Three Ways to Save on Your Meds

Three Ways to Save on Your Meds















Modern medicine supports our health in ways far beyond what generations before us experienced. Research and development of new medications is ongoing, but the cost of these “wonder” drugs might take your breath away. For seniors, that’s where Medicare Part D comes in–providing you access to medications that keep you healthy while helping your budget too.

I have been asked to participate in the #PartDAtWalgreens campaign, sponsored by Walgreens. But please know, though I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.

My husband and I use Medicare Part D. Each fall we review our list of prescription medications to see if they are covered by insurance, taking into account the benefit of using an insurance plan’s preferred pharmacy, which saves us money. We know that even if you didn’t alter your Medicare coverage plan during open enrollment, some changes may have been made that can raise or lower your prescription drug costs. In order to get the most from your benefit under Medicare’s Part D coverage, talk to a pharmacist at your local Walgreens pharmacy and check out the three steps below that could provide you with potential savings on your 2017 prescriptions.

  • Check to see if your plan utilizes preferred pharmacies.
  • Check whether a less expensive prescription drug brand or generic is an option available to you.
  • And when you fill your prescriptions, consider a 90-day refill. This may not only save you money, it provides you with the convenience of eliminating trips to the pharmacy.

Depending on the design of your plan, your coverage and your prescription drugs, you can pay higher copays at one pharmacy in comparison to another if your pharmacy is not in your plan’s preferred network. That’s why it’s important to make sure your pharmacy of choice is in your plan’s preferred network.

The Walgreen’s pharmacist will work with you, talk to you and guide you to prescription savings. For more information, go HERE.

What’s a Copay and How Walgreens Saves You Money

Your Walgreens pharmacist will provide detailed information about your copay– your out-of-pocket payment that you make for your medication, supplementing what your insurer has already allowed for a particular drug. You want to make sure that your copays are as low as possible. Walgreens can help you save with lower copays, because they are a PREFERRED PHARMACY with many Part D prescription plans nationwide. For some of these plans Walgreens offers copays as low as $0 on certain generic drugs.

Talk to a Walgreens pharmacist about the cost of each of the drugs you will be using in 2017. Different pharmacies can charge different copays for the same drug. But because Walgreens is a preferred pharmacy, they have an agreement with many Part D plans to offer you lower copays, costing you less. And certainly you want to get the best benefit. So if you are a Medicare beneficiary seeking help navigating prescription drug costs, you can find additional resources HERE.

Information Can Help Your Health and Your Wallet

Sometimes life can get in the way and prevent the necessary research that leads to a better decision. In a RECENT WALGREENS SURVEY of prescription users, 34 percent admitted that they weren’t taking the time to review their prescription drug plan prior to renewing it.

Almost one-in-five (19%) admitted they did not have a good understanding of their plan. To break this down: 22% admitted that they look at just one component of their plan, checking, for example, to see if the meds they need are covered, yet not looking at other important considerations. One in five interviewed, or 21%, falsely believed that all pharmacies charge the exact same copay.

And…33% did not know that they could switch pharmacies outside of the enrollment period–in other words, any time of year.

OKAY–the above affect your wallet, but as a nurse, I’m concerned with the following statistic: to manage their budget, 12% of the people interviewed stated that they delayed filling a current prescription and 9% stated that they skipped doses to stretch the medication supply and thus save money. Your health comes first. Your doctor prescribes a dose and administration of that dose for a reason–to get you well or keep you well or treat a chronic condition. Bottom line: make that phone call or talk to your Walgreens pharmacist. Your health depends on it.

Balance® Rewards Program

Another reason for choosing Walgreens is their Balance® Rewards loyalty program. Consumers can earn points at Walgreens for items they are already buying and for services they are already using at Walgreens like film processing**. The program also awards points for filling prescriptions in store (except in AR, NJ or NY). It’s a double win—Med D customers don’t just get copays that are as low as $0 on certain generic drugs on select plans—they also get points. It works like this: the more points you earn; the more rewards you’ll get. A no-brainer.

Examples of points through Balance® Rewards: For filling a 30-day prescription you get 100 points. For filling a 90-day prescription** you get 300 points. For being immunized at Walgreens—a flu shot, shingles vaccine, pneumonia etc.–you get 100 points. And for shopping items, you’ll get 10 points per $1 on almost everything—every day and bonus points on featured products each week.

Help for Caregivers

Are you a caregiver, unable to find time to visit a pharmacy, but greatly in need of advice on the use of a medication, cost, duration of administration etc.? Talk to a Walgreens pharmacist on the phone or utilize WALGREENS ONLINE TOOLS to manage prescriptions. After signing in with a password, you can hold a confidential and secure chat with a member of Walgreens pharmacy team. When I talked to Mireille Philiposian, the pharmacist at my local Walgreens, she stressed that you can get FREE expert advice day or night online or with the Walgreens mobile app. You will also be able to print or receive an email chat transcript for reference—very helpful when you are in a stressful situation.

There are many different ways you can switch to Walgreens:

  • Visit and transfer online.
  • Download the Walgreens mobile app and follow instructions for transferring
  • Call and transfer over the phone.
  • Stop at your neighborhood Walgreens and talk to a pharmacist.

Your Health Is a Gift

I blog about health on Boomer Highway. I’m a huge advocate of prevention. But I know that sometimes folks are just not comfortable ASKING for help. Don’t be. Healthcare professionals want to help. Your pharmacist might be busy, but he or she can provide answers, put an end to worry. He or she can advise you if you are having a reaction to a drug and need to stop taking that drug and try a substitute. Prevention also means a flu shot or other immunizations. Stop at the counter. ASK. Stay healthy and enjoy the gift of health.

**Prescription points limited to 50,000 points per calendar year and cannot be earned in AR, NJ or NY or on prescriptions transferred to a participating store located in AL, MS, OR or PR. Due to state and federal laws, points cannot be earned or redeemed on some items. Other restrictions apply. Complete details at


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walgreens. The opinions and text are all mine.

Child Healthcare Should be a Right, Not a Fairytale

Child Healthcare Should be a Right, Not a Fairytale

Really sick kids are not just in commercials on TV. They exist. They suffer. Sometimes they die and sometimes because of poor or nonexistent healthcare, their health is forever compromised. Children should always be one of the first things a government remembers to protect and take care of. Children deserve good healthcare. They are our future. And parents, grandparents reading this post–you might know more about these issues than I do, but bottom line: a sick child changes your day or your week. A chronically sick child changes your life.

The Beginning of the Story–The Symptom

During the time when Andrew had developed the symptom, the first thing I thought about when I awoke each day was the results of the blood test. If a neighbor called, I could barely concentrate on the conversation. I wanted the answer. I kept creating the conversation in my head. The blood test would be normal. His symptom would be normal. Our lives would be normal again.

“How long has he had this pain in his feet?” the doctor casually asked. Thank God we had a general practitioner who saw Andrew for high temperatures, immunizations, a checkup after a broken arm–you name it. Now this.

“I don’t know. He’s growing. I can’t keep him in shoes. He’s going to be tall.”

“How long,” the doctor asked again. I looked at my notes. This doctor was a step up. a podiatrist, a specialist. “A month, longer.”

She nodded. She was continually prodding, pressing, massaging Andrew’s feet, appraising his reactions. She picked up the X-rays she had ordered and looked them over again. “In order to be sure, I’m going to have to do blood work. Or we really could just wait and see.”

“What are we waiting for?” I asked. She had let go of Andrew’s feet. He was pulling on his socks. What twelve-year-old boy likes all this fuss and about feet, no less.

“To see if he has rheumatoid arthritis. It can develop at this age and the pain he is describing is symptomatic.”

“Or his feet are growing,” I said with emphasis. I was fighting back with my own logic. I didn’t want her forcing me down this path of chronic illness, but the purpose of my story is to relate how fortunate I was as a parent to avoid delay, to see a doctor. I had access to healthcare. I could take care of my child no matter what the answer would be.

Remembering Sleeping Beauty

In the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty–a christening party is planned after a princess is born. When the King realizes that he has only twelve golden plates to serve 13 fairies, he invites only 12. But during the party, the 13th fairy arrives. Angered by the slight, her gift is a curse: the princess will later prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. But the youngest fairy, who has hidden behind a curtain so that she can give her gift last, is able to alter the old fairy’s wish. She promises that the princess will only fall asleep and that after 100 years a king’s son will find her and awaken her. This was early healthcare–the best she could do.

And Now the Conclusion to the “Andrew’s Feet” Story 

After a long five days, the podiatrist finally called me. The blood work was normal. No signs of rheumatoid arthritis. My son was growing rapidly and I needed to make sure that he always had proper footwear to support his bones and tissues. I thanked the doctor more than once. A few years later when I needed a podiatrist, she became my doctor.

Healthcare Should be a Gift from Birth

So what’s the connection to the fairy tale? Every child born in our country is a gift. And regardless of their pedigree and financial abilities–they should be given the gift of good healthcare–from the start. Each child born in the U.S. should not need a fairy hiding behind a curtain–they should be able to grow and develop into a healthy adult. We are not a third world country. Everyone of us deserves the proper immunizations and periodic checkups. Every child should be assured the gift of health at his or her birth.

Changing the Ending

In our creative world today, television shows and some books allow the reader or viewer to change the ending. So let’s do that now. Let’s assume that I could not afford a general practitioner to see Andrew. Or let’s assume that he saw a medical person who was not particularly skilled at figuring out what might go wrong with a 13-year-old’s feet! And then let’s assume that Andrew did have rheumatoid arthritis. Check out basic info from the Mayo Clinic: the most common signs and symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis:

Pain. While your child might not complain of joint pain, you may notice that he or she limps — especially first thing in the morning or after a nap.
Swelling. Joint swelling is common but is often first noticed in larger joints like the knee.
Stiffness. You might notice that your child appears clumsier than usual, particularly in the morning or after naps.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can affect one joint or many. In some cases, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis affects the entire body — causing swollen lymph nodes, rashes and fever. Like other forms of arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by times when symptoms flare up and times when symptoms disappear.

If Andrew had developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, his life would have radically changed, but he also would have had healthcare. My message today: not everyone in the U.S. is as fortunate as Andrew. So…help those who need the following information.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HEALTHCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN NOW Click on this link to learn more. There’s a video on the site to explain the relationship between the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and CHIP, Children’s Health Insurance Program. On the site you will read: Don’t Wait to Enroll in the Children’s Health Insurance Program
Under ObamaCare kids, there is no reason to wait to make sure kids are covered. Millions of children qualify for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) 365 days a year. The CHIP program provides free or low cost coverage to kids and other family members, even kids whose parents make too much money for Medicaid coverage can qualify for CHIP. Over the past 15 years, CHIP has done an excellent job in reducing the number of children without health insurance and under the Affordable Care Act even more kids are covered.

Even states that didn’t expand Medicaid still tend to provide good CHIP coverage. In many non-expansion states, parents who wouldn’t normally qualify for Medicaid can qualify if children qualify for CHIP. Medicaid and CHIP cover:

  • Children and teens up to age 19
  • Young people up to 21 may be covered under Medicaid
  • Youth who have “aged out” of foster care can be covered under Medicaid until they reach age 26

More information here. Health Insurance for Children and Young Adults Under 26.

Every mother or father who has ever drawn breath worries about one thing and one thing alone–the inability to help their sick child. I no longer believe in fairies, but I do believe in government taking care of its citizens. Stay informed. Reach out and give those who need the information provided here. Seeing the photo of a cute kid on television can lead one to believe that everything is all right with the world of children. It is not. But this would not be the United States of America if we fail ONE CHILD–let alone the over eight million that are currently taken care of by (Children’s Health Insurance Program) CHIP.


Child Healthcare Should be a Right, Not a Fairytale


Beyond the Tooth-Brushing Routine

Beyond the Tooth-Brushing Routine

You wouldn’t even guess that this garden doesn’t need that much water.

What immediately comes to your mind when you hear the word water?

  • a cold drink

  • a hot shower

  • a dip in a pool

  • that you are thirsty and need to hydrate

  • that your body is around 75% water

  • your vegetable garden

  • that your area needs rain

Or maybe you think storms, flooding, hurricanes. No mater what the word water triggers in your brain, it is an absolutely essential and invaluable resource, one that with global warming and climate change we must honor and use wisely. And in our daily lives right now, it is no longer just about not running the water while brushing your teeth.

I now live in California and thus my care-free days of watching storm after storm plow through the plains of Iowa are over. And when growing up in Chicago, we would look at Lake Michigan and never fear that it would dry up and we wouldn’t have water. California and other states out west are a different story. In California, it hardly ever rains, though we are hoping for an El Nino that could bring lots of rain via the ocean. FINGERS CROSSED. In the meantime, it won’t hurt anyone living in the U.S. to consider conserving water.

Truly the ability to turn on the tap and get clean fresh water is something we have all taken for granted. Now conserving or reusing water is becoming as important as recycling.

A friend from Chicago was recently visiting and stepped up to wash the dishes. A wonderful gesture, but habits die hard and the water was flowing. I had to kindly stop the process, as conserving water is now part of how I do things. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but I am getting there.

  1. Preparing and Cooking Food. It’s amazing how much water we use during this process. When cleaning vegetables, set a strainer over another container to catch the water–and don’t have the tap running full-blast, use a brush to scrub instead of the pressure of the water to do the cleaning. The saved water can be used in your garden or to water your house plants.
  2. Make sure you have a low-flow faucet (1.5 gallons per minute) so that you aren’t running water and money down the drain.
  3. Don’t use water to defrost foods, but think ahead and defrost in your refrigerator.
  4. When boiling pasta, potatoes, veggies, just cover the food with water. You will save water and the fuel necessary to heat an amount that is not necessary. Plus more nutrients will stay in your vegetables and not be thrown away with the water. After your meal, when this water has cooled, use it again in your garden.
  5. The Cleanup. Energy-efficient dishwashers are the best way to wash dishes. However, not everything can go in the machine–so first, load it up. Then turn on the faucet is get hot water flowing (dish washers work faster if they start with hot water) but save that hot water in a tub or large cooking pan and after adding soap wash up those items that can’t go in the dishwasher. Don’t just let the water run. Turn on only when you need to rinse. You’ll get used to this process and find yourself turning off the tap after each rinse. IT DOES BECOME A HABIT.
  6. Other Kitchen Tips. Compost food scraps or have a medium-size garbage basket with a liner for your after-meal cleanup. Garbage disposals might be going away, as they require lots of water to flush and prevent clogging.
  7. Buy a container and keep water in your fridge so you don’t have to run the tap to cool water down. And don’t buy bottled water, which requires water in the manufacturing process not to mention filling up landfills.
  8. If you spill ice cubes on your floor, you can always put them in your plants or collect and toss in your garden.
  9. Showers, Sinks, Toilets, Hoses: To heat up shower water, collect the cool and again save for other purposes. Use low-flow shower heads and limit your time in the shower as each minute of showering is 5-7 gallons of water.
  10. When washing your car, use a hose that allows you to turn the water on and off–don’t let it just run into the street.
  11. When possible, purchase high-efficiency toilets. They use 1.28 or less gallons of water per flush. Using these could cut indoor water use by as much as 20%. Older toilets use 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. And don’t use a toilet for a wastebasket. Have one right there in the bathroom, instead!
  12. If your water bill is high, have a plumber check for water leaks.
  13. Install faucet aerators. Older faucets use between 3 and 7 gallons per minute. Low-flow faucet aerators use no more than 1.5 gallons of water per minute. The aerators can be attached to most existing faucets.
  14. Install drip irrigation instead of using sprinklers that waste water because of evaporation. And depending on the zone you live in, replace water sucking plants with drought-tolerant.
  15. Create a new mantra; CAPTURE THE WATER! and discover how many ways you can do this.

I am sure there are many more ways to save water. We learn as we go. When in July we Californians were treated to two days of wonderful rain, I went out and bought a new plastic garbage can to place under a gutter and also to store pots and buckets of water saved from showering, washing veggies etc. Rain barrels are a great investment if your house can accommodate one.

I do remember the years of brushing my teeth and just watching that water go down the drain. Those days are long gone. You don’t need to live in the western states to realize that saving water is part of our future. So get in the habit and share ways that you save.

Photo: Thanks to


Money, Debt – Do Those Words Affect Children?

Money, Debt – Do Those Words Affect Children?

Absolutely. First, think back. No matter what your financial picture is now, can you remember overhearing or maybe even having a discussion with your parents about money? Answers would be diverse and numerous; they might look like this:

1. I realized we didn’t have any money when my mother cried about my ripping a jacket;

2. At night I often heard my parents arguing about money;

3. When my father died, my mother had to work two jobs–to support us and pay off debts;

4. If my mother uttered the word debt or money, my father would shush her and take us all for ice cream.

5. From early on, my father focussed on my need to get a job to help the family.

Others reading this might have been fortunate enough to live in a household where money wasn’t a problem or an issue. But with the downturn in the economy and subsequent loss of jobs for great numbers of people, money concerns are now part of many households.  What parents or grandparents say about money and debt can negatively or positively affect how children feel and eventually handle their own money.

True wealth isn’t defined by how much money you have, but by how you use it.

Shannon Ryan grew up with this maxim. Her blog, THE HEAVY PURSE, reflects the lessons that her father began to teach her at the age of 13. He discussed the importance of spending money wisely thus giving a person the ability to purchase what matters most. He taught that financial freedom is definitely related to understanding one’s emotional relationship to money, which could be fear, anger, frustration, even boredom. Fear of money or anger that we don’t have enough can lead to profligate and unwise spending. The result? Emotional spending hinders the realization of goals and disallows living the life we want and deserve.

If you have decided to stop reading because none of this applies to you in your boomer years, please don’t. Do you read money gurus like Jean Chatzky and Suze Orman? Ryan is applying great principles about money to help prepare our children and grandchildren for a future where having enough money might be even more tenuous than it was for us.

1. Consider the emotional aspect of money: if money sometimes meant struggle for you, then consider teaching your progeny that it is a gift, one that can bring good things into life if used properly. Attaching too much emotion to money can make it a burden for the wealthy or something to covet for the non-wealthy—neither is positive or helpful.

2. Give money a purpose: discuss the importance of not spending mindlessly. Ryan advocates family meetings where money is discussed and goals (like a vacation) are set. Though her daughters are young, she and her husband are teaching money’s connection to goal setting. They might ask: which should the family save for this year—a vacation to visit a relative or a backyard climbing gym? They then plan and save for the decided upon goal. Her daughters have input and learn that this household does not spend mindlessly.

3. Set spending examples: Ryan’s children save the money they receive as gifts and from doing chores. A shopping expedition is a test to see if the “flashy new item” is really worth the funds they have saved. Ryan is proud to say the girls often decline spending their money and have learned not to beg Mom to buy the item for them.

4. Share money decisions: Ryan’s openness is healthy. I remember worrying about money as a child; I knew we didn’t have much of it. Once in a great while my mother could not help reminding us that we had to watch our spending carefully. But she also allowed us in on discussions about spending and decision making. We learned to pride ourselves on the money we made through summer jobs and the scholarships we earned to put us through college.

5. At the very least, talk about MONEY: Final thoughts. As parents and grandparents we teach our children so much, wanting them to grow up and succeed in life, become happy, well-grounded, successful adults. We give them the tools they need to reach certain goals: how to practice good hygiene, how to read, learn math facts, talk to adults, meet and become friendly with other children. But Ryan points out that rarely do we talk to our progeny about how to make smart money decisions. Ryan states: “If we really want our kids to succeed, money conversations need to become a priority and not an afterthought. Make the commitment to talk to your kids about money and if you don’t know how, then make the commitment to learn.”

Some money conversations can be difficult, but if debt is a problem and money is tight, Ryan has some great suggestions for budgeting and discussing budgeting within the family.

Money should not be a dirty word in anyone’s household. Honest discussions about a family’s economic situation works toward proper decision-making when it comes to spending. Including growing children and teens in the purpose of spending and the reasons for saving can help them build positive and emotion-free attitudes toward money as they build their own successful lives and careers.

Thanks to Shannon Ryan for her exceedingly helpful blog that can not only make money a positive word in our progeny’s vocabulary, but can also provide us with doable ideas about budgeting. Got a teen who wants to build up credit card debt? Arguments against. Check it out here. Our use and explanation of words like money and debt definitely affect our children’s economic future.

Money, Debt – Do Those Words Affect Children?

Thanks to Google Images

Don’t Be a Cyber Crime Target

Don’t Be A Cyber Crime Target

Feel like you’re a walking target for cyber crime? Follow these tips and protect yourself.

Cyber crime, identity theft, we hear about it constantly.  But what are we doing to avoid becoming a target??

Basic rules I currently follow include:

  • Watch those links! Never click on a link in an email from a stranger.
  • Again watch those links! Friends’ email can be hacked; consider carefully before opening a link from them—if it looks suspicious text or call and question the link to verify it.
  • Know you’re a target.  Boomers, people our age, are often targeted by phone scams.  I’ve won cars and boats from a guy somewhere in the Caribbean.  What does he want?  My Social Security number.  That will never happen!
  • Guard your social.   Extremely few people need your social security number during phone transactions, so protect it like crazy.   I do have to reveal it when identifying myself as an authorized person on my mother’s bank account.
  • Ask the question.  If a form or someone in an office wants your social security number—ask them why!!
  • Protect yourself.  When dealing with people on the phone be alert and careful.  Don’t share any information with them that they don’t need.  You can never be too careful concerning who you are really talking to.

Frank Mokosak, a certified financial planner in West Des Moines, Iowa, offers the following preventive tips.  Such tips can act as a shield to protect you from becoming a target for identity theft and cyber crime.

  1. Beware of shoulder-surfers or hidden cameras at ATMs.  Tip: cover your hand with your other hand before putting in your PIN.
  2. Buy a good shredder and shred everything: credit card receipts (after checking them with your bill) bank and medical statements, and preapproved credit card offers.
  3. Monitor your credit accounts with care and precision.  If you have an unused account, close it out.
  4. Limit the numbers of credit cards you carry.
  5. Get a credit report at least once a year and clean up any errors.  (60 Minutes just did a report on how this can be very difficult to do, so keep an eye on your personal credit score.)
  6. Post at the post office paid bills with checks in them.  Don’t leave them in your personal mailbox.
  7. Moving? Contact all creditors and update them of address changes right away.  And be aware: if your credit card expires and you did not receive a new one, call the credit card company immediately.
  8. Again, only provide your social security number when absolutely necessary.  Don’t carry your SS card.  Don’t have it on your checks or driver’s license.  Don’t use it as an account number.
  9. NEVER give your bank account number, SS number, or credit card number to anyone soliciting over the phone.
  10. Shopping online??  Look for the Trust-e-symbol or a Better Business Bureau online seal.
  11. Make sure any online credit card charges are handled through a secure site or in an encrypted mode.  Look for https instead of http.
  12. Consider purchasing an identity theft protection insurance policy.

Got any other ideas to shield us from from cyber crime?  Share them in a comment on Boomer Highway.  None of us wants to be targets for identity theft or cyber crime.

Thanks to Frank Mokosak  He also suggests that you contact these major credit bureaus if you think you’ve been a victim of cyber crime:;;

iPhoto by Google Images




Know About Money And Protect Yours


Learn how to make money work for you.

Someone once said money is a necessary evil.  It certainly is a necessity.

Understanding how to use and protect your money is also a necessity.  Knowing how money works, can be almost as good as having a wealthy uncle.

April is Financial Literacy Month, so Sid Kirchheimer challenged readers in the AARP Bulletin to take a MONEY QUIZ.

Five years ago I would have failed it.  Then if the conversation was about finance and banking, I walked away.  But the present financial picture made me ask questions and  read financial journalist Jean Chatzky, personal finance expert, Suze Orman.

Yes, there’s a lot of information out there.  Some of it confusing.  But we can’t put our money in some fund if we don’t understand how it works.

Challenge yourself and answer the following questions from Kirchheimer’s quiz:

1. Which statement about a certificate of deposit is false?

A. A CD is an interest-bearing savings certificate insured by the FDIC.

B. It pays a fixed interest rate for a fixed term.

C. It has no fixed term and usually has a variable interest rate.

D. Penalties result if money is withdrawn before the term ends.

2Which of the following is false?

A. An IRA and a 401(k) are both retirement saving accounts.

B.   A 401(k) is offered through your workplace, usually with employer contributions.

C.  An IRA is funded with your own money, sometimes with contributions by employers.

D. An IRA can be opened with $1,000; a 401(k) requires $401.

3. Most credit scores range from 300-850.

A. True        B. False

4.  For late savers in their mid-50s, what’s the recommended amount of an $80,000 annual income that should be contributed to an IRA or other retirement account in order to retire comfortably at age 65?

A. 22%

B. 37%

C. 43%

5. What is the difference between a stock and a bond?

A. Nothing.  They are the same.

B. Investing in stock means you’ve bought part of a company; investing in bonds means you’ve loaned money to companies, governments or other groups in exchange for interest payments and redemption of the bond when it matures.

C. A stock has no expiration date; bonds are issued for specified time periods.

D. B and C

How did you do?


  1. C
  2. D
  3. A
  4. B
  5. D

If you get all five or if you don’t, learn more.  Go to:

Kirchheimer says:

There are 30 questions,

25-30 move over, Warren Buffett!

16-24 more like Jimmy Buffett

8-15  still can’t afford a weekly lunch buffet

0-7    time for Financial Literacy School.

Thanks to photostream



Is Your Mother on Drugs? Dementia Drugs?

You need to have knowledge of the meds your loved one is taking.

If your aging parent has dementia or shows signs of it—short term memory loss, inability to balance the check book, confusion over daily tasks—you may become involved with administering or helping with medications.

First have your parent examined by a physician familiar with other conditions that can cause dementia-like behavior: hypothyroidism, vitamin deficiency, or infections are the common ones and therefore thyroid medication, vitamins like B 12 or antibiotics might be prescribed.

If your loved one has the beginning of an irreversible dementia, here’s a quick list of some of the drugs you may encounter:

Donepezil (Aricept), Galatamine (Reminyl) and Ravastigmine (Exelon) are often used to help patients with dementia.  Called cholinesterase inhibitors these drugs were developed for Alzheimer’s patients but are also used for other dementias.  Having few side effects, they sometimes help maintain mental function.  They cannot stop dementia and it is not clear as to how long they will work in a given individual.

Another drug, Menantime (Namenda) has been known to slow the later stages of Alzheimer’s and it may help those with vascular dementia, a disease caused by silent strokes or infarcts in the brain that block brain signals obscuring memory.  A person with vascular dementia might also be on an anticoagulant like Clopidogrel (Plavix) to prevent future blood clots from forming and causing silent strokes in the brain.

The cholinesterase inhibitors are often used at the beginning stages of dementia.  When the dementia progresses, reevaluate the use of these medications with your relative’s provider as they are expensive and may no longer be helping your loved one.

Medications to combat high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels might also be on your parent’s medication list as controlling these conditions helps prevent worsening of vascular dementia.

Mirtazapine (Remeron) is an antidepressant often used in elder patients with dementia.  It stimulates the appetite, helps depression, and induces sleep, preventing dangerous waking and roaming at night.

Many facilities use this drug to insure that their clients are eating well and sleeping through the night.  The latter was of major concern to me as my mother would often try to get out of bed and then fall.  One of these falls caused a hip fracture.

Divalproex (Depakote) is an anticonvulsant and mood stimulator that helps with agitation.  The American Family Physician Journal recommends it as being well tolerated with little side effects.

I was against having my mother use this drug, but when she was interacting negatively with other clients at her facility, I had to agree to it.  These are very tough decisions.

As your loved one’s dementia progresses, either you or a visiting nurse or nurse’s aid in a facility will be dispensing these medications.  People with dementia don’t remember when or if they took a pill.

Keep a list of everything your parent is taking and check frequently with the provider as to what is truly helping the patient and what can be added or discontinued.

Thanks to Gaetan Lee Photostream


How to Combine Celebration and Sorrow

We need small miracles during the holidays

Most of us are familiar with the downside of the coming holidays: if there is sorrow in life it’s hard to get through these times when wherever you go people are wishing you happy holidays and almost insisting on joy for everyone.

People lose family members all year long—even during the holidays.  And people with chronic illness or those who care for someone who is chronically ill do not experience a sudden cure just because it’s December.  People lose jobs every day as bills pile up and the idea of buying presents creates anxiety and worry.

Our culture’s involvement in twinkling lights, carols, and endless decorations can bring smiles to many faces.  After all, it is December and bitterly cold in many parts of the globe and these traditions date back to bringing warmth and solace to a dark and frozen world.

But the opposite affect can happen when people who are dealing with sorrow or anxiety struggle to put a bright face on things.  Then holidays can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation and life becomes even more difficult.

But you knew this.  What you might not have is solutions: how to help someone in your family, or a close friend, or even yourself approach the holidays when there is struggle in your life.        

Practicing inclusion.  This is a wonderful path to follow: opening yourself up to others during this time of year can make your empty and sad heart feel full.  If finances are your problem, going to a shelter and helping others can make your inability to buy a sleigh-full of presents insignificant.  Again: if you are feeling bad about yourself—go help someone else.

Looking at reality.  Toni Bernhard’s advice for people with a chronic illness may be difficult, but it’s factual.  Because they fear others won’t understand about their illness, people in this situation often let family and friends drift away.  At the holidays “…the increase in activity exacerbates physical symptoms, while coping with sadness, frustration, and maybe even guilt about physical limitations gives rise to emotional pain.”

Bernard says if you don’t look sick, your family might need an email or a letter ahead of time making your condition visible.  You are not complaining, but giving a quick outline of your disease to insure when you arrive at a gathering, you’re not asked to frost 30 cookies or hand out drinks.

Why is this necessary?  Often people who love you want to be in denial.  If you appear to feel fine, they will go with that—it’s so much easier.  But your family needs to honor your situation and make allowances for the rest and quiet that you may need.

Finding comfort.  Though the holidays are the time of year when presents signify gifts of love and salvation, you may have to gift yourself during a particular time of your life.  Instead of buying gifts for others, you might have to gather to yourself the gift of comfort, the simple joy of another day of life.  Or you may have to pull away from past patterns, creating and enjoying a new celebration, one that offers you solace in your struggle—whatever that struggle is.  If a loved one dies, the traditions of past holidays will fall away.  Illness might limit or rework the holiday experience. Though it may be hard, go with the changes.  Life is a change artist.  Financial problems will certainly recreate the holiday experience.  You don’t want to go into debt trying to do what you have done in the past.

Making your own miracles. A recently divorced friend didn’t plan any experience with others on Christmas Day.  She suffered greatly from this decision and now will gather friends in similar situations to celebrate and be together.  She is recreating her holiday and making her own small miracle.  In a time of year when many long for warm sunshine and know that snowfall will after a time lose it luster, it’s important to bring something warm and cheerful into your life in a way that suits you.  Theologian Karl Rahner was once asked if he believed in miracles.  “I don’t believe in them, “he answered, “I rely on them to get through each day!”

Thank you to Rev. Ron Rolheiser and to Toni Bernhard, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers

 Thank you to Ollie T Photostream

One Small Step for Boomers

Feeling overwhelmed?  I am.  The boomer highway is full of worries and tasks and when I’m on the net or tuning into TV or radio it’s job loss, foreclosures, floods, tornadoes and our sick economy.  Though I know I am very fortunate, I want some good news for our country and lots of good news for those who are struggling.

A very wise woman once told me that if you are feeling down the best cure is: do something for someone else.  A great nugget of truth.  Though the problems ahead of us are big, I recently came across an article in the AARP Bulletin that listed five small steps each of us can take to help the economy.  Yes, it’s a Washington problem, but it is also our country and we as citizens can make a difference–it’s called doing something for someone else.  Below are those steps.  I then added a few more to help you brighten your own personal day.

(thanks to Jim Toedtman, AARP editor)

  1. Cut 150 calories a day from your diet.  No more cookies!  If we can get our health care costs in line, we can begin to solve our fiscal problems.  Binge eating leads to obesity and often diabetes—a disease that has no cure, causes debilitating complications and is projected to cost 3.4 trillion in the decade ending in 2020.  More than 60 percent of that cost will be paid by the federal government.  So you can help the economy by watching your calories so you don’t become pre-diabetic or diabetic.
  2. Pay your debts.  Borrowing has led us to this economic crisis.  Household borrowing is part of the problem too; it’s acute for older Americans.  The average U.S. family with a head of household age 60-70 has saved only 25 percent of what will be needed for retirement.  New borrowing puts pressure on future interest rates.  But trimming eases pressure on interest rates, which will reduce the amount of interest to be paid on the national debt.
  3. Walk a mile a day.  Heart disease is the nation’s leading killer, with more than 40 percent of U.S. adults expected to develop cardiovascular disease by 2030.  Cost?  Exceeding 1 trillion and more than half of those costs to be borne by Medicare.  Exercise, whether it’s walking, swimming, aerobic dancing etc burns calories, strengthens the heart and cuts the nation’s medical bill.
  4. Plan to work an extra year or two. If you can, this step helps in a number of ways: you’ll contribute to the Social Security trust fund.  You’ll add to your retirement fund. And a delay in cashing out will bolster the Social Security fund and increase your personal benefit.
  5. Give Uncle Sam a gift.  Would you believe other folks do?  Taxpayers’ gifts to the U.S. Treasury so far this year total $2, 429, 800.03.  It’s just an idea that some people will be able to act on.
  6. Put music in your day.  “Feeling Good” sung by Nina Simone is a special look at a new day.  The following You Tube version provides interesting art by Jacek Yerka
  7. Turn off the computer. Give yourself at least one hour in the day for quiet and self-focus.  Make email, bill-paying, idle chat and research wait!
  8. Read a novel.  Fiction is not only a great escape, it also opens up doors and windows, allows you to travel and experience lives different from your own.  Often fiction allows your heart to understand and your soul to forgive.
  9. Be kind to a stranger. At least once a day make a concerted effort to extend warmth and friendliness to someone out in your world.  I find I usually get a smile in return.  Pay it forward.
  10. Pay attention to nature–flora and fauna.  Walk a dog, pet a cat, listen to the birds, embrace the sky, stare at the trees, smell a flower, watch the sun sparkle on the water, wait for the moon to rise.

Can you take some of these small steps?  Feel better?

Thanks to Emy Marie’s Photostream