The Biggest Kidney Development In 20 Years!

Hello! It is still National Kidney Month, and I meant to talk about this topic weeks ago, but I got busy with other things and it didn’t happen.

I am not going to go into all the mumbo jumbo of a clinical trial, there is a video for that, lol. The video below will talk about the clinical trials for Farxiga and the results. I will keep it simple and state it met all of their standards with flying colors! The FDA has now approved Farxiga for the treatment and prevention of kidney decline in CKD patients with or without Diabetes. This is huge!

Now, before you get too excited there are some caveats. It is for stages CKD 2-4, and you can not be on hemodialysis. You can read the drug information here, but if you are on a low sodium diet, and which person with CKD is not on a low sodium diet, then you need to proceed with caution as Farxiga can cause you to be dehydrated, and cause volume loss. Make sure you discuss all aspects of this drug if you decide to ask your doctor about using it. The people in the clinical trials were on ACE Inhibitors, or ARBS, most likely to control blood pressure. So, I would be curious to know how Farxiga would work for those of us who do not take those medications. Not all of us do, though it is a typical standard of care for most people with CKD. Also, and most important in my mind, is that Farxiga can cause a type of genital infection, that can lead to gangrene, in the genitals. Yes, you read that correctly. You would need to pay extra attention to this very sensitive part of your body for any signs of infection. You also can not have Polycystic Kidney Disease or autoimmune kidney disease to take Farxiga. There are other drugs in this class of medication, but only Farxiga has been FDA approved for the treatment of CKD. Farxiga is made by Astrazeneca.

Now, my thoughts on Farxiga. Would I take it to slow the progression of my CKD? Absolutely, if what I was currently doing did not already have me back hovering at stage 2. I also do not take Ace inhibitors or ARBS, so I probably would be disqualified from using it. I do not want to be on hemodialysis, ever, and so this would be something I would consider. I would request my doctor make adjustments in my plan of care, such as sodium restrictions, and I would request closer monitoring for side effects.

Be sure and watch the videos, read the links, and educate yourself before talking to your doctor about taking Farxiga.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. Nothing on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only.

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Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge: Week 13

Hello, and welcome to week 13 of my Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge. This is a year long challenge, and possibly more. If you have been following from the beginning this started as a dual challenge at 63 dollars per week, for a family of almost 3 adults now, and a challenge to see if someone with CKD, could eat shelf-stable, convenient type foods and still feel good. The latter only took a few weeks, and I quickly decided that no I could not eat those types of foods on a consistent basis and still feel well. Now, with that said I can eat shelf-stable veggies like canned veggies that are low in sodium and no funky preservatives. I don’t prefer canned fruit, but the same ingredients would apply. I can also tolerate shelf-stable tuna, and canned chicken, as long as the sodium is within reason, and there are no funky preservatives. I looked at canned beef, I think it was, roast beef maybe, but the sodium was insane, and it was expensive. I did not even bother to try it. Mainly, when I say shelf-stable I am talking about convenience foods, such as frozen meals, and ultra processed foods. Last week, I had to increase the budget from 63 dollars per week to 75, just because of how high food prices are now. The sole purpose for this challenge is to see how much money we can save, and to take account of how much food we are wasting. 75 dollars per week is about a third of what we were paying prior to starting this challenge. So far we have had to replace our fridge, and washing machine. We also just got nailed on taxes and were able to pay the balance. We did not have to finance any of this. The fridge and washing machine were not just bought because we wanted new, both of them needed to be replaced. We are not starving, we have reasonable snacks, and still enjoy the food we are eating.

Last week, I came in at I think 5 dollars under budget. I did have to pick up an extra gallon of milk part way through the week, so that money went for that. This week, I spent 25 cents over my budget, so 75.25. Food prices are still going up, and chicken is outrageous right now. Some of this is due to the millions of chickens that have been euthanized due to a Bird Flu outbreak. Chicken is my main protein that I eat. So, that is a bit distressing.

You can see the picture of my grocery haul below. Please don’t mind the cups in the sink. I shopped at Winn-Dixie and Walmart this week. I have mentioned before that I hate shopping at two stores. But, I needed some pool chemicals, and Walmart is right across the street from Winn-Dixie. Along with prices going up, there are still bare shelves for some items. You might be shocked to know, but each week I shop, whether it is Aldi’s, Winn-Dixie, or Walmart there is always coffee creamer in short supply. Onions are very high in price, too. Cheese and lunch meat have gone way up, and most other items have gone up at least a few cents as far as I can tell.

I was kind of annoyed this week, because I go to Winn-Dixie because they mark their meats way down, and my husband prefers their meat over Walmart. I don’t know why, they all taste the same to me, unless it is organic, then it is better no matter where I buy it. But, the new weekly ad prices started yesterday, yet they did not have all of the sale signs up and I had to go back and forth between the app, and store items to figure out what was on sale. This just took so much longer, and I won’t go on a Wednesday again. Two items that were super good deals this week, were the Swerve brown sugar replacement, and the organic milk. At Walmart, last week, I paid 7.50 for the same Swerve. At Winn-Dixie for this week only, it is buy one get one free. That means each bag was 4.25. The organic milk which was not in the sale flyer was 3.99 for a gallon. If you buy organic milk you know that is a good deal. I did not buy a lot of meat this week, because the prices are high, and we have a good stock in the freezer. The ham steaks were buy one get one free, and I can make them go a long way in several meals. Lettuce and tomatoes were also very high priced at Winn-Dixie. I had to get lettuce at Walmart where the price was a little more reasonable. I don’t know how much longer I will buy fresh tomatoes, and I hope my garden will produce some. I bought more canned veg this week, than frozen because one it is cheaper and two hurricane season is coming and I don’t like to fill the freezer too much in case we lose power for an extended period of time. We will use up what is in there, and then keep bare minimum on hand. The juice was buy one get one free too.

If you are on any kind of specialty diet to stay healthy, and or manage a chronic disease you are probably feeling a pinch in your budget. Healthier foods are more expensive right now, even beans and lentils have gone up in price. Do the best you can. Decrease your portions, especially if you are overweight and can afford to decrease your portions. Don’t be afraid to reach out to community organizations that may be able to help you get the foods you need to stay healthy. Not all junk food items are cheaper. They too are going up in price. Snack type foods, like chips and pretzels, even crackers are outrageous right now. We don’t drink a lot of soda, but the price for that is also through the roof. I am surprised people are still willing to pay these prices for food items that serve no purpose to health and well being. I know some people say eggs have gone up, but honestly dime for dime they are still a great deal as a protein source. The same goes for milk. I do not drink milk, but the others in my family do.

Are you on a grocery budget, or do you just spend whatever you want? Leave me a comment and let me know. Do you use any reward cards? I have the Winn Dixie rewards card and so far I have 5 dollars saved up to use on groceries. I just signed up for the Hitchcock’s card, but I have not used it yet.

Next week, my daughter and I will be taking our 75 dollar budget and shopping at our local Family Dollar and Dollar General to see what we can get. Family Dollar I know sells frozen chicken thighs, and Dollar General does have some fresh fruit and veg, albeit very expensive. We will see how that goes. These two stores are right in our town, and we could literally walk there if we had to. I am unsure of what day this will be, but probably Friday.


Renal Support Drink!

Happy Thursday! Before I get to the main topic I want to mention that my dates for the weekly food budget challenge will be changing to Friday to Thursday, or Thursday to Wednesday depending on whether it is my Friday to work or not. I started a new job and I won’t be able to shop on Monday anymore, and I don’t want to shop on Sunday. These past two days for orientation I have basically sat all day. I don’t know how people sit at a desk for 8 hours or more every day. I simply can’t do it. I am very accustomed to walking 10,000 steps or more a day, not 6,000 and that is with a 30-minute treadmill walk when I get home. I am glad I will be working just two days a week. So, tomorrow will be the end and beginning of the week for food. It was a weird week of eating this week and we didn’t use much food. So, I won’t need to buy much, but I will probably go ahead and spend the 63 dollars because that is the budget.

Last week on Facebook I saw an ad for a new renal drink from Kate Farms. This is not a review of the drink, as I didn’t buy any, but just an informational for anyone who might be wanting to check it out.

It only comes in vanilla and is a plant-based supplemental drink, especially for kidney patients.If you don’t tolerate soy, or milk caseins then this drink may be for you. It has 450 calories per bottle, so technically it could be used as a meal replacement. It is high in fat, but if you need to gain weight or add some fat to your body, this might be good. It has a good amount of protein if you need to increase your protein intake due to dialysis or muscle wasting. It has a very good nutrition label. It is all organic, but the ingredient list is pretty long. It is expensive. You will get 12 bottles per order, and their homepage says you may be able to get it covered by your insurance. It was created especially for patients on dialysis. Each bottle contains 250 mg of sodium per bottle serving. I think that is a lot, be sure and discuss it with your doctor before you buy it. The sugars are sugar alcohols and each bottle has 43 grams of carbs with 4 grams of fiber. Each bottle contains 190 mg of Phosphorus, 250 mg of Potassium, and 20 grams of protein. Be sure and discuss the nutrition information with your doctor before you purchase and start to drink. If you are not on dialysis these drinks may not be for you. Don’t forget to include the 8.5 ounces in each bottle into your fluid restriction intake, if you are on fluid restrictions.

You can learn more about this drink, here.


Is Your 401K A Scam?

Welcome back to another Thinking on Thursday topic. As I continue my research on topics related to retiring and elder years, this one came up a lot, and of course, is one I and lots of others can relate to. A scam is probably not completely accurate, but many people do not truly understand their 401K and actually end up losing a lot of their earnings long before they retire.

Most places don’t even offer a 401K option to their employees, and if they do you probably have to work full time to participate. I really am not sure I understand why because my research shows all of the burdens is on the investor, that’s you, not the company offering it to their employee. So, right off the bat, I call BS. At the end of last year, I pulled out of having any more money taken from my check and put into my 401k. Why?

For several reasons.

  1. I did not see any stability in the company I was working for and figured the would be rolling over the business to another healthcare managing company in a couple of years, just like the many previous ones before them. Rolling over a 401k is a pain, and I can’t cash it in without huge penalties, and I wasn’t vested so it didn’t even matter. Most companies don’t have you vested until at least 5 years working for that company. The new job I am starting at next week is 6 years to be vested.
  2. I have about 10 years to retirement, and while they can put my money into less risky portfolios, not all of them are set up that way. I really do not know enough about investing to take any kind of high risk with my money.
  3. The fees these companies charge are ridiculous.

If you don’t know about these things and your 401K I suggest that you learn about them. I urge you to watch the video below and if you do have a 401K start looking into what amount of fees you are paying, where your money is actually invested in, etc.

Index funds may be a much safer place to invest your hard-earned money. They have way less risk and are easy to manage so the fees are nominal at best. Read more about index funds here, and there is a short video that he ranked as the top 5, after the longer video. I do not know that they will make you rich, his title is his title.

I am not an investing coach or money coach. I am a health coach, and retirement issues are a huge part of health.


What Is A DNR And Do I Need One?

Welcome back to another Thinking on Thursday topic. The answer to this one is it depends.

First off, what is a DNR? DNR is an acronym for Do Not Resuscitate. It is a legal and binding order that makes it illegal for healthcare providers to begin CPR on you. CPR is another acronym for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, which simply means in the event your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.

You can not have a legal and binding DNR without a valid doctor’s signature. It also has to be witnessed. A DNR can be rescinded if you decide you don’t want one.

The question of whether you need one is always controversial. If you are under the age of 50, especially if you do not have a terminal illness, getting a doctor to sign a DNR order will not be easy. However, not everyone has the same perception of what being alive, or quality of life means to them. That is why you need a Living Will, especially to make it known what your wishes would be if you suddenly went into cardiac or respiratory arrest. It is never the point of these posts to define what living or quality of life means. Those are very personal subjects and ones you should explore on your own and with your family.

If you decide that you want and or need a DNR make sure it is legal with all signatures required. Then make sure your doctor, family members, and your living will all have copies. You can also file a copy with your local emergency services, and the hospital you frequent. You can carry a copy in your wallet or purse, and I think there are special bracelets you can purchase. Know your state laws in regards to a DNR. Some states may not honor the DNR unless you have the DNR insight on the yellow paper.

As we age these are very important discussions and decisions to make.


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What Is A Living Will and Do You Need One? Plus More!

Welcome to another Thinking on Thursday topic. As promised I said I would cover topics related to retiring and other Golden Years topics. First off let me state this is my opinion, but if you do some research you will see that my opinion is helped by a lot of legal experts. I think anyone over the age of 20 should have a Living Will. At the end of the post, I will do an update on my pantry and food budget challenge, so there will be a lot of pictures.

We can not discuss if you need a Living Will without a few definitions. First off what is a Living Will? I like to keep things simple, so to put it in a simple way it is a legal document filed with your doctor, family, and anyone else who needs it making it very clear what your wishes are for your medical care should you become terminally ill. What is the definition of a terminal illness? Again, in its simplest form when someone has a terminal illness there is no cure and will cause death. That is a pretty broad statement in my opinion and if you have CKD, like me, they will tell you there is no cure. Now, I think in a lot of states this would be broken down into how long until death is expected, etc. Be sure and follow the guidelines, and understand what a Living Will in your state means.

My husband and I will each be doing a Living Will. Something we should have probably done years ago. But, when you are young you don’t think about such things, like something awful can never ever happen to you.

Again, this is my opinion and my feelings. I have been a nurse for 35 years and I know there are certain things I do not want. For example, I do not want to be kept alive with no quality of life. Quality of Life is a debatable topic, but for me, if I can not do the things I enjoy how and when I want to, I have no quality of life. If I am exhausted all the time, can’t work, can’t exercise or even walk far, am being fed by a machine, am incontinent with someone needing to clean and change me, these are not quality of life for me. If these things were short-term, and by short-term I mean less than 3 months, then I would consider it being rehabilitative, not poor quality of life. Event hat is debatable to me if the expense to do so will be outrageous and put my family in a horrible position of trying to pay just to keep me alive. I have lived an awesome life and while I don’t want to die, I don’t fear death. I do fear no quality of life, however. Dialysis is something I am still on the fence about, especially since I don’t have to confront it yet. It is life-saving, obviously, but I would have to assess my quality of life.

These are the types of things you would need to consider when creating a Living Will and are only examples of myself since I am the best example I can give. A Living Will can be amended or rescinded at any time, so don’t feel like once one is created you can never change your mind, or ask for changes.

Even though creating a Living Will is not something fun to think about, or something that has even crossed your mind, it does take the burden off of loved ones who would be put in the position to have to decide these things should you be terminally ill.

You don’t even need a lawyer. Legal Zoom can assist you, and there may be others. Here in Florida, they provide a sample Living Will you can use, just fill in the areas that need filling in.

Consider the pros and cons talk to your family and then make an informed decision. My family is very aware of how I feel.

Update on the food budget/pantry challenge:

This week we are using up leftovers and a bunch of pantry food items. You will see the labels and ingredients for each item below. I am very disappointed to say that I will not be eating the Stove Top Stuffing as it has HFCS and a lot of sodium, added phosphorus and added sugars. I will eat homemade mashed potatoes instead. Keep reading to learn more.

Tuesday: We had for dinner Dave’s Killer muffins as egg and sausage sandwiches. I like Dave’s products. I like their 22 seed bread better, but this is what I purchased. I did have sausage, egg, and one slice of cheese. I had a large side salad with mine.

Wednesday: I had a board meeting and my husband was going to be late. So, from the pantry, my daughter wanted Campbell’s tomato soup. Unfortunately, I did not read the label until after I had eaten 1 cup. I didn’t even consider that soup would be so bad for me. This soup is full of sodium, added sugar, and I believe added phosphorus. I did not take pics of the label but you can look it up. I almost died when I put it into my food tracker and I had consumed 40 grams of carbs in a 1 cup serving of soup that was not even filling. Good grief! I did have a side salad with it.

Thursday: We had some turkey still leftover from Sunday. So. I put 2 ounces of turkey breast on a spinach and iceberg salad, with some sunflower seeds. Unfortunately, I did not read the label for the Publix salad dressing and much to my dismay it too has a lot of added sugars. I did look up their organic version and it was much better, though you will pay more for that healthier version. I had one Hawaiian roll, again leftover from Sunday, and holy moly look at the food label and ingredients for one tiny roll. That was just lunch, lol. For dinner, I am making some pan-fried organic chicken from my freezer, carrots from a can see the label it is about the only healthy thing I have featured this week other than the organic chicken, and I will have homemade mashed potatoes leftover. My husband and daughter will be having the Cracker Barrel White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. I was going to have that too but look at the label and the ingredients. No thank you!

This week has been an eye-opening week for me with my Pantry Challenge eating with CKD. The Dave’s bread, and the carrots, are the only two pantry items that are even acceptable. HFCS, food additives, preservatives, high-fat content, added sugar, high sodium, added phosphorus in the other items are probably not good for you if you have CKD. They are probably not even good for you if you don’t have CKD. If you do decide to eat any of the foods I mention at the very least eat only one portion or even half a portion. Always discuss food options with your doctor or dietitian, if you are even lucky enough to have a dietitian.

That is it for today. I hope you are all enjoying my budget/pantry food challenge. Let me know in the comments.


Do Processed Foods Cause Kidney Disease?

Welcome to another Thinking on Thursday topic and it is the day before the Night Before Christmas. How exciting!

There are lots of thoughts about what causes kidney disease and how to prevent, and treat it once you have it. There are lots of different reasons someone may get kidney disease. What about processed foods? When I talk about processed foods I am talking about highly processed foods, though processed foods have their own issues as well. Highly processed foods are processed foods that don’t just have added fat, salt, and sugar, but also have other chemical additives, colors, preservatives, etc. There are studies that show that the body does not know how to break down these chemicals in these foods and that it caused the kidneys to work harder and can even damage them. If you read here often then you know I have been able to get back to stage 2 CKD after being diagnosed almost 5 years ago. I do attribute a lot of this to allowing my kidneys to heal from the damage of years of eating processed and highly processed foods. I mostly consume organic, home-cooked meals now. I do indulge in unhealthier options, it is a given in this world these days, but before diagnosis and a stressful job with kids at home, we were consuming these types of meals daily. Below you will see links to articles, studies, and videos that explain this topic and how increasing both fiber and resistant starch can actually help to start to heal at the very least the metabolic issues of CKD and at best the damage that has been done to the kidneys. If you don’t like to read research studies, like I do, just read the conclusion. That is the only part that really matters, lol. You can buy resistant starch right off of Amazon, and make your own baked goods using it. The video is short, but she explains the idea of brown food, or baked diet, as the concept to ultra-processed fiber deprived foods and CKD.

If you would like to learn how to cook your own meals and reduce eating processed meals, plus how to meal plan for when you work, use the contact form at the end of the post to message me and I will talk to you about my health coaching options. This article does not reference CKD but does talk about weight and metabolic issues.


Temperature Checks!

Hello, and welcome to another Thinking on Thursday topic. Today, I am going to talk about Covid, boo, and some of the new hot topics surrounding it. If you like this post please like it and share it.

Unless you live under a rock then you know we are going into our 2nd year of this dastardly pandemic. The new Omicron variant is all the rage of topics of late. But, Delta is still the variant that is dominant in the USA and still causing sickness, and death. Here in Florida, our cases are ticking up slightly, and I noticed hospitalizations are on the rise. In one local county, the cases are low but the positivity is going up. I have noticed a few things in my local area. Mask wearing has never been a big thing in rural areas, but now I am noticing health care facilities not requiring staff to wear masks if they are vaccinated. This is particularly dangerous, and reckless in my opinion, especially when caring for elderly or immunocompromised people. The Florida govt only recommends mask-wearing, it does not require, it. However, why is this? With waning immunity from natural infection and vaccine protection, people’s lives are being put at risk for other people’s silly reasons to not wear one. I have even seen first responders going into facilities without face coverings on. This is completely reckless IMO.

This morning I read an article about temperature checks being an easy way to possibly catch Covid fairly early. The article showed the order that Covid symptoms most likely will appear, and fever is the first symptom. For Covid symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure, and for Flu 1 to 2 days after exposure. The other symptoms in order after fever are cough and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. Now, this does not mean everyone will have symptoms in that order, some people have no symptoms at all as we know. But, with Flu season in full swing, it may help distinguish patients in hospital or clinical settings faster as the dry cough is the typical first symptom when someone has the Flu, and start treatment quicker. I have seen job postings in Florida for businesses that are still doing temperature checks on all visitors entering the business. I used to check my family’s temp every day before we all got vaccinated. Now, I just do it if I think there has been exposure, or we are near someone with symptoms. This is a fairly easy way to screen people. Just be sure you are using your thermometer correctly. I will give an example. If your forehead thermometer says the temp is 95 degrees or lower, or even 96 change the batteries or get a new thermometer. This is not accurate!

Boosters are another hot topic right now. I have noticed some skepticism with people about boosters, and I am not going to lie I am one of them. My husband was boosted, but my daughter and I have not been yet. I don’t think she is even able to yet due to age. For me, I am still considering it, but I don’t want a booster and then in 6 months, I have to get another shot for another variant. I don’t like to put all that stuff into my body and I have been exposed at least twice that I know of. To me, it would make more sense to do an antibody test to see how strong my immunity is first. I know that is probably expensive and I don’t know if my insurance will cover it, but I need to find out. In the meantime, I will do what I need to keep myself and others safe. I will wear my mask in crowded places, be socially distant when I can, keep air moving indoors or in the car, wash my hands often, and disinfect frequently. I am not telling you to not get boosted, or get a vaccine. I am telling you to consider your options and take the safest route for you.

If you are not vaccinated I do urge you to consider it. At least one dose will give you some protection against severe illness and possible death.


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The Elephant In The Room

Welcome back to another Thinking on Thursday topic. While I was going to do a Dementia article today, I have been reading a lot about Obesity and how it is affecting people who get Covid. This has kind of been known in the medical field, but now others are starting to talk about it more with data becoming more available. But, in general, people don’t want to discuss the issues of obesity and Covid or any health-related issue. Did you know that body fat is important, but that you should not be carrying more than 20% body fat on your body? There will be 3 websites for you to visit and read more about this, with all of the various studies done.

Did you know, regardless of age, if you are obese you have a 48% increased chance of dying from Covid 19? Even if you are overweight, and not obese, your chances of getting a serious infection and becoming hospitalized increase exponentially. Plus, according to this article, fast food in 2020 increased by like 40%. Fast food is one of the worst things you can eat if you are trying to avoid obesity. In general, and I would say almost all, fast food is high in fat, salt, calories, and sugar.

So, when I thought about this I thought well it must be due to breathing issues due to obesity and chest wall expansion. But, it actually is way more complicated than that. Excessive adipose tissue increases inflammation which can cause the Cytokine Storm that is so deadly for people who get Covid. It also decreases Immunity, causes thicker blood which makes you more prone to blood clots, and other complicated factors. They think this is why younger people are starting to die from Covid, due to Obesity. Plus, if you are obese you are more likely to have other comorbidities like Heart Disease, Cancer, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome in general.

So, why should you care? Well, for one thing, if you are overweight or obese, you may not be ready to die or be in the hospital for an extended period of time. It is imperative that you socially distance, wear a mask, and get vaccinated at least until Herd Immunity can be reached. While none of these things are perfect, used together they can protect you quite well. I also think due to the massive mishandling of Covid in the US we are most likely heading towards seasonal bouts of Covid. That means we most likely will need to learn to watch for flare-ups and take proper precautions as needed. While masks are a huge, contentious issue, I don’t see them going away any time soon.

This should be a wake-up call to anyone who needs to work towards a healthier weight and better metabolic health. Trust me I am one of those people, too. I have never been thin, and I carry the pudge around the middle especially after having children. But, I also work hard every day to modify my diet, lifestyle, and exercise habits to constantly improve. You can too! It is hard work, no doubt, but it is worth it.


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Planning For Your Elder Years!

I know people think of planning for retirement as just having retirement money, or a 401k. But, there are actually so many other things to consider than just money, though a lot of those other things are going to have a money component to them. Check out my post on retiring with no money.

This post will be based on this article. I will add my own thoughts, and our own needs to plan better. Remember, I am already 52 years old, and while we have started planning, honestly you really should plan long before you turn age 50. I will go in the order the article goes in.

I did decide that I will extend my Dementia topic into next month, mostly because there is so much information and it will be Christmas. I want to share some great gift ideas for people with Dementia.

If you are smart, which I was not, you will start planning for your elder years in your 20’s or 30’s. Like most people, I didn’t want to think about old age, or maybe I thought I wouldn’t get old, lol. The 401k always seemed like a pain because most people don’t stay with the same company long term, and definitely not until retirement, anymore. That is if you are even lucky enough to work for a company that offers a 401k option, matches it, and you don’t have to work full time to get into it. Money is obviously going to be the most important issue for your elder years especially if you expect to live only on Social Security.

So, how should you plan for your elder years? For the sake of ease let’s consider elder years as being after age 60.

  1. Have everything prepared and organized. What do I mean by that? Have all important documents in one spot, either a safe, with your attorney, or with your POA. Important documents are items such as ownership of your home, assets, savings accounts, social security, 401k, investments, bonds, wills, IRA, POA, Health Care Proxy, life insurance, etc. My husband and I need to sit down and get all of this organized and in one spot. Having yourself or your family run around and try to find all of this information when it is needed is not a good thing to do.
  2. Make a will. I think everyone should have a will, especially if you have any kind of assets or children. If you die without a will guess who decides where your assets will go? If you didn’t guess it is the government. A basic will can be made on Legal Zoom. You do have to be sure and file it properly, and name an Executor. You should update it at least every 5 years, make sure you are aware of any changes in the law. I have a loved one who told us she had a will and she did not. Now she is in a pickle, which has just made the situation that much harder for all of us. It is not fun, believe me, and very time consuming when a loved one does not plan for their elder years.
  3. Have a what if meeting? This is with your family, or a friend you trust if you have no family. This is mostly to brainstorm to see who is willing to be POA, or Health Care Proxy. You don’t want to assign either of these to someone if it is not something they are willing to do. Have the discussion! We have always been open with our kids about our basic wishes should we become terminally ill, but not really if we get Dementia or become legally incompetent to care for ourselves We need to do this in the upcoming year.
  4. Make a Living Will. This is much different than a Will. That kind of will deals with your monies and assets after you die. A Living Will deals with issues while you are alive. This is where the topic of a Health Care Proxy being chosen will come. Your Proxy will make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so yourself. Again, you do not want to name someone as your Proxy if it is not something they are comfortable doing. Even though I don’t have a legal HCP my immediate family knows exactly how I feel about medical care should I become terminal. Since I have CKD this was discussed sometime ago. But, I have to make it legal. If you don’t make it legal, you would be surprised of all the conflicts that will arise when the time comes, and it will come, eventually. Decide how you want it to be.
  5. Appoint a Power of Attorney or POA. The article states if you think you will need one. Trust me you will need one. I have worked in health care for 35 years, and you need one. The conflicts that can be avoided, delays, etc can all be avoided. My loved one refused to appoint a POA even though it was apparent she needed one. For years we begged her to do so, but nope she refused. Now she has to deal with the consequences. This isn’t meant to say she is being punished, but please remember your actions or lack there of have consequences, not just for you but for your loved ones as well. There are different types of POA’s and you control who has access to what and what decision they will make. But, if you choose not to do so, you may end up with no control over your elder years.
  6. Set up a pension. Now as I stated companies do not offer traditional pension, or retirement plans, like maybe your grandparents had. That ship has sailed for most people. But, a 401k if you can get in one, an IRA, Health Savings Account, or just a regular savings account are good options. You can learn more about off of those by doing a quick search on Google.
  7. Pay off all debts before you retire. We are currently working on this. For all of 2020 we have set the goal to spend down our debt, and to save. Initially, my husband just wanted to spend down the debt and use any monies to just pile it onto other debts. For example you pay off one credit card, and whatever monies that leaves each month, say extra 50 dollars you would throw it onto another bill. But, I objected to that and said we had to save money too, not just pay debt off to avoid making new debt. So, that is what we have been doing. At the beginning of the year we used the Dave Ramsey method of setting up a budget. There were a few things we changed, such as tithing, and I forget the others. But, we have stuck to it and have paid off a lot of debt already. Because we chose to save also, when our refrigerator died we were able to pay in cash rather than financing it. The nice thing is we don’t even know when payday is anymore because we are not living paycheck to paycheck. Our bills are on time and it just repeats every month with the extra money being split 50-50 to another bill and savings. It is our goal to have our mortgage paid off earlier than when we retire. One important thing to remember here is that buying new cars, phones, and such puts a huge strain on a budget. Downsizing your home, buying certified used phones, and good used cars can really save a lot of money. Pay in cash if you can!
  8. Plan a budget. I already discussed current budget, but think about a budget for when you retire. Have a basic idea of how much money you will have and how you will budget it. We have not even thought about this much, other than in regards to #7. However, I think a lot of people do not consider full budget needs such as health care, medications, maintenance and repairs to homes and cars, etc. You need to budget for all of these things.
  9. Keep working. I am a nurse and I am unsure if I will be able to keep doing bedside nursing until retirement, let alone after. But, working even after retirement age, not full time, there are penalties to Social Security is super important both financially and mentally. Make sure you know the rules. Getting a side hustle when you are younger, such as blogging, or thinking about how you would be able to make money after retirement. Maybe you have a hobby and can sell a craft, though I don’t personally think this is anywhere near as lucrative as it used to be with most platforms charging huge amounts of money to sell stuff. But, for me some things I have considered are this blog and Health Coaching, Phlebotomy, Assisted Living Administrator, etc. If I wanted to do Youtube videos, which I currently do not have the ability to do lengthy videos, that is another great side hustle.
  10. Stay healthy. Medical care costs are going to be a huge out of pocket expense if you can not stay as healthy as possible. This is a broad topic, but I think everyone knows that eating better, maintaining a healthy weight or at least not gaining if overweight, and exercise are all great ways to be healthier.
  11. Plan for your needs. This is kind of what the whole article is about. Think about what you think you will need. For example, I was at a thrift store and they had a cane at a really good price. It fit my size and I bought it and stored it in the garage. Now, you can’t just buy a cane, walker, or crutches without being sure they will fit your body size for safe use. So, be sure and learn how to know if it is right for you. But, that is just an idea of what I mean about planning for your needs. If you don’t know how to cook, plan a budget, fix basic things around your home, or you live in a very rural area where programs are slim to none, then you have some planning to do.
  12. Make friends. Did you know that widowed or single women who live alone are more likely to get Dementia than men? Women tend to become lonely and isolated which increases the risk of Dementia. Men, obviously can become lonely too, but the truth is women outlive men. Make friends, stay active, volunteer, join groups that you are interested in.
  13. Be mentally active. Everybody always worries about exercise, and of course it is vital, but keeping your brain active is just as important. Learn new things, keep learning, try hard things, it is good for your brain and may help prevent Dementia.
  14. You can not control the aging process. It is what it is and we all get old. We are going to die someday, sad but true. Some die young, some die old. It is sad, always, but it is and always will be a fact of life. Be prepared, make it easier on yourself and your loved ones. Don’t delay and bury your head in the sand. Start thinking about it right now. Start making a to do list to help you work through the steps. Update and edit it often.


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