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Live Life On Your Own Terms

7 unexpected benefitsDid you know that flossing your teeth can help you live an average of 6.3 years longer? That’s what Dr. Michael Roizen writes in his book, Real Age.

The same bacteria that cause periodontal disease can infect and swell your arteries, constricting blood flow and leading to heart attacks and strokes. Periodontal disease also elevates white blood cell count, stressing your immune system and making it harder to fight off infection.

That’s one unexpected way of adding years to your life. Here are six more:

Be born in the right season.

inheritanceStereotypes – including those held by economists and retirement analysts – are just plain wrong, it turns out.

Seniors are not spending all their money on health care and long-term care. They’re not splurging on round-the-world cruises or other big-ticket, bucket list items. And they’re not living in such abject poverty that they need to survive on cat food.

According to studies by the Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI] and the Society of Actuaries [SOA], most retirees are living frugally but comfortably, thank you.

caregivers need care tooSome 43.5 million Americans are currently unpaid caregivers, a 2015 study found. The average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman working almost 60 hours a week – more than 34 hours outside the home plus over 24 more hours caring for an elder female. And teetering at the edge of caregiver burnout.

Bad as those numbers may sound, they’re going to get worse. As Baby Boomers age, the younger demographic cohorts who follow them will be smaller in number, putting more pressure on fewer caregivers to care for more elders. And that pressure takes a toll on caregivers’ physical and emotional health.

In that 2015 study, more than 20 percent of caregivers – almost 9 million people – reported that caregiving worsened their health, with mood changes, anxiety, aches and pains, stress overeating, and sleep disorders including insomnia.

So if you’re a caregiver, it’s vitally important to take care of yourself.

fallsEvery 19 seconds, an American 65 or older dies from something easily preventable:

A fall.

And in the four minutes or so it takes to read this post, an average of 22 seniors will have fallen and hurt themselves badly enough to be rushed to emergency rooms.

According to a CDC report released this month, deaths from falls increased by 31% over the past decade.

No one’s immune to falls. On May 24 of this year, Charlotte Fox, who’d survived a near-fatal blizzard near the top of Mount Everest and had become the first American woman to successfully scale three 26,247-foot-high mountains, “apparently slipped on the hardwood stairs in her four-story house, fell and suffered fatal injuries,” the Aspen Times reported. “She was 61.”

But while falls can be fatal, they can also be preventable, by addressing their three main causes – environmental, physical, and medical.

medicareSometime between now and year’s end, a new Medicare card will show up in your mailbox. Instead of your Social Security number, it will have a unique, 11-digit, randomly assigned Medical Beneficiary ID number to protect against identity theft. What’s more, that number will be good for not only Medicare, but also other programs, including Medicaid, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and Special Needs Plans (SNPs).

But while that new card is the first and most visible Medicare improvement, other new, more valuable changes, are less obvious. That’s because they give seniors with multiple or chronic medical issues new resources for aging in place.

On February 9, President Trump signed the CHRONIC (Creating High-quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic) Care Act of 2018 into law. And this law offers valuable new benefits – particularly for the 19 million Americans who signed up for Medicare Advantage plans: