Alzheimer’s: from Denial to Empowerment

First came the denial. Jay Reinstein co-hosts a radio call in program every Tuesday. Jay Reinstein’s unwillingness to accept that he had early onset Alzheimer’s disease was equal in magnitude to the responsibilities he would have to give up as the assistant city manager of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was afraid the people working for him would judge him. But disclosing his condition to coworkers was unavoidable. After Reinstein, who is 59, was diagnosed in March 2018, his doctor made this very clear: “You’re in a visible position and making decisions. You’ve got to tell them.” With encouragement from a therapist, Reinstein informed his boss, and together they mapped out a plan for telling the city’s elected officials and employees…

January 7, 2021

Our Popular Blogs in the Year of COVID

2020 was a year like no other. But despite the pandemic, most baby boomers’ finances emerged unscathed. The stock market rebounded smartly from its March nosedive. And the economy has improved, though it remains on shaky ground. Our readers, having largely ridden out last spring’s disruptions, returned to a perennial issue of interest to them: retirement planning. One of their favorite articles last year was “Unexpected Retirement Costs Can be Big.” So was “Changing Social Security: Who’s Affected,” which was about the toll that increasing the program’s earliest retirement age could take on blue-collar workers in physical jobs who don’t have the luxury of delaying retirement. COVID-19 in the nation’s nursing homes has caused incomprehensible tragedy. A nursing home advocat…

January 5, 2021

A Splendid Holiday Gift: a Vaccine

Rather than look back on a bizarre and painful 2020, let’s look ahead to the bright side: a vaccine. It is truly remarkable that top-notch scientists have been able to create several vaccines in record time. Producing and delivering them will be another hurdle, and questions remain about side effects and how long a vaccine will protect us. Many Americans’ reluctance to strictly adhere to public health standards will unfortunately slow our ability to put the virus completely behind us. But scientists and public health officials seem confident the vaccines can eventually snuff out this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Only then can we get back to our normal activities, such as traveling, eating at restaurants, and shopping – in person, rather than…

December 23, 2020

Video Documents Nursing Home Tragedy

 When COVID-19 started spreading through nursing homes last spring, the United States had no first-hand experience battling a coronavirus. That’s a fair point but an inadequate explanation for a tragedy in which more than 100,000 nursing home residents and staff to date have died of COVID-related causes. There is plenty of blame to go around. Governments either wouldn’t or couldn’t provide enough personal protective equipment, forcing the certified nursing assistants to don garbage bags and recycle masks. A shortage of tests limited the ability to detect asymptomatic cases and contain outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control, prior to the pandemic, had documented poor infection control practices. This made nursing homes a petri dish for spreading the virus. Acute staffing shortages…

December 22, 2020

How Much Will Your Retirement Taxes Be?

Four out of five retired households will pay little or no income taxes. But the tax rates at the highest income levels are meaningful, averaging 11 percent of household income and as much as 23 percent at the very top. These estimates come from a new analysis by the Center for Retirement Research that sheds light on a potentially important consideration that is often overlooked by people approaching retirement age. The highest tax rates are paid by the highest-income households because they often withdraw money from 401(k)s and IRAs to supplement their Social Security benefits. They must also pay capital gains taxes when they sell stocks and bonds for a profit from their regular financial accounts. Households with income in…

December 17, 2020

Crisis for Renters Threatens to Get Worse

Many unemployed and underemployed workers have run out of options for paying the rent. The National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Aspen Institute, and other organizations estimate that up to 40 million renters risk being evicted this winter. Congress is currently negotiating a new COVID-19 relief package but it’s not yet known whether it will extend a CDC moratorium on evictions or go beyond the Cares Act last spring and provide rental assistance to help renters and, by extension, their landlords. Squared Away spoke with Sarah Saadian, vice president of public policy for the National Low Income Housing Coalition, about what she describes as an impending calamity. Q: How bad is the current situation? Saadian: It’s really hard to get…

December 15, 2020

Affordable Care Act Indirectly Affects SSI

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that insurance companies offer coverage to young adults with disabilities – like all young people – through their parents’ employer coverage until age 26. So, up to this point, many adults with disabilities now have a viable way to get health services, independent of any government assistance. But at 26, that changes. A Mathematica study finds that’s when some start applying to the federal Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) – probably partly to gain access to Medicaid health coverage. Health insurance is critically important to people with disabilities, who often need expensive, specialized medical services. SSI’s purpose is to provide monthly cash assistance for living expenses if they lack financial resources and don’t hav…

December 10, 2020

Video: Young Adults Share Career Setbacks

 More than half of young adults are now living with their parents – the highest level in more than a century, according to the Pew Research Center. This alarming statistic, first featured in a September blog, is the result of a long-term trend that has accelerated during the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. In this PBS NewsHour video by Catherine Rampell, young adults 24 to 39 years old who are taking refuge in their parents’ homes talked about their stalled social lives and disrupted careers – their disappointments always tinged with a sense of humor. They include Marcellus Adams, who was laid off from two jobs, as an auto mechanic and emergency room staffer, and, at 29, has never really lived on…

December 8, 2020

Woman with Dementia Gets Lots of Support

December 3, 2020

Caring for a Parent Can Take Financial Toll

Last spring, as COVID-19 tore through the nation’s nursing homes, many people agonized over whether to pull their elderly parents out and assume responsibility for the care. The fall surge in the virus is no doubt causing more handwringing as adult children again weigh the challenges of home care against concerns about their parents’ physical and mental well-being. One practical consideration is the impact on the work lives of parental caregivers, who are overwhelmingly women. Recent research has found that “there are long-term costs associated with caregiving reflected in [lower] earnings even long after caregiving has taken place.” The research involved women in their 50s and 60s with at least one living parent or in-law, though they generally provided car…

December 1, 2020

Giving Thanks in Trying Times

In this difficult time, there many things to be thankful for: our family’s good health, our medical workers and scientists, our cleaning crews, grocery store workers and delivery drivers. We must also remember the people who have lost loved ones. To stay safe, millions of Americans have scaled back tomorrow’s meal to a modest event. But we hope that all of our blog readers can find comfort in the things that we can be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving. Read our blog posts in our ongoing coverage of COVID-19. ……

November 25, 2020

How Long Will You Live? Try This

How often do you eat red meat? Do you exercise regularly? Cancer in your family? Did you go to college? These questions – among the varied and complex predictors of longevity – are packed into a calculator that will estimate how long you could live. The calculator was created by Dr. Thomas Perls, an expert on longevity and the genetics of aging at Boston University. Articles about the links between longevity and diet and lifestyle are perennial fodder for the popular press and health magazines. But Dr. Perls’ research dives deeper – into genetics. In his work with geneticists, statisticians and computer scientists, he has studied the connections between genetics and people with exceptional longevity – nonagenerians (people living into…

November 24, 2020