place to live not far from our kids, and got ready to make the move.  Amazingly enough, we found that we still had plenty of things we didn’t need anymore.  So we got rid of a ton of stuff that we should have let go of when we moved from the house.  We then made the move to Colorado.  It has been an incredible experience!  Besides being able to see our kids on a regular basis, we have loved exploring our new home.  The whole experience has left me feeling vital and alive!  I wake up every day thankful that we made the move. Just one example of baby boomer new lives.

Chief Boomer Sue/www.bestboomer.com

Changing Eating Habits

Changing Eating Habits is a story for the cynics out there.  The ones who can’t envision ever giving up their ice cream, chips, diet soda, etc.  I was one of those people.  I’m Sue, a 50+ female who needs to lose some pounds and is overly fond of ice cream and diet soda (and let’s be honest…anything that contains sugar). At the end of 2013, I decided that I needed to change my lifestyle, get in shape, and work on changing my eating habits.  Unfortunately, due to some unexpected surgery, I was seriously delayed in the fitness side of my goal.

Fruit Infusion Water Pitcher  However, I decided there was no reason I could not  focus on changing my eating habits.  So what did I do?  First, I bought myself one of those cool water pitchers that have the column in the middle that you         can put fruit in. You can find one here at: http://www.target.com/p/fruit-infusion-pitcher/-/A-11209652#prodSlot=medium_1_1&term=fruit+infusion+water+pitcher.  It flavors the water.  This was a big help   to me, because I really don’t care for just plain water.  The next thing I did was cut out the diet soda.  I did this cold turkey, because I felt it was the best option for me.  I started drinking the flavored water      (lemon is my favorite), and I focused on drinking at least four glasses of water a day.  While it is not the eight glasses of water per day that the experts recommend, it was a huge improvement for me.  Currently, I   am working on getting that number up to six glasses of day.

The next thing I did, was work on my peanut butter obsession.  Once I looked at the calorie count per serving (and I was eating at least 2-3 servings per day), I knew I had to stop eating it.  Since “natural” peanut   butter was not for me, I just decided to eliminate it altogether.  Instead, every morning, I have a piece of healthy nutty bread with just all fruit spread on it.  I cannot believe how many calories I eliminated just by cutting this one thing out of my diet!

I also worked on changing my eating habits by substantially cut down on the ice cream.  I was to the point that I could finish a pint of this wondrous gelato in one sitting.  Needless to say, when I finally got up theIce Cream Containers courage to look at the sugar content, it was a staggering 27 grams of sugar, PER SERVING!   I knew I could not completely cut out ice cream.  So, once a week, I allow myself one of those really tiny ice cream servings you find in the supermarket.

As much as a cynic as I am, I have found that the experts were right.  I do not miss these items in my diet.  I would never have believed it!   I still have work to do, but I am much more confident now that I can achieve my overall eating goals. Give this a try.  Just a few little changes can improve your health substantially.

Chief Boomer Sue at www. bestboomer.com

 

 

 

 

5 Social Security Tips You Must Know Now

There are five social security tips that you must know now.  Why?  Because they affect your benefit in a big way!   As I was discussing Social Security recently with some folks about to retire, I learned something.  Not a lot of people understand these Social Security tips.  Sure, they know the basics.  However, lack of knowledge regarding the tips listed here can cost you serious money.   Here’s five Social Securitytips that are a must read.   I also highly suggest logging on to the Social Security website (http://www.ssa.gov/) to make sure you know all the ways you can maximaze your lifetime benefit.

5 Social Security Tips You Must Know Now

1.   You have the option of taking Social Security at 62, 65/66 or at 70.

  • Taking Social Security at 62 means a reduced benefit, at age 65/66 means the standard benefit, and taking Social Security at 70 gives you the maximum benefit.
  • In 1983, Social Security added an amendment which upped the age when a person can collect full retirement benefits.  Check this link to see to verify exactly when you can receive full benefits:  http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/IncRetAge.html.
  • Social Security has also added monthes to the year you can retire.  Depending on your birthday, you may not be able to retire until 66 and seven months.

2.  Maximizing the Spousal Benefits

  • Many people do not realize they have the option to claim Social Security benefits based on their spouses earnings record.  This link explains how to maximize spousal benefits: https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/retirement/social-security-tips-for-couples
  • Spousal Benefits can be complex.  I urge you to take the time to follow the link above and make sure you make the right decision for you and your spouse.  This is probably the top item that most people are not aware of or don’t understand.

3.  Benefits for former spouses

  • Even if you are no longer married, you may be able to receive spousal benefits on your former spouse’s work record.  Check the Social Security site below to see if you meet the conditions to qualify.

4.  Each person needs to evaluate the best option for their particular financial circumstances.  

  • There is a benefit estimator at http://www.ssa.gov/.   Since the majority of the population is living longer, it makes sense to plan carefully.

5.  Also, please keep in mind that Social Security takes $104.90 off the top of your Social Security payment for Medicare Part B.  There may also be a cost for Medicare Part A.  Take this into consideration as you plan your retirement dollars.  Not including these costs may cause you an ugly surprise. I hope you enjoyed this post on 5 Quick Tips Maximizing Social Security.  We would love to hear from you on whether this post was helpful.  Please feel free to leave comments.  Thanks.  

Chief Boomer Sue at www.bestboomer.com

 

 

Advice Regarding Empty Nesting

Advice Regarding Empty Nesting

My Daughter Graduates College

Advice regarding empty nesting is something I wanted to share with you.  Yes, it finally happened to me.  Our youngest graduated college this week and is moving out-of-state.  My kids are seven years apart, so it always felt like I had two, only-children, except at different times.  After my son graduated college and left the nest, I still had one child who needed me and depended on me.  I knew the day was coming when, she too, would fly the coop.  However, I savored every single moment of the time I had left.  I even got a bonus when she decided to attend college in-state, and I still got to see her frequently.  (Mainly when she needed to get her clothes washed, but I certainly wasn’t complaining!)  So, read on for a personal take on my advice regarding empty nesting.

So, while my husband and I experienced some absence, it was not  the complete, total break that is happening now.  I am calm on the surface, but anxiety is roiling underneath.  I know that we can email, chat by phone, Face Chat, etc. with both of our kids. However, knowing that something can happen to your children, and you are more than half way across the country leaves a feeling of unease.  Perhaps, that is why I feel compelled to offer some advice regarding empty nesting.

The problem with the proverbial “empty nest” is it brings a feeling of finality to being a parent.  Childhood is over for my kids and their adult lives are ensuing, just like mine did so many years ago.  Some parents can’t wait for the day to come when their kids leave home, and others face the day with dread.  Many are somewhere in-between.  Wherever you are on the empty nest scale, here is some advice on how to handle it.

Tips – Advice Regarding Empty Nesting

  1. Prepare in advance for the void that will occur.  When the kids go off to college is usually the best time to start focusing on your own interests and life.
  2. Find a hobby that you and your spouse (if appropriate) can do together, or just a new hobby for yourself.  It helps you focus on something besides missing your  kids.
  3. Get knowledgeable about technology, if you have not already.  If you want to communicate with your kids, you are going to need to know how to text, Skype, Face Time, etc.
  4. Remember that this is the time for your kids to stand on their own two feet.  Don’t be over supportive with money and advice.  Let them figure some things out on their own.

At some point, parents begin to realize that they will always worry about their kids, regardless if they have left the nest or not.  It is the circle of life, so to speak.  When the kids eventually leave to live their own lives, it is hard for parents to adjust.  It should be.  We’ve nurtured those little darlings for so many years.  However, your job now is to move to the background and let your children fly.  Meanwhile, it is also a brand new opportunity to pursue your passion and interests.  This is my advice regarding empty nesting.  I hope it helps you.

Chief Boomer Sue