Gray Matters: Senior guide now available

Just like the Olympic Committee, Area 1 Agency on Aging pulls off a spectacular biennial event of our own. The 2018-2019 edition of the Senior Information Guide is available now at our Eureka office at 434 Seventh St. and at the Del Norte Senior Center, 1765 Northcrest Drive in Crescent City. Seniors, family members and businesses and medical offices serving seniors are welcome to come by and pick up one or more copies.

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The Second Half: A life well lived

Over the last 25 years I’ve had the pleasure, the fun, of performing in a number of different musicals. It’s an activity that nourishes me on many different levels.

It also exhausts me. So, having wrapped up our Boomer Troupe’s performance of “The Music in Our Live” last weekend, I am all about taking it easy this week.

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The Second Half: A life well lived

Over the last 25 years I’ve had the pleasure, the fun, of performing in a number of different musicals. It’s an activity that nourishes me on many different levels.

It also exhausts me. So, having wrapped up our Boomer Troupe’s performance of “The Music in Our Live” last weekend, I am all about taking it easy this week.

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Comfortably numb – why some older people turn to cannabis for pain relief

'Don't mind me dear, I've got joint problems.' Shutterstock

When most people think of cannabis users, they probably think mainly of the younger generations. But it’s actually the 45 to 64 age group who show the highest proportion of household spending on cannabis.

Recent figures on cannabis use in Canada found nearly 5m people aged between 15 and 64 spent an estimated 5.7 billion dollars on cannabis during 2017. That’s one in five people in this age group. Most of this was spent on the drug for recreational rather than medical, which is currently illegal in Canada.

No surprise then that the cannabis industry in Canada is now bigger than the beer and tobacco industry.

Well, that’s just Canada, you might think, but you would be wrong. In Australia, lifetime cannabis use more than doubled between 2004 and 2013 in the over 50s. The UK has seen similar trends, with lifetime use of cannabis in the 65 to 74 age group rising more than sevenfold between 2000 and 2014. In the US, the rate of self-reported cannabis use over the previous 12 months in people aged 65 and above also jumped massively between 2003 and 2014.

The need for weed

This age group have grown up in the decades that witnessed the rising popularity of recreational cannabis use. So they are familiar with the drug and maybe less inhibited about using it as they develop age-related health problems.

It may not be totally surprising then that recent research has highlighted how older people are turning to cannabis for pain relief as they develop age-related health problems – and for end-of-life care. In the UK, lower back and neck pain is the most common cause of disability, particularly in Baby Boomers.

With the growing potential for the misuse of painkillers such as opioids and gabapentinoids, it is quite possible that cannabis use in older people will grow. This is because easing the everyday wear and tear of the neck, hips and knees of a population that is expected to double in size across developed countries, will be challenging.

High time for change?

Barely a month goes by without a country or state announcing plans to change their policy on cannabis. Some 30 US states now permit access to cannabis in one way or another. But the array of regulatory models shows it is not simply a case of just “legalising” cannabis – as some jurisdictions will only allow access to cannabis for medicinal reasons.

There are also restrictions on the types of health problems that are approved or who can prescribe and dispense medical cannabis. At present, drugs that contain cannabis are only licensed for a limited number of health problems. One of these is pain from nerve damage, but only in multiple scelorosis.

But the evidence for the treatment of such pain across a range of painful medical disorders remains weak. Then there is also the issue of additional health risks that come with the use of cannabis – which can make it a risky choice as a painkiller – particularly in older people.

No comfort in cannabis

Cannabis is associated with a range of both mental and physical health problems from intoxication, withdrawal and long-term use. Older people are also more likely to be taking a range of medications – how these interact with cannabis is still unknown. Likewise, the risk of developing cardiovascular problems may be increased by using cannabis.

Combined with a number of other long-term conditions in older people, the risks from using cannabis as a painkiller appear to outweigh the limited and currently weak evidence for any real benefits. What is needed then is credible evidence based information on the benefits as well as risks of using cannabis for older people. Because until then, how it’s going to affect someone can simply be a matter of pot luck.

The Conversation

Ian Hamilton is affiliated with Alcohol Research UK.

Tony Rao does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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The Second Half: Try something new, something different

I am loving this semi-retired phase of life. My husband and I just had breakfast with two good friends, who also happen to be cast members for “Music of Our Lives,” the HLOC Boomer Troupe’s production that’s coming up this weekend, Feb. 17 and 18. The original script, based on the experiences of our 25-member cast, is a “living history” that weaves songs and stories together for lively and memory rich theatrical experience.

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One problem with delayed Social Security claims: Risk of higher Medicare Part B premiums

Delaying your Social Security benefit as long as possible is a great way to boost retirement income, but the strategy comes with one built-in downside. Most seniors enroll in Medicare at 65, but those who are not yet receiving Social Security run the risk of much larger annual increases in their Part B premiums.

Healthcare inflation is resurgent, and more retirees are delaying their Social Security claims. So that leaves a question: how significant is the risk of higher Medicare costs, and does it ever justify an earlier-than-planned Social Security claim?

In most cases, the risk is small, and the benefits of a delayed filing far outweigh the higher healthcare costs. I asked Social Security Solutions, one of the leading Social Security optimization services, to run scenarios for hypothetical couples. We found that the net drag is modest – anywhere from 4 to 6 percent of the higher Social Security benefit gained through delay.

“Delaying your benefit is more than likely worth paying the hold-harmless penalty,” said Robin Brewton, vice president of client services at Social Security Solutions. “It’s important to run your own numbers, because everyone’s scenario will be different, but in most cases it won’t make sense to claim earlier to protect yourself from higher Medicare costs.”

Learn more about how this works in my column this week for Reuters Money.

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Originally posted 2017-05-18 10:16:42.

The Second Half: Try something new, something different

I am loving this semi-retired phase of life. My husband and I just had breakfast with two good friends, who also happen to be cast members for “Music of Our Lives,” the HLOC Boomer Troupe’s production that’s coming up this weekend, Feb. 17 and 18. The original script, based on the experiences of our 25-member cast, is a “living history” that weaves songs and stories together for lively and memory rich theatrical experience.

SUBSCRIBE!

The Second Half: Try something new, something different

I am loving this semi-retired phase of life. My husband and I just had breakfast with two good friends, who also happen to be cast members for “Music of Our Lives,” the HLOC Boomer Troupe’s production that’s coming up this weekend, Feb. 17 and 18. The original script, based on the experiences of our 25-member cast, is a “living history” that weaves songs and stories together for lively and memory rich theatrical experience.

SUBSCRIBE!

The Second Half: Try something new, something different

I am loving this semi-retired phase of life. My husband and I just had breakfast with two good friends, who also happen to be cast members for “Music of Our Lives,” the HLOC Boomer Troupe’s production that’s coming up this weekend, Feb. 17 and 18. The original script, based on the experiences of our 25-member cast, is a “living history” that weaves songs and stories together for lively and memory rich theatrical experience.

SUBSCRIBE!

Baby Boomer Parents of Millennials Need to Stop Enabling Them

A recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates more than two million millennials between the ages of 25-34 are still living at home with their parents and 1 in 4 is doing so at the expense of the baby boomers who raised them.  They’re not working or going to school—they’re just kickin’ it with mom and dad–and, perhaps, waiting for their big break into the world of employment.  Or perhaps they’re just waiting for mom and dad to die so they can gain their inheritance.

The study also reflects the fact that most of those who work at home have a high school diploma or less and may also be adding another mouth for their parents to feed with their own child or live-in mate.

Half of those living at home are white and the majority are male. How ironic especially since the unemployment rate is 9.7 for blacks (between 25-34) and 4.2 for whites in the same age group.

“Almost 9 in 10 young people who were living in their parents’ home a year ago are still living their today, making it the most stable living arrangement for young adults,” the report said.  “In 2005 the majority of young people lived independently in their own household, which was the predominant living arrangement in 35 states.  By 2015—just a decade later—only six states had a majority of young people living independently.

The Census Bureau study makes no reference to the circumstances that cause millennials to live at home but one can certainly make a case for the economic challenges they face as well as the after shock of the most recent Recession.

Whatever the case may be, parents must continue to encourage their Millennial adult children to leave nest and stop enabling them so they can fly on their own.

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Originally posted 2017-05-17 14:02:14.