What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is in its infancy. Trying to predict exactly what the metaverse will become is a little like people in the 90’s trying to guess what the internet would become now. Everyone had different ideas about what would be possible with the internet, but no one knew exactly how it would evolve. Today the metaverse is a digital virtual reality inhabited by your avatar. You wear a headset that functions as window into a 3-D environment that you can interact with by means of motion-sensing controllers that you hold in your hands.
This virtual world has many different portals, almost like different cities that you can explore. Probably the most well-known company to move into the metaverse is Facebook. In fact, they have even changed their name from Facebook to Meta.
Big Companies are rapidly moving into the metaverse
Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, and, Meta, are building virtual worlds where you can socialize, buy goods, learn, and play games. Faster internet connections, more powerful virtual-reality headsets are creating brand new opportunities for business. Companies like Nike and
This new technology will be useful for a lot more than gaming. Product demos can be released worldwide instantly. Employees will be able to receive training in fully immersive 3-D environments. The hybrid home and office work structure will make interactions that happen in the metaverse even more relevant. Sotheby’s recently announced that it would open its own metaverse gallery consisting of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’s) An NFT is a piece of digital artwork secured via a blockchain (a digital ledger). As time goes on more and more interactions will take place in this virtual world just like more and more interactions have moved onto the internet since the early 1990’s.
Older Adults in the Metaverse
Future applications for older adults may include telehealth medical visits in which a doctor located anywhere in the county could see your virtual 3-D body. By just putting on a headset you could be whisked away to the louvre in Paris or sitting front row at your favorite concert. Perhaps the biggest impact of the metaverse for older adults may lie in its ability to relieve social isolation and loneliness.
Only time will tell what the metaverse will become. It is highly likely that what we think of it today will be drastically different from what it becomes in 20 years. At this moment we are watching the technology evolve before our eyes, but it is worth the challenge to keep up with what will become possible in the future.
Consumers have been paying more for food and gas for a while now, but the price increases have affected nearly every purchase a person makes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation rose by 7% in 2021, the largest increase since the 1980’s. Higher prices are weighing heavily on those who can least afford it, especially seniors on a fixed income. Here are 5 easy way you can fight inflation in your budget.
1. Senior Property Tax Exemption
If you own your home, see if you qualify for a senior property tax exemption. Property taxes can create a unique problem for retirees. As property values go up, property taxes increase as well, but incomes may not keep up with the pace of tax increases. Many states have responded to this issue by enacting tax relief policies for senior citizens. Unfortunately, the county assessor will not automatically let you know if you qualify for an exemption. It is up to you to review the eligibility requirements and then submit an application. Information on the requirements can usually be found on your county assessor’s website.
2. Cancel Subscriptions You No Longer Use
It’s easy to forget about a newspaper subscription or gym membership you set up on auto pay years ago and no longer use. By reviewing your last two months of bank statements and credit card statements you may catch a few recurring payments that you can easily do without.
3. Shop Around for Insurance
If you are like most people, you probably haven’t competitively shopped your homeowners or car insurance rates for many years. Call around to find out if you can get a better rate with another company. If you are insuring your home and car with different companies, you may also be able to save by moving both policies to the same company. Before changing companies be sure to thoroughly compare the coverage to make sure you are protected at the same level.
4. Utilize a Mail-order pharmacy
Many insurance companies offer a discount if you use their preferred mail-order pharmacy. In most cases you will have a single copayment for a 90 day supply of medication that is equal to what you pay for a 30 day supply when you go pick up medications yourself. For example, if you pay $25 per month for a medication, you will likely pay only $25 every 3 months with the mail-order option. When you multiply that savings by multiple medications the amount of money you keep in your pocket could be substantial. As an added bonus the medications are delivered directly to your door so you will save on gas by eliminating multiple trips to the pharmacy. Before making any changes be sure to verify coverage and notify your doctor.
5. Shop Online
Prices online are going up just like everywhere else, but they seem to be rising at a slower pace. According to Adobe’s digital price index, online prices are up just 3.6% from a year ago, compared with a 7.9 percent jump in the overall consumer price index. If you couple your online purchases with a rewards card, you may even get a little cash back each month. Just make sure you can pay the balance in full each month, because if you end up paying interest on a credit card it will quickly erode any potential savings.
Hopefully you will be able to utilize some of these ideas to help ease the worry many of us are feeling with inflation on the rise. Of course, there are several other bigger steps that can be made to free up cash such as downsizing, moving in with family, taking out a reverse mortgage, or selling an insurance policy however these types of life changes require very careful consideration and shouldn’t be jumped into hastily. Always consult a trusted financial advisor before making any major financial decisions.
As you get older, you might be considering making changes to your living situation. Whether you’re thinking moving somewhere warmer or moving into an assisted living community, you will likely need to make a big decision about what to do with your house. Should you sell? Should you rent it out? Should you buy another house closer to family or friends?
Like any big decision in life what is best for you may not be the same as what is best for another. The real estate market has been increasing dramatically in recent years. Selling now would likely net you a nice profit, but remember, selling your home means you’ll have to find a new place to live and go through the process of moving.
For those who don’t need a lump sum right away renting your home could provide additional monthly income if you don’t mind being a landlord. It is also important to consider how many years you would likely use it as a rental because you could lose the primary residence tax exemption. In simple terms you can sell your primary residence and be exempt from capital gains up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 if married and filing jointly. As always you should consult a tax professional about your particular situation.
4 Tips for Seniors Selling their Homes
1. Consult with Your Financial Advisor
A good place to start for seniors thinking about selling their home is with your financial advisor. After the rapid appreciation of real estate in recent years it is likely you will have a significant gain. You will want to discuss the tax implications of selling and how the sale of your home will impact your retirement planning.
You may also want to discuss the idea with your family. If you have children they may want to buy the property from you. If you are considering the snowbird lifestyle you may want to consider living with them part time while you rent out the property for additional income.
2. Hire a Good Real Estate Agent
It’s important that you hire the right real estate agent when selling your house. A good real estate agent will price your home appropriately to maximize the selling price while ensuring the home will sell, not just sit on the market for months.
There are Realtors who have earned the designation of Senior Real Estate Specialists (SRES). These agents have taken additional training in order to address the unique needs of seniors. They are familiar with many of the financial considerations including reverse mortgages and taxes. They will also be familiar with local retirement settings and which options will be able to meet you needs. An SRES agent will help you plan and coordinate all the pieces that go into preparing a home sale, listing and showing your home, and then moving.
3. Declutter and Clean
Like most people you’ve probably accumulated a lot of things in your house. Before selling your home is the perfect time to declutter. Donate items you no longer need, pass along sentimental items to family and friends, sell items to make a little extra cash, or put them into storage if you think you may need them at a later date.
When it comes to cleaning, hire a professional to perform a deep cleaning in your house. Having your carpets cleaned, floors scrubbed, and windows clean will make a big difference when photographing and showing your house.
4. Hire a Moving Service
You may want to consider hiring a moving service instead of trying to move everything yourself. Hiring help will reduce the risk for injury or falls when moving heavy boxes or furniture. If you prefer not to hire movers consider asking family, friends, or neighbors for help.
There are many factors to consider when thinking about selling your home. Carefully weigh your current needs and do your best to think about what your future needs are likely to be. Selling a home and moving can be a stressful experience especially for those who have been in their home for a long period of time. Don’t be afraid to lean of family, friends, and professionals for help.
Each year approximately 500,000 seniors let their life insurance policies lapse, walking away from over $100 billion in benefits. That is a lot of money that seniors are giving up for nothing. Unfortunately most seniors who have let a policy lapse say they would have considered selling it had they known they could.
The process of selling a life insurance policy is known as a life settlement. This involves selling an existing life insurance policy to a third party for more than the policy's cash surrender value, but less than the death benefit. Life settlements can be a valuable source of liquidity for people who would otherwise surrender their policies or allow them to lapse, or for people whose life insurance needs have changed, but they are not for everyone.
The amount you will receive depends on several factors, including your age, health and the terms and conditions of your policy. In addition to paying you a lump sum for your policy, the buyer agrees to pay any additional premiums that might be required to support the cost of the policy for as long as you live. In exchange, the buyer will receive the death benefit when you die.
Reasons to Sell Your Life Insurance Policy
Each person’s situation is unique, and reasons for selling a policy will vary, but ultimately a sale will occur when a person no longer needs, wants, or can afford their policy. This may happen when:
Factors to Consider When Deciding to Sell Your Life Insurance Policy
Life settlements have proven to be profitable for institutional investors. As a result, competition among life settlement providers has become increasingly intense. Because the life settlement industry may target seniors who could be in poor health, it can be prone to aggressive sales tactics and abuse. This does not mean that you should never consider a life settlement. A life settlement might make sense for you if you no longer want or need your current policy, or if you can no longer afford the expense of paying insurance premiums. Even if these factors apply to your situation, you should proceed with caution and consider the following issues:
1. Ongoing Life Insurance Needs: If you are considering buying a new policy with the proceeds of the life settlement, you will need to determine whether you will be able to get a new policy with equivalent coverage and at what cost. You might want to consider options such as reducing your existing amount of coverage or making a 1035 Exchange. A 1035 Exchange is a tax advantaged method for swapping an individual’s life insurance coverage from one policy to another.
2. Less Costly Alternatives: If one of the factors driving your decision is a need for cash, be aware that surrendering your life insurance policy for its cash value or pursuing a life settlement are not your only options. If you still want coverage you might consider borrowing against your policy. Also some policies offer accelerated death benefits, which allow an individual with a long-term, catastrophic, or terminal illness to receive benefits on his or her policy before dying.
3. Difficulty Determining a Fair Price: One of the hardest things to know when you are selling a life insurance policy is whether you are getting a fair price. The best way to make sure you are getting a fair price is to shop around.
4: Impact on Your Finances: A cash payment from a life settlement can have unintended financial consequences, especially if your financial circumstances have changed from when you first bought the policy. For instance, if you currently receive Medicaid benefits, a life settlement could impact your ability to participate in that program.
5. Impact on Your Survivors: Carefully consider your need for immediate income against the future financial needs of your survivors.
Before you proceed with a life settlement, be sure you fully understand the financial implications for you and your family. You may want to consult your attorney, accountant or trusted financial professional.
More than 10% of caregivers look after a family member or friend from a distance. Not being nearby can make the task much more difficult and expensive. According to the latest AARP study, three-quarters of the family caregivers surveyed reported spending an average of $7,242 annually on out-of-pocket costs related to caregiving,. Long-distance caregivers often spend quite a bit more since long-distance caregivers are more likely than local caregivers to hire help, take unpaid time off work and pay for travel expenses.
These tips can help make long-distance caregiving easier and more effective.
Build a Team
If you can’t physically check in on your loved one regularly, get help from others who can. This could be other family members or friends who live nearby, or even a friendly neighbor. Enlisting other family members can help lighten the load. They can pitch in to make daily check-in calls or handle tasks such as paying bills, making medical appointments and picking up groceries.
If you have the resources, consider hiring a Certified Senior Advisor to help you evaluate your loved one’s care needs or hire home care aides if necessary. A certified Senior Advisor will have extensive experience in the senior care industry. An initial consultation up to one hour is typically free of charge, but then the advisor can be enlisted as necessary on an hourly basis. For instance, if there is an emergency and you need a trusted advisor to make a hospital visit, they can step in and keep you up to date. In home care aides can be in the home 24/7 which is nice for peace of mind but with hourly fees ranging from $30-50 per hour in can become expensive very quickly.
Devices like an iPhone or an Alexa can make video calls easy but those aren’t the only tools that can make help long-distance caregivers. Medical alert systems can allow a loved one to summon aid, and some have fall detection technology that will alert emergency responders even if your loved one is unable to communicate that they need help. Smart medication dispensers manage medications and let caregivers know if doses aren’t taken.
Smart home systems can also help. A smart door lock, for example, can allow you to grant access to someone such as a friend or a health aide. Smart light bulb can allow your loved one to turn lights on or off with just the sound of their voice and a smart thermostat can help you ensure a comfortable temperature.
Research Available Resources
Your loved one may be eligible for public benefits that could help with caregiving tasks or costs. Start your search at Benefits.gov. Veterans often have many resources available to them, but the system can be difficult to navigate. Elder Veterans Legal Aid Group is and excellent resource to help guide you in the right direction.
Be sure to ask about other resources, such as long-term care insurance. In the event that assisted living is necessary you may need to look at utilizing savings or home equity. Talking about money can be difficult, but the sooner you have the conversation the easier it will be to navigate a crisis should one arise. An Elder Law Attorney or a Certified Senior Advisor can be instrumental in guiding these conversations. This estate planning workbook can be helpful when planning for care, finances and end of life if arrangements have not already been made. Having a plan in writing can provide a lot of peace of mind.
Forgetting things occasionally is a part of life. It's why individuals may have alerts on their smartphones or notes on their refrigerators. As people get older they might experience more frequent instances of forgetfulness, however this is often nothing to be concerned about. So how can seniors tell if they're experiencing the signs of dementia and when it's time to tell a doctor? Here are some pointers on hot to distinguish typical forgetfulness from dementia.
Typical age-related signs:
Transience and absentmindedness
Harvard Medical School stated that these two conditions are a regular part of the aging process. Transience is when the brain forgets some memories over time. According to the school, this could in fact be a good thing, due to the fact that it implies the brain is removing unused memories to include new ones. Absentmindedness is similar because it associates with your brain's focus. For example, forgetting an appointment might occur merely due to the fact that you weren't preoccupied with the idea of it.
Lapse of memory and other mental issues
According to the National Institute on Aging, there are lots of other health conditions that could contribute to memory loss. For instance, people with anxiety are often mistaken for having the symptoms of dementia. One reason for this might be that a person handling anxiety may be very preoccupied with the reason for their unhappiness and stress and anxiety. Constantly stressing over or obsessing over a current problem can result in lapse of memory of other subjects.
Possible indications of dementia:
Unlike typical age-related lapse of memory, amnesia connected to dementia is progressive, according to Dr. William W. Pendlebury, a teacher at the University of Vermont. These issues get progressively worse and the client ultimately needs to relocate to nursing home due to the fact that he can no longer reside on his own.
Forgetting important details
The symptoms of dementia go beyond merely forgetting where an object was positioned or when a visit was arranged. Pendlebury even more stated that symptoms consist of forgetting names of friends and loved ones and an inability to keep in mind some words. When an older adult shows these indications of severe lapse of memory, it's time to consider scheduling a visit the physician.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, individuals with dementia may experience significant changes in personality. For example, a senior experiencing dementia might suddenly be more prone to aggressive habits, paranoia or impulsiveness. Typically, this is the hardest part of the disease for caretakers to handle. The association stated that it is regular for senior caregivers to feel stressed out by these signs. As such, it could be smart to consider utilizing respite care services if it ends up being overwhelming.
Another typical symptom of dementia is the tendency to become disoriented in new environments. The University of Illinois said that this disorientation extends to both place and time. If an older adult with dementia relocate to a new place, the unknown stimuli might cause a feeling of insecurity. When disoriented, seniors with dementia may appear lost to onlookers and become quickly aggravated with their caregivers.
Age-related memory loss and dementia are extremely different conditions, though they might share some overlap in signs. However, normal lapse of memory is frequently brought on by absence of focus and it never advances into serious area. Dementia, on the other hand, will become worse over time. If you doubt about your signs, arrange a visit with your physician.
As the weather turns colder here in Spokane it is important to make sure our seniors are staying warm and safe. Older adults can lose body heat faster than when they were young. A big chill can turn into a dangerous problem before an older person even knows what's happening.
Beware of Hypothermia
Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. For an older person, a body temperature of 95°F or lower can cause many health problems. Low Body temperature affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
Keep Warm Inside
Living in a cold house or apartment can cause hypothermia. Do not let it get too cold inside and dress warmly. Even if you keep your temperature between 60°F and 65°F, your home may not be warm enough to keep you safe.
Here are some tips for keeping warm while you're inside:
Keep Warm Outside
Check the weather forecast for cold and windy days. If you have to go out, wear warm clothes, and don't stay out in the cold and wind for a long time.
Some illnesses may make it harder for your body to stay warm.
What Are the Warning Signs of Hypothermia?
Sometimes it is hard to tell if a person has hypothermia. Look for clues. Is the house very cold? Is the person not dressed for cold weather? Is the person speaking slower than normal and having trouble keeping his or her balance?
Watch for the signs of hypothermia in yourself, too. You might become confused if your body temperature gets very low. Talk to your family and friends about the warning signs so they can look out for you.
Early signs of hypothermia:
Later signs of hypothermia:
Call 9-1-1 right away if you think someone has warning signs of hypothermia.
What to do after you call 9-1-1:
It is a sad fact that approximately one third of people over the age of 65 fall once or more per year. As many as 50% of these falls result in some form of injury. This includes cuts, bruises, fractures, head trauma and even death. On top of the physical harm caused by falls, they can also result in a loss of confidence and have serious long term emotional and psychological consequences. For many a fall can end up being a life changing event. It is estimated that 40% of admissions to assisted living communities are at least partly due to a fall at home.
One of the most underestimated consequences of a fall is the effect it can have on an elderly person’s confidence. For someone that has lived independently their whole life a fall can be a very frightening experience, particularly if it results in even a minor injury, or an extended period of time unable to get themselves up off of the floor. This fear can result in an understandable reluctance to avoid situations which could potentially result in further falls. This tends to manifest itself as a withdrawal from social and physical activities, with the elderly person becoming increasingly sedentary and homebound. A reduction in physical activity has a direct impact on health and fitness leading towards frailty and an increased chance of further falls. This is further compounded by the poorer diet that can result from an unwillingness to risk falls while shopping or cooking. Spending the majority of their time alone at home can also have a significant impact on mental health.
As we age our reactions tend to slow, with elderly people often failing to break their fall and being unable to control how they impact the ground, floor or furniture. This can be especially dangerous in high risk areas such as the kitchen or bathroom. Fractures are a serious risk, with those to the wrist and hip being the most common. Recovery time from such breaks is higher among the elderly and often involves extended hospitalization. Hip fractures are particularly dangerous, with one in twenty of those who suffer such an injury dying in the hospital and the mortality rate rising up to one third after twelve months. Treatment often involves long hospital stays, which contribute to muscle wasting and a difficulty returning to pre-injury fitness levels. Those who recover often still suffer from long term consequences, with most struggling to climb stairs and many being unable to get out of bed unassisted. Overall, falls are the main cause of accidental death in older people.
After the fall itself, elderly people often find themselves unable to get up unassisted. An extended period of time on the floor can exacerbate any injuries caused by a fall. Response time is very important, timely medical care reduces the chance for further complications and reduces the length of hospital stays. Even when no injury is caused by the fall itself, the period of time on the floor can cause harm. Dehydration is a real risk, particularly if the elderly person exerts themselves struggling to get up. These physical dangers are matched by the psychological and emotional harm that can be caused by being left helpless on the floor. A wait of hours can be a very traumatic experience, especially if in the elderly person is in pain and unsure of when help will arrive.
Some falls are caused by unsteadiness or slow reactions, but many can be the result of underlying medical conditions or serious events such as heart attacks or strokes. There are a number of such serious medical problems that can require immediate intervention or treatment. If the elderly person is unable to call for help or reach a telephone a treatable problem could become far more serious and potentially even fatal.
Ensuring that help is available as soon as possible is crucial to minimizing the negative consequences of a fall in the home. Emergency Alert Pendants are particularly effective at providing help in a timely manner. They can be activated by the push of a button in the event of an accident and some even have automatic fall detection. This will contact an Emergency Response Center where an operator will be able to speak to the wearer and send help if needed. The reassurance of a friendly voice immediately after a fall can be as important as the help being dispatched. The elderly person has no need to panic or risk further injury struggling to get up and does not have to worry. Knowing that this protection is in place enables the wearer to live an independent life in their own home without the fear of being stranded after a fall. Many wearers of Emergency Alert Pendants report having the confidence to remain independent in their homes and family members report greater peace of mind knowing help is available at the push of a button.
Most physical wounds heal in time. But elder abuse can cause harm to physical and psychological health, destroy social and family ties, lead to devastating financial loss, and more. Any type of mistreatment can leave the abused person feeling fearful and depressed. Sometimes, the victim thinks the abuse is his or her fault.
The most common forms of elder abuse
Physical abuse happens when someone causes bodily harm by hitting, pushing, or slapping. This may also include restraining an older adult against their will, such as locking them in a room or tying them to furniture.
Emotional abuse, sometimes called psychological abuse, can include a caregiver saying hurtful words, yelling, threatening, or repeatedly ignoring the older adult. Keeping that person from seeing close friends and relatives is another form of emotional abuse.
Neglect occurs when the caregiver does not try to respond to the older adult's needs. This may include physical, emotional, and social needs, or withholding food, medications, or access to health care.
Abandonment is leaving an older adult who needs help alone without planning for his or her care.
Sexual abuse involves a caregiver forcing an older adult to watch or be part of sexual acts.
Financial abuse happens when money or belongings are stolen from an older adult. It can include forging checks, taking someone else's retirement or Social Security benefits, or using a person's credit cards and bank accounts without their permission. It also includes changing names on a will, bank account, life insurance policy, or title to a house without permission.
Recognizing the signs of elder abuse.
Most states require that doctors, lawyers and professional caregivers report elder mistreatment. Family and friends can also report it. Do not wait. Help is available.
The Administration for Community Living has a National Center on Elder Abuse where you can learn about how to report abuse, where to get help, and state laws that deal with abuse and neglect. Go to https://ncea.acl.gov for more information.
If you think someone is in urgent danger, call 911 or your local police to get help right away.
We all age differently so, there is no way to set one age when everyone should stop driving. Trouble seeing, trouble hearing, slower reaction time and certain medications can all effect a person’s ability to drive safely.
As you age it may become harder to see people, and movement outside your direct line of sight. At night, you may have trouble seeing things clearly. Glare from oncoming headlights or street lights can be a problem. Eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, can also cause interfere with your ability to drive confidently. Aging may affect your hearing as well, making it harder to notice horns, sirens, or even noises coming from your own car. This can be a problem because these sounds warn you when you may need to pull over or get out of the way. Many medications have side effects that can make driving unsafe. Some may even come with warnings about driving while taking them. Pay attention to how these drugs may affect your driving and never drive if you feel drowsy or lightheaded.
Safe driving tips for seniors:
Sometimes, it can be hard for an older person to realize that he or she is no longer a safe driver. If possible, try to observe the person’s driving in person. If it’s not possible to observe the older person driving, look for these signs:
Talking with a senior about their driving.
For many people, driving represents independence, so giving up that freedom can be extremely difficult. Avoid a confrontation or an intervention with the entire family. You may want to be the one who has the conversation with your aging parent or elderly relative about their driving, however, consider that your loved one may be more open to listening to someone else. When choosing who will initiate the conversation with your older family member about his or her driving, consider the relationships and personalities involved. Try to keep the conversation one-on-one and pick a time of day when you believe your loved one will be most relaxed. Let your loved one know that your goal is to make sure they’re safe and that you wish for them to remain independent and will do all you can to help. Avoid saying they are a dangerous driver and starting out the conversation by demanding they need to stop driving. Focus on the facts available to you, such as their medical condition or your first-hand experience of their unsafe driving. If your aging relative wishes to remain independent, then an alternative means of transportation will be necessary.
Safe Driving Self Assessment Questions:
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time to talk with your doctor about driving or have a driving assessment.
Ty Strahl is the Spokane areas leading Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.