Sunday, April 23, 2017

Thinking about but not yet planning for retirement?

When I was in my 30's and 30's I never thought about retirement, except when people I knew and respected retired. As I remember I was a little jealous of the opportunities I saw for them in this phase of their life. Many of us don’t start planning for retirement until we reach our late 40’s (if we are smart or lucky). Most of us actually start in their early to mid 50's and we panic. as we realise that we should have started planning when we were younger. So if you are still in your 20s and 30s hopefully you may learn from this post. Here are a few suggestions to plan for your retirement years:
Create a balance sheet
All that you have saved for your retirement will go into the asset side whereas the money you will need to live a comfortable post-retirement life and any unpaid liabilities such as loans, expenses on children's higher education and marriage etc. will go on the liabilities side. 
While creating this balance sheet, keep the following in mind:
You may go horribly wrong in calculating your life expectancy on basis of the age of your grandparents or parents. Be prepared to live even longer as life expectancy is on the rise worldwide.
You may ignore inflation at your own peril. The value of money reduces to half in 12 years if the rate of inflation is 6 percent. Apply the rule of 72 as you think about inflation.
Don't totally depend on physical assets. Past global examples indicate that real estate and gold can lose its value dramatically in a short period of time. It was the meltdown in real estate prices that triggered the global financial turmoil in 2008, remember?
The quality of healthcare is improving which will add many more years to everyone's life. However, health care will come at a significantly higher cost than in the past. While filling the liability side, don't ignore the cost of healthcare.
Prepare a viable plan
Once you have your balance sheet ready, most of us may find their balance sheet in red with post-retirement liabilities exceeding their assets or assets not being sufficient to support long post-retirement years. Is dependence on children in those retired years the only solution? Certainly, not! Here are a few options:
  • Pay yourself first. Create a retirement fund. Discuss with a professional financial adviser to understand the gap in your retirement planning. Start putting money aside to fill that gap immediately.
  • Create a separate financial plan for each life-stage goal and promise yourself not to dip into your retirement fund for those needs that may arise earlier than your retirement. Make sure you review your retirement plan at least twice a year.
  • If after all the planning you still find a shortfall, plan how you can extend your earning years.
  • Buy a health plan and critical illness plan soon to fund your healthcare needs in future, as you and your spouse grow old.
It is time to give retirement planning a serious consideration. While you might be curious about "how will I look when I am retired?", an equally important question to ask is "how will I feel when I am retired?" 
Creating a retirement plan and taking the first few steps toward it will go a long way in ensuring a "happy feeling" when you are retired.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Do you take your medications as required?

One of the workshops I deliver is about the misuse of medications by Seniors. It is a major problem, not just  for seniors but  for all ages, yet this is a problem identified as Seniors do not take their prescribed medications as they should.  This is identified by the medical profession as no adherence. Adherence can be defined as the extent to which medication administration coincides with medical advice and instructions.  

The following is taken from an article from NICE. NICE is an international network of researchers, practitioners, and students dedicated to improving the care of older adults, both in Canada and abroad. Their members represent a broad spectrum of disciplines and professions, including geriatric medicine, gerontological nursing, gerontological social work, gerontology, rehabilitation science, sociology, psychology, policy, law and older adults themselves and their caregivers.

30 to 50 % of the ambulatory population does not adhere with their medication directives and non-adherence can be as high as 60% in the elderly.

Adherence varies with the disease state; number and type of medications taken; characteristics of the patient; the nature of communication between practitioner and patient; and economic factors.

Elderly patients not adhering with medications results in 10% of hospital admissions and 23% of nursing home admissions
Adherence in Seniors may be a result of:
•       Not filling the prescription
•       Not refilling the prescription
•       Prematurely quitting the medication
•       Taking more or less of the medication prescribed
•       Not taking the medication according to the dosing schedule
•       Not taking the medication according to special instructions such as taking on an empty or full stomach (can affect absorption or cause stomach problems)
•       Taking medication not prescribed (sharing medication) that do not have symptoms in the early stages of their natural history have high rates of non-adherence because patients assume if they do not have pain or other symptoms they must not be ill

Patient education is critical, explaining in lay language the consequences if the disease is not treated in the early stages. Example: stroke and heart attack for uncontrolled hypertension.

Explaining the pathophysiological change in the body when medication is not taken helps the patient understand the role medication plays in prevention.

Multiple medications with complex dosing or administration schedules can be problematic because the elderly may have memory problems, diminished eyesight, hearing, arthritic hands that make opening bottles or administering medications difficult. Some ways to help would be to
•      Counsel family members or caregivers to monitor medication taking if possible
•      Use pill organizers that can be filled weekly
•      Use special bottle caps and large print
•      Simplify the regimen of taking medication by eliminating duplication 
•      Prescribing extended release medications or medications in alternative formulations that require less frequent administration

Friday, April 21, 2017

The World Happiness Report 2016 Update

The World Happiness Report 2016 Update, which ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, was released in Rome in advance of UN World Happiness Day, March 20th. The widespread interest in the World Happiness Reports, of which this is the fourth, reflects growing global interest in using happiness and subjective well-being as primary indicators of the quality of human development. Because of this growing interest, many governments, communities and organisations are using happiness data, and the results of subjective well-being research, to enable policies that support better lives. Below are the top 15 happiest countries in the world, from 2012 to 214 and from 2013 to 2015.  Where does your country rank?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How The Toilet Changed History

This is a fascinating little documentary on the commode, throne, privy, latrine, potty, whatever you want to call it. It is not as new an invention as you might think and no, it was not invented by Thomas Crapper (isn't that too bad.)