CREATIVE BLOG ARTICLES


1. When to Start Social Security

2. Jack LaLanne's Diet and Exercise Routine

3. You are the Golden Girls

4. Do Women Need a Female Financial Advisor

5. Traits of Long and Happy Relationships

6. Jimmy Carter Cancer Cure

7. What's Your Retirement Style

8. Health Benefits of Writing a Diary

9. Sex in Retirement

10. Exercise Type and Longevity

8 DIARY WRITING IMPROVES HEALTH

Many people may be surprised that diary writing improves health. The strength of this mental health technique of venting has actually proven to extend into physical health. We all need a private place of safety to complain, explain, recant, or just express our deepest darkest thoughts and emotions without being judged or embarrassed.

The very first benefit is a sense of safety and privacy not afforded to us in other arenas. We know in this digital age, there is not much that is really safe or private. In your diary or journal, you can say anything you want without fears of rejection, misunderstanding, regret, or political incorrectness. This is the one place where you can always be yourself.

A journal is your sanctuary from the stress and demands of a hectic and profit oriented environment. Journaling is about the relationship you have with yourself. That is, your thoughts and feelings are vitally important to your self-esteem and sense of well being. We all have some secret thoughts or experiences we won’t tell even the people we trust. If it’s not expressed, our negative feelings stay inside and tend to fester(repression).

This primary psychological benefit is called “catharsis” which just means a release of emotions. This release lowers the tension and anxiety surrounding the past feeling or experience. If you ever visited a psychotherapist, the type of conversation you have was designed for this. Writing about emotions in an abstract sense has proven to be more beneficial than verbalizing them which tends to aggravate past trauma instead.

In terms of physical improvements, studies show that this exercise strengthens the immune system by increasing T-lymphocytes. Some studies show it helps with pain management, fatigue, lowers blood pressure and even helps depression. It’s stress reduction benefit decreases arthritis, insomnia, asthma symptoms, and other chronic conditions. So, there actually is a physical health improvement since mental health extend into the body. This physical result is similar to that derived from meditation, progressive relaxation, or other stress reduction techniques. That’s because serotonin and endorphins are released which are mood elevators and pain killers. Except, in this case, you also solidify your thoughts and feelings.

Many of us had a diary as a child, but have given it up with the demands of mid-life. Well, it’s never too late to start or re-start. Writing about 3 times a week for 15 minutes is a good place to begin. Hand writing is a better form of expression than typing. You can write about the past, present or future, but don’t get stuck in the past. In my diary, I even say goodbye and write about people who have passed away and how I feel about that. So, this is a practice in taking care of yourself while appreciating and understanding life as it unfolds.           L. Johnson                More at:   http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.comType your paragraph here.

1.  WHEN to START SOCIAL SECURITY

When to start social security for women is based on different factors than men. Your starting age actually depends on a number of different financial and personal factors.  Women need a smarter plan to stretch their incomes and benefits through a longer and more expensive retirement. ( http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/11-ways-female-retirment-different/.)

We are all aware of the three major starting points to begin Social Security, 62, 66 or 70 years old. We are aware that taking benefits at 62 reduces it about 25% compared to 66. Taking benefits at 70 increases our amount by about 25% compared to 66 years old. Here is an example.

62 years = $1125 / month             $13,500 / year
66 years = $1500                            $18,000
70 years = $1875                            $22,500

When examining these numbers, it’s clear that the best situation is to collect the most on a permanent basis. But, you would receive it for less years.

Reasons to start at 62: The primary reason is that you need the money to live on.

1. You’re unemployed and it’s difficult getting hired.
2. You’re working part-time or your income is below $20,000
3. Your health is poor and you are unable to generate much income.
4. You don’t have longevity in you family history.
5. You are trying to minimize your long term taxation.
6. You’re starting an early spousal benefit before switching at 70

The first three examples are based on your current financial need. If your family longevity is short, taking benefits early makes sense. Since Social Security is subject to taxation, taking a lower benefit results in less taxation when combined with your other income. This makes sense if your other incomes are over $20,000. Your combined income for taxation when receiving Social Security is= 1) your AGI or adjusted gross income + 2)non-taxable interest(now taxable) + 3) half of your benefits. Let’s take a look at this example:

Adjusted Gross Income            $12,000
Tax-exempt interest                  $ 8,000
Half of Soc. Sec. benefits         $ 6,750

This total is $26,750 while your taxes begin at $25,000 if single. So, if you are making $20,000 a year or more, getting more social security will mean more taxation. The days of receiving tax free municipal bond dividends are over.

As a spouse, you are entitled to social security at 62 years old even if you never worked. You just have to be married for 10 years at some point and you can be divorced now. You can collect half of his benefits without any loss to him. You simply have your partner apply for social security and suspend his payments until 70. This allows you to receive you spousal benefits at 62 and start your own benefits at 70 when it’s higher.

Reasons to start at 70:
1. You are able to work full time with a decent income until 70
2. You need to lock in the highest benefit to maintain your lifestyle
3. You don’t have a big savings or multiple income streams
4. You are healthy and have longevity in your family
5. You want to collect the 8% a year by waiting
6. You will receive a greater cost of living increase

Due to the greater longevity and other expenses of women, most should wait until 70 years old to collect benefits. The key reason for most of us to wait is that we haven’t saved enough. Working longer not only increases your income, but also pays more into social security that increases your benefits. Your benefits increase about 8%(past full retirement age) a year by waiting. Many people consider that a good return on your money. The cost of living increase is a percentage, so the larger your benefit, the larger the increase in dollar terms.

In conclusion, I believe most women would receive the greatest benefits by waiting until 70 years old to collect. To get maximum benefit, take half of the spousal benefit at 62 and your full benefit at 70. If you fit into one of the reason to start early, then don’t be bashful about taking advantage. But, try to wait as long as possible.                 L. Johnson.   More at: www.creativeretirementforwomen.comType your paragraph here.

5.  TRAITS OF A LONG & HAPPY RELATIONSHIP

We all want to know the secret of a long and happy relationship. There is an excellent study of adult development that examined people continuously for six to eight decades.  This Aging Well(1)study focused on three groups. First is sample of 268 socially advantaged Harvard grads born around 1920. The second group is 456 inner city men born around 1930. The third group is 682 middle-class intellectually gifted women born around 1910. The study involved eight initial in-depth psychiatric interviews to establish a baseline. The follow-up study involved interviews with them, their parents and teachers to get more objective information. Most of subjects were then followed continuously until they passed away.  

To bypass all the statistics, the task of generativity was the best predictor of an enduring and happy marriage in old age. Generativity is basically how involved we have been as parents. We generate and raise our children with a varying degree of involvement. The top four traits from the study for a long and happy marriage are generativity, commitment, tolerance and humor.

Generativity is a measure of our caretaker abilities extended into retirement. The skills we use in child rearing certainly include dedicated care-taking, especially when children are young. We make a long-term commitment to our children as a matter of course, and we all know how much tolerance we need when they become adolescents. Humor is a good coping mechanism that helps relieve stress and lighten the intensity of the situation.

Good care-taking starts with an attitude of embracing the importance of relationships in general. Those who had a positive and supportive role model from their parents tend to emulate those behaviors when they become parents. But, those who did not develop basic trust with their primary caretaker tend not to be good caretakers themselves. 

Relationship skills learned in childhood are usually transferred to marriage and other emotional relationships as well.The study mentioned above may suggest that if your partner was not involved with child-rearing, did not bond in childhood, or is not involved in a care-taking role at work, he may not be involved with the care-taking demands of your relationship going forward.

If you do have a partner who wavers on these skills and you want to keep the relationship intact, you might consider managing his retirement plan by adding care-taker development goals. These skills can be learned, of course, as long as there is motivation. It’s important to develop his caretaker skills for times ahead when you may need to depend on him.               L.  Johnson from: www.creativeretirementforwomen.com 

(1) Vaillant, G. “Aging Well” New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2002. p.113, 123.

​2.  JACK LaLANNE DIET and EXERCISE                   


Francois Henri LaLanne(1914-2011) famous diet and exercise routine paved the way for him to become an American health icon. He opened the first public gym in Oakland, Ca and is best known for his TV show on fitness. But, he started out as a junk food addict as a kid until he was embarrassed by a failure to pass a routine physical exam in school. This upset and motivated him to attend health lectures that re-directed his life.

WORKOUT: LaLanne’s workout routine began with a series of stretches in bed as soon as he woke around 5am. He then went to one of his weight rooms, one had free weights and the other had weight-lifting machines. He worked the lower body one day and the upper body the next and the entire routine was changed every 30 days. After 90 minutes of weight lifting, he went to the pool for swimming and water exercises for another 30 minutes.

DIET: He ate only two meals a day. The first meal was at 11am after the workout and the second around 7pm usually at a cafe with his wife. His breakfast consisted of fruit, oatmeal, broth, and four egg whites.

His restaurant dinners began with a salad of 10 raw vegetables and four hard boiled egg whites. Fish was consumed almost every night and roasted turkey occasionally. He ate no other types of meat and did not snack between meals. His juicer became popular because Jack just couldn’t eat that many raw vegetables. He found juicing made it easier to consumer the large amount of veggies he wanted.

VITAMINS: In addition to a disciplined diet, Jack took 40 to 50 vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. It’s too long of a list to print here, but can be found on his website. However, he never relied on supplements to replace any foods, he just view it as an “insurance policy.”

ALCOHOL: Being a Frenchman himself, he believed in drinking wine because he noticed that the French tend to live longer in their wine culture. He allowed himself this pleasure apart from his discipline and was even know to get drunk at times.

He published his last book when 95 years old, Live Young Forever that influenced me to change my breakfast to oatmeal and raisins–his favorite. He passed away a little more than a year later at 96 years old from pneumonia.

CONCLUSION: There are areas of contention in his routine. It’s true that Jack placed weights ahead of aerobic exercise. In his diet, he derived most protein from egg whites and fish rather than more diverse sources. His heavy vitamin consumption may have not helped much as absorption rates were lower then. And he probably drank a bit too much at times. But, it’s his long term devotion to a healthy diet and challenging exercise that set him apart.                            L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Allen, R. 4-8-15 Jack LaLanne Workout Retrieved from muscleprodigy.com/jack-lalanne-workout/
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3.  YOU are the GOLDEN GIRLS

Due to the surprisingly high singles rate and the expense of residing alone, sharing a place with others can completely transform your life while offering many benefits. You remember the TV show called the “Golden Girls?” This is what I call Platonic Cohabitation and it has the potential to be a life saver on a number of different levels.

Since we are the first generation to live a long time in retirement, social accommodations that meet our needs tend to lag behind. That means we need to anticipate and plan for ourself accordingly. The many benefits of cohabitation are:

ECONOMIC: This most obvious of benefits cuts your expenses of rent and utilities in half. It can reduce your mortgage payment or become an income stream if your home is paid off.

HEALTH: Others help alert us to remembering our medications or being aware of problems that are not apparent to us at first. Your roommate would be the first responder if you get hurt or need help.

SOCIAL: Having people around stops some primary problems in old age like loneliness and isolation. We know this can led to depression and early death. So, being social is part of the key to better mental health and longevity.

PERSONAL: Having someone to discuss personal matters with is a very important part of being involved and connected to life. The degree of bonding that occurs with roommates can be very profound and long lasting. It’s quite likely that needed friendships will flourish in this setting.

When I worked my way through college, I needed to have roommates for many years. Besides a form of economizing, it was an experience at meeting new and diverse people. I actually met the group of college buddies that became lifelong friends for over 41 years as roommates. When I purchased my first house, I offset the expense by having a roommate. This person also turned out to be a lifelong friend. Consequently, the best friendship bonding in my life has occurred as a result of having roommates.

Many of us may have not had a roommate since college and may have mixed feelings about it. But, we should not let past memories cloud our judgement about what we need in the future. I always recommend that you start with someone on your social network, so you already have a level of comfort. If no one on your network needs to share right now, there are a number of websites that are roommate finders. All my roommates were unknown at first until they became lifelong supportive friends.       L.J.

More at:    www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

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6.  JIMMY CARTER CANCER CURE

Jimmy Carter’s cancer cure has been a breakthrough and godsend for many people expected to negotiate this terrible disease. The big difference is his treatment was successful without the use of traditional and nauseating chemotherapy.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death behind heart disease. That’s more than 1600 Americans every day. If you ever watched a friend or family go through chemotherapy, you know how awful and sickening that can be. Worse yet, some doctors use chemotherapy for certain cancers which never have responded to that treatment.

Trying to find research that shows if chemotherapy works or not is difficult. We know that 97% of all patients who receive this treatment are deceased in less than five years.  But, simple studies comparing those treated versus those who are not to evaluate if life is extended cannot be found. Yet, most oncologists want to inject this into you and tell you its the only way.

Earlier this year, 91 year old Jimmy Carter announced his cancer cure after using new immune boosting medications. He was suffering from metastatic(spreading) melanoma to his brain and liver. Jimmy Carter was given a combination of Keytruda, surgery, and radiation therapy to send his cancer into remission.

“These drugs work by tearing down defenses tumors erect against immune cell eradication.(1)” This Life Extension article mentions three approved immune drugs also called check point inhibitors: Yervoy, Opdivo and Keytruda. In the past, cancers with multiple gene mutations were more difficult to treat. With these new drugs, it is multiple mutations that respond most favorably.  The article points out another study that injected the immune drug interleukin-2 directly into cancer tumors. All 11 patients in the study responded with a complete absence of malignant cells in a compete srinkage of the tumor.

In terms of treating breast cancer, a similar protocol called photodynamic immunotherapy was used. It begins with sending a photosensitizing agent to the tumor. This enables the immune system to mount a response. Survival rates of these 15 women was similar or exceeded conventional methods. Except in this case, there was no mastectomy, no radiation, no chemotherapy and no serious side effects. For more information about this therapy, call the  Strategic Cancer Alliance at 1-610-628-3419.

In conclusion, not everyone responds as well as Jimmy Carter. But, the architecture for treating cancer is clearly changing. Rather than kill the cells, the medications augment your immune response. In this case, we have some studies that actually show results. Now you have a choice and can ask your oncologist about this new immunotherapy. Finally, a new day has arrived for cancer treatment and survival rates.

(1) Life Extension Mag 2016 June “Immune-Modulating Cancer Drugs” Vol.22, No.6 p84-92.      Photo: Getty ImagesType your paragraph here.

10. EXERCISE TYPE and LONGEVITY

We know from various studies that you can actually increase your longevity with exercise. But, which ones are the most beneficial? A study(1) divided 2613 Finnish athletes into three groups: 1. ENDURANCE ATHLETES (runners, cyclers) 2. POWER ATHLETES (boxers, weights) and 3. TEAM SPORTS (soccer, basketball, hockey). The results, when compared to Finnish non-athletes are that 1. Power athletes live 1.6 yrs. longer. 2. Team sports produced 4.0 extra years and 3. Endurance sports resulted in 5.7 extra years of life.

The key here is V02 max or the maximum amount of oxygen needed for exercise.  Activities that require you to breath the hardest are the best. Jogging has other advantages in that it’s the best calorie burner per minute of exercise. It will strengthen you knees and bones. It improves brain function including memory. This and most exercises improves mood and helps prevent depression.

You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from aerobic exercise even as we age. Most seniors I know become involved with distance walking, cycling or aerobic classes. We lose muscle mass as we age, so I believe that some weights should be involved in your routine for a balanced workout. If you are running, the baseline for benefits are 30 minutes 3 times a week. If you’re walking for your exercise, then it is 30 minutes 5 times a week.

(1) Serna, S. et al. “Increased Life Expectancy of World Class Male Athletes” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Vol 25, #2. Feb 1993.

7.  WHAT’S YOUR RETIREMENT STYLE


What’s your retirement style is important to understand for future planning. There is an interesting study by the APA(1) that examines how retirement is approached and how the experience is different for men and women. How people approach retirement was studied with six different styles emerging.

CONTINUERS who stay with existing skills and interests
ADVENTURES who start something entirely new
SEARCHERS who try new out new things using trail and error
EASY GILDERS who enjoy going from day to day without a plan
INVOLVED SPECTATORS who care, but engage less
RETREATERS who socially disconnect

In evaluating the above styles, I’m retired 7 years and I have experience each one of these variations. So, I don’t believe you get stuck in any one style. The two above styles that produce the most stress are the Easy Gilders and the Retreaters. The problem with easy gilding is that once you get bored or feel too isolated, you have no plan to grow. Some people then get anxious and depressed. The Retreating style is common to some extent since we are out of the working world. However, too much retreating socially also leads to isolation and depression.

It’s no surprise that they found the happiest retired folks were involved in a variety of activities. I always felt the best experience of life is through doing, not watching, as this confirms. That’s why I strongly recommend writing a retirement plan with a ton of interesting options for yourself. I can only recommend coping styles that involve social engagement because that is so important after work contacts diminish. Social engagement is considered vital for a stimulating and rewarding retirement.

The second half of the study focused on the different retirement experience for husbands and wives who retire at different times. They found that recent retired women are more depressed when compared to the not yet retired or continually retired. This is even more pronounced if the husband is still at work. Of course, if you are recently retired, then you are starting your adjustment to your new lifestyle. During this adjustment period it’s common to experience mixed emotions.

They also found the recently retired men have more conflict with their partner compared to working men. This becomes even more pronounced if their wife is still working. If the men decide to become re-employed, their morale is higher with less martial conflict. This is the same recent retirement adjustment and when they go back to work, the adjustment reaction stops.

What is the COMMON SENSE CONCLUSION here? First, this martial conflict or unhappiness is an indication of a stressful initial adjustment for both men and women. It’s not a mistake in your retirement. It is always difficult doing something new for the first time. Some retirement adjustments may take up to three years especially if you don’t have a plan. There are ways to anticipate your partner’s reaction and design a plan before it occurs. That’s because retirement adjustment occurs in phases.

Second, they note that women tend to become more depressed and men more conflictual or angry. I view this as a historical gender specific coping style. That is, it seems men and women are predetermined to respond in these ways when stressed. Once an adjustment is made, of course, your emotions become more stable and your return to your contort zone.

Third, if men are happier when re-employed, this may be the best retirement style for that group. It’s true that some people cannot adjust to retirement. Some people have found their passions in existing work to be so profound and satisfying, there is no desire to retire. This is the style of the Continuer above and many life long dedicated people fall into this category.

It is certainly helpful to have a guide or plan on past involvements to anticipate the future adjustments in retirement. If you take the time to develop a detailed retirement plan, then you can replace what you lost from work. This will dramatically cut down on your adjustment time and your emotion reactions. I hope this article helps you identify your retirement style, encourages you to develop a detailed plan based on past interests, and convinces you of the importance of social engagement in retirement.    L. Johnson   www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)American Psychological Association, 4-14-2005, “Thinking About Retirement? Time to Think About Your Psychological Portfolio.” Retrieved on 4-15-2015 from http://w ww. apa.org/research/action/retire.aspxType your paragraph here.

4.  DO WOMEN need a FEMALE FINANCIAL ADVISOR?

Would it surprise you if I told you that women are better money managers than men? It starts with a different relationship with money. Women do not view money as the ultimate goal, tend not to flaunt it with objects that are symbolic of success, and don't involve it in their identity to the extent as men. Becoming a millionaire is usually not the final accomplishment and stopping point for women. Instead, money is a tool that enables women to enjoy the benefits and freedoms of life. 

 As a stockbroker, it became clear to me that women are more careful and thoughtful about risking their money. They are not trying to hit a home run in the market, but look for stability and safety in an investment. "How safe is this," was the most common question and should be asked at every turn. In retirement, low risk investing is essential because you don't have time to start over.

Just the fact that the relationship with money is similar indicates a good match, but there is more. A study(1) found that female hedge fund managers out-preformed men by 6% over a nine-month period in 2012. The study points out four primary differences. 1. Women are less competitive and less preoccupied with beating an index. 2. Women take fewer risks in the market as with other areas of life. 3. Women do more homework and stay in investments longer. 4. Women realize they are not in control. Realizing you are not in control of all factors gives women the perspective to not panic. 

So, women need a female financial advisor because: 

1. Your relationship with money is similar on an emotional level.

2. Safety and sustainability of your money is the priority, especially in retirement.

3. Female advisors tend to establish a more personal relationship with clients.

4. Women, with the same experience as men, are better investors on average.

5. There is a deeper sense of trust with another woman.


L. Johnson, LCSW of Creative Retirement for Women.com

(1) Sightings, T. (1-7-14) "4 ways women make better investors" money.msn.com. Retrieved on 2-28-14 from: money.msn.com/how-to-invest/4-ways-women-make-better-investor

9. SEX in RETIREMENT

Some may feel that sex in retirement is an oxymoron. It may seem natural that sex declines with age since men lose testosterone while women lose estrogen. This natural occurrence often results in a loss of libido or sexual desire that may effect other areas of your life.

The larger problem here is not just loss of intercourse, but also the loss of the important feelings of intimacy, affection, and love.   Some women feel less inhibited since they can’t get pregnant at this stage. However, others must deal with symptoms of menopause that might interfere with their enjoyment in the bedroom.

If you are considering skipping sex in retirement, let me remind you of the benefits. Mood and self-esteem are elevated due production of endorphins. Your blood pressure, stress and sleep are all improved. It is highly correlated with your happiness and sense of well being in life. You burn calories and look younger. Studies show that sex causes collagen production. Groups of people asked to estimate age found that those who had regular sex looked seven years younger on average. Sex improves your health and makes you look younger!

Because this stage is characterized by a loss of interest in sex, both parties can surrender to this urge to forget sex, or both parties can show effort to keep it in their lives. The bottom line may be how important this level of closeness is to you personally. Most of us will feel that intimacy , love and sex cannot be discounted and is characteristic of a healthy relationship and an enjoyable life.

What to do: Rather than possibly lose your relationship or deciding to stay single the rest of your life, you can you do something about loss of desire? There are treatment options that you can discuss with your doctor. Estrogen hormone therapy may be appropriate for some, while Viagra for women is available. Viagra (and Calais) for women are intended to increase blood flow to the pubic area. Consumer reviews of Viagra from women are still forthcoming, so as a newer medication, time and success of usage will determine its popularity. Hormonal replacement patches that release testosterone have also benefited many women.

Whether you decide to try the above supplements or not, first be sure you are physically healthy. We all need to take care of our medical issues, meaning we don’t smoke, we exercise, and are generally healthy. The next focus for restoring interest in sex is arousal. Making love may be physical, but we all know arousal begins in the mind. This means we must first re-connect with arousal neural pathways in the brain.

To accomplish this, I suggest retro experiences to trigger prior arousal responses. For example, the goal is to have fun recreating that romantic evening with candlelight, soft music, vintage wine, gourmet food, a sexy outfit, and the man of your choice. The thoughts and visualizations that aroused you in the past should arouse you again. Self-awareness of all the little details that go into your experience is key to renewing that arousal.

In addition, an active fantasy life is considered healthy. I hope you are open to playfulness and experimentation in the bedroom as part of your continued pursuit of healthy social and physical involvements.     L. Johnson   More details in: www.creativeretirementforwomen.com