Life Settlements Can Pay for Long-Term Care

This segment aired on Think Advisor on August 10, 2023.

Please click here to read the news.

Practicing Wellness For Seniors: 5 Tips For A Healthy Lifestyle

Aging well is like the art of sculpting. Just as a sculptor carefully shapes and molds a block of clay or stone, embracing wellness allows us to shape and mold our own well-being as we age. We chisel away unhealthy habits, refine our choices, and sculpt a healthy lifestyle that reflects our true essence. With each mindful decision and intentional action, we carve out a masterpiece of vitality, strength, and wisdom.

Just like a sculptor, seniors have the opportunity to shape their wellness habits and design a lifestyle centered around longevity. Leading a healthy lifestyle not only helps seniors stay active and vibrant but also enhances their overall quality of life. With a focus on wellness, seniors can experience a range of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. To understand the impact of wellness on seniors, let’s explore what wellness means, how it can help older folks live longer, and practical tips to help seniors embrace a healthier lifestyle every single day.

What Is Wellness?

Wellness is the holistic practice of nurturing our body and mind to create a fulfilling, balanced, healthy life. The concept of “wellness” can broadly be separated into two main categories: physical wellness and emotional wellness.

Physical Wellness

Physical wellness involves taking care of our bodies through nutrition, exercise, and adequate rest. For seniors, physical factors like strength, balance, and flexibility play a role in their ability to remain mobile, independent, healthy, and happy into their later years of life. Physical fitness becomes harder and harder to maintain as you age, so creating a daily physical wellness practice can help your body preserve functionality into your 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond.

Here are some areas to focus on when crafting a daily physical wellness practice:

  • Exercise daily. Seniors can participate in activities like walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, or strength training to engage muscles and improve heart health.
  • Incorporate balance and flexibility. Maintaining balance and flexibility becomes increasingly important to prevent falls and maintain mobility as we age. Incorporate exercises that focus on balance and stretching, such as yoga or tai chi.
  • Prioritize rest. Adequate sleep is vital for energy levels, cognitive function, and even immune system health. Get enough rest every day by creating a relaxing bedtime routine and practicing good sleep hygiene.
  • Fuel your body (properly). Proper nutrition plays a key role in maintaining physical wellness. Focus on a daily balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Emotional Wellness

In addition to physical wellness, seniors should focus on creating and maintaining emotional wellness. Emotional wellness refers to nurturing our mental and emotional well-being. From managing stress and cultivating positive relationships to developing coping strategies for life’s challenges, emotional wellness sharpens your mind and grows your inner peace.

Emotional wellness for seniors includes attributes like:

  • Having a positive mindset.
  • Practicing mindfulness.
  • Being adaptable.
  • Having — and creating — long-lasting relationships.
  • Participating in activities that bring you joy.
  • Cultivating mental sharpness.

Aging is a physical and a mental process, which is why stress — or other mental blocks — can cause seniors to stumble on their journey towards wellness. By actively creating a daily wellness that includes physical and emotional activities, seniors can enjoy a vibrant, fulfilling, long-lasting life with a strong body and mind.

Why Is Wellness Important to Seniors?

Wellness has the power to help seniors maintain a high quality of life — and even prolong their golden years. As we age, our bodies naturally go through changes that can impact our health. The human mind naturally weakens over time and can fall prey to cognitive diseases like Alzheimers and dementia. Similarly, the body experiences a natural decline in functionality, strength, and balance that can lead to ailments, accidents, and injuries. The good news? There are prevention measures you can take to ward off illness, disease, and avoidable accidents (like falls) from happening to you. Research shows that prioritizing mental and physical wellness can add years to your life. In fact, new research reveals that regular exercise can lower the risk of functional limitation and disability by up to 50%. Taking an active approach to aging well can help you live longer — and healthier — for years to come.

One of the best ways to introduce wellness into your life as a senior is by incorporating physical and mental wellness activities into your daily routine. Start by establishing a structured daily routine that includes exercise, healthy eating, relaxation, and social engagement. A routine can help seniors stay consistent with their wellness activities. Remember to take small first steps and gradually increase duration and intensity over time. For example, implement small dietary changes — like adding more fruit and vegetables to your meals — and ramping up as the weeks and months go by. By starting small, seniors can make lasting changes without feeling overwhelmed.

5 Wellness Tips for Seniors

You may have heard the old adage: an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Well, the same line of thinking applies to seniors looking to maintain their mental and physical health well into the later years of their life. To prevent declining health, seniors can prioritize the following daily wellness tips.

1. Prioritize Nutrition

Nutrition should not be overlooked when it comes to holistic wellness. As you age, it’s important to focus on several elements of your diet: caloric intake, nutrient density, hydration, fiber-rich foods, and calcium intake, among many others. Take a moment and ask yourself the following questions. Are you eating a well-balanced meal? Are you eating enough protein? Are you drinking enough water throughout the day? By prioritizing balanced meals, considering nutrient density, staying hydrated, focusing on bone health, incorporating fiber and protein, and considering individual needs and health conditions, seniors can create a nutritious diet that supports their overall well-being and helps maintain optimal health as they age.

2. Aim for 7-8 Hours of Sleep a Night

As you age, your sleeping patterns may change. You may notice that you have a harder time going to sleep or that you’re waking up more often and interrupting your REM sleep cycle. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is a common issue for older adults, so it’s important to make a plan for getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. First, evaluate what you eat before bedtime and eliminate caffeine, sugar, or alcohol. Are there any medications you’re taking that could be interfering with your sleep cycle? If so, talk with your doctor about any adjustments that can be made. Then, develop a wind-down routine to regulate your body and help your brain realize it’s time to start shutting down for the evening. Turn off screens and try finding sleep aids that work for you, such as a noise machine or essential oil room spray. Finally, get in bed at the same time so you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day.

3. Get Moving

Aim to move your body every single day. Incorporating daily movement can help you maintain strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults should aim to get 150 minutes per week of exercise — or 30 minutes per day, five days per week. Not only does exercise help keep your body in working order, it also provides clarity of mind and boosts your mood.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate movement into your daily schedule:

  • Walk with a friend. Add some socializing to your schedule while you exercise! Go for a daily walk with a friend to move your bodies and catch up.
  • Stretch. Maintain — and improve — mobility by stretching and working on your flexibility.
  • Participate in water aerobics. This type of exercise is one of the lowest-impact kinds of movement you can do. Get in the pool and work on your cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility.
  • Dance. Dancing is another wonderful way to add movement, enjoyment, and coordination to your routine. It’s also a great opportunity to socialize with friends if you choose to participate in a dance class.

4. Do Something for Your Mind

Exercising your brain is just as important as exercising your body. To prevent cognitive decline, older adults need to proactively keep their mind sharp by engaging in mentally stimulating activities that enhance memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills. Here are a few ways to keep your mind sharp:

  • Puzzles and brain games: Work on crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word searches, jigsaw puzzles, or brain teasers to challenge your brain. These critical thinking skills can help keep your memory in good shape.
  • Reading: Whether you love reading fiction or the newspaper, reading provides a level of mental stimulation that engages your vocabulary skills, comprehension, and imagination.
  • Learning a new hobby: Painting, knitting, woodworking, playing a musical instrument, learning a foreign language… the sky’s the limit when it comes to taking on a new hobby. Lean into an activity you’ve always wanted to learn to exercise cognitive flexibility.
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices: Engaging in meditation can improve focus, reduce stress, and promote mental clarity. Plus, this relaxing practice is beneficial to your overall emotional well-being.
  • Board games and card games: Not only are games like Scrabble, chess, and Rummy enjoyable, but they’re also great for your mind. These mentally stimulating strategy games involve problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory skills.

5. Find Your Community

Finally, one of the most important aspects of physical and mental wellness includes creating and maintaining strong connections with others. Socialization is a critical aspect for seniors that contributes to their overall wellness. Being part of a community can provide emotional support and, more importantly, it reduces feelings of isolation. Lean into opportunities that allow you to connect with others who share your interests. Join clubs, volunteer, seek out activities at community centers to engage in social activities.

Health and Wellness for Seniors: Key Takeaways

As you become the sculptor of your life, take the time to carefully shape and mold your well-being. By prioritizing physical and emotional wellness, seniors can experience a range of benefits that enhance their overall quality of life. Incorporating daily activities such as exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, cognitive stimulation, and social engagement is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Wellness is not just about adding years to life but also about adding life to years. Take proactive steps towards wellness and you can carve out a masterpiece of vitality, strength, and wisdom, enjoying a vibrant and fulfilling journey through their golden years. Retirement Genius is here to help you embrace the power of wellness and shape your life into the vibrant masterpiece it can be.

In-Home Care: Understanding Your Options

nurse caretaker comforting elderly patientThough it may be for the best, the transition from independent living to a form of living assistance can be difficult for both seniors and those closest to them. Fortunately, there are many different care options available to seniors who need some level of assistance. Two of the most popular long-term care service options are assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

The decision between a nursing home and an assisted living facility is very personal and should not be taken lightly. This post covers what each option entails, how they differ, and how to decide which may be best for your loved one’s specific needs.

What is Assisted Living?

For individuals looking for a combination of independence and assistance with activities of daily living (ADL), assisted living, with its mix of a residential community and moderate support, is a very attractive option. Assisted living facilities are similar to retirement communities. However, they do not provide around-the-clock care but instead focus on providing assistance with daily activities. Also, assisted living facilities often offer residents a variety of recreational activities with the goal of community building rather than providing medical assistance.

What Is A Nursing Home?

With a greater emphasis on providing skilled medical care, nursing homes are a popular choice among seniors seeking healthcare and services beyond assistance with ADL. Nursing homes have the resources to deliver robust medical care through trained on-site medical professionals and constant attention, making them ideal for those who need individualized support. In general, nursing homes do not offer their residents many recreational activities. They aim to promote their patients’ health rather than facilitate socialization within the community.

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes

There are a few distinctions between assisted living facilities and nursing homes seniors should consider when pursuing long-term care. While both options can provide assistance with basic activities, they contrast in the following categories: living accommodations, meal preparation, and medical care.

Living Accommodations

  • Assisted living facilities provide flexible living situations, often allowing residents to bring their own furniture and even pets.
  • Nursing homes offer both single and shared rooms. These facilities do not allow pets and are usually pre-furnished upon move-in.

Meal Preparation

  • Assisted living facilities give their residents the option to eat with other residents or prepare their own meals, if they wish.
  • In nursing homes, the staff prepares all meals and delivers these to the residents in their rooms or a common dining room.

Medical Care

  • Assisted living facilities offer a range of on-site medical care. However, residents are expected to be relatively self-sufficient. If necessary, the facility can provide a medication management service but usually at an additional cost. As these facilities do not typically have medical professionals on staff, assisted living residences are not considered medical environments.
  • Nursing homes are certified medical environments that provide 24/7 care. They monitor and dispense medication, provide mobility and hygiene assistance, and fulfill any other resident healthcare needs.

Cost of Assisted Living vs Nursing Home

  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide different services and levels of care, so their costs are not the same. Additionally, the cost of assisted living and nursing homes can be influenced by additional factors such as location and facility amenities.
  • Generally speaking, nursing homes cost over twice a month on average.

Senior Care Funding: Exploring Long-Term Care Life Settlements

There are several strategies seniors can adopt to supplement their income and pay for a nursing home or assisted living facility should the need arise.

Today, many insurance and benefits plans are specifically designed to help decrease seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for long-term elderly care. Long-term care life settlements are a financing option that allows policyholders to sell their life insurance policy in exchange for cash. That cash can then be used towards any long-term care option. Seniors can also place these settlement funds in a long-term care (LTC) benefit account. This type of account is similar to a health savings account, which protects the funds and affords the policyholder flexibility should their care needs or costs fluctuate. The money from a long-term care life settlement can be used for residences in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, along with any other form of long-term care such as in-home care and hospice aid.

home care optionsAssisted Living vs. Nursing Home: Which Option Is the Right Fit?

Now that we have covered the key differences between assisted living facilities and nursing homes, we need to determine which makes the most sense for your loved one’s needs. To do this, consider factors such as lifestyle, medical history, ongoing conditions, and level of independence.

Long-term care aims to ensure each senior is in a situation that promotes their health and happiness. As a general rule, if seniors need more assistance with ADLs and recurring medical care, a nursing home would be a better fit than assisted living. As assisted living facilities tend to be designed for more self-sufficient individuals, a nursing home is better suited to manage personalized care needs. The opposite would be true if the senior is more independent or looking for a moderate level of assistance with ADLs—in which case an assisted living facility would be a better option. No matter each senior’s situation, it is essential to research this topic before making a decision that will have a significant impact on a senior’s quality of life and how best to use their funds. Not all nursing homes and assisted living facilities have the same offerings, so be sure to investigate all of your loved one’s options thoroughly.

Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes: Key Takeaways

As their autonomy begins to wane, many older seniors can go through a period of anxiety and sadness. This life stage is made no less overwhelming by the wide variety of care options on the market, often making it difficult to differentiate among them. We hope that this post helps seniors take the first step towards navigating the differences between two popular options: assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

The aging process can bring health conditions and emotional changes. Taking time to determine which senior care option is right for your loved one can go a long way towards ensuring that this new phase is fulfilling. To learn more about long-term care and retirement financing options, reach out to the professionals at Retirement Genius.

Understanding the Types of Assisted Living: Assisted Living Levels of Care

When it comes to finding the right long-term care solution for an elderly loved one, the options can seem overwhelming and confusing. Should you consider a nursing home, in-home care, or assisted living? What’s the difference between these options and how do you determine the best fit for your loved one’s individual needs and preferences? If you’re trying to navigate these choices for an elderly loved one, it’s important to understand how senior care facilities work in order to make an informed decision. In this article, you’ll learn more about the various types of long-term care options available, plus we’ll deep dive into one suitable option for many seniors: assisted living.

What Are the Different Types of Long-Term Care?

Deciphering what the different types of assisted living care are — and what option may be best for your loved one — can be slightly complex. Learn what the differences are between in-home care, assisted living, and nursing homes to get a better understanding of what kind of care your loved one may need.

In-Home Care

In-home care services are typically for seniors who want to live independently in the comfort of their own homes with a little extra help. In-home care can include a range of services based on the individual’s needs. This type of care typically includes help with activities of daily living, including: meal prep, housekeeping, transportation, medication reminders, bathing, dressing, and more. In-home care services can also include more specialized care, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, memory care, and more.

The main advantage of in-home care is that it allows seniors to receive care in a familiar and comfortable environment. Additionally, in-home care services can be customized to meet the individual needs of each senior, making it a flexible and adaptable option. However, there are a few drawbacks. It can be more expensive than other types of care. And it may not provide the same level of socialization and stimulation as assisted living or nursing homes. It is important for families to carefully consider the needs of their loved ones and weigh the pros and cons of in-home care before making a decision.

Nursing Home

Nursing home facilities provide 24-hour care and support for seniors with medical and daily living needs. The main difference between nursing homes and assisted living communities is that nursing homes tend to have a more medical setting. There are different levels of nursing home care that offer skilled nursing, rehabilitation, and memory care, and provide residents with meals, housekeeping, and personal care services. The main advantage of nursing homes is that they provide seniors with round-the-clock access to medical care and support, which can help folks with complex health conditions. Nursing homes also offer a secure environment that reduces the risk of falls, accidents, and other common senior safety issues.

Most long-term care options can be pricy and nursing homes are no exception. In addition, the quality of care can vary widely depending on the facility and the staff, so it is important to carefully research and evaluate their options before making a decision.

Assisted Living

Assisted living provides seniors with a combination of housing, personal care services, and health care. This type of care is designed for folks who need some help with activities of daily living (ADLs) but don’t require the 24-hour medical supervision of a nursing home.

Seniors in assisted living communities live independently within the community and have access to a range of services, including daily living assistance, therapy, medical services, and more. Services provided depend on the level of care each resident needs. Meals are typically provided and these types of communities often offer several social, recreational, and educational activities that help seniors feel connected with others in their community.

Assisted living can help seniors maintain their independence and autonomy while living in a secure and supportive community. However, they can be pricey and a difficult transition for seniors who may not want to leave their homes.

What Are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?

In assisted living communities, the level of care each resident receives depends on what activities of daily living (ADLs) they can perform on their own — and which ones they need help with. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, ADLs are a series of basic tasks that individuals perform on a daily basis to maintain their independence and well-being. They include activities such as:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Transferring (ability to move from one position to another, such as getting in and out of bed)
  • Toileting
  • Continence

Assisted living communities may also assess Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) which are more complex tasks that are necessary for independent living. These can include:

  1. Housekeeping
  2. Meal preparation
  3. Medication management
  4. Transportation (i.e. the ability to arrange and use transportation, including driving, using public transportation, or arranging for a ride)
  5. Communication

By evaluating both ADLs and IADLs, assisted living communities can gain a better understanding of each senior’s individual needs and develop a personalized care plan that meets their unique needs.

What Are the Levels of Care in Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities offer varying levels of care to meet the different needs of seniors. The levels of care provided by an assisted living community can vary by community. However, here’s a high-level overview of the general levels of care.

Level 1: Low Level of Care

A “Level 1” assisted living resident needs very minimal assistance. They don’t show any signs of cognitive decline and can move around independently. They may need some help with some  ADLs, but are otherwise active in social activities within the community. Services they may need at their assisted living community include:

  • Support with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.
  • Medication management and reminders
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Transportation to appointments or shopping

Level 2: Moderate Level of Care

“Level 2” residents need more than minimal assistance to safely go about their day. They have a growing list of ADL assistance and likely need medication management. Services that they may need in an assisted living community include:

  • All services included in the low level of care
  • Assistance with mobility and transferring
  • Assistance with meal preparation and feeding
  • Basic nursing care such as monitoring of vital signs and assistance with injections

Level 3: High Level of Care

Residents who are categorized as “Level 3” need help with most of their ADLs and are likely a fall risk. They may be experiencing cognitive decline and may not be able to participate in social and dining activities any longer. This type of resident may be moving toward memory care or a nursing home in the near future. Services they may need at an assisted living facility include:

  • All services included in the low and moderate levels of care
  • 24-hour skilled nursing care
  • Specialized care for seniors with chronic health conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or diabetes
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy as needed

How Do You Know What Level of Assisted Living Your Loved One Needs?

Figuring out the appropriate level of care for your loved one is challenging no matter the circumstances. However, there are a few key factors that can help you guide the decision-making process. Here’s a list of questions that can help you assess the level of care your loved one needs.

  • How many ADLs can they perform on their own?
  • How is their memory?
  • What are their social and emotional needs?
  • Are they ready for a living transition?

Luckily, you don’t have to decide on your own what level of care your loved one needs. Healthcare professionals at the assisted living facility of your choice can help you analyze what would work best for your loved one.

What Is the Cost Difference Between Assisted Living Levels of Care?

The cost of assisted living care can vary widely depending the level of care required, the location, and the services offered by the community. Costs range from a national average of around $4,000 per month to two or three times that amount based on location, apartment size, community amenities, and services. In general families can expect to pay the following for each level of care at an assisted living community:

Level 1 (low level of care)

  • Average monthly cost: $2,500 to $3,500
  • Services typically included: Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting, medication management and reminders, housekeeping and laundry services, and transportation to appointments or shopping.

Level 2 (moderate level of care)

  • Average monthly cost: $3,500 to $5,000
  • Services typically included: All services included in the low level of care, assistance with mobility and transferring, assistance with meal preparation and feeding, basic nursing care such as monitoring of vital signs, and assistance with injections.

Level 3 (high level of care)

  • Average monthly cost: $5,000 to $7,000 or more
  • Services typically included: All services included in the low and moderate levels of care, 24-hour skilled nursing care, specialized care for seniors with chronic health conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or diabetes, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy as needed.

While some communities offer financial assistance or other cost-saving options for families who are unable to pay for the full cost of care, assisted living is primarily a private pay arrangement. Here are some common funding options to support the cost of assisted living:

  • Life Settlement: the sale of a life insurance policy for a significant cash payout
  • Reverse Mortgage: a type of loan that allows homeowners to borrow money against the equity in their home while deferring repayment of the loan until they move out or pass away.
  • VA Aid & Attendance Benefits: financial assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to eligible veterans and their spouses who require help with activities of daily living

Senior Living Bridge Loans: short-term loans designed to help seniors pay for the cost of senior living while they wait for long-term financing options to become available

Talking to a loved one about long-term care options is never an easy conversation, but it’s an important one to have. By starting the conversation early and approaching it with empathy and understanding, you can work together to create a plan that meets your loved one’s needs while also giving you peace of mind. Remember to involve your loved one in the decision-making process, respect their wishes, and take advantage of resources available to you, such as financial planning tools and professional guidance. Retirement Genius is here to help seniors and families navigate the complex world of senior care. With the right approach and support, you can help your loved one navigate the process of aging and ensure they receive the care they need to live a happy, healthy life.

How to Maximize Social Security Benefits for Seniors

As you approach retirement, have you thought about how to maximize Social Security benefits? Having a solid Social Security strategy in place during retirement can help you get the most out of your benefits — and identify where you may need to supplement your income.

While monthly Social Security payments are a helpful addition to retirement savings, they’re not designed to be the sole source of income after retirement. Luckily, there are several strategies that can help seniors like you make the most of their Social Security payments. Take a look at the helpful Social Security tips below to maximize your benefits.

Understanding Social Security: The Basics

Did you know that Social Security has been in place for nearly 100 years? The program was established in 1935 to prevent older Americans from falling into poverty. While Social Security has become a benefit that most elderly Americans participate in, financial experts agree that it shouldn’t be seen as the sole source of income for retirees. Why? Well, on average, most seniors receive $1,500 per month, which is barely above the national poverty level of $1,452 for a two-person household.

Unfortunately, Social Security has become the primary source of income for the majority of older Americans. About 25% of seniors are living on Social Security for at least 90% of their income and 50% of seniors use Social Security for half of their retirement livelihood. Despite the majority of older Americans relying on Social Security to fund their retirement, the program doesn’t tend to keep up with inflation.

Over the past decade, there was an average Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 1.6%, while inflations during that time rose 2%. The good news: seniors recently got a deserved raise! Because inflation has risen so quickly in recent years post-pandemic, there was an annual COLA of 8.7% in 2023. While this recent raise certainly aided seniors with the latest rise in inflation, the wider lens shows that seniors shouldn’t rely on Social Security to keep up with the cost of living.

Social Security Tips: How Seniors Can Make the Most of Benefits

In retirement, every little bit counts. While you shouldn’t rely on Social Security for the entirety of your retirement income, there certainly are ways to maximize your Social Security payments. Here are five ways to get the most out of your monthly benefit!

1. Have A Work History of At Least 35 Years

Social Security payments are calculated by evaluating your highest earning years during your work history. If you do not have a work history of at least 35 years, then your overall payout will be lower because years without earnings are factored in as “0.” It’s likely that later in your career is when you will be making more money, so if you work for more than 35 years, you will be able to use your highest earnings as a baseline for payment calculations.

2. Delay Collecting Your Payments in Order to Maximize Your Benefits

The longer you wait to begin collecting Social Security, the more you’ll receive. People qualify for Social Security starting at age 62, however every year you wait to collect (up to age 70), the benefit increases. In 2023, folks who begin collecting Social Security at 62 will receive $2,572. However, if you wait until age 70, the payout is $4,555.

3. Consider Your Spousal Status 

Depending on your spousal status, you may be eligible to collect your deceased or divorced partner’s benefits if they’re higher than your own. If a person’s spouse has passed and the living spouse is at full retirement age or older, the living spouse may collect 100% of their spouse’s benefit. If the surviving spouse is not yet of retirement age, then they can collect a percentage (71.5% – 99%) of their deceased spouse’s benefit.

If a person is divorced, they can collect up to 50% of their ex-spouse’s benefit if they are 62 years or older, were married at least 10 years, and are single. If a person divorces and decides to re-marry, they can still collect Social Security benefits based on their ex-spouse as long as they remarry after reaching the age of 60 years old.

4. Avoid Social Security Tax if You Continue to Work 

A person can continue to generate an income while on Social Security without owing any tax penalty against their benefit. However, you have to be careful to avoid the tax consequences of supplementing your income. The IRS will calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI) and determine how much of your Social Security benefits are subject to tax.

One more important note: if you are younger than retirement age and you earn more than the yearly earnings limit, your Social Security benefits may get reduced. Once you reach full retirement age, you can earn as much as you want without any Social Security reductions.

5. Consult a Financial Advisor 

It is a good idea to consult a financial advisor that specializes in Social Security benefits claims. They can help you understand your options and provide a recommended course of action for your individual situation. These specialized advisors will provide guidance to help you maximize your benefits.

Common Questions about Social Security Planning

Navigating the nuances of how Social Security works — and how you can get the most out of it — can be challenging! Here are some frequently asked questions about Social Security to help you create a plan that maximizes your benefit.

1. How is Social Security Funded?

Social Security is funded through payroll tax deductions. From your very first paycheck to your last, you are paying into Social Security. How much you pay into the system determines how much you receive in benefits later in life. The longer you work (and the more you make), the higher benefit you’ll receive in the future.

While the highest Social Security monthly benefit in 2023 is $4,555, the average payout is $1,827. No one should count on Social Security to be their retirement fund. It’s meant to be supplemental income that’s coupled with a lifetime of savings and investments that can sustain your cost of living when you stop working. People should consult a financial planner to prepare a sustainable retirement strategy and understand how Social Security can supplement a long-term financial plan.

2. Can I See How Much I’ve Saved in Social Security?

A common misconception about Social Security is that it’s an automatic savings mechanism for individuals. Even though working professionals pay into the system with every paycheck, there is no savings account tied to their name for the future. In fact, 25% of payroll taxes go toward the Social Security trust fund for future use and the remaining 75% pays for people’s benefits in real time.

3. When Can I Begin Collecting Social Security?

Folks can begin collecting their Social Security benefits at the age of 62. However, it may not be prudent to stop working and retire right at 62 for a couple of reasons:

  • Medicare eligibility doesn’t begin until age 65. Seniors who retire right at age 62 would need to pay three years of health insurance coverage out-of-pocket.
  • Delaying Social Security will result in a higher benefit. The longer you wait to collect, the higher your benefit will be. In 2023, the monthly benefit level for a person who retires having paid in the maximum contributions is $2,572 if starting at age 62 but $4,555 if starting at age 70. Lock in the highest benefit level for the remainder of your life by delaying Social Security collection.

4. How Should Seniors Protect Themselves from Social Security Scammers?

Scammers regularly target seniors and trick them into providing sensitive information over the phone. The scammers then use that sensitive data to falsely apply for bank accounts and credit cards. Their main objective? To get cash under someone else’s name.

Oftentimes, the scammers will falsely pose as representatives from the Social Security Administration to trick seniors into sharing valuable information, such as a full Social Security number or banking information. They’ll claim that the senior’s benefits are going to be shut off unless they can verify their identity by giving them their Social Security number or verifying bank account information, asking seniors to read those numbers. Other scams include telling seniors they’re eligible for other benefits — such as COVID relief — or they’ll tell seniors that their Social Security has been used by someone else in connection with a crime to falsely apply for bank accounts.

It’s important to know that Social Security will never:

  • Ask anyone to verify themselves by reading off their Social Security number.
  • Ask anyone to verify their banking or credit card information.
  • Ask anyone to send them money.

What to do when you think you’re being scammed:

  • When in doubt, hang up the phone. If you’re unsure whether or not Social Security actually called you, you can hang up and Social Security directly to ask them questions.
  • Do not click on any links in emails. No matter how official they may look, you could be clicking on a link that installs spyware, malware, or some other dangerous kind of program onto your computer.
  • Never share personal information with someone who has contacted you. Do not share your full Social Security number or banking information with anyone over the phone or through a computer that has contacted you asking for it.

Is the Future of Social Security Certain?

Recent economic projections show the Social Security Trust Fund could run out of money by 2033. What’s worse: Social Security tax revenues have been negatively impacted by the economic realities of the COVID pandemic and recent layoffs. Many workers lost their jobs in 2020 and massive layoffs continue into 2023, contributing to a loss of payroll taxes. To make matters even more complex: Social Security benefits cannot be reduced because of economic conditions. Even if payroll taxes decline, the money to cover Social Security benefits to people who have already begun collecting the benefit still needs to be paid.

While the future of Social Security appears grim, the way it’s funded may provide a glimmer of hope. A common misunderstanding around Social Security is how it is funded. Some people mistakenly think they pay into Social Security in an account under their name that will then support them when they retire. The truth is that most Social Security benefits are paid by taxes that are collected by today’s workers. When workers pay into Social Security every month about three-fourths of those dollars fund Social Security today and the remainder is set aside for the future in the Social Security trust fund. Plus, economies are cyclical. Jobs will return and markets will continue to fluctuate. The economy will adapt and find ways to put tax revenues into the system.

The Social Security Trust Fund nearing its end should be a wakeup call for Americans and their retirement plans. It’s time to get educated on how Social Security works, what you could receive as their benefit when they retire, and what you can do now to plan for financial security in retirement without being completely reliant on Social Security.

Make a Plan Today to Thrive in Retirement Tomorrow

So can seniors live off of Social Security in retirement? The truth is, you simply don’t want to rely on Social Security as your main source of income when you stop working. With unreliable cost of living increases and an average monthly benefit that is near the national poverty level, Social Security does not create a thriving outlook for most Americans’ retirement.

Rather, consult with your financial advisor for Social Security advice. Learn how to create a financial plan that uses Social Security as supplemental income and counts on other forms of personal investments and savings strategies to fund your retirement. Strategies your financial advisor may recommend for retirement include:

Start making a plan with your financial planner today to thrive in retirement tomorrow!

Senior Benefits: Free Government Benefits for Seniors

As seniors reach their golden years, it should be a time of prosperity, rest, and reflection on the years of hard work they put in. While some folks are able to enjoy abundance in their later years, the reality is that many older Americans don’t have all the means necessary to thrive later in life. If you fall into this category, you may find yourself wondering what benefits are available for senior citizens like me?

Fortunately, there are safeguards in place to make sure older folks have access to the resources they need when it’s time for them to exit the workforce. From financial and healthcare assistance to food programs and senior discounts, learn what resources are available to older Americans who may need assistance during their retirement years.

What Benefits Are Available for Senior Citizens?

As a senior, it’s important to understand what benefits are available to you and, more importantly, how to access them! Whether you are struggling to make ends meet, need assistance with retirement, or looking for ways to improve your overall well-being, discover what benefits you could qualify for.

Health Care

One of the most important resources you need access to in retirement is healthcare. In order to maintain your health and well-being into your later years, you can tap into healthcare benefits available to seniors in the U.S., including Medicaid, Medicare, prescription assistance programs, and Veterans benefits. Get an overview of how each program works and who may qualify below!


Medicare is a federally funded healthcare program available to seniors aged 65 and above, as well as to those with certain disabilities or end-stage renal disease. It funds almost a quarter of all healthcare spending in the United States!

It’s divided into four parts and seniors can choose to enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A and B) or opt for a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) that covers both Parts A and B. Here’s what’s included in each part of Medicare:

  • Part A covers hospitalization costs.
  • Part B covers outpatient medical services.
  • Part C provides additional coverage options through private insurance companies.
  • Part D covers prescription drugs.

While any aspects of Medicare are free to folks 65 years and older, there are parts of the program that require payment. If you’re approaching 65, meet with a Medicare specialist to understand what coverage you’ll need (and how much it may cost).


Similar to Medicare, Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage. The difference is that Medicaid helps low-income individuals (including seniors who meet specific income requirements) whereas Medicare provides coverage to any senior 65 years or older. Medicaid provides benefits for many in this country and even pays for half of all long-term care expenses in the United States.

Medicaid covers a broad range of medical services, including:

  • Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
  • Doctor visits and other medical services
  • Laboratory and X-ray services
  • Home health care
  • Nursing home and long-term care services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Transportation to medical appointments

Some states also cover dental care, vision care, hearing aids, medical equipment, and even in-home care. Eligibility requirements vary by state, but seniors may be eligible for Medicaid if they have limited income and assets. You can work with a Medicaid specialist to find out if you qualify and what benefits would serve you best in your state.

Prescription Assistance Programs

Prescription Assistance Programs are designed to help seniors who struggle to afford the high cost of prescription drugs. Many pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs to help seniors pay for their medications. These programs may provide discounts, free or low-cost medications, or co-pay assistance.

Seniors can contact individual pharmaceutical companies to inquire about available programs or work with their healthcare provider to identify resources.

Veterans Healthcare Benefits

Veterans Benefits are available to seniors who have served in the U.S. military. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of healthcare benefits to eligible retired veterans through their health insurance program, TRICARE. TRICARE provides comprehensive coverage for military members, their dependents, retirees, and some survivors and former spouses, including:

  • Outpatient visits
  • Hospitalization
  • Preventive services
  • Pharmacy benefits
  • Dental benefits
  • Immunizations

If you’re a veteran and in need of healthcare, speak with a specialist at the VA to get the assistance you need!

Financial Assistance

In addition to healthcare benefits, there’s a range of financial assistance programs designed to help seniors in need. With inflation rising, many older Americans are turning to these programs for supplemental income to help alleviate the cost of living. Take a look at what financial assistance programs may serve you best!

Social Security

One of the most well-known and utilized financial assistance programs for older Americans is Social Security. It’s a federal program that’s designed to provide a reliable source of income to seniors (and other eligible individuals) and supplement retirement savings, pensions, and/or other income streams.

Seniors may begin collecting Social Security when they reach 62 years. However, if you’re able to wait longer to collect, you can receive a higher monthly benefit. In 2023, people who begin collecting Social Security at 62 will receive $2,572. Folks who wait until age 70 will receive a monthly benefit of $4,555.

While many seniors rely on Social Security as their main source of income in retirement, the program was not designed for seniors to live off of it. In fact, about a quarter of America’s seniors use Social Security for at least 90% of their income in retirement and 50% of seniors use Social Security as half of their retirement income. Meet with your financial advisor to strategize when you should begin collecting Social Security and what other streams of income can help you cover the cost of living during retirement.

Federal, State, and Veteran Pensions

In addition to Social Security, some seniors may be eligible to collect federal, state, and/or veteran pensions. Federal pensions are offered to federal government employees, state pensions are offered to state government employees, and veteran pensions are offered to veterans and their surviving spouses.

To qualify for a federal pension, a person must have worked for the federal government for a certain period of time and have reached a certain age. State pension eligibility requirements vary by state, but typically require a certain number of years of service and/or age. To qualify for a veteran pension, a person must have served in the military during a time of war or other designated period and meet certain income and asset requirements. These pensions provide retirees with a guaranteed source of income in retirement, helping to supplement other sources of income and providing financial stability in later years.

Food Assistance

Another major area of need for seniors is food assistance. If you’re experiencing difficulty affording your grocery bill or can no longer make meals on your own, there are programs designed to meet your needs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), emergency food assistance programs, farmer’s market programs, and Meals on Wheels. See what food assistance programs may be available near you!


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — formerly known as food stamps — is a federal program that provides financial assistance to low-income individuals and families to purchase food. Seniors can qualify for SNAP if they meet certain income and asset requirements, which vary by state and household size.

SNAP benefits are loaded onto an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card to purchase eligible food items at participating retailers. Older folks can benefit from SNAP by using their benefits to purchase nutritious foods that may be otherwise unaffordable.

To qualify for SNAP, seniors must be either 60 years of age or older or have a disability. To apply for SNAP, seniors can contact their state’s SNAP office or apply online through the USDA’s website. SNAP can be a critical source of support for elderly folks who are struggling with food insecurity, providing them with access to healthy, affordable food.

Emergency Food Assistance Programs

Emergency food assistance programs, such as food banks and pantries, provide free food to individuals in need, including seniors. These programs typically rely on donations from individuals, organizations, and businesses to supply their inventory of food. Older people who are struggling with food insecurity can benefit from emergency food assistance programs by receiving free food to help supplement their grocery budget.

Eligibility requirements vary by program and location, but many programs have income and/or residency requirements. Seniors can typically visit a food pantry or food bank to receive a pre-packaged box of food or to select their own items from the available inventory. In addition to providing free food, many emergency food assistance programs also offer additional services to help seniors, such as nutritional counseling or assistance with applying for other benefits.

Farmers Market Programs

Farmers market programs are a type of food assistance program that allows seniors to use vouchers or coupons to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmer’s markets. Not only do these programs help seniors access fresh, locally grown produce that may be more expensive or difficult to find in traditional grocery stores, they also help support local farmers and promote sustainable agriculture.

One example of a farmers market program for seniors is the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which provides eligible seniors with coupons that can be used to purchase fresh produce at participating farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs.

Eligibility requirements vary by program and location, but seniors must typically be 60 years of age or older and meet income requirements.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is a national program that delivers hot, nutritious meals to seniors who are unable to leave their homes due to mobility or health issues. Seniors who are eligible for Meals on Wheels typically receive one or two meals per day, depending on their needs, and the meals are delivered directly to their homes. In addition to providing nutritious meals, Meals on Wheels can also serve as a wellness check for seniors who may be at risk of isolation or neglect.

To qualify for Meals on Wheels, seniors must typically be 60 years of age or older, have difficulty preparing their own meals, and have no other available assistance. Seniors can apply for Meals on Wheels through their local chapter or by contacting the national Meals on Wheels organization. Meals on Wheels can be a critical source of support for seniors who are homebound, providing them with nutritious meals and social interaction to help improve their overall well-being.

Housing Assistance

As seniors age, they may find it increasingly difficult to manage the costs of housing and utilities. Fortunately, there are several programs available to help seniors with housing assistance, utility discounts, and even weatherization tasks. Take a look at what programs you may need during retirement and find out if you qualify!

Housing Vouchers

Housing vouchers are a form of rental assistance that helps people afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Seniors can apply for housing vouchers through their local housing authority and, if they are eligible, they will receive a voucher that can be used to pay for a portion of their monthly rent. Seniors who receive housing vouchers can benefit from affordable housing that meets their needs and allows them to age in place.

Local Utility Discounts

Believe it or not, many states and localities offer utility discounts to seniors who meet certain income requirements. These discounts can help seniors save money on their utility bills, including electricity, gas, and water. Seniors can contact their local utility company or their state’s Department of Aging to find out if they are eligible for a utility discount.

Weatherization Assistance

For seniors who live in areas with extreme weather conditions, there are weatherization assistance programs designed to help seniors make their homes more energy-efficient, which can help lower their heating and cooling costs. These programs may provide services such as insulation, weather stripping, and window replacements. Seniors can apply for weatherization assistance through their state’s Department of Energy or a local weatherization agency.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides financial assistance to low-income households to help pay for heating and cooling costs. Seniors who are eligible for HEAP can receive a one-time payment or a monthly credit that can be applied to their utility bill. Seniors can apply for HEAP through their state’s Department of Energy or a local community action agency.

Other Benefits and Assistance

In addition to federal benefits, there are a number of other ways seniors can receive discounts or free assistance with everyday living essentials. Here are public and private programs you may want to consider using to reduce your monthly living expenses.

  • Phone Discounts: Many phone companies offer special plans and discounts for seniors. These plans can help seniors stay connected with their loved ones and caregivers, while also saving money on their monthly phone bills. Some plans even include free or discounted smartphones and data plans.
  • Legal Aid: Seniors may face legal issues related to estate planning, healthcare, and other important matters. Legal aid services can provide free or low-cost legal advice and representation to seniors who cannot afford private attorneys. These services can help seniors protect their rights and interests, as well as ensure that their wishes are carried out.
  • Transportation Assistance: Getting around can be a challenge for many seniors, especially those with mobility issues. Transportation assistance programs can provide free or low-cost rides to medical appointments, grocery stores, and other essential destinations. These programs can help seniors maintain their independence and access the services they need to stay healthy and active.
  • Tax Relief: Seniors may be eligible for a range of tax relief programs, including property tax exemptions, income tax credits, and other benefits. These programs can help seniors reduce their tax burden and keep more money in their pockets. They can also provide financial assistance to seniors who may be struggling to make ends meet.

A Quick Guide: Government Benefits for Seniors Over 60

In review, there are a number of public and private benefits available to folks during retirement, however, it’s essential to highlight the government benefits for seniors over the age of 60. Here’s a shortlist for you to keep on hand:

  • Social Security: Seniors who have paid into the Social Security system for at least 10 years are eligible for retirement benefits at age 62. These benefits can provide a steady source of income throughout retirement.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage to low-income seniors. It can help cover the costs of nursing home care, home healthcare, and other medical services.
  • Veterans Benefits: Seniors who served in the military may be eligible for a range of benefits, including healthcare, disability compensation, and pension payments.
  • Food Assistance: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides assistance to seniors with low income to help cover the cost of food.
  • Property Tax Relief: Some states offer property tax relief programs for seniors who own their homes. These programs can help reduce the burden of property taxes and keep seniors in their homes.

Unlocking More Government Benefits for Seniors Over 65

In addition to the benefits seniors are eligible for when they turn 60 years old, the other government benefit seniors qualify for once they turn 65 is Medicare. This federal health insurance program covers a range of medical services, including hospital stays, doctor visits, and prescription drugs. Make sure to work with your financial advisor to create a strategy before applying for Medicare once you turn 65 years old. There may be certain fees required for coverage you need.

Making the Most of Senior Benefits

When it comes to stretching your dollar in retirement, every little bit counts. By taking advantage of free or highly reduced services, seniors like you can save money on daily expenses, healthcare costs, and other essential needs.

Plus, using these kinds of programs can stretch your budget and make your later years in life a little more comfortable — and enjoyable. Since many of these programs are designed specifically for seniors, they can help you access resources you wouldn’t normally have access to. Overall, using senior discount programs and government benefit programs can help older Americans like you gain financial stability in your golden years.


In addition to private and public senior citizen benefits, there are a number of financial strategies designed for older Americans to tap into when they reach a certain age. From reverse mortgages to annuities, there are ways of strategically using the assets you own in your financial favor, adding to your fixed income every month.

One little-known financial innovation is a life settlement. Most seniors don’t know they can sell their life insurance policy for cash and end up surrendering or lapsing their life insurance policy altogether. Instead of letting go of your life insurance policy, see if you qualify for a life settlement. You could get four times the cash surrender value and use your proceeds for retirement. Use the Retirement Genuis Life Settlement Calculator today to see how much your policy may be worth!

Make growing older the time of your life by taking advantage of the benefits available to you. Your golden years deserve to be just that: golden!

How to avoid common tax season pitfalls

Discussing Long-Term Care Options with your Loved Ones

When it comes to elder care, there are many options out there—and it can be an incredibly daunting task when making critical decisions about the future. As a result, you may gravitate toward long-term care or services that meet your loved ones’ personal needs over an extended period of time. These include home-based health care, day centers, assisted living facilities, and independent living communities.

But how should you broach the subject with your loved one? Caring for aging parents or loved ones often means having important conversations about the best choices for their health and well-being. Here, we address some common questions about long-term care—including when to consider it and which options are right for them—to help you navigate that key discussion with your loved one. We hope it will point you toward the best choice for your loved one’s situation.

How Do You Determine Whether Your Loved One Needs Long-Term Care?

It is important to note that no specific behavior indicates when it’s time to pursue care for aging parents or loved ones, but the behaviors listed below warrant further action.

If your loved one is displaying any of the following signs, they may need some form of long-term care support or services:

  • Physical deterioration
  • Mental deterioration
  • Environmental deterioration
  • Loss of two or more activities of daily living (ADLs)

Initiating the conversation early on—at the first sign of deterioration—can prevent undesirable outcomes. Early intervention can radically slow physical or cognitive decline, allowing you to avoid or delay short-term care alternatives, such as hospice care. By staying ahead of the curve, you can help your loved one lead a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life.

How Should You Start the Conversation About Long-Term Care?

Before initiating the discussion, all involved adults—including the loved one’s children, siblings, and in-laws—need to be on the same page about what they see and the best course of action. Once everyone agrees on what should happen next, follow these tips below:

Smooth out any conflicting opinions, and don’t spring the issue on your loved one(s) without warning. Instead, ease into the discussion by pointing out the things everyone agrees they’re seeing. Then, discuss ways they can help with finding home care or assisted living.

Emphasize the positive side—in particular, that this decision will improve their lifestyle and safety. Suggest touring some facilities, meeting with home care services, or consulting with a geriatric care manager.
Reassure your loved one that they will have a support system every step of the way, and encourage them to ask questions. It is essential that they feel secure and that you conduct an ongoing open dialogue about the process.
If they do react negatively, be patient with them. Try to listen to, empathize with, and support them.

What Long-Term Care Options Are Available?

While there are many elder care options to choose from, the best course of action will depend on your loved one’s needs, including the personal and medical assistance they require. Long-term care is available in the following forms:

  • Assisted living facilities
  • In-home care
  • Nursing homes
  • Independent living communities

Depending on their needs and desires, your loved one may prefer one setting to another—if they’re open to the idea at all. Certain choices may ease their transition process, encouraging them to embrace change over time. If your loved one isn’t interested in an assisted living facility, for example, a home-based option—where caretakers assist with cleaning, cooking, and more private personal care needs—may be a good alternative.

Similarly, day centers may serve as a meaningful stepping stone to independent living communities or nursing homes. Of course, when it’s time for assisted living, there’s little doubt that these changes are necessary. Still, there may be resistance, which is why approaching the topic with compassion and sensitivity is so important.

Pursuing long-term care can be a gradual transition that starts at home. But it’s a decision that can drastically improve your loved one’s quality of life—especially given the drawbacks of getting by on their own or receiving devoted care from family members.

It is also important to understand costs and how to pay for them via Medicare, Medicaid, income, assets, and insurance.

Is It Possible to Delay the Need for Long-Term Care?

There’s no guarantee that your loved one won’t need long-term care at some point. That’s why it’s never too late to start planning for costs and live as healthy as possible, which can delay or even prevent the need for care in the future. The sooner you start, the better!

Here are some great ways for aging adults to adopt a healthy lifestyle:

  • Frequent exercise
  • Puzzles and other brain games
  • A healthy diet
  • Alcohol in moderation
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Proper sleep

Nothing wipes out retirement faster than the onset of health problems—which is why staying healthy is one of the smartest financial investments a person can make.

My Loved One Isn’t Ready for Long-Term Care. What Happens Next?

You’ve approached your loved one about entering long-term care, but they feel it isn’t the right time. What should you do?

Try to understand. Your loved one will likely appreciate your concern but let you know they’re capable of performing ADLs. They might also maintain that any assistance from family members, such as driving or housekeeping, is minor and not medical. However, this discussion is an opportunity to discuss their wishes for the future and organize finances, estates, medical directives, and power of attorney (POA). During this conversation, everyone involved can determine their roles when the time comes.

Discussing Long-Term Elder Care: Key Takeaways

Discussing long-term care with your loved one can be intimidating, so you should navigate the conversation with sensitivity and respect. Ultimately, you want what’s best for your loved one—both now and in the future. You can thoughtfully convey that message and ensure all parties are on the same page by following these steps.

Concerned about the costs of long-term care? Life settlements, which involve the sale of your loved one’s life insurance policy, can provide the financial security you’re looking for. These proceeds can be used for any purpose, including long-term care. In some situations, there may be tax advantages. By pursuing a life settlement, your loved one can receive about four times the cash surrender value of their policy—a significant addition to their retirement income.

If your loved one is ill, you may want to consider viatical settlements, which are life settlements for those with chronic or terminal conditions. Though each situation is different, viatical payouts tend to be higher, and—for certain patients—are entirely tax-free.

Seeking out the best long-term care option can be challenging: after all, each one meets a distinct set of needs. We hope this page can serve as a beginner’s guide to navigating long-term care—its benefits, costs, and timelines—and help you locate the best fit for you and your family.

The Senior’s Guide to Travel: How to Travel on a Budget

Traveling to exotic places and seeing the most astonishing and unique cities in the world is something everyone should do in their lifetime. Breathtaking views, exploring mysterious islands, and sampling local cuisine don’t have to cost a fortune—especially for seniors. Traveling is a great way to stay young in spirit, and stepping out of your comfort zone or routine to visit new places can improve your mental health.

Many people travel after they retire when they have more time on their hands and have saved up their hard-earned money. Unfortunately, traveling isn’t exactly cheap, especially for seniors with a fixed income. To help you plan your next dream vacation, we compiled our best travel tips for seniors to make the most out of your trip and ensure an unforgettable experience.

How Is Travel for Seniors Different?

Living on a fixed income, health concerns, and decreasing mobility and endurance can cause older adults to find traveling a challenge. Many seniors also struggle with technology, especially when booking travel and lodging accommodations. So, it’s no wonder many seniors find themselves financially stressed planning and booking a trip. But, it doesn’t have to be, as senior travel can become more manageable when done right.

Can a Senior Travel on a Fixed Budget?

The good news is: Yes! Seniors can still travel on a fixed income. When people think of retirement, exploring the globe comes to mind—and taking advantage of the seemingly limitless amount of free time they will have. Retirement is a great opportunity for seniors to travel since work-related stresses and constraints are behind them. Yet, many older adults are on a fixed income. Some may think that affording a trip in their retirement can be difficult, but there are plenty of options to enjoy travel without burning through savings.

6 Travel Tips for Seniors on a Budget

Plan ahead to get the best deals

Spontaneous travel is exciting, but one of the biggest travel tips for seniors is to plan ahead. If you have a destination in mind, you can get the best deals and save money by shopping early. When traveling on a budget, you should first come up with a plan, including an itinerary for each destination and the exact route your trip will take. Most travel and accommodations become much more expensive as you get closer to the travel date, so booking well enough in advance can help you maximize your potential savings. Be sure to look on travel sites like Expedia and Kayak to find deals, though it’s usually cheaper to book directly with a hotel than through a fare aggregator.

Take advantage of travel senior discounts

Senior discounts are a great way to maintain your budget, even when traveling. Many hotels, car rental companies, and cruise lines offer discounts for seniors and AARP members. By taking advantage of these savings, you may even be able to travel more often.

Cruises are usually all-inclusive, making them a relaxing and easy way to travel to faraway destinations. Cruise travel is available to everyone—even those with reduced mobility. Cruises can be an enjoyable destination for older adults with planned itineraries, wheelchair-accessible common areas, and activities you can enjoy at your own pace.

Although senior discounts on flights were common in the past, many airlines discontinued these special rates. If you can’t find a discount on the flight you want, try concentrating on deals for other parts of your trip, such as meals or lodging. To save money while on your trip, take advantage of discounts at restaurants, museums, parks, and other activities. Be sure to call ahead or check online for airlines, accommodations, and your destination city for the most up-to-date information before completing your booking or buying tickets.

Travel during the off season

When traveling, you should avoid trips during school vacations when the travel industry hikes prices to take advantage of families who can only travel during these times. Instead, research the best time to visit your intended destination. Then plan to travel just before or after those dates to take advantage of all that city or country offers. It’s often called the shoulder season. The destination will be relatively empty of tourists, which is a great time to avoid crowds and long lines. It’s also an excellent chance to save on travel costs because prices tend to be lower than in peak periods. That means you can reduce the price of an otherwise expensive trip and enjoy off-season hotel rates and lower airfare. If you don’t mind the weather differences, traveling during the off-season can also be a savvy way to experience a different side of popular locations.

Use travel insurance

While travel insurance will add to your overall travel costs, it protects you from any fees associated with cancellation or rebooking. Relative to the cost of your vacation, travel insurance provides reassurance that you’re covered if things hit a snag. It can also give you the peace of mind and confidence necessary to explore the world.

If you injure yourself or contract an illness while traveling, travel medical insurance will ensure you receive the medical care and attention you need without facing major medical bills later. Medicare doesn’t cover your medical expenses while you’re abroad, so this added protection is good for traveling seniors. If you take more than three trips a year, it may be wise to purchase annual travel insurance. This way, you can save money and enjoy year-round protection with a travel insurance plan that covers emergency medical care, trip interruptions, and lost luggage.

Avoid eating out for every meal

One of the quickest ways to blow through your travel budget is to eat out for every meal. You can grab a cheap lunch from local supermarkets rather than dining in an overpriced cafe or restaurant. As you explore a new city, wander around before choosing a place to eat so you can scope out inexpensive restaurants. Restaurants in tourist areas are typically overpriced, and you may end up overspending. If you have access to a kitchen, consider cooking your meals to save a significant amount of money, especially on longer and more relaxed trips and vacations.

Minimize alcohol purchases

Along with eating out for every meal, alcoholic beverages can slowly add up—so opt for water instead. Alcohol can be less expensive in some places and may even cost more than a decent meal. While going to a new city is all about experiencing something new, and some bars around the world are certainly unique, you don’t want to waste your travel time in crowded bars. Instead, look into activities that may be available at night in the location you’ve traveled to. You may find local dance classes or night tours around the historic district. Don’t let alcohol drain all your money in your travels, and opt for experiences instead.


Unless you’re a millionaire and never have to worry about money, budgeting your finances and planning for unforeseen events will be an essential part of your travels. Even with a large budget, managing it well could lead to a longer vacation, better attractions, and even cash leftover for another trip.

If you have exhausted all options for traveling on a budget, such as travel discounts and flexible travel dates, life settlements can help you maximize a once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation. They’re a savvy way for seniors to uncover more retirement income to invest in travel and other activities or purchases that will make retirement more satisfying and enjoyable. Seniors allow $100 billion in life insurance policies to lapse each year so they lose the opportunity to make the most of their retirement. The experts at Retirement Genius can talk you through your travel options, including budgeting, life settlements, and senior discounts. Contact the experts at Retirement Genius today to start discussing your retirement plan.

Disclaimer: Check the local and state guidelines for cities and countries you are visiting for the most recent COVID requirements and regulations.

How Does Medicare Work? What Seniors Need To Know About Medicare

Understanding Medicare and all of its moving parts may seem difficult at first, but all it takes is a little bit of research to understand how to get the most out of it. As a U.S. government health insurance program, Medicare is divided into different plans that cover a variety of healthcare situations—some of which come at a cost to the insured person.

Medicare offers excellent health coverage you can customize to fit your health needs and budget. While this allows the program to provide consumers with multiple-choice options for costs and coverage, it also introduces complexity for those signing up. To alleviate confusion, we created this guide to help you through the process of enrolling in Medicare, including what the different plans are and who’s covered.

What Is Medicare

Medicare is the federal health insurance program that covers 61 million people nationwide and spends over $800 billion every year on healthcare. As the second-largest expenditure in the federal budget behind Social Security, Medicare funds almost a quarter of all healthcare spending in the United States and can be considered the single biggest “insurer” covering Americans. The basics of Medicare include both plans provided by the federal government and those available through private insurers. Different types of plans can cover other parts of your health care.

The plan covers people age 65 or older, younger people who meet specific eligibility criteria, and individuals with certain diseases. As the most common form of healthcare coverage for seniors, it’s divided into four programs: Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage), and Part D for prescription drugs. The program has been in existence since 1965 and provides a way for older Americans to have their health needs taken care of after they retire from the workforce.

What Is the Difference Between Medicare Part A and Part B?

When you become eligible for Medicare, you have to decide which plan is best for you. Original Medicare is provided through the federal government and includes Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, which both handle different parts of your health care. It’s important to remember that Original Medicare doesn’t cover everything, such as vision and dental coverage.

Medicare Part A

Known as “Hospital Insurance,” Medicare Part A covers costs billed by hospitals or similar inpatient-like settings, such as skilled nursing facilities, hospice, and some home-based healthcare. This plan doesn’t cover long-term or custodial care. When you receive notification that you’re eligible for Medicare Part A, you’ll also be notified about your eligibility for Medicare Part B coverage, which is optional and has a premium for all enrolled members.

Medicare Part B

Generally, Medicare Part B covers costs for outpatient care such as doctor visits, preventative services, ambulance services, certain medical equipment, and mental coverage. This plan also covers certain prescription drugs.

Medicare Advantage vs Medicare: What’s the Difference?

Budgeting for healthcare costs in retirement is tricky since there’s often no way of knowing whether your expenses each year will be minimal or massive, and Medicare isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach. There are specific differences between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage that are important for people to understand when they first become eligible for Medicare and during the Open Enrollment period.

Traditional Medicare

Traditional Medicare is offered directly through the federal government, and you receive a red, white, and blue card to present to providers. The same level of coverage is available to all enrollees across the country with no pre-existing condition limitations or waiting periods. You can see any doctor, medical provider or visit any facility around the country that accepts Medicare. However, Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care, but it will cover short-term rehabilitation for the first 100 days. There are limits on your charges when you visit participating or non-participating providers as a Medicare beneficiary.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage is part of the Medicare program offered to seniors and disabled adults who qualify through private plans that contract with the federal government to provide Medicare benefits. Also referred to as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private insurance companies instead of the federal government. Medicare Advantage plans have fixed networks of doctors and hospitals, so your plan will have rules about whether or not you can get care outside of your network. Of course, you’ll pay more for any care you receive outside your network like any plan.

Medicare Advantage enrollment boils down to plan variety, choice, and costs, benefiting healthier people who use fewer services with lower costs. Enrollees are looking for the cost protection of an out-of-pocket limit and the variety of plan options with different premium, copay, and deductible schedules. A range of service options, such as dental, vision, pharmacy, and wellness benefits, are also available.

How to Choose a Medicare Plan

If you plan to travel or split your time residing between more than one state, you will want to enroll in Original Medicare, so you can access care providers anywhere. If you don’t plan to travel and prefer a “turn-key” Medicare experience, an Advantage Plan makes the most sense. You should make sure your desired care providers are part of the approved network before you enroll. Going out of the network for care will result in higher costs and possibly even denials. The current divide between enrollment in the two options is 2/3 Traditional and 1/3 Advantage Plans.

If you sign up for Original Medicare and later decide you would like to try a Medicare Advantage Plan—or vice versa—remember that there are specific enrollment periods when you’re allowed to make changes. You should also keep in mind that different areas have different Medicare Advantage Plans.

When Is Medicare Open Enrollment?

The annual Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for current Medicare recipients to change their coverage runs from October 15th-December 7th. You can change between traditional coverage and Medicare Advantage, switch Part D prescription plans, or move between Advantage Plans as your needs change. It’s also important to compare plans during each enrollment period, as coverage and plans available near you can change year to year.

Since Medicare covers everyone individually, this is also an important time for couples to make sure they are coordinating and re-calibrating coverage to find the best balance for their needs. For example, if one is covered by traditional Medicare and another by Medicare Advantage, and travel plans increase or decrease, should both move to one or the other together? Likewise, if certain drugs become necessary based on changing health conditions, every Part D plan needs a review to determine which plan will best fulfill those needs for the following year.

Special Enrollment

You can change your Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage for life events such as moving, losing existing employer-provided insurance coverage, or getting married. The opportunity to make changes are called Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). Depending on your SEP type, you may have 60 days before or 60 days after the event to enroll in a plan.

How Much Is Medicare?

It’s important to understand that Medicare does come with costs, and those costs will vary depending on whether you have enrolled in Original Medicare or an Advantage Plan. Medicare Part A is free for most individuals because of payments made through payroll taxes under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). You can also qualify for free Medicare Part A due to your spouse’s work history.

Generally, the government will automatically enroll you in Medicare Part A at no cost when you reach 65, as long as you’re already collecting Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits. All you need to do is check your mail for your Medicare card, which should arrive about three months prior to your 65th birthday. Coverage is automatic for anyone who receives Social Security benefits, but for those who don’t, enrollment can be done through the SSA website. If you’re not eligible for premium-free Part A, you may be able to purchase the coverage up to $499 each month in 2022. Most people will pay the standard Medicare Part B premium amount, which is $170.10 for 2022.

Under Medicare coverage, you will pay a deductible for your health care before Medicare pays its share. These premiums and out-of-pocket costs will need to be included in your monthly budget. If you miss the correct windows to enroll in Medicare coverage, there may be delays in coverage, or you may get locked into the wrong or inadequate coverage as your care needs change. There is also the risk of financial penalties that will increase premiums, and depending on your annual income levels, you may also pay higher premiums.

Medicare Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

Medicare was enacted over 50 years ago and has since become one of the most important, popular, and best-run government programs in U.S. history. However, to get the maximum value from the program, enrollees must make informed choices. Understanding enrollment, costs, services, and matching your lifestyle with the specifics of Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage will help you gain the most out of Medicare. In addition, talking with your financial advisor can help you decide which Medicare program is best suited for you and help answer any questions you have during the enrollment period, so contact the experts at Retirement Genius today.

Retire Like A Genius℠

Retirement Genius tips, tricks, and more are delivered right to your inbox. Sign up today and learn to Retire Like a Genius.