Keep SAD away from the year’s happiest season

sad 2020Every year, it comes on as inevitably as the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. SAD is a very apt acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that starts around the switchover to Standard Time, worsens through winter, ends in spring, and is winter blues times cabin fever to the nth power.

SAD can make you feel, well, sad, as well as anxious and irritable. It can make you lose interest in normal activities and withdraw from social contacts. In addition to interfering with concentration, it can make you feel fatigued, sluggish, lacking in energy. And boy, can it mess up your sleep patterns. It can also give you a big-time craving for carbohydrates, leading to weight gain, which in turn can sap your remaining energy.

About half a million Americans suffer from SAD, three-quarters of them women. And while older adults are less likely to experience SAD, it may be of bigger concern to them. Seniors are already vulnerable to feelings of social isolation, loneliness and often depression – especially in these times of pandemic and lockdown – and SAD can make those only worse.

Are you sure you want to age in place?

home sweet homeSurvey after survey shows that the overwhelming majority of older adults – in some surveys as many as 90% – want to spend the rest of their lives in their current homes.

But should they?

It’s true that aging in place lets you stay in familiar surroundings, close to friends and family, while avoiding the stress, strain and costs of moving – especially if you’ve already downsized.

But size isn’t everything. Because whether you’re rattling around your empty nest or living in a cozy condo, your home is aging as you do – you’ll both need more care as you get older. Some of the signs may be as obvious as peeling paint, rotting shingles, or the odor of the sewer backing up in the basement. But some – like mold under the sink, mice in the walls, or a furnace or air-conditioning compressor that aren’t what they used to be – aren’t.

How to avoid the pitfalls of parenting your parents


A middle-age man worries aloud about his father driving at night. His father complains about being badgered by his kids about his driving. While the son sees it as a matter of his dad’s safety, the father sees it as a challenge to his decision-making ability.

Whenever a thirtysomething woman visits her mother, she checks the use-by dates on the foods in the pantry and refrigerator. To the daughter, that’s a loving act of care. To the mother, though, it’s a violation of privacy and inspection for things to criticize.

Out of love for their aging parents, family caregivers in the Sandwich Generation often spend more hours caring for their parents than their children. They sacrifice salary, raises, career advancement, pensions, retirement funds and other financial benefits. They cope with extra stresses.

Only to get what seems like conflict, resistance and resentment in return.

COVID-19 is triggering a pandemic of scams

covid scamsCrises like pandemics can bring out the best in people – and, unfortunately, the worst. Using the pandemic as a handle, con artists have made elder fraud a multimillion-dollar industry. Just this year to date, the Federal Trade commission has received more than 187,000 elder fraud reports, robbing Americans of over $106 million. Americans 70 and older reported the biggest median losses.

As the demographic group most vulnerable to COVID-19, elders are the most worried about it. Those worries can make them particularly vulnerable to scams like these:

It’s time for another close look at your Medicare coverage.

medicare enrollment edit2If it's mid-October, that must mean it’s once again time for Medicare Open Enrollment. So between now and when Open Enrollment ends December 7, it’s worth going over to learn about new or improved benefits taking effect January 1, 2021.

Save hundreds of dollars a year on insulin. Starting with the New Year, you can join a participating Part D Senior Savings Model plan and take advantage of significant senior savings on insulin. For many types of insulin, copays will be capped at $35 for a 30-day supply. The Center for Medicare Services estimates that can add up to $446 in yearly out-of-pocket savings.

ESRD patients can enjoy Medicare Advantage Plans’ advantages. Last year, enrollment in Advantage Plans grew by 9%, bringing the total to 36% of all Medicare beneficiaries. I’ve written before about the extra benefits that Advantage Plans offer at no extra cost. Unfortunately these plans weren’t open to seniors with End Stage Renal Disease. As of January 1, 2021, they will be.