Frees Advice: Health & Wellness

The Rogue Death Wave

In boating, there is a term called the rogue wave. This is a huge destructive wave that comes out of nowhere with disastrous effects. Death can do the same thing. As we all know, death comes too soon. We all die too soon.

It was Franklin that said “Only two things are certain; Death and taxes.” It is just as important to be prepared for both. Accountants, tax preparers, and financial consultants spend time trying to help all of us prepare for taxes. Few, if any spend any time preparing for death.

The topic is awkward, frightening, and very emotional. Ignoring the consequences of dying too soon can make things more awkward, more frightening, and much more emotional. What can you do about it?

The purpose of this information is to provide a guideline, or frame work, in which you can begin this process of reviewing your legal documents, your asset protection, access to passwords, and simply where all of the paper work is located. If you care about those around you then you need to spend time getting your affairs in order. Addressing all aspects of this eventual problem will hopefully reduce the burden on those left behind to handle your affairs.

“Show me the money.”  Jerry Maguire

What happens to your income when you die?  Unless you are planning to be dead for only a short period of time, the cash influx stops. You need to think about how things get paid for once the payroll deposits stop.  Make sure that you have a conversation with an insurance professional to determine how much you need. This can be based on simply replacing income, covering liabilities, or buying what your budget allows.

Life insurance should be purchased because you NEED it or because you WANT it. If you have children, you need coverage. If you are older, you may WANT it to provide education for grand children or to leave a gift to your favorite charity.

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”  Scott Hamilton

There are always motivational stories about the human triumph over adversity. We should all hope that we have the internal fortitude to overcome these challenges should we ever face them. It will be much easier facing these physical and mental challenges if you have addressed the financial end of being disabled.

Like life insurance, this coverage is designed to handle the financial consequences of not being able to do our job. Life insurance pays if you have the good fortune of being dead. Being disabled means that not only are you not bringing in your pay check, you continue to cause costs to be incurred.

Disability. You are 7 times more likely to be disabled than you are to die. While less than 1% of all term life insurance policies pay, the possibility of being disabled is significantly greater. The solution? Speak with an insurance professional to understand what coverage should be in place.

“I hope I die before I get old.”  The Who

We are living longer than ever before. There is only one thing worse than dying too soon and that would be living too long. What happens when you are no longer capable of taking care of yourself? Whether you need someone to stop and help with household affairs or help you get into your wheel chair, seven out of 10 people will need this assistance. How do you handle this potentially devastating financial burden? Long Term Care.

At an average daily cost of $200 a day, life in a nursing home gets very expensive very quickly. $200 a day means $6000 a month. $6,000 a month means $72,000 a year. The average stay in a care facility is four years which means almost $300,000. How many couples have an extra $300,000 lying around? What happens to the surviving spouse once the $300,000 is expended?

Speak with an insurance professional to better understand the exposure and the costs of securing vital protection for asset preservation.

“No job is finished until the paper work is done.”  Anonymous

I am sure you are not surprised that information from an insurance professional would start with all of the insurance options to address problems. These coverages are just a part of the process of protecting yourself against the rogue death wave. The next section that we will address are the important legal documents that will help assure your intentions once you are dead and give those left to handle your affairs a better understanding of your intentions. I will address the documents needed in the event you don’t die or you are stuck between life and death.

There are three vital documents that everyone over 18 should execute. They include a Durable Power of Attorney, an Advanced Directive, and a Will. (I am not an attorney and this is not intended to be legal advice. As with the financial vehicles mentioned above, you should consult an attorney on the specific drafting of these vital documents.) These documents should be stored in a safe, but accessible place. Keeping them in your safe deposit box is a bad idea as the POA would need the documents in order to access the box.

The Durable Power of Attorney.

As I understand this, it is a document that will allow the person I appoint to handle my affairs in the event I am unable to do so. This can be something as simple as picking up a piece of registered mail for me at the Post Office to handling the sale of real estate if I am incapacitated. Executing this before it is necessary or needed is important. Once you are unable to understand the concept of this power of attorney, it may be too late to get one.

The Advanced Directive.

This is also called a living will. It tells your loved ones what efforts you want then to take to keep you alive. Do you want all measures utilized? Do you want them to be able to disconnect the machines if it is only the machines that are keeping you alive? This is a document that allows you to advise decision makers, in advance, of your desire. It relieves them of the pressure of trying to guess what you would want to happen.

The Will.

This directs your appointed representative to handle the affairs of your estate. Simple or complex, someone needs to know what you want done with your assets once you have passed.

Now that we have dealt with the various insurance coverages that are available for protecting your assets from death, disability, or a stay in a care facility, and the important legal documents that will provide for direction , you should spend time organizing all of this.

I have a series of binders called “Robb’s Death Books.” As harsh as that sounds, they are designed to provide an organized arrangement for all the important paperwork in life. In my case, there are three books.

The first book contains all important documents. This includes car titles, birth certificates, banking documents, social security cards, and marriage licenses. This should be stored in a place that is safe but accessible. In addition to the storage of actual documents, this should also include user names and passwords for all electronic portals. (In addition to the list, I recommend that families use the same apps for password and user names storage. Make sure you use the same app and use a family password that everyone knows.)

All of the legal documents make up Book 2 in the Robb’s Death Book trilogy. This books includes all of the wills, POA’s and advanced directives for ALL family members. Remember, the oldest person doesn’t always die first.

The final book contains all of the insurance policies. This includes car insurance, home insurance, umbrella policies, life insurance, disability policies, and the Long Term Care coverage. Anyone in our family knows exactly where this information is located in the event it is needed at any time.

Other documents to be kept in a safe or safe place.

In the day and age of digital storage, many believe the keeping important documents electronically is a good idea. It is a good idea if there is electricity and internet access. All of that goes out the window after a hurricane or severe storm that knocks out power for days or weeks. You should be sure to keep original, or copies, close at hand of the following

Documents:

  • Social Security Cards
  • Drivers Licenses
  • Wedding Licenses
  • Birth Certificates
  • Copies of medications
  • Car titles and registrations
  • Jewelry appraisals
  • Deeds
  • Insurance policies- car, home, umbrella, life, disability, long term care, etc.
  • Wills, Powers of Attorney, Advanced Directives, Trusts, etc
  • Updates lists of User names and passwords for online accounts

‘Spring Forward’ with Daylight Saving

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 11 at 2AM. Be sure to set all your clocks forward one hour!

Why Daylight Saving Time?

According to the New York Times, “the reason the United States and many other countries, mostly in the West, shift to daylight saving time is contentious and confusing, and some of the more popular explanations are not grounded in reality. (It isn’t for farmers, as you may have learned in school.) The general concept is to move an hour of sunlight from the early morning, when many would sleep through it, to the evening, when you could most likely do more with the light.”

Historians have traced the notion back to Benjamin Franklin, who realized he was sleeping through some daylight hours while visiting Paris in the 18th century. He suggested French officials shoot cannons at sunrise to jolt people out of bed, optimizing the amount of hours they spent awake when it’s light out. That way, they could cut down on using candles to light their homes while awake, Mr. Prerau said.

But the first idea to move the clock hands came from William Willett, who unsuccessfully proposed it to the British Parliament in 1908. Germany, however, seeking cost savings during World War I, heard the idea and enacted it in 1915. Three weeks later, the British followed, and other world powers were close behind, including the United States in 1918.

 

“Fall Back” with Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday, November 6 at 2:00 AM. Be sure to set back all your clocks one hour and enjoy the extra hour of sleep.

Why Daylight Saving Time?

According to the New York Times, “the reason the United States and many other countries, mostly in the West, shift to daylight saving time is contentious and confusing, and some of the more popular explanations are not grounded in reality. (It isn’t for farmers, as you may have learned in school.) The general concept is to move an hour of sunlight from the early morning, when many would sleep through it, to the evening, when you could most likely do more with the light.”

Historians have traced the notion back to Benjamin Franklin, who realized he was sleeping through some daylight hours while visiting Paris in the 18th century. He suggested French officials shoot cannons at sunrise to jolt people out of bed, optimizing the amount of hours they spent awake when it’s light out. That way, they could cut down on using candles to light their homes while awake, Mr. Prerau said.

But the first idea to move the clock hands came from William Willett, who unsuccessfully proposed it to the British Parliament in 1908. Germany, however, seeking cost savings during World War I, heard the idea and enacted it in 1915. Three weeks later, the British followed, and other world powers were close behind, including the United States in 1918.

 

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. It is an important time to raise awareness for this disease and attempt to prevent the disease (or detect it in its early stages). Staying at a healthy weight, being physically active, and limiting how much alcohol you drink can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Regular screening can often find breast cancer early when treatments are more likely to be successful.

The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. It is important to have any new breast mass, lump or change checked by a health care provider.

Breast cancer incidence had been increasing in the decades leading up to 2000. Since 2000, the breast cancer incidence rate has been decreasing thanks to breakthroughs in prevention and treatment.

There are a myriad of ways you can help with this cause. Please visit cancer.org to find out how to help.

Ergonomics Blog, Part III

It’s always important to know the facts before trying out something new. In the workplace, the use of exercise balls as chairs and standing desks have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Here’s some information to think about before you make your next office purchase with any of these items:

Exercise Balls

There is a theory that sitting in a chair all day reduces muscle tone in your back, yet there is no research to support this concept. Many millennials have started using exercise balls as chairs under this assumption, but frequently doing so may cause disc compression in the back.

High Heels

While this may not be a new trend, it’s still considered trendy. Long-term use of high heels has been linked to foot problems. For women who often switch between high heels and flats, it’s important to adjust your work area (chair/desk height) as needed for the height of your feet and knees.

Standing Desks

Standing desks do prevent slouching over a sitting desk and don’t pose the sedentary risks of sitting all day, but only if properly positioned. The desks should be placed at a height where you don’t need to raise your elbows, slump your shoulders, lean forward, and excessively reach for something. As with prolonged sitting, prolonged standing may cause discomfort in the lower back and it may also hurt your feet. It’s important to vary your sitting/standing position throughout the day.

Office Chairs

If you’re going to choose a traditional office chair for your desk, look out for features such as pneumatic height adjustment, height-adjustable lumbar support, padded armrests, adjustable seat pans, five-caster bases, and seat backs that can either be locked upright or incline up to 110 degrees.

Ergonomics, Part II

The typical workday involves carrying a number of bags whether it is a purse, gym bag, or briefcase. If you live in a city or walk for long distances with these bags, it’s important to properly carry them to prevent aches and injuries. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you do:

  • Pay attention to the load that you carry each day. Heavy loads can place a great deal of stress on your neck and back. Try to cut down on any junk/extra weight in your bag and carry less than 25 pounds in each bag. Every pound you carry adds on three pounds of pressure to your joints.
  • Carry backpacks with both straps, not just one. If your bag only has one strap, cross it over your shoulders to minimize joint pressure.
  • Distribute the weight of items in your bag evenly, and place heavy items at the bottom of the bag.
  • Carry bags close to the body (this also minimizes pressure).
  • If you use a rolling bag, try to find a bag that glides over bumpy surfaces with minimal struggle.

Ergonomics, Part I

If you have a job that requires sitting down, looking at a computer screen/tablet/phone all day (as most Americans do), then you may be experiencing “turtleneck” syndrome. It involves frequently having forward folding, slumped shoulders with the neck bent forward. This doesn’t just look unappealing, but it also can pose some health risks if this pattern becomes long-term as well. Up to fifteen pounds of pressure may be placed on the spine when the neck is bent forward, and it causes “static loading,” reducing healthy circulation. This issue may also be exacerbated by regularly looking down at papers lying flat on your desk and holding a telephone between your shoulder and ear without using your hands.

 Harvard Medical School has released some helpful tips on preventing these poor posture habits in the workplace.
  • First, all devices and physical paper documents should be placed at a comfortable viewing angle, vertically within a few feet from your face so that you don’t have to constantly look down at a flat surface.
  • Secondly, try to shift your weight and move your hands around intermittently instead of sitting still for extended periods of time.
  • Additionally, try to stand up and move around every 15 minutes or so during the workday. Unfortunately it may not be possible to leave your desk that often, but it can at least allow your body to periodically break out of its sedentary positioning.

Is it Time to Revisit New Year’s Resolutions?

Are you on your way to achieving your New Year’s resolution, or has it already been tossed out the window? Maybe it’s time to try something called the “90-Day Sprint.” Scott Addis, CEO of Beyond Insurance offers a few suggestions:

1. Be confident. 

People who are confident have improved performance. They believe in their abilities and that the approach they are taking is the most optimal. It also involves having clear and reasonable ways to achieve a goal in a shorter, specified time frame.

2. Have a three-month action plan.

This is a much more measurable, timely, and tangible way to set up a goal rather than having a year-long goal. Three-month plans can be built upon one another to ultimately achieve one final result at the end of a year.

3. Use the “SMART” acronym.

Have your goal be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Write the goal down and keep progress notes on them.

4. Choose high-priority goals

Work towards them from highest to least priority. It’s also good to reflect on them too.

Once you conquer one three-month goal, you can move onto the next one or a different one. Maybe that New Year’s resolution will finally be achieved.

Hoverboard Fails

This year, Christmas was full of cookies, candy, carols, and the sounds of hoverboard crashes in the background. Hoverboards, the new popular Christmas gift, have landed many in the emergency room since their spark in popularity. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there has been 70 reported ER visits since Monday afternoon. Many of the injuries have actually been parents who had fallen off their kids’ hoverboards on Christmas morning. The conundrum was trending all over social media as #hoverboardfail, with over 900 posts.

Some of the #fails include Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo who went to the ER and ended up with his arm in a sling. Professional baseball player Dan Uggla took a tumble that was posted on Instagram, and BCC North America Editor Jon Sopel tweeted that his son went to the hospital with a wrist injury from a hoverboard incident.

Many property owners have banned hoverboards for liability reasons. In New York State, they are currently classified as motorized vehicles that cannot be registered, and you can be fined for riding them in a public space. California lawmakers have proposed a new law effective January 1st that will require the boards to only be ridden in bike lanes and pathways, mandates that users must be 16 years of age or older, requires riders to wear the same gear required when riding a bike, and states they can only ride up to 15 miles per hour.

Some tips for hoverboard riding safety:

  1. Wear pads and a helmet. (This sounds like good advice. Just like bikes and skateboards.)
  2. Practice in a safe area. (Don’t go near traffic or pedestrians.)
  3. Read the safety manual.
  4. Adhere to age & weight recommendations.
  5. Make sure the board is turned on before you get on it.
  6. On your first try, ride it on level ground without sharp objects around.
  7. Put one foot on the board, lean it back & forth to see how it feels at first.
  8. Then, lean forward and put your other foot on the board
  9. Hold onto something to balance when starting out
  10. Use responsibly