Shortlink

The Power of Mindfulness

It seems everywhere you turn these days, from news shows to news articles to local advertisements, there’s this idea of promoting “mindfulness” in our day-to-day lives. Mindfulness is generally accepted as focusing one’s mental state on the present moment, being completely aware of all elements around us.

Some financial professionals have expanded this idea of mindfulness to financial management. In an effort to help achieve this, some people practice a no-spending day, no-spending week or no-spending month. By avoiding expenses at all costs, we are forced to assess if and why we need to make certain purchases.1 For example, if you go into a store for one item, you shouldn’t leave with six more. Likewise, you might find you end up consuming all of the canned foods in your pantry before you feel the need to buy more.

Recognizing the difference between wants and needs is probably the biggest benefit to conducting a no-spend day.2 It’s also a good way to allocate your retirement income streams to help ensure your money doesn’t run out. In other words, you could designate steady and reliable income streams (such as Social Security, a pension or an annuity) for necessities such as food and utilities in retirement, while any other variable income can be used to pay for occasional indulgences.

There’s a growing body of research that supports this idea that mindfulness-focused activities, such as meditation and yoga, can help decrease anxiety, depression, stress and pain, as well as help improve general health, mental health and quality of life. In fact, one study concluded that the impact of ongoing mindfulness activities was both significant and long term compared to taking a short-term vacation which, at the outset, was very successful at relieving stress.3

Neuroscience studies also have correlated the impact of aerobic exercise on cognitive clarity. In fact, vigorous exercise has been identified as the only known trigger to create new neurons in the brain. These newly produced neurons appear in parts of the brain associated with learning, memory, concentration and time management.4

When comparing brain scans of young-adult cross-country runners to young adults who don’t engage in regular physical activity, scientists found that overall, the runners demonstrated greater functional connectivity for activities such as planning and decision-making.5

On the surface, it may seem that the older we get, the less sharp our minds become. But alas, there also are studies that demonstrate more mature minds benefit from “crystallized intelligence.” This represents the knowledge and data that we have accumulated over decades of work and life experience. Older workers in particular can counteract age-related cognitive lag by relying on this foundation of experience to troubleshoot problems and innovate new solutions on the job.6

Some educators believe that the medical profession should take this new focus on mindfulness into consideration, not just as a means to help patients cope with health conditions but also to help physicians become better at their jobs.

Doctors are sometimes guilty of taking a set of symptoms at face value and settling on an incorrect diagnosis because they are not tuned in to other symptoms or patient data that may have bearing. Medicine is an inexact science that takes years of experience to become adept at recognizing a wide array of conditions, yet it is equally important not to let that experience and confidence close the mind to other possibilities.

This is where the practice of mindfulness can help physicians become more attuned to each patient’s full array of symptoms and their own biases. To date, some experts believe a missing ingredient in medical education and medical practice are courses or workshops that teach physicians the practice and impact of mindfulness.7 This has become even more critical now that health care delivery has become more of a volume and administrative business with less time spent with patients.

Are you practicing mindfulness in the various areas of your life? Please give us a call if we can help you be more mindful of your current financial situation and long-term retirement income goals.

1 Maggie McGrath. Forbes. March 8, 2016. “Turbo-Charge Your Finances with the Power of Mindful Spending.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2016/03/08/turbo-charge-your-finances-with-the-power-of-mindful-spending/#2eba22013796. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 Monique Tello. Harvard Health Publications. Oct. 27, 2016. “Regular meditation more beneficial than vacation.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/relaxation-benefits-meditation-stronger-relaxation-benefits-taking-vacation-2016102710532. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

4 Melissa Dahl. New York Magazine. April 21, 2016. “How Neuroscientists Explain the Mind-Clearing Magic of Running.” http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/04/how-neuroscientists-explain-the-mind-clearing-magic-of-running.html. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

5 Alexis Blue. World Economic Forum. Dec. 19, 2016. “Want to give your brain a boost? Running may be the answer.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/running-isnt-just-good-for-your-fitness-it-could-give-your-brain-a-boost. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

6 Kim Blanton. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Dec. 8, 2016. “Inside the Minds of Older Workers.” http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/inside-the-minds-of-older-workers/. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

7 Knowledge@Wharton. Feb. 16, 2017. “How Mindfulness Can Lead to Better Health Care Outcomes.” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/how-mindfulness-can-lead-to-better-health-care-outcomes/. Accessed Feb. 21, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Shortlink

Health Tips from Around the World

These days, it’s difficult to tell if America is still the greatest country in the world or one that has slipped from its pedestal. Perhaps it depends upon the measuring criteria. It is widely documented that the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, with a total bill of $3.2 trillion last year.1

Despite this tremendous investment in health care, an analysis of 14 developed nations showed life expectancies for people at age 65 are shorter in the United States. American women ranked last in longevity among the 14 developed countries, and men were second to last. Some experts suggest this is due to universal health care and more generous retirement benefits offered in other developed countries.2

Cost, particularly during retirement, may be a factor in how well health is maintained during the later years in life. If you’re considering creating a retirement income strategy that includes planning for potentially increasing health care costs in retirement, we can introduce you to various insurance product options.

While the federal government considers different ways to reform America’s health care delivery and payment system, it’s worth considering what other countries do to produce better results. On an individual basis, we can each learn new ways of managing our own health by considering tips from other countries.

For example, the Dutch are big on bicycling. The average citizen bikes more than 600 miles a year — not just for recreation, but also to and from work. As a result of this constant source of exercise, fewer call in sick to work, and studies show that bikers tend to have more energy and greater power of concentration than non-bikers.3

The Chinese practice Taoism, which involves taking mental and physical timeouts throughout the day to breathe deeply and reflect quietly. This philosophy is one of the basic tenets of today’s cognitive therapy that is used to treat depression, anxiety, stress, trauma and even chronic pain.4

In Finland, one of the national pastimes is relaxing in a sauna, which is believed to boost the immune system and cardiovascular endurance. The country boasts more than one sauna per every five people.5

Chopsticks used in many Asian cultures are known to slow down the pace of eating, which not only helps the body’s digestive system but tends to reduce the amount of food consumed.6

Yoga is a popular activity in India. Studies show that practicing yoga on a regular basis can improve circulation, flexibility, strength, posture and help clear the mind, reduce stress, ease pain and boost immunity. Another positive health influence in India is the use of various spices and herbs, including turmeric, ginger, chili peppers, saffron and cardamom.7

The French are considered somewhat of a mystery for their longevity and relative good health considering their love of wine, cheese and rich sauces. However, experts say they tend to stay slim because they eat small portions over long meals, resist snacking and stop eating when they feel full.8

One author has engaged in a project called Blue Zones, attempting to determine patterns among locales throughout the world that have high concentrations of centenarians, people who live to 100. In general terms, the most common pattern appears to be to “drink coffee for breakfast, tea in the afternoon, wine at 5 p.m.”9

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Carolyn Y. Johnson. The Washington Post. Dec. 27, 2016. “The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country. Here’s what we’re buying.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/27/the-u-s-spends-more-on-health-care-than-any-other-country-heres-what-were-buying/?utm_term=.b4bf88dc0213. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.

2 Financial Planning. Jan. 11, 2017. “How long do U.S. retirees live compared to peers in other countries?” http://www.financial-planning.com/news/how-long-do-us-retirees-live-compared-to-peers-in-other-countries. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.

3 P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D.. Thrive Global. Nov. 30, 2016. “7 Well-Being Tips From Around the World… and the Surprising Science Behind Them.” https://journal.thriveglobal.com/7-well-being-tips-from-around-the-world-and-the-surprising-science-behind-them-b06aedeb8ac6#.3fk09m8ew. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Integrative Nutrition. April 7, 2015. “7 Health Tips From Around the World.” http://www.integrativenutrition.com/blog/2015/04/7-health-tips-from-around-the-world. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.

Jennifer Mulder. The Health Sessions. 2017. “The 8 Best Health Tips From Around the World.” http://thehealthsessions.com/best-health-tips-from-around-the-world/. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.

8 Naomi Coleman. DailyMail. 2017. “Diet tips from around the world.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-64420/Diet-tips-world.html. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.

9 Eliza Barclay. NPR. Apr. 28, 2016. “Tea Tuesdays: Tea-Drinking Tips For A Longer Life.” http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/04/28/400156651/tea-tuesdays-tea-drinking-tips-for-a-longer-life. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Shortlink

Medicare Reform Outlook: Uncertain

With a new administration in the nation’s highest office, there is growing debate about Medicare reform.

The federal program, which helps provide health insurance to those over 65 and certain younger people with disabilities, is partially funded by participant premiums and a 1.45 percent payroll tax, matched by employers. Yet, it routinely exceeds its funding sources, according to researcher Philip Moeller.1

Lawmakers, lobbyists and entities have set forth various proposals to modernize Medicare into a program that could essentially pay for itself. One recommendation is a premium support system, in which the federal government would pay a set amount for each Medicare beneficiary toward the purchase of a health insurance plan; this is often referred to as a defined contribution or voucher approach.2

Whether the Medicare program changes, we’re prepared to help you make adjustments to your retirement income strategy to help with future health care expenses; give us a call.

Yet, the outlook on possible Medicare changes is uncertain as different voices compete on how to fix the program. One of the most prominent advocates of Medicare reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan, has set forth a plan that provides premium support, guaranteed coverage options, competitive bidding among plans and higher assistance for seniors with lower incomes or greater health care needs.3

The Committee for Economic Development has proposed similar reform incentives to expand competition among Medicare Advantage plans. Under the committee plan, seniors would receive a geographically benchmarked premium subsidy and pay for the balance of Advantage plans based on the coverage they prefer among a range of competitive options.4

As Congress considers reforming health care for the entire nation, some of the latest proposals include many of the Medicare provisions already in force through the Affordable Care Act. These include preventative screenings for certain conditions and penalizing hospitals for poor-quality care while rewarding providers for care that results in improved health outcomes.5

Despite increasing calls for Medicare reform by the Republican party, the newly installed president campaigned on a platform to leave the program as is.6 Moving forward, whether this issue heats up as a party divider remains to be seen.

Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications

1 Philip Moeller. PBS. Nov. 16, 2016. “Column: Who’s paying the true cost of Medicare?” http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/column-whos-paying-the-true-cost-of-medicare/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2017.

2 Gretchen Jacobson and Tricia Neuman. Kaiser Family Foundation. Jul. 19, 2016. “Turning Medicare Into a Premium Support System: Frequently Asked Questions.” http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/turning-medicare-into-a-premium-support-system-frequently-asked-questions/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2017.

3 Paul Ryan. PaulRyan.house.gov. Jan. 30, 2017. “Medicare.” http://paulryan.house.gov/issues/issue/?IssueID=9969\. Accessed Feb. 5, 2017.

4 Committee for Economic Development. Oct. 2016. “Modernizing Medicare.” https://www.ced.org/reports/single/modernizing-medicare. Accessed Feb. 5, 2017.

5 Bruce Japsen. Forbes. Jan. 29, 2017. “As GOP Backs Off ACA Repeal, Obama’s Medicare Reforms Remain.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2017/01/29/as-gop-backs-off-full-aca-repeal-obamas-medicare-reforms-stand/print/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2017.

6 Eric Pianin. The Fiscal Times. Dec. 4, 2016. “Pence Dampens Ryan’s Call for Major Medicare Overhaul Next Year.” http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/12/04/Pence-Dampens-Ryan-s-Call-Major-Medicare-Overhaul-Next-Year. Accessed Feb. 5, 2017.

We are able to provide you with information but not guidance or advice related to Medicare. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide general information to help you understand basic retirement income strategies and should not be construed as financial advice.

 

The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

Shortlink

Higher Education Cost Inflation Helps Lead to Legitimizing of MOOCs