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January 20, 2010 > Washington Senior Care Seminar: Taking Care of Your Physical and Financial Well-Being

Washington Senior Care Seminar: Taking Care of Your Physical and Financial Well-Being

The claims of various lifestyle magazines that "60 is the new 50" may be exaggerated, but it is a fact that Americans in general are living longer, healthier lives: In 1900, the average lifespan for Americans was a mere 49.24 years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. By 1950, the average life expectancy increased to 68.07 years. Today's life expectancy is 77.8 years.

But what about the quality of that longer life span?

"Aging can be a positive experience if you maintain your physical health, your independence and your sense of safety," says Ivan Levine. "There are many things people can do to maintain a youthful outlook on life, including staying physically, mentally and socially active. In addition, a lot of studies show that financial stress can affect your overall health and emotional state, so maintaining control of your financial situation is a factor in longevity, too."

Levine speaks from years of experience. Along with his wife Sandy Levine - a former health-care executive - he is co-owner of Senior Helpers of Alameda County and Silicon Valley. Senior Helpers provides in-home care services ranging from companionship and conversation to assistance with daily activities such as bathing and dressing, errands and transportation, light housekeeping and laundry, and even Alzheimer's and dementia care. The couple has been involved in the senior community for many years as caregivers, senior center sponsors, health fair participants and as advocates for people with Alzheimer's disease.

To help seniors in the Tri-City area learn more about living well as they age, a trio of professionals will present a special seminar sponsored by Washington Senior Care on Monday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The seminar will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium in the Washington West Building at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

The Levines will open the session with a discussion of "Seniors' Secrets to Achieving the New Young." Leonard Heller, a certified financial planner will follow up with a presentation on "How to Organize Your Financial Affairs."

"Achieving the 'new young' is something everyone can do, provided they think positively," Levine states. He and his wife will detail various steps to help seniors meet that objective, including:
* Doing as much for yourself as you can.
* Identifying areas where you need help.
* Finding people you can trust to help with the things you can't do, such as a physician, caregiver, attorney or financial advisor.
* Staying curious and keeping your mind active with pursuits such as learning computer skills.
* Sharpening your mind with a variety of mental activities.
* Increasing your resilience.
* Building a good support system of family and friends who can help out when you need it.
* Putting your money where it counts, so it will last for the rest of your life.

The last step in the Levines' formula for maintaining a high quality of life as you age leads directly into Heller's presentation.

"People naturally have a major concern about outliving their financial resources or becoming a burden to others," Heller notes. "That fear is not unrealistic, since there is a statistical likelihood that out of 10 couples, seven will have one partner who requires some sort of long-term care.

"In my 25 years of practice, I have learned that planning is essential," he adds. "Seniors need to develop a solid foundational plan assuming they never need care, as well as contingency plans for possible new circumstances. There's an old saying that goes, 'People make plans, and God laughs,' but we still need to make plans."

Among the topics Heller will cover are:
* Understanding and managing the complexities of your Medicare coverage, including the eligibility requirements for Part A and Part B, prescription coverage options and options for supplemental insurance and long-term care insurance.
* Preparing a will and/or trust.
* Understanding the difference between allocation and diversification of investments.
* Paying off revolving debt and knowing what your other debts and liabilities are and when bills are due.
* Protecting your home equity, particularly if you are considering a reverse mortgage.
* Keeping track frequently of where all your assets are, and how much you have in various accounts.
* Updating important papers regularly and keeping family members or other trusted people aware of where those papers are stored.
* Managing the tax consequences of various financial decisions.
* Understanding the current state of the economy and how it affects people, especially seniors.

"Financial planning is not a one-size-fits-all scenario," Heller emphasizes. "The situation is the 'boss' when it comes to financial planning. The answers to people's financial needs depend on their individual situations. Having a question-and-answer session at the seminar will allow us to cover specific topics that are important to the various people who attend."

The free seminar will take place on Monday, January 25 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Conrad E. Anderson M.D., Auditorium in the Washington West Building at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. To register, please visit and click on the class link titled: "How to Organize Your Financial Affairs." You can also call (800) 963-7070 to register.

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