Listen UP!

Hearing Loss —America’s silent and growing epidemic

Hearing loss is America’s silent epidemic.  It can have a more negative impact on the quality of life than obesity, diabetes, strokes or even cancer.  Yet according to an AARP survey, more people report having gotten colonoscopies than hearing tests.

Hearing loss is associated with an increased risk of dementia, falls and depression.  It is also a serious contributing factor to social isolation and loneliness, and has been linked to poorer job performance and lower salaries, as well.

Why are people so reluctant to get their hearing checked or to treat hearing disorders?  Because unlike many serious and potentially fatal ailments, hearing loss carries with it the stigma of being old.  It’s true that hearing diminishes with age. Nearly 30 percent of people in their 50s suffer from hearing loss. For people in their 60s, it’s 45 percent.  And for those in their 70s, more than two-thirds have significant hearing loss.

But it doesn’t only affect older people.  The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss.  And that number is increasing. Boomers had their rock concerts, and millennials have their earbuds. So the impact of hearing damage will likely grow.

Because of the stigma of hearing loss, the average older adult waits seven to 10 years to get a hearing device.  Moreover, only 20 to 30 percent of all adults who could benefit from a hearing solution end up getting one. This only makes the problem worse because the longer a person has uncorrected hearing loss, the greater the risk to the brain of losing the ability to translate the sound of someone talking into comprehensible speech.  

The good news is that hearing loss is a solvable health issue.  When Medicare was passed in 1965, the assumption was that hearing loss was an inevitable part of the normal aging process, so hearing aids and associated services were excluded from coverage.  This is very difficult to change legislatively. But the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has recommended regulatory changes to make hearing solutions more accessible and affordable, and similar proposals were made by the President’s Counceil of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2015.  Last year Congress passed legislation requiring the Food and Drug Administration to regulate over-the-counter hearing aids within three years.

We have also seen in recent years a rapid growth and increased interest among consumer-electronics companies (from small start-ups to global giants like Apple, Samsung and Bose) in the development of devices that are suited to a wide variety of hearing deficits and a broad range of lifestyle preferences.

At AARP, as part of our effort to disrupt aging, we’re working to end the ageist stigma of hearing loss and use of hearing aids and other devices.  We’re advocating for better access and more affordable coverage of hearing testing and devices. We’re working with companies to spark innovative hearing solutions, and we’re providing consumers with information, guides and other tools to help raise awareness of this serious issue and to help them navigate their way through the advances in technology and their understanding of how hearing loss affects their lives.

By addressing the issues associated with hearing loss, both individually and as a society, we have so much to gain—better social connections, better health and a  better life. Let’s end America’s silent epidemic.

(by Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO, AARP in AARP Bulletin, May 2018)

Boomers Give the Most of Any Generation to Charity

A new survey of 1,339 donors finds that boomers give the most to charities, accounting
for 41 percent of all contributions in 2017.
The poll, conducted by Edge Research on behalf of the Blackbaud Institute for
Philanthropic Impact, estimated that boomer contributors gave $58.6 billion to nonprofits
last year, with the average boomer benefactor giving $1,061. Boomer donors on
average contribute to four charities.
Boomer giving has fallen slightly in recent years, from an average $1,212 in 2013, when
the generation accounted for 43 percent of charitable donations. But 60 percent of
boomer donors said their level of giving will stay the same next year, while another 12
percent said it will increase.
The Institute’s report notes that the average American charitable donor is age 64, which
suggests that boomers will remain the biggest source of charitable dollars for the next
few years.
Thirty-five percent of boomers make contributions through charity websites. Some 27
percent give by mail, while 11 percent use social media websites to make contributions.
Three percent give via text messaging.
Fifty-two percent of boomers think they make their biggest positive impact on worthy
causes by giving money, while others see volunteering (19 percent) and raising visibility
through word of mouth (8 percent) as the way to make the biggest difference.
Though fewer in number, the older Silent Generation remains a significant force
incharitable giving, contributing an estimated $29 billion last year, an average of
$1,235. That amounted to 20 percent of all charitable donations.

5 Keys to Smart Charitable Giving
by Jeff Yeager, Updated December 2010
If you haven’t got charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
–Bob Hope
Anytime is a good time to get out your checkbook to support the worthy charitable
causes of your choice.

As I’ve said all along, being smart about money and living a more frugal lifestyle isn’t
about being greedy, dishonest, or stingy toward others. Ultimately, it’s about choosing to
spend wisely and to consume less ourselves so that we have more—of both treasure
and time—to share with those we love and those who need our help.
For a new book I’m writing, I recently surveyed hundreds of fellow—as
I’ve defined that term. I’ve discovered that on average, cheapskates give significantly
more to charities (about 5 percent of their income) than the national average most of
Americans (less than 3 percent). What isn’t surprising is that when most cheapskates
donate to charity, they want to do it the smart way and get the most bang for their
donated bucks.
Here’s how they do it:
Check out the charity first: View charitable giving as investing in social good, and
exercise due diligence just as you would before making any other investment. Web sites
such asCharitynavigator.org andGuidestar.org provide a wealth of information on
thousands of charitable organizations. They can help you evaluate a charity’s financial
stability, funding, governance and ethical practices, and even the fairness of the CEO’s
compensation. In the end, the decision of which organizations you support is up to you,
but do your homework first.
Double your donation with a matching gift: Many companies match donations made by
their employees to qualified nonprofit organizations, dollar for dollar, up to a specified
limit. Charities occasionally have a source of matching funds (for instance, a matching
grant or a generous individual donor), which can also allow you to effortlessly double
your support. Of course, you can also truly and be the source of a
matching gift yourself by offering to match the gifts of others to a charity of your choice.
This is a great way to leverage the spirit of giving and your donation.
Consider making an unrestricted donation: Many people want to be assured that their
donation to a charity will be used for a specific purpose or program and not for
other general purposes. While this is understandable from a donor’s
perspective, it often hamstrings the organization; in the end, the restriction doesn’t allow
the best use of the limited financial resources available to most nonprofit groups. Once
you’re satisfied the organization is a good steward of its funds, trust it to do what is best
with your donation. Consider giving an unrestricted gift to support the breadth of an
organization’s good work.
Volunteer for a firsthand look: During the 25 years I managed nonprofit organizations,
supporters often asked me whether I’d prefer they make a financial donation or
volunteer their time. My answer was always the same: “Most charitable
organizations depend on donations of both money and time—in the form of volunteer
labor—to carry out their important work. Not only can volunteering be fun and

rewarding, but it’s also one of the best ways to get a true feel for a charitable
organization, to evaluate whether or not it also deserves your financial support.
Know the tax implications: Generally speaking, donations of cash and property to
qualified nonprofit organizations are tax-deductible, although IRS regulations regarding
the tax implications of charitable giving are complicated. Consult a tax professional and
IRS Publication 526 regarding your individual financial situation.
Donations should be made no later than Dec. 31 of the year in which the deduction is
claimed.
According to the IRS Web site, "To claim a deduction for contributions of cash or
property equaling $250 or more, you must obtain a written acknowledgment from the
qualified organization showing the amount of the cash and a description of any property
contributed, and whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange
for the gift."
And finally it’s easier than ever before to make a donation on behalf of someone else
and to let them choose which organization they wish to support:
SeeCharitychecks.us andNetworkforgood.org for flexible giving programs that allow
you to instill charity in the hearts of others.

MOVES TO MAKE WHEN STOCKS ARE JUMPY

Don’t let the up-and-down market derail your retirement

 

Is the stock market making you jittery about your retirement security?  No wonder. After behaving placidly throughout 2017, stocks started jumping around this year like an enchanted pogo stick.  By early March, the broad-market S&P 500 index had closed up or down 1 percent or more on 17 separate days—double the number for all of last year.  And on Feb 5, it dropped more than 4 percent—a one-day downward swing not seen since the summer of 2011.

The standard advice at times like this is to do nothing and stay the course.  And while it’s good advice, sometimes you need more than that abbreviated answer.  So here are tips from top personal finance gurus on what to do in an unsettled market.  

  • Stick to paper statements.  Many of the worst decisions investors make in an unstable market result from keeping too close an eye on their portfolio.  Some people—particularly retirees with lots of time on their hands—can end up checking their investments a dozen or more times a day.  This nonstop online access typically causes panic that dovetails with short-term thinking, says Eric Tyson, coauthor of Personal Finance After 50 for Dummies.  He advises older investors to greatly reduce, if not eliminate, their online access and to simply review the quarterly statements mailed directly to them.  “In a declining market, people go online and think the world is ending, then sell,” he says. “The reverse is what you should be doing.”
  • Inspect your holdings.  While sitting tight and patiently waiting for the market to recover isn’t a bad idea, Tyson says you shouldn’t completely ignore what you own.  Instead, he says, look at your entire portfolio and ask yourself this critical question: If all my holding were suddenly 100 percent cash, would I buy the same stocks and bonds that I have today?  In other words, are my investments the best they can be? If the answer is no, Tyson says, it’s probably time to make changes and swap some out.
  • Get a second opinion.  Let’s say your portfolio stagnated when the market was up, or perhaps slipped more than others during the recent downturn.  If you’re using a financial adviser, this is a good time to show your portfolio to three other advisers, Tyson says. Each, of course, will find something to quibble with.  But if all three make similar suggestions, you may want to ask your adviser about what they have proposed—and listen hard for answers.
  • Save more, risk less.  If you’re in your 50s but still have little savings, avoid the temptation of jumping into stocks now in the hopes of riding a comeback to retirement security, says Ben Carlson, director of institutional asset management at Ritholtz Wealth Management.  Immediately raising your savings rate—say, from 10 percent of income to 20 percent—is a far better strategy than suddenly increasing the percentage of your investments devoted to stocks, he says. “If the kids are out of the house, this is your chance to put some money aside.”
  • Talk to your spouse.  Any time a couple are dependent on the same financial resources, it’s important for both of them to fully understand their investments.  But shared knowledge is even more important in times of uncertainty. If you’re the spouse who takes the lead on investments—and typically one spouse does—then talking about your portfolio can relieve the lonely burden of keeping all your worries to yourself.  You’ll also be doing yourselves a favor by getting a second opinion about your situation. Says Tyson, “Your spouse might think of things that you didn’t.”
  • Look elsewhere for money.  If you’ve been pinning all your hopes for retirement security on the stock market’s performance, generating other sources of income will ease the pressure you place on your investments—and the anxiety they create for you.  One option is returning to work. While that may not have been part of your original retirement dream, studies indicate that part-time jobs probably improve retirees’ health, and definitely improve their social network. Consider starting your own consulting business, says Mitch Levin, MD., author of Smart Choices for Serious Money: How to protect, Preserve, and Thrive in Uncertain Economic Times.  Most retirees have an expertise, he says:  “There are people who will pay to learn what your know.”

(Written by Bruce Horovitz for AARP Bulletin, April 2018)

Key West Chicken

Prep:  15 min   Cook: 15 min   Ready in: 1 hour

 

“This recipe from the Florida Keys has been given to almost everyone I know. It is the best marinade for chicken, and it only takes 30 minutes from prep till you can grill! It’s a great blend of flavors with honey, soy sauce, and lime juice. If you have time, try marinating overnight for the fullest flavor.”

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 1 teaspoon lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Directions

  1. In a shallow container, blend soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic. Place chicken breast halves into the mixture, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Discard marinade, and grill chicken 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2018 Allrecipes.com 
Printed From Allrecipes.com 6/22/2018

THIEVES TARGET NEW MEDICARE CARDS

(SCAMMERS ARE ALREADY HARD AT WORK TO LEARN YOUR INFO)

 

It’s finally happening: New, safer Medicare cards start getting mailed this month to all 58 million beneficiaries.  Each will have a unique, randomly generated 11-character Medicare beneficiary identified (MBI) that looks something like this:  1EG4-TE5-MK72. Cards will be randomly shipped over the next 12 months. So if a spouse or friend gets one before you, don’t worry.  

The new card will no longer display Social security numbers, which aided scammers in opening fraudulent financial accounts, filing bogus tax refunds and otherwise stealing your money and identity.

But crooks still want your card details.  So guard your MBI just as you did with your previous Medicare number, your Social Security number and other personal identifiers.

    • Share only with trusted health care providers or when you contact Medicare
    • If you need to show your Medicare card, carry a photocopy with some characters blacked out to prevent any problems in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
    • Don’t leave the number in emails or on your computer in digital files, which could be easily intercepted.

 

  • And as we say elsewhere in this report, check every statement from Medicare for bogus services and billings.

 

As we’ve noted, a crook with your MBI or other personal health information can bill thousands of dollars in treatments and equipment to your Medicare account, or get bogus prescriptions written by working with a crooked doctor.  Even worse: If the bad guy gets caught, Medicare may not know if you were a willing participant—unless you had alerted them to statement discrepancies. These fraudulent bills could jeopardize your benefits.

Ever since the new card rollout was announced last May, criminals have been working overtime to revive old schemes that let them use the change to their advantage.  For example, the switch from Social Security number to MBI could breathe life into an old swindle aimed at your bank account information. In this gambit, a caller claims that with the new card, you’re entitled to a refund in premiums or drug costs.  The thieves will ask for information to set up a direct deposit to your bank account to send the money. But if you’re really entitled to a refund, a check will be sent to you. And if you get Social Security, your direct-deposit account is on file, and Medicare wouldn’t ask for it.  

Another scam:  Crooks call you to claim that Medicare needs to verify your identity before a new card is issued, that you need to pay for a replacement card or that you owe a new fee to pay for updated coverage.

Don’t believe it.  Your new Medicare card will automatically be mailed sometime in the next 12 months.  There’s no charge or action required. And benefits don’t change.

Final note:  When you get your new card, be sure to destroy your old card.  Don’t just toss it in the trash. Shred it. You don’t want your Social Security number sitting in plain sight in your trash.  

 

(written by Sid Kirchheiner for AARP Bulletin, April 2018)

INSIDE SECRETS TO CUTTING COSTS, SAVING TIME & REDUCING HASSLE! (Part 3)

From the Contractor:
~Raise your outlets. Electrical outlets are typically about 16 inches from the
floor—because that’s the length of the hammer electricians use to measure
outlet height. If you are remodeling, have the outlets set at 24 inches. They’ll be
easier to reach.
~Interior doors are typically only 30 or 32 inches wide. That’s too narrow for a
wheelchair or walker. When building new it costs only a little more to install a
doorway that is 36 inches or more, in width.
~Your attic hatch with drop-down stairs is likely not insulated. That’s a major heat
loss! A lightweight movable insulated box over the opening pays for itself in not
time.
~Install blinds to lower heating costs. Curtains hang away from the wall, and that
space actually increases heat loss through the windows. Blinds keep the heat
inside.
~Pick a tall toilet. They’re sold as “comfort height”—about 17 inches instead of
the standard 15 inches. The extra height is easier on the knees and back as we
age.

From the Doctor:
~Please wash up before your appointment. Bathing is important. Cologne is
unwelcome.
~Your doctor knows when you’re fibbing. If the patient gives me untruthful
information or doesn’t take my advice but tells me they have, there’s not much I
can do to help.

~Understand I don’t know what your drugs cost you. There are so many different
insurance plans out there, and drug coverage changes every year. But I try to
know what the least expensive medication is within a class of drugs. Bring your
coverage booklet to appointments, or ask for a paper prescription so you can go
online to determine the cost.
~Think twice about popular knee treatments. A whopping 700,000 surgeries are
performed each year in the U.S. to fix tears in the meniscus, a piece of tissue
between knee-joint bones. Tens of thousands more get joint injections of
hyaluronic acid. But studies show these expensive and invasive treatments
usually don’t help much. Your best bet: pain relievers like acetaminophen (or
ibuprofen or naproxen, as recommended by your doctor), plus physical therapy.

INSIDE SECRETS TO CUTTING COSTS, SAVING TIME & REDUCING HASSLE! (Part 2)

From the Waiter:

~Rib eye is the best steak—more flavor, very tender.  And don’t just say “medium rare.”  Give your server a description of what the middle of the beef look like—“all pink from edor “I like it all red.” Everybody’s got a different idea of what the middle should be.

~If you’re health conscious, don’t buy into claims that the food you order will meet your needs.  Restaurants don’t make food that’s healthy—they make it tasty.  

~Always ask if there’s anything on the menu you should steer away from.  If your server says, “That would be the last thing I’d choose,” there is a good reason.

~If you drink alcohol, the best bang for your buck is either beer or wine.  Hard liquor is the most expensive, for what you are getting.

 

From the Insurance Expert:

~Notify your agent when you retire and stop driving 20 miles to and from work.  There’s a discount for driving fewer miles.

~Did you know you can insure your identity?  It’s available as a rider on many homeowner policies for as little as $25 a year.  If your identity is stolen, the insurer will work with police and credit bureaus to restore your good name, and reimburse costs related to repairing your credit.

~You can save about $100 a year with some insurance companies by installing a tracking device to monitor your driving habits.  

~Before you file a claim, talk with your agent to make sure it’s valid.  If mold is caused by a roof leak, or a pinprick in a pipe, for instance, it generally is not covered.  A bad claim in the database could make it tougher to file a later claim.

 

From The Chef:

~For meat, chicken and fish, buy organic, antibiotic-free and hormone-free.  Otherwise, ignore the labels.  “All natural” is a giveaway that the producer is putting you on—the FDA doesn’t regulate with that designation.

~I use a food thermometer all the time.  Yes, it helps you stay healthy and safe.  But it also lets you bring everything you cook to exactly the right doneness.

~Turmeric is my go-to seasoning.  It tastes good and adds color.  And it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.

~People don’t brown things enough.  It’s important with meats to get a golden crust on them.  You can also caramelize veggies like Brussel sprouts by roasting with olive oil, salt & pepper.  Set your oven to 375 to 400 degrees to get them nice and brown.

~Get one really good knife.  One good chef’s knife, well sharpened, helps you properly execute most any job.

~I like to grill fruit, such as sliced peaches.  It brings the sweetness out even more.

~If you like a certain wine, drink it.  Don’t follow rules.  A red can be really good with fish and chicken dishes.  Everybody’s got different tastes.

 

From the Real Estate Agent:

~The first offer is often the best.  Serious buyers tend to move quickly when they find the right house.  They’ll often make a fair offer right away. If a good offer comes in right after you list, don’t hold out for a bigger offer that may not come.

~Your home is probably worth less than you think.  It’s human nature to overvalue a home you have lived happily in for many years.  You might be a bit disappointed when your agent shows you what comparable houses have sold for, but price your home based on the market comps.  If your house sits for a long time, potential buyers will begin to wonder what’s wrong with it.

~Brightness sells.  Buyers love a sunny, well-lit house.  When you have an appointment to show the house, turn on all the lights—even if it’s a sunny day—and pull up all the blinds.

~Have a clutter basket.  Getting that last-minute call for a showing is always a hassle.  To make it easier, get a nice woven basket that you can gather clutter into.  Cover the basket with an attractive throw blanket and place it near the sofa or put it in the bathroom covered with a couple of crisp clean towels.

~Get the dirt on your new community before buying.  Subscribe to the local weekly newspaper.  You’ll get a sense of what it’s like to live there.  More important, you’ll avoid buying two blocks away from a planned shopping mall or fracking operation.

 

INSIDE SECRETS TO CUTTING COSTS, SAVING TIME & REDUCING HASSLE! (Part 1)

From the Dentist:

~Your toothbrush is probably too big, too hard & too old.  You need a small brush with extra-soft bristles.

~An electric toothbrush will probably get your teeth cleaner.  This is especially true for older people, whose plaque is stickier and more difficult to remove with a manual toothbrush, because they produce less saliva.

~You probably don’t need annual dental X-rays.  Most people don’t need new X-rays any more frequently than every 18 to 36 months.  If your dentist orders them more often, ask why.

~Snack smarter.  It’ll lower your odds for cavities.  Crackers and pretzels made with white flour, sugary foods and candy feed bacteria, which produce more acid in your mouth.  Nuts, healthy meats and a cup of green tea are better choices.

From the Cop:

~Strengthen your front-door dead bolt.  Many builders don’t drill the hole for the bolt deep enough.

~Don’t open the door to strangers.  Widows especially are old school and want to be hospitable.  Act as if someone else is home with you: Say, “Honey, I’ve got it,” and speak through the door.  If friends routinely come over, tell them to call when they arrive.

~There’s no burden of proof in calling 911.  Say someone asks, through the door, for directions.  In the age of Google Maps and GPS? If your intuition keys in on something, make the call.

~Install a peephole on any door leading to the garage.  Don’t just have one in your front door.  Lots of bad guys try to get in this way.

~The ultimate goal of a burglar is the master bedroom.  They want your cash, your jewelry and your firearms.  Put junk jewelry in a jewelry box, and hide the good stuff in another room.

 

From the Nurse:

~If you’re in the hospital, designate one point person to be your communicator.  Answering questions from your family and friends takes time away from caring for you.

~Ask for pain relief earlier, please.  Don’t be a hero. On a scale of 1 to 10, ask for something around a 4.   It could take time to get to you….. Pain interferes with healing.

~Yes, you can bring in your own drugs.  If you take an expensive medication, it may be worth bringing it with you to the hospital.  The drug must be in its original container with the original label. The hospital pharmacy will add a bar code so it can be documented in your chart when you take it.

 

From the Veterinarian:

~I hate retractable leashes.  They’re dangerous for pets and for people.  Your dog belongs within 6 feet of you at all times when outside.

~Yes, you really should brush your dog’s teeth.  Relying on teeth-cleaning dog treats would be like chewing gum as your only dental health strategy.  Each day wrap a piece of gauze around your finger and gently rub tooth surfaces down to the gumline. You don’t need a special brush, or even toothpaste.

~If you’re going to cook all or most of your dog’s food, consult a vet first.  Preferably, one who is board-certified in veterinary nutrition.  Find out what’s right for your dog’s breed and age.

~It’s not just chocolate.  Don’t give your dog grapes, raisins, avocado, macadamia nuts, the artificial sweetener xylitol or onions and garlic.  

 

From the Car Mechanic:

~That guide to scheduled maintenance in your glove box? Use it.  Not just because a well-maintained vehicle lasts longer, but also to protect yourself.

~If you are looking for a good used car, ask your mechanic first.  I just might have another customer who is selling what you are looking for.  I’m happy to bring two loyal customers together, and I’ll know the car’s repair history.  You’ll cut out the dealer, resulting in a better deal for both of you.

~Your biggest worry under normal circumstances should be your tires.  Change them every four years, no matter how much tread you have left.  Tires weaken over time, which can cause the steel belts to shift. A blowout at the wrong time can be somewhere between a headache and a disaster.

~And speaking of your tires, check the pressure every eight weeks whether or not the indicator light comes on.  Changes in weather and air temperature drive air pressure up and down.  It’s more important than people realize to keep tire pressure at the best level.

THE SEVEN WORST THINGS YOU CAN DO TO YOUR HEART

1)  YOU SNEAK A SMOKE….. Heavy smokers know they should quit.  So should occasional smokers. But you might say, “I only burn a smoke socially” or “Just once in a while, I have a cigar on the golf course” or “I switched to vaping. It’s so much cleaner and healthier.”

    Wrong answers, one and all.  “Cigarettes, cigars, vaping—all of them have the same degree of risk” for your heart, says Clyde W Yancy, chief of cardiology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.  Nicotine has been shown to tighten coronary arteries; the effect is virtually immediate, he notes. “And there is no ‘small dose’ of nicotine,” he adds. “There is no threshold below which you’re ‘OK’ with smoking.  That doesn’t exist.”

THE FIX.  If you stop smoking right now and you don’t already have coronary artery disease, within two years you can reduce your heart attack risk to what it would have been if you had never smoked.

 

2)  YOU SKIP YOUR WALK…..Muscle loss as you age is a serious problem, and your heart is the most important muscle of all, says sports medicine physician Jordan D Metzi, author of The Exercise Cure.

THE FIX.  The AHA recommends 150 minutes a week of exercise, or 30 minutes a day at least five days a week.  A 2017 study showed that people with stable coronary heart disease who increased their habitual physical activity reduced their mortality rate.  The greatest benefits were seen in the most sedentary people who finally started moving regularly.

    “This can be so simple,” Metzi says.  “Some people hate the word ‘exercise’.  That’s fine. Just move. Get up and get your heart pumping.  It won’t care if you’re at the gym or not.” A large-scale study last year confirmed that any physical activity that gets you breathing hard, whether it’s for recreation or not, delivers the same benefits.

 

3)  YOU SNARF AN EXTRA COOKIE…..One of the biggest health issues if you’re over 50 is weight creep—gaining a pound or two every year until you tip over into obesity.  Science has found that meaningful weight loss comes mostly from better eating patterns, rather than from, say, more exercise.

THE FIX.  “You shouldn’t expect to lose weight from exercise alone,” Metzi points out.  “You can erase 500 calories burned from exercise in a few minutes of eating.” So the key is to eat the right foods.  And that leads us to the next common blunder.

 

4)  YOU EAT DINNER OUT OF A BOX…..Foods that come in boxes and bags are more likely to make you fat and sick thatn foods you cook yourself.  An animal study in the journal Nature showed that emulsifiers in processed foods can trigger obesity and metabolic syndrome.

THE FIX.  “An overall healthy eating pattern emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and nontropical vegetable oils,” says registered dietitian Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

 

5)  YOU SHUN YOUR VEGGIES…..A lot of foods seem healthy but are low in nutritional value.  Some culprits: granola bars and smoothies loaded with added sugars, Johnson notes.

THE FIX.  Try to eat a serving of fruits and vegetables with every mean (yes, including breakfast!).  Fry some thinly sliced brussels sprouts with your eggs, have a healthy salad or vegetable soup for lunch, and make sure there’s a side of broccoli with your salmon.  For snacks, stir some fresh berries into a cup of plain yogurt (instead of eating that sugary “fruit” on the bottom”, or scoop hummus with some carrots and celery, rather than processed chips.  For natural blood pressure control, Johnson recommends potassium-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach, beets, beans and yogurt.

 

6)  YOU LOSE YOUR COOL…..Occasional stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But chronic stress can put your health at risk. One result: elevated blood pressure.  Plus, according to a 2017 study of more than 2,500 people age 54 and older, chronic stress is associated with obesity.

THE FIX.  Antistress techniques abound:  Exercise, meditation, yoga, tai chi, enjoying nature and even creative hobbies can all help dial down your stress reaction.  But one key to understanding stress is that, in the end, it’s how you react to it that makes all the difference. From that point of view, a big part of the remedy is just to ask, “Why am I so stressed about this?”

 

7)  YOU OVERDRINK…..”There are substantial data that say that a modest amount of alcohol daily, or weekly, is reasonable and might be protective of your heart,” Yancy says.  “But how do we measure protective benefits on an individual basis? And here’s the really hard part: Are people disciplined enough to keep it modest?”

THE FIX.  “Modest” shakes out to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men.  If you can do that, you’re probably OK. But if you can’t? The evidence suggests that no alcohol at all is better for your heart than too much.

(written by Mike Zimmerman for AARP The Magazine, February/March 2018)

Southern Banana Pudding

What You Need

  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Banana Cream Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
  • 30 vanilla wafers
  • 3 medium bananas, sliced

Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 min. or until well blended. Let stand 3 min. Gently stir in 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping

Place 15 of the wafers on bottom of 2-qt. serving bowl. Top with layers of half each of the bananas and pudding mixture. Repeat layers ending with pudding mixture. Cover with remaining whipped topping.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Store leftover dessert in refrigerator.