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Making Your Mental Health a Priority After the Loss of Your Spouse

Our thanks to Elmer George, Elderville.org,  for this contribution to our blog: 

A few months ago, my husband’s mom passed away. She had cancer and spent her final days in hospice. I must admit watching my father-in-law deal with the loss has been truly eye-opening. My mother-in-law not only did most of their cooking and cleaning, but managed their finances as well. We’ve been helping my father-in-law work through his grief, while also helping him learn to live on his own. I’ve shown him how to cook some easy recipes, my husband has taken over his finances, and we’ve tried to get additional help here and there to fill in the gaps. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to be doing to help my own parents as they age, and I’d love to share my experiences with others.

The loss of a spouse is a devastating life event. For seniors, many who have been with their partners for decades and decades, it can be an enormous blow to their mental health. Not only do you face crippling sadness, loneliness, and depression, but you have to cope while also handling final arrangements, dealing with life insurance policies and the will, and doing what you can to avoid clashing with family. That’s why it’s vital that you make your mental well-being your #1 priority during this trying time.

Don’t try to speed up your grief

“Numerous research studies have demonstrated spousal bereavement is a major source of life stress that often leaves people vulnerable to later problems, including depression, chronic stress, and reduced life expectancy,” notes Psychology Today.

It is counterproductive to try to convince yourself to get over your grief, or to listen to people who tell you that there should be a time limit on your mourning. While prolonged depression stemming from the loss of a spouse can lead to health problems, attempting to suppress grief can also be incredibly detrimental. Know that you are allowed to feel sad, and never try to speed up your grieving process.

One of the best ways to begin the grieving process is to have a service for your spouse. Whether the service is a funeral or for cremation, this is an important first step. A service honors your spouse, brings family together, begins the healing process, and may bring loved ones the closure they need.

Avoid short-term fixes that can become bad habits

You might think that it’s okay to develop a few bad habits because you’re just getting through the hard times and these new habits aren’t part of your normal lifestyle, just part of the grieving process. But relying on alcohol, smoking, drugs, or overeating to help you cope with your emotional pain is even more dangerous for seniors than for younger people. Alcohol, for example, exacerbates mental health problems like anxiety and depression and is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Not only that, but seniors tend to already be on more medications, which can have negative interactions with other substances.

Focus on eating right and exercising

The best thing you can do for your brain is to eat right and exercise. Getting enough physical activity helps our brain produce chemicals that improve our mood. What we put in our bodies is our fuel, and if you feed yourself subpar fuel, you’re going to have poor performance. If you want to help your brain battle depression and anxiety, stick to a healthy diet and be sure to get at least 30-45 minutes of moderate activity per day.

“Research in humans shows that exercise can stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones vital to healthy cognition,” says the National Institutes of Health.

Force yourself to be social

When dealing with the loss of a spouse, many seniors tend to self-isolate. But this is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. Talking with family and friends is one of the best ways to overcome excessive grief. “The most compassionate self-action you can take is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need,” says Oprah.com. Another way to talk to people about your grief is to join a grief group or seek counseling. These options may be available either locally or online.

There is no magic bullet for dealing with the devastating grief that comes with losing a spouse. But if you make a point to focus on your own mental health, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

About Elderville.org:

Elderville.org is a resource guide for everything related to seniors. We connect our readers to reliable sources on the internet so they don’t have to spend time searching. We have safety tips for daily activities, and resources that range from healthcare to volunteering.

Article & quick links provided by ElderVille: https://elderville.org/

Find your helpful quick links here for Seniors:

Can I Get a Mortgage if I’m Retired?
https://www.creditsesame.com/blog/mortgage/can-i-get-a-mortgage-if-i-m-retired/

A Guide to Downsizing for Seniors and Their Loved Ones
https://www.redfin.com/blog/seniors-guide-to-downsizing

Should You Own or Rent a Home in Retirement?
https://www.fool.com/mortgages/2017/05/04/should-you-own-or-rent-a-home-in-retirement.aspx

Home Modifications Increase Senior Safety
https://www.angieslist.com/articles/home-modifications-increase-senior-safety.htm

How to Save for a Down Payment on a House
https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-save-for-a-down-payment-on-a-house-1289847

7 Home Improvement & Remodeling Ideas That Increase Home Value (And What To Avoid)
https://www.moneycrashers.com/7-home-improvements-to-increase-its-value/

Home Construction & Design Techniques for Child Safety
https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/child-safety-home-design-and-projects/

How to Deter Burglars: Keeping Potential Robbers Away From Your Home
https://www.asecurelife.com/how-to-deter-burglars/

The Business of Aging reports on how older adults are “Hacking Longevity”

Hacking Longevity is the first study to examine how three generations of adults over the age of 50 – Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent Generation – are thinking about and planning for longer lives. Until now, the idea of increased longevity has been mostly conceptual and aspirational. Through a rigorous research process, Hacking Longevity examination, provides insights on how brands and organizations can better serve consumers of the longevity economy. The study was conducted in the Fall of 2017 and Winter of 2018 and led by Lori Bitter at The Business of Aging.

The study debuted at AARP’s Living 100 event in Washington DC in April. This timeline illustrates key inflection points in people’s lives as they age, as revealed in the data. To learn more about Hacking Longevity, join us in June at The Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit where we will provide a briefing for attendees.

Hacking Longevity was conducted in partnership with Collaborata, and underwritten by AARP, Wells Fargo Advisors, GreatCall, and Proctor and Gamble Ventures.

Four Ways You Are Wrong About Boomers

I am very proud to have received this great review from the National Association of Realtors for my book, The Grandparent Economy: How Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap. Following is the blog:

It seems everywhere you turn these days there’s some new diatribe against the generational focus of commentaries on society. It’s boomers attacking millennials attacking boomers… Heck, we even played an April Fool’s joke based on the trend a couple of weeks ago.

As someone who’s always bristled at generational stereotypes, I’m cheering those who are finally agreeing we need to stop playing the millennials vs. boomers card in the media (as no one talks about generation x anymore, that needn’t be halted of course). But as I was working on the upcoming feature for our May/June issue about how brokers are attracting the next generation of real estate pros, I found myself unable to avoid the term “millennial.”

Is your image of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

Are your ideas of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

That’s when I realized it has nothing to do with the terms; it’s the inaccurate stereotypes everyone should be finished with. And that’s why I really liked Lori K. Bitter’s The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap (Paramount Market Publishing, Inc., 2015). Not only is she seeking to help business owners and marketers better understand the boomer generation through the lens of grandparenthood using actual data, but she also busts a fair amount myths about boomers and grandparents in the process. Among them:

  1. Age and aversion to technology: Bitter says if you do an image search on grandparents in Google you’ll likely see “cartoon caricatures of couples with gray buns, sagging bellies and boobs, and canes… In reality, only 20 percent of grandparents are 75 or older.” She also points out that grandparents not only outspend other generations in traditional shopping environments, but they also “are outspending younger consumers two to one online… and they account for one in four mobile transactions.”
  2. Multi-gen housing as a temporary reaction to recession. Bitter, who was raised by her grandparents, points out that humans have been living with several generations under one roof since the beginning of civilization, and in many cultures around the world, it’s more common than it currently is in the United States. But as we become increasingly multicultural, it’s important to examine our biases and look at the facts: 2.7 million grandparents are raising small children on their own, and that doesn’t encompass the many who are sharing the task of raising children with the kids’ biological parents. She also points out that, far from being temporary, the trend will probably grow as people are living longer, and notes that grandfamilies occur in every area of the country and represent all income levels, races, and ethnicities.
  3. Midlife crises. Rather than fearing their advancing age, boomers are becoming less concerned with numbers as they mature. Bitter says this is the beginning of wisdom, or “the centered sense of the timelessness of all things.” She suggests thinking of marketing in the same way you might universal design: If you create something that can be used by anyone, it will be appreciated by everyone.
  4. The “Me Generation.” Bitter shows how the common trope of younger generations being full of themselves goes astray: All young people project that sort of bravado to a certain extent. “The images of self-entitled, self-centered, and materialistic boomers do not sit well, and the majority of those surveyed believe advertisers and reporters frequently get it wrong. From a developmental perspective self-involvement and materialism are features of a striving lifestyle typical of younger adults, which would be accurate for any generation, not just the Baby Boom.”

Though this isn’t a book specifically about real estate, Bitter includes numerous examples of housing communities that are successfully meeting the needs of this new batch of grandparents. And she clearly thinks highly of REALTOR® outreach to consumers: “Has an ad ever brought a tear to your eye? …Fast forward to the recent ads by the National Association of REALTORS® about the ‘American Dream of home ownership’ featuring a grandfather and his grandson. Mature consumers appreciate the art of a story well told.”

Now that’s a stereotype I think we can all live with.

Meg White

Meg White is the multimedia web producer for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine’s Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

 

What is Retirement in the 21st Century – Does It Include Work?

By Gregg M. Lunceford, Doctoral Student – Case Western Reserve University

In 2011 America’s Baby Boomer’s began turning age 65 a rate of approximately 10,000 people per day[i]. Historically age 65 has been the milestone at which many people retire. Dictionary.com defines retirement as “the act of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age”. This classic definition was more appropriate when retirement systems were created in the early 20th century to provide income for aging employees with diminishing work skills. When the Social Security Act of 1935 was drafted the average life expectancy for men and women were ages 58 and 62 respectively[ii]. By 2013 the average life expectancy for men and women in the U.S. increased to ages 76 and 81 respectively[iii].

Our increased longevity and improved health now allows for a wider range of lifestyle options therefore retirement is taking on new meaning. For many, retirement has become a career transition that includes work on different terms in the same profession, or the beginning of a new career[iv]. Work with flexible structures has led to “win-win” situation for retiring workers and employers as they recognized several benefits from working beyond retirement age. First, many individuals benefit from the socialization and feelings of accomplishment that come from work. Forty percent of individuals who completely retire from the workplace suffer from clinical depression and 6 out of 10 report a decline in health[v]. For many, work provides an outlet to continue to thrive and improve their well-being. Second, working in retirement allows many employers to maintain valuable knowledge individuals have developed over 30-40 year careers. Such individuals are often valuable mentors and can assist with succession planning and the training of younger employees in the workforce. Finally, Baby Boomers represent the largest cohort in the workplace. The complete exit of all them from the workforce at age 65 has the potential to create a human resource gap and limit overall productivity. The retention of Baby Boomers may help many organizations improve their productivity and become more competitive.

Given the overall benefits, it is important that society better understand what factors may predict an individual’s intent to work in retirement. In 2015, a study was conducted on retirement work intention[vi]. In the study 227 working individuals, of which 93% were age 50 or older, were surveyed to see what factors contributed to their decision to work in retirement. Our research showed that a person’s confidence in their ability, willingness to be adaptable and belief that they will have meaningful opportunities for work in retirement were all predictors of their intent to work in retirement.

Retirement has evolved and no longer means the complete exit from the workforce. Work with flexible options is becoming a rewarding lifestyle option for many retirees. Careful reflection on what activities will provide happiness and fulfilment should be considered in the retirement planning process and may lead to greater success in retirement.

[i] Synder, M. 2010, December 30. In 2011 The baby boomers start to turn 65: 16 statistics about the coming retirement crisis that will drop your jaw. End of The American Dream [online].

[ii] http://www.demog.berkeley.edu/~andrew/1918/figure2.html

[iii] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus14.pdf#016

[iv] Kim, J. E., & Moen, P. 2001, June 3. Is retirement good or bad for subjective well being. Current Directions in Psychologicial Science, 10: 83–86.

[v] Sahlgren, G. H. 2013. Work longer, live healthier: The relationship between economic activity, health and government policy. Institute of Economic Affairs: Discussion Paper #46

[vi] Lunceford, G. M. (2016, January). Retirement Values: What Factors Influence the Decision to Work in Retirement. Unpublished Doctoral Study at Case Western Reserve University . Cleveland, OH.

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchange

Gregg Lunceford, CFP® is a 24 year veteran in the financial services industry. Mr. Lunceford specializes in wealth management and works with clients on financial, estate and retirement planning issues. He currently, is a doctoral student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, and is studying how individuals make career transitions to retirement. Mr. Lunceford holds a MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, and a BBA from Loyola University of Chicago.

Email: gml56@case.edu

 

 

 

 

 

13th ANNUAL WHAT’S NEXT BOOMER SUMMIT COMES TO THE NATION’S CAPITAL , MARCH 23, 2016

boomerlogo
Nation’s Leading Conference Brings Together Boomer Marketing Experts and Industry Leaders to Focus on “Seizing the Opportunity of the Longevity Economy”

Washington, D.C. plays host to the 2016 What’s Next Boomer Business Summit, the nation’s leading annual conference for the boomer and senior markets. Taking place on Wednesday, March 23rd at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the upcoming summit shines a spotlight on “Seizing the Opportunity of the Longevity Economy” and includes a prestigious lineup of speakers, sessions, and exhibitors. Learn More →

Lori’s Interview with Barry Moltz on Business Insanity Radio

I was recently interviewed by Barry Moltz on Business Insanity Talk Radio. You can listen here:

 

Reaching the Seasoned Traveler at the Educational Travel Conference, Jan. 19-22 in Orlando, FL

Later this week I’ll be at the The Educational Travel Conference (ETC), Jan. 19-22 in Orlando, Florida. ETC is the founding conference for Alumni, Museum, Zoo, Conservation, and Nonprofit Educational Travel. It hosts 450 delegates who are a highly-qualified international group of nonprofit travel planners, suppliers, specialty tour operators and destinations. They assemble to focus on the development, operation and marketing of group educational, experiential and affinity travel worldwide.

I am looking forward joining Kathy Dragon, Doris Gallan and Heather Hardwick Rhodes for several agenda sessions there on Friday Jan. 20:

  • Going Past 40: How Today’s Baby Boomers are Traveling and Making their Buying Decisions, 9:30 – 10:50 a.m.
  • Boomer Product Development: Go Broader, Go Deeper by Appealing to Core Values of the 40+, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Prime Time Travelers: Diving Into The Digital/Social Component Of the Boomer Marketplace,  4:15 – 5:30 p.m

Learn more about The Educational Travel Conference (ETC) here.

Lori Bitter Featured in Forbes Magazine

In A Brutal Economy, Boomers Rewrite The Next Chapter


11/16/2011
(This story appears in the Dec. 5, 2011 issue of Forbes.)

Two years ago, on her 50th birthday, Lori Bitter got fired from her job at JWT, a subsidiary of WPP, the world’s largest ad agency. Nothing personal, mind you, but JWT had decided to eliminate JWT Boom, the unit she ran focused on marketing to mature consumers. She spent that weekend with her husband, on a long-planned birthday jaunt to Sedona, Ariz. “I hung out in the red rocks and pondered my existence,” she says.

The pondering didn’t last long…

Read the full article online at Forbes. Print article available on December 5.

Building With Multiple Generations In Mind

The recently released MetLife Report on American Grandparents revealed that 1 in 10 households is headed by a grandparent with at least one grandchild living there. The study reports that part of the reason for this is high rates of unemployment among the children’s parents. Interestingly, in 1980 there were only 28 million Americans living in a household that included two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation. By 2008 the number was 49 million Americans living inter-generationally.

In a recent New York Times story about this trend, Kermit Baker, a senior fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard and the chief economist of the American Institute of Architects, said, “Immigrants are a source of growing demand (for intergenerational homes), and their household composition is different in fundamental ways from the domestic-born.”

Learn More →

Reaching the New Assisted Living Decision Maker at CALA Fall Conference, Oct.24-26, Orange County, CA

I hope you’ll join me at the California Assisted Living Association’s (CALA) Fall Conference, Oct. 24-26 in Orange County, CA where I will be speaking in the session Reaching the New Assisted Living Decision Maker.

Date: Tuesday, October 25
Time: 3:45 – 5:15 p.m.
Where: Hyatt Regency, Orange County, CA

This session will provide key strategies to effectively communicate with strong influencers in the decision making process – the adult children/caregivers, integral to the selection and sales process. Learn how understanding the values of decision makers and trends and differences in sentiment towards Assisted Living communities can help drive your marketing strategy. Discover a messaging framework needed to engage and increase your prospect base.