Author Archives: juliegorges

About juliegorges

Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

Baby Boomer 2020 Oscar Nominees

Turns out 2019 was a good year at the movies for baby boomers. In fact, half of the actors receiving Oscar nominations in 2020, which was announced last week, are over the age 50.

Baby boomer nominees include, my favorite, Tom Hanks, 63, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, as well as Joe Pesci, 76, in The Irishman, Brad Pitt, 56, in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Jonathan Pryce, 72, in The Two Popes, Antonio Banderas, 59 in Pain and Glory, and Kathy Bates, 71, in Richard Jewell.

Add to those oldsters like Oscar nominated Anthony Hopkins, 82, in The Two Popes and Al Pacino, 79, in The Irishman as well as 50-plus actresses Renée Zellweger, 50, in Judy and Laura Dern, 52, in Marriage Story.

All of the nominated directors are also over the age of 50, with the exception of Todd Phillips, 49, director of Joker. The nominees include Martin Scorsese, 77, for The Irishman, Bong Joon Ho, 50, for Parasite, Sam Mendes, 54, for 1917, and Quentin Tarantino, 56, for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. 

The movie Knives Out was nominated for best original screenplay and featured an older cast that included Jame Lee Curtis, 61, Don Johnson, 70, Daniel Craig, 51, and Christopher Plummer, 90.

I keep hoping that Hollywood, and society at large, haven’t completely forgotten the value of the older crowd with their knowledge, life experience, and insight. Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

Of course, there is controversy that none of the directors were women this year and there are far more older men nominated in the acting categories than older women. While the median age of men nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor is 61.3, the median age of the women nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress is 39.8. Apparently, there is more progress to made.

The 92nd Oscars will be televised live on February 9, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time and 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on ABC.

 

 

Book Announcement: Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50

Are you over the age of 50 and struggling to lose weight? Have you tried countless diets to no avail? Do diet methods you used in the past no longer work? If so, I’m here to help. My new book, Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50, is available on Amazon now – just in time for those New Year’s Resolutions .

It’s not your imagination. As you age, you tend to gain weight and it’s harder to lose than when you were younger.

A year ago, I weighed 174 pounds – more than I’ve ever weighed before. For the first time, I was at the top of the “overweight” category and creeping ever closer to the “obese” level.

Widening hips, a Buddha belly, and other parts of my body that rolled, jiggled, and sagged added to my dismay. Let’s just say, I wasn’t happy. Not only was I getting fat, but my muscles were noticeably weakening. I could no longer stand up from a squatting position.  Painting my toenails was almost impossible as I lost flexibility.

In a panic, I started dieting and exercising. But as an older, post-menopausal woman, methods that succeeded in the past no longer worked. On top of that, I had developed the bad habit of stress eating while caring for my mother and consoled myself with comfort food after her death. Needless to say, my attempts at losing weight failed dismally.

I felt frustrated, hopeless, and ready to give up. Does any of this sound familiar?

Through extensive research and trial and error, I finally unlocked the secret of losing weight after the mid-century mark. I’m ready to spill my secrets. No dangerous surgeries, diet pills, expensive weight loss programs, pricey supplements, crazy fad diets, expensive gym membership fees, or personal trainers involved.

After explaining why it’s so hard to lose weight after 50, I share 10 things I was doing wrong and what I changed to finally succeed. Want a sneak peak? To show my appreciation for readers of my blog, I’m providing an excerpt of the first chapter of my new book below. Enjoy!

EXCERPT FROM TEN SECRETS TO LOSING WEIGHT AFTER 50

SECRET ONE: CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE

What I Was Doing Wrong: Thinking life wasn’t fair and I’d never lose weight after 50.

 What I Changed: Accepted the facts of life and changed my outlook.

Oh, I had a million reasons why I couldn’t lose weight. In fact, if making excuses were an Olympic event, I could have won a medal. I used the standard excuses. I’m too busy. I’m too stressed. I’m too tired. For good measure, I also added some justifications related to my age. Maybe you’ve used some of these reasons:

  • Losing weight is SO hard as you get older – impossible – in fact.
  • I’m eating the same way I did when I was younger and somehow packing on the pounds.
  • When I dieted before, I’d drop four pounds the first week and two to three pounds a week after that. Now? Forget it! I’m lucky to lose half to one pound a week – if anything at all. Sometimes I even gain weight for no reason at all.
  • The methods I used to lose weight when I was younger don’t work anymore.
  • I’m never going to have that flat belly or small waistline again, so why bother? Isn’t it natural to be shaped like an apple as you age? I give up. It’s not fair!

Notice a recurring theme? Losing weight was just too hard and life wasn’t fair, so I was throwing in the towel and accepting my fatter self. Sound familiar? If you’ve been singing this same song, you need a serious attitude adjustment – just like I did.

Let’s face it. Losing weight is mostly a mental struggle. What you think about your ability to lose weight is crucial to your success. So, don’t get stuck in a negative state of mind convinced that it’s impossible to lose weight after 50. If you allow yourself to think this way, you’re doomed before you start.

So, let’s look at those complaints again:

  • Yes, your metabolism slows down and you lose muscle mass as you age, making it more difficult to lose weight and keep it off. That just means losing weight is more challenging and will likely take more time. But, trust me, it’s by no means impossible. And well worth the extra effort!
  • True, you can’t eat the same way you did when you were younger without gaining weight. As a result, you’ll need to change the way you eat and exercise – permanently. The good news is that you’ll feel much better by doing so. Drinking tons of soda and eating tubs of ice cream just makes you feel sick anyway.
  • You aren’t going to drop weight the way you used to. You’ll need to lower your expectations and practice patience. Be happy with losing a pound or two a week. You’re headed in the right direction and more likely to keep the weight off if pounds drop off slowly. What if you go weeks without losing anything? Later, I’ll share a few ways to get past those stubborn plateaus.
  • Your body has changed. You’ll need to change your dieting and exercising strategies to lose weight and keep it off. I’ll share some tips to help you do just that.
  • And no, it isn’t natural to be shaped like an apple at any age! Perhaps you won’t have the perfect perky butt, tiny waist, and a six-pack after you lose weight. So, change your objective. You’re older and wiser now. Losing weight should be about staying healthy so you can travel, chase your grandchildren, and live a longer and happier life. Exercising should be about maintaining muscle mass to stay strong and increase flexibility, balance, and endurance.

So, no pouting allowed. Don’t use aging as an excuse to eat whatever you want or become a couch potato. If you give up now and sit around feeling sorry for yourself, you’ll just keep gaining weight and suffer the accompanying health risks.

Now that you’ve accepted the fact that losing weight is more challenging as you age – but not impossible – here are some encouraging facts to live by:

  • By eating healthy and making a commitment to becoming more active, experts assure that you can be healthier at 65 than you were at 45. Isn’t that a worthwhile goal?
  • Food choices and fitness strategies really do work – even in your 50s, 60s, and beyond.
  • Every day you make choices about what you eat and how active you will be that day. Those decisions make a difference. It’s never too late to adopt new lifestyle habits and make a big difference in your health.

How Many Calories Do You Need?

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s time to accept facts. You burn fewer calories as you age. So, just how many calories should you eat to lose weight?

You can use a complicated math formula to figure it out or try an online calculator. Since math gives me a headache, I’m going to keep things simple and look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines to give you a general idea of how many calories you should eat each day.

As mentioned earlier, according to the guideline, sedentary women over 50 burn about 1,600 calories a day. Sedentary men over 50 burn between 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day.

These calorie breakdowns are just to maintain – not lose – weight. If you’re reading this book, most likely you want to drop some pounds. Experts say that to lose one pound a week, you’ll need about a 500-calorie deficit each day.

Let’s crunch some numbers. As a rule of thumb, that means if you’re a sedentary man over 50, you’ll want to shoot for about 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day and burn at least 100 calories a day with exercise. If you’re a sedentary woman over 50, aim for 1,200 calories a day and burn an extra 100 calories. Keep in mind, these numbers are just an estimate.

Maybe you’re thinking “sedentary” doesn’t describe you. In fact, I considered myself an active person. However, if you sit most the day at work or home – even if you perform normal daily activities like cooking, cleaning, shopping, and taking your dog for an evening walk – you are considered “sedentary.” Since, as a writer, this described me, I had to reluctantly accept that I was in this category.

A moderately active lifestyle refers to working a job that requires you to be on your feet like a nurse, teacher, waitress, or surveyor plus daily physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour. That leisurely evening stroll around the block doesn’t count. I’m talking about a form of exercise that makes you breathe harder and break a sweat for about 30 minutes each day. If that describes your lifestyle, you can adjust your caloric intake accordingly by adding about 200 calories (or more if you are extremely active) to your diet each day.

Since these numbers can vary, a little experimentation will help you determine the exact number of calories you can consume and still lose weight.

Most experts caution against eating less than 1,200 calories a day for a woman and 1,600 calories for a man. Doing so can decrease muscle mass and lower your metabolic rate as well as cause malnutrition.

Small Changes Can Reduce Calories

Before you get discouraged, eliminating 500 calories a day isn’t as hard as it sounds. The right diet, which I’ll address in the next chapter, can help you do so. However, even making a few small changes in your diet and lifestyle alone can make a big difference.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Drink an iced tea instead of a 12-ounce can of soda and switch a large serving of French fries for a side salad and you’ll save more than 500 calories.
  • Ask your waiter to box up half your meal before it gets to the table and you’ll save 750 calories on average, according to a new study. Or simply share an entrée when eating out. Researchers found that a typical meal at an American, Italian, or Chinese restaurant contains about 1,500 calories—far more than anyone needs at one meal.
  • Switch a large popcorn without butter at the movie theater concession, which packs a whopping 1,030 calories, for a small popcorn without butter for 225 calories and you’ll save 805 calories.

Burning Calories in Record Time

Later, I’ll discuss which type of exercises are most beneficial if you’re 50-plus. I want you to keep in mind, however, that you can burn 100 calories painlessly and, in most cases, in under a half-hour.

Of course, always consult with your physician before starting any activity, but running for just five to seven minutes will do the trick. If you hate running or your lower back and knees can’t take it, walk briskly or cycle for 20 minutes. Try a cardio dance class for just 15 minutes, use an elliptical for 15 minutes, walk up and down stairs for 10 minutes, lift weights for 15 minutes, or do some Pilates for about 20 minutes.

Not happy losing only one pound a week?

Work up to it and burn 500 calories each day for a two-pound-per-week sustainable weight loss. Perform an hour of Zumba, garden for an hour and a half, play an hour of basketball, go horseback riding for an hour and 45 minutes, spring clean your house for three hours, or my favorite – play an hour of competitive racquetball.

There you go. Not so bad. By the way, the more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn during these activities.

Stay Tuned for More Tips

So, what other tricks do I have up my sleeve? Which diet should you choose? What can you do to avoid feeling hungry? How can you control stress eating? Which kind of exercises produce the best results? How can you get past those stubborn plateaus?

I’ll share all my secrets with you. But remember, the first step is to change your mindset and you too can succeed. You can lose weight and be healthy after 50. I’m living proof it’s possible. Make a lifelong commitment to eat better, exercise more, and live the second half of your life to the fullest.

You Can Do It!

So, there you go. Like many people, my 50s were a time to take stock and I was not going to surrender to middle-age spread and cross the line into obesity without a fight. If I – someone who battled with weight most of my life – can win the weight war, you can too!

Food choices and fitness strategies really do work – even in your 50s, 60s, and beyond. It’s never too late to adopt new healthy lifestyle habits and make a big difference in your health.

Want to lose those stubborn pounds? Click here to purchase your own copy of my latest book.

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Writer’s Ups, Downs & In-Betweens in 2019

“Life has its ups and downs. When you are up, enjoy the scenery. When you are down, touch the soul of your being and feel the beauty.”
― Debasish Mridha

This year was certainly full of ups and downs for me. How about you? Was 2019 a crazy roller coaster ride? Smooth sailing? Full of milestone events? 

My #Gr8Blogs writerly pals and I are diving deep into a special year-end blog hop, to look back at the ecstasy and agony of our year on the writing road and in our lives. Stay tuned as I remember the happy moments as well as lessons learned from challenges this past year.

My Book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie, Wins Grand Prize!

It was a definite high last month when my book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia, won grand prize from Royal Dragonfly Book Awards , an international competition that “honors excellence in all types of literature.” According to their site, the grand prize winning book “must be outstanding in content, readability, entertainment value and overall production.” I’m truly honored. My book not only earned this year’s $500 grand prize but also won first place in the aging/senior living, how-to, and self-help/inspirational categories.

This book was written from the depths of my soul during one of the lowest periods of my life. As I write in the book, “Sometimes you lose a parent in death suddenly. What you don’t realize until you have a parent with dementia is that sometimes you lose a parent excruciatingly – a little bit at a time.” I’m so thrilled that this book, dedicated to my mother who bravely fought Lewy Body dementia, was recognized.

The book has received several five star reviews on Amazon and many people have sent me notes, emails, and messages telling me that my book helped them through a difficult time. I received even more messages after Next Avenue published an article based on a chapter from the book. If I have helped even a few people cope with the many challenges of caregiving and provided a bit of comfort to those losing their loved one a little bit at a time like I did, then I am fulfilled.

Losing Weight – And Writing About It

After indulging in a lot of stress eating while caring for my Mom and then consoling myself with comfort food after her death, I found myself at the top of the “overweight” category and creeping ever closer to the “obese” level. I weighed 174 pounds to be exact. Of course, everything was rolling and sagging. At my check-up, my doctor informed me that I had put on 10 pounds since my last visit. Like I didn’t already know that.

Let’s just say, I wasn’t happy. Not only was I getting fat, but my muscles were noticeably weakening. I couldn’t stand up from a squatting position without holding onto something. Painting my toenails was becoming a challenge as I lost flexibility.

In a panic, I started dieting and exercising. But as a post-menopausal woman in her 50s, methods that succeeded in the past no longer worked. My attempts at losing weight failed dismally. I felt frustrated, hopeless, and ready to give up. Does this sound familiar to you?

Through extensive research and trial and error, I finally unlocked the secret of losing weight after the mid-century mark. No dangerous surgeries, diet pills, expensive weight loss programs, pricey supplements, crazy fad diets, expensive gym membership fees, or personal trainers involved. You can lose weight after the age of 50. I’m proof it’s possible and I’m ready to spill my secrets.

My new book, Ten Secrets to Losing Weight After 50, will be released on January 1rst, 2020, just in time for New Year’s Resolutions. Have you tried countless diets, but nothing seems to work anymore? If so, this book is for you and available for preorder on Amazon now.

The photos below show me before and after my weight loss. You can do it too!

Before

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Amazing Trip to Africa – But Not a Great Homecoming

Another high point last year: I fulfilled a lifelong dream and finally visited South Africa.  I was moved and inspired in a way that is hard to describe by this untamed, beautiful land. I went on two safaris, a river cruise, and even went shark cage diving. You can read all about it in my blog.

Now for the downside. Unfortunately, I got sick the last couple of days of my trip and thought my eardrums would burst on the 25-hour flight home. The next day, I broke out in a rash all over my stomach. My doctor thought I may have parasites from Africa. Eeeew! Now, I was definitely creeped out. He ordered a blood test and prescribed antibiotics along with an anti-fungal creme. Thankfully, the blood test came back negative for major diseases transmitted by mosquitoes like malaria. And the topical creme seemed to work, which led my doctor to think it was a typical skin infection. But two weeks later, the rash came back with three enormous, bright red welts on my right leg that were not only itchy but extremely painful. Another two welts developed on my left arm. Now. my doctor was puzzled and sent me to a dermatologist who told me the rash was a “mystery,” Oh well, maybe the mystery will be solved in 2020. I still don’t regret going to Africa and refuse to give up my passion for traveling to exotic places and experiencing exciting new cultures!

Now that I’ve shared my memories of 2019, if you’re so inclined, I’d love to hear about your ups and downs in 2019 in the comments below. But before you go, find more smiles and inspirational recollections at these #Gr8blogs below:

Cat Michaels

Rosie Russell

Julie Schooler

Sandra Bennett

 

 

10 Inspirational Mr. Rogers Quotes Baby Boomers Will Love

After watching, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, with the ever-so-lovable Tom Hanks, I walked away feeling inspired. We should all be a little more like Mr. Rogers.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood first made its way to television sets on February 19, 1968.  I was seven years old then and hate to admit that I didn’t fully appreciate the PBS show.

However, as an adult, I can see how Mr. Rogers’ compassion and empathy taught us baby boomers as children that we are special just for being ourselves.

And he helped calm us during a tumultuous time. As you boomers will remember, watching the news was scary in 1968 with the Vietnam War raging and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. As Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Mr. Rogers’ sense of innocence, calmness, curiosity, and playfulness helped us baby boomers see the sometimes frightening world as a place to experience love and kindness, a place to create and invent, a place to live a positive and meaningful life.

It seems the show resonated with a lot of people since it ran on PBS until 2001. What is so wonderful is that it turns out Fred Rogers was just as calm, kind, wise, and empathetic in real life as he was on his iconic children’s show.

In honor of the movie, which I absolutely loved, here are 10 quotes that are sure to brighten your day, encourage you to be kinder and more thoughtful, and reach out to your neighbor.

  • “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
  • “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
  • “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
  • “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
  • “There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”
  • “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
  • “Nobody else can live the life you live. And even though no human being is perfect, we always have the chance to bring what’s unique about us to live in a redeeming way.”
  • “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”
  • “It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have.”
  • “Everyone longs to be loved. And the greatest thing we can do is to let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.”

Fred Rogers died in 2003, but his words live on to inspire us all. As Mr. Rogers sings in the theme song, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: “So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.”

 

 

OK Boomer – OK Millennial – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Have you heard or seen the two words that seem to be everywhere these days: “OK Boomer?”

This catch phrase has gained traction quickly this fall on the Internet with memes, jokes, and merchandise featuring the “OK Boomer” logo. In fact, a number of trademark applications have been filed for its use – most notably one by Fox for a TV show last week.

Supposedly, this whole “OK Boomer” thing took on a life of its own after a viral clip on TikTok featured a white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt declaring, “The millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome, they don’t ever want to grow up.”

Of course, the younger crowd was outraged and many responded with YouTube videos, memes, and tweets featuring two simple words, “OK Boomer.”

What exactly does this expression mean? Depends who you ask.

According to Wikipedia, “OK Boomer is an ageist catchphrase and internet meme that gained popularity throughout 2019, used to dismiss or mock attitudes stereotypically attributed to the baby boomer generation.”

If you ask the younger generation what they mean by “OK Boomer,” they will probably tell you that they feel misunderstood by the older generation and are tired of their condescending attitude. Facing rising student loan debt, financial instability, and environmental concerns, they are wary of patronizing advice from baby boomers who didn’t face the same issues at their age. The younger generation is tired of being called “snowflakes,” insinuating they can’t keep a job, are non-resilient, and overly-emotional when it comes to challenging viewpoints.

Baby boomers have a different take on the phrase. Many are quick to point out that the catch phrase, “OK Boomer,” smacks of ageism. One conservative radio host, Bob Lonsberry, went as far as labeling the word “boomer” as  “the n-word of ageism” in a controversial tweet.

Making things even worse, Myrna Blyth, a senior vice president of AARP, recently said in an interview with Axios, “Okay, millennials, but we’re the people that actually have the money.” The quote resulted in thousands of tweets from the younger crowd, calling Blyth tone deaf and arrogant. According to AARP, this quote was taken out of context and was referring to how older people, in particular older women, were overlooked in ads. And the war goes on.

The New York Times headlined an article on the subject: “OK Boomer Marks the End of Friendly Generational Relations.”

Say it isn’t so.

Okay, I don’t like the phrase, “OK Boomer.” The catchall phrase seems dismissive, sarcastic, mocking, and sadly decisive during a time when this country is already being torn apart by differing views on politics. And it does seem ageist, insinuating baby boomers are old-fashioned, resistant to change, behind on technology, and out of touch. As a boomer myself, I certainly take issue with those assumptions.

But, in all fairness, I can see why the younger generation is upset by some of the insulting jabs aimed their way. They have felt silenced when older people claim their opinion doesn’t count because they lack experience. Many millennials are in their 30s now and tired of being told to “grow up.” The younger generation deserves to be acknowledged and heard. Unfortunately, while defending themselves, this generation is using the same belittling age-oriented stereotypes that they don’t want to be labeled by.

So, let’s just stop it. All of us. Let’s quit using insulting and dismissive catchphrases purely based on what generation people happen to be born in – which is completely out of our control, by the way.

Let’s bridge the gap. After all, we have many of the same problems. For example, true, much of the younger generation is buried by student loan debt. But as I pointed out in an earlier blog, many boomers are in debt as well, going bankrupt in record numbers as they face rising medical costs, loss of jobs, and disappearing pensions. We’re all in the same boat. Can’t both generations show compassion and empathy for each other?

Let’s take it a step further. Perhaps we boomers can admire – and even mimic – some of the traits young people have such as a sense of adventure, spontaneity, and curiosity. Maybe the younger generations can learn from older people who have lived through tragedies and triumphs and learned to overcome adversities.

After all, what benefits come from hurling insults at each other? Let’s respect and learn from each other instead.

 

 

 

Baby Boomer Realizes Dream of Visiting Africa

I had wanted to travel to Africa for a couple of decades. The trip was finally scheduled. My expectations were high. Could South Africa live up to this baby boomer’s vision?

Whatever I imagined was exceeded by far when my husband and I visited this magical place. I was moved and inspired in a way that is hard to describe.

The rugged and breathtaking beauty of this untamed land enthralled me.

I was enchanted by the smiles of friendly South Africans eager to share the wonders of their country.

As elephants, lions, zebras, and giraffes casually roamed by our jeep (the photo above was taken without a zoom lens), I had to pinch myself. When we watched hippos floating lazily down a river with a spectacular African sunset in the background, I felt like the luckiest girl alive. Not to mention the the surreal experience of seeing adorable African penguins waddling along the rocky coastline.

And my heart raced as sharks thrashed closely to our cage – oh yeah, did I mention my husband talked me into shark cage diving? (More on that later!)

The natural splendor of Africa is impossible to describe. The stunning views from Table Mountain in Cape Town, the spectacular waves crashing in treacherous waters surrounding the Cape of Good Hope, and the beauty and majesty of animals wandering the dry savanna grasses are priceless moments that cannot be quantified.

Yet, Africa is still a complicated country in tumult. Much like many cities around the world, parts of Africa are corrupt and dangerous. However, with some safety precautions, visiting South Africa can be an amazing experience. We traveled with a tour company and if you’re considering a trip there, I’d highly recommend you do the same. (You’ll also save money – this trip cost us much less than you would imagine – more details on how to find a good deal later.)

Stay tuned and I’ll share tips, photos, videos, along with my personal thoughts and experiences. Without further ado, prepare to be amazed.

DAY #1: CAPE TOWN

From the towering Table Mountain down to the brilliant blue waters of the bay, Cape Town is simply stunning. We started with a cable car to the top of Table Mountain with its spectacular views of the city and its beaches.

We were delighted while admiring the Colonial architecture and strolling through the city center to come upon these singers in the park. Be sure to put your sound on to enjoy their beautiful voices.

We ended the day by a visit to Cape Town’s famous V & A Waterfront.

To end a perfect day, we had a wonderful dinner at Belugas. The beef tips and martini dessert were sumptuous!

Note: Cape Town is absolutely gorgeous, but also known for its crime. You should avoid certain areas and take normal safety precautions as you would in any major city. Always use the hotel safe and do not leave valuables in your room. Do not walk outside after dark. Use purses that strap across your body or, better yet, leave them behind and put some cash in your pocket. When visiting Table Mountain, do not hike alone and stay in groups. Your tour guide can advice you about areas where you may be targeted.

DAY #2: CAPE PENINSULA TOUR

We had spectacular views of the rugged coastline and sweeping beaches on our drive to Cape Point at the southwestern tip of the Cape Peninsula.

Visiting Cape Point, the extreme southern tip of Africa, was a special moment. Watching the waves crash around the Cape of Good Hope, where thousands have died in the treacherous waters was moving.

Hiking to the top of Cape Point, we were warned about clever baboons that become aggressive when searching for food. Beware, if you have food in your purse or backpack. These monkeys are not too proud to pull your hair – hard – to get what they want, our guide instructed us. We listened to the advice and fortunately didn’t not run into any. But the views were stunning!

And finally, the southern most point in Africa.

The following video is our visit to the penguin colonies at Boulders Beach.

On our last stop, we visited the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, resting at the foot of Table Mountain. And yes, it was a long, action-packed day!

DAY #3: SHARK CAGE DIVING

When my husband said he wanted to go shark cage diving with me, my first reaction was, “No way!” But after some research and watching videos, I was reassured this was a fairly safe adventure.

To be honest, I’m so glad he talked me into it.  Seeing these majestic, powerful predators up close was an unforgettable experience.

The staff used fish heads to lure the sharks close to the cage – but thankfully didn’t chum the water with blood causing a frenzy. The sharks were so busy chasing the lures, they didn’t even seem interested in us.

My husband and I are scuba certified; however, you don’t need to be to participate. You’re not totally submersed in the water, in fact, the water only comes up to your shoulders. Yes, the water is cold, but you are in a full wet suit with a hood and booties. You feel a jolt when you first get into the water but, believe me, you don’t even notice once the sharks start swimming by. Using a snorkel mask you can grab a lower bar to go under the water to watch the sharks whenever desired. The cage stays attached closely to the boat. We mostly saw copper sharks (also known as “bronzies”) but one great white swam by while we were in the cage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a complete video of our experience for those of you interested:

 

As a bonus, on the way back we stopped at a place famous for whale watching along the rugged, gorgeous coastline and saw a whale in the distance breaching and two whales closer by mating.

DAY #4: GAME VIEWING RIVER CRUISE ON THE ST. LUCIA ESTUARY

After a flight to Durban, we were privileged to experience a river cruise complete with plenty of hippos – including cute hippo babies – crocodiles, and our first zebra sighting.

While it’s true hippopotamuses are dangerous and territorial creatures, we always felt safe in the boat. It should be noted that hippos are nocturnal by nature so, as you can see in the photos, they are mostly resting in the water during the daytime.

 

Watching a large pod of hippos with a stunning African sunset – who could ask for more?

DAY #5: GAME DRIVE IN HLUHLUWE-IMFOLOZI GAME RESERVE & SCHOOL VISIT

The first of two safaris, this game reserve is known for its rhinos. One advantage of visiting Africa in the spring (the seasons are opposite from here in the U.S.) is you get to see tons of babies. A wonderful bonus!

By the way, I never felt in danger while on safari. Our guide said that you’re more likely to die driving back to your hotel than while on safari and I tend to believe him. Although viral videos look terrifying, keep in mind, mIllions of people visit Africa and go on safari without incident – myself included. Deaths are so rare, it’s hard to find statistics. 

On the other hand, I don’t want to sugar coat the experience. Of course, there’s always an element of risk because of the unpredictability of wild animals. But many of the viral videos are the result of ignorant tourists or guides that took unnecessary risks. Most animals give a warning charge to give humans an opportunity to back off. if you have an experienced safari guide that can “read” an animals behavior and avoid dangerous situations by keeping a respectful distance, you don’t need to allow fear or anxiety keep you from an amazing and surreal experience.

Be patient while watching the video below and you’ll see the zebras cross the road right in front of our jeep.

We saw tons of other animals on our safari, like the warthog pictured below, but not any of the big cats. That came later on safari in Kruger Park.

By the way, much is made of seeing the “big five,” which includes the African lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and Cape buffalo. Between both of our safaris, I was fortunate to see all of these animals (I briefly saw the elusive leopard from a distance as it ran into the brush – the hardest to find of the big five – but wasn’t fast enough to get a photo.) If there is a sighting of a leopard or lion, guides let each other know and you’ll find yourself suddenly racing down dirt roads with much excitement to the spot. But I was just as thrilled to see beautiful animals like the Nyasaland big horned deer pictured below.

One of the special moments on our trip was visiting a rural school. We had the option of donating school supplies we brought from home, which we were happy to do. The children were so excited to see us, full of hugs and smiles, and curious about us (for example, they kept touching my hair which was different from theirs).

DAY #6: – SWAZILAND (eSwatini) SIGHTSEEING AND VISIT TO MATSAMO VILLAGE

After visiting a glass factory, where we watched talented glass blowers create African animals and glassware made from recycled glass collected by local children, we visited a cultural village to learn more about their traditions and customs.

Note in the video below how grandparents rule in a traditional village. Awesome!

We also enjoyed traditional dance and song performances.

Day #7: – Kruger National Park Game

Pictures speak louder than words when it comes to the wonder of a safari in this famous game reserve.

People ask if we used a zoom lens with the lion pictured below, and the answer is we really didn’t need one. Sure, we zoomed up a bit with our cameras, but in reality the lion was only about 15 feet from our jeep. Once again, we did not feel endangered. Our guide explained that the lion was injured, apparently from fighting over a female. On top of that, it was mating season. Did you know that a lion can mate up to 100 times in one day? Neither did I! Naturally, the lion was very tired and was actually asleep when we first arrived. After waiting for about 10 minutes, he awoke and lazily strolled off to lay down near a female. 

Check out the cute baby baboons on their parents’ backs in the video below. Adorable!

These monkeys were cute, but super aggressive when trying to steal your lunch.

Zebras were everywhere.

 

 

DAY #8 PANORAMA ROUTE TO JOHANNESBURG

This was our charming breakfast view from Hazyview before we started our long drive to Johannesburg (fondly referred to by Africans as Joburg).

We stopped at Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a series of waterfalls and distinctive rock formations. If you enjoy photography, like my husband in the photo below, Africa is paradise!

My sister, who knows me well, asked if I crossed this bridge. Yes, I’m afraid of heights, but this was a trip of facing down my fears. The only way to see the waterfalls was to cross the bridge. I did so, but very quickly, snapping photos along the way!

This waterfall was one of my rewards for braving the bridge.

Our last stop on the way to Johannesburg and what a view! Reminded me a little bit of Grand Canyon.

DAY #9 JOHANNESBURG

Ah, all good things must come to an end. Johannesburg was our last stop. Known for its glamorous boutique hotels, this is a photo of a sitting area near the bar.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT SOUTH AFRICA

Do these photos and videos tempt you to take a trip to South Africa? If so, here are some things you should know.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, we got a great deal for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We paid $2,687.00 per person including airfare from New York to Africa, all our hotel rooms, two safaris, one river cruise, transportation, a flight from Cape Town to Durban, and most of our meals. (Only the optional shark cage dive was not included in the price.)

We subscribe to Travelzoo’s newsletter and saw the deal with Gate 1 Travel. This was the second time we’ve traveled with this tour company – the first time was while visiting China – and we were impressed both times. Just know, as you can tell from my photos, this was an action-packed trip with quite a few early morning wake-up calls. There wasn’t a lot of downtime. However, most of our group was aged 50-plus and all managed to keep up with the pace. By the way, I should mention that we were fortunate to have wonderful people, most of which were well-seasoned travelers, to share this awesome experience and compare notes. If you’re interested, keep an eye out for sales. We received an additional $400 off per person if we signed up by a certain date.

Everyone asks me how many shots I had before my trip. You may be surprised to learn that vaccines and malaria pills are not required if you are visiting South Africa from the United States.

The CDC recommends being up to date on routine vaccinations along with hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines for most travelers (which you can get through contaminated food or water). You can use this link to see all of their recommendations. Since we trusted our tour company to take us to safe places to eat (we were careful not to eat at any roadside stands) and alert us when it wasn’t safe to drink the water, we personally chose not to get these vaccinations.

You may choose to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans. Be aware, malaria pills can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and fever. Because of these risks, my husband and I chose not to take these drugs and instead took other recommended precautions such as wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, socks, and using mosquito repellent on any exposed skin. This is a personal choice that can be discussed with your doctor.

So, the answer is that other than a tetanus booster and flu shot, I didn’t have any other immunizations before visiting Africa. In full disclosure, I’m a worrier and this choice caused me some anxiety. For example, I panicked after seeing mosquitoes in one of our rooms and practically drowned myself with mosquito repellent. A small insect bite also caused some worry. Then, the day after arriving home, I broke out in a rash. At first, my doctor thought the cause might be a parasitic infection. Of course, I was freaked out by the thought; however, my blood test came back normal. Apparently, the rash was caused by a fungal skin infection (a common type around the world including here in the U.S.) that was easily treated with a topical creme.

Of course, none of these things happened to my husband who skipped through Africa with nary a concern.

At any rate, yes, you always take a chance when you’re traveling. But the way I look at it, I could get bit by a mosquito right here at home in the California desert and get the West Nile virus – which has killed people.

In other words, I’m not going to let any of this stop me from traveling again. Seeing new places and experiencing exotic cultures is a passion of mine that luckily my husband shares. In fact, we’ve visited over 20 countries in six continents. People ask us which trip is our favorite. Our answer? Without question, Africa wins the prize. There is no other place in the world like it.

Baby Boomers Going Bankrupt on the Rise

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it turns out many baby boomers are going bust.

An increasing number of baby boomers— who have more debt than previous generations — are filing for bankruptcy, reported Patti Waldmeir for The Financial Times, citing a 2018 report called “Graying of US Bankruptcy.”

To be more specific, the number of older Americans filing for bankruptcy has surged by up to 300% in the last 25 years. The average senior files for bankruptcy more than $17,390 in debt.

Why is that the case? Here are a few reasons:

  • Rising medical costs definitely plays a role. In fact, 66.5% of all bankruptcies, regardless of age, are related to medical issues, either because of expensive medical bills or time away from work, reported Lorie Konish for CNBC, citing a study by the American Journal of Public Health.
  • Unlike their frugal parents who lived through the Depression, baby boomers are more inclined to get into credit card debt. Many still have student loan debt.
  • Pensions are disappearing and boomers, who are living longer, often have scant savings to fall back on.
  • According to the study, many boomers experience a decline in income.
  • Delayed full Social Security benefits and increased out-of-pocket spending with Medicare add to the problem.

Unfortunately, bankruptcy is not a cure-all since many baby boomers don’t have enough years to get back on their feet financially. “Bankruptcy is not and never has been a panacea, especially for older people,” the study points out adding that those who were older and filed Chapter 7 were significantly more likely to continue to experience financial struggles post-bankruptcy.

Although bankruptcy can’t always be prevented, there are some steps boomers can take to avoid this outcome.

Obviously, it’s important to pay off debt and save more while you’re still working. To accomplish this, you may need to put off retirement. The good news is that studies of healthy aging suggest that working longer can have a number of positive physical and psychological effects. Experts say that engaging in productive and social activities at work can help maintain meaning and a sense of purpose in life.

Already retired? Lots of retirees have embraced a second career, usually part-time, to supplement social security benefits. Why not look for ways to create new opportunities and seek experiences that broaden your horizon while making some extra money?

If needed, stop financially supporting adult children. About 40% of people in their early 20s get financial help from their parents, to the tune of $3,000 per year on average. If this describes you and it’s causing a financial strain, meet with your kids to discuss how to scale back. Do not co-sign loans for your children or grandchildren either – especially student loans – which leaves you on the hook if they don’t service the debt.

Pay off your mortgage before retiring. Many mortgages allow you to make additional payments toward the principal. Consider downsizing and simplifying your life to help achieve this goal.

Take control of your spending. Limit eating out. Get rid of cable and watch your favorite shows online. Avoid pricey hobbies. Look for free community events like concerts in the park. Cut up credit cards. Quit expensive habits like smoking and drinking. Rediscover the library. In other words, be tough with yourself now so your Golden Years aren’t tarnished with debt and bankruptcy.

 

Divorce After Age 50 Affects Baby Boomers’ Health and Finances

Just when you’re ready to settle comfortably into old age with your spouse, you’re blindsided by a divorce. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that many baby boomers face. While divorce at any age can be calamitous, studies show that for those over 50, the effects on health and finances are especially brutal.

That’s bad news since the rate of divorce after age 50 has doubled in the U.S. since 1990, according to an article by Bloomberg. This trend has led to the coining of the term “gray divorce.”

So, why are so many baby boomers getting divorced? Factors include a longer life expectancy, popularity of remarriage, greater financial independence for women and evolving views of marriage, Susan Brown, sociology professor and co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University states in a U.S. News article.

Unfortunately, the damaging effects can be long-lasting.

Physical and Emotional Effects

“What I see among older patients is that divorce can have myriad psychological and physical consequences, especially for those with already existing medical problems,” says Dr. Andreea Seritan, a geriatric psychiatrist and professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California  San Francisco in the same U.S. News article.

According to one study, people who’ve gone through a gray divorce report higher levels of depression than those whose spouses died. Seritan agrees that she frequently sees newly divorced seniors who develop depression, chronic stress or anxiety.

Once again, that’s not good news for the over 50 crowd. These psychological conditions are linked to physical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, obesity and a weakened immune system.

Financial Effects

Not only does divorce after 50 cut wealth in half, Brown and her colleagues determined that the standard of living for women drops 45 percent, according to the Bloomberg article. For older men, it drops only 21 percent.

Because women typically make less money than men and may have taken time out to raise children, these gaps in earnings “sometimes meant they saved less for retirement and had lower Social Security benefits,” says Jocelyn Crowley, author of “Gray Divorce: What We Lose and Gain from Mid-Life Splits” in the U.S. News article.

A recent T. Rowe Price survey found the median 401(k) balance of baby boomer women — $59,000 — is less than half of what it is for baby boomer men, $138,000.

One of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research Center’s previous studies discovered a 27 percent poverty rate for women over 63 who divorced later in life. That statistic is higher than for other seniors – and that even includes widows.

Okay, that’s the bad news. But not all is lost.

Looking Forward

Just because you’re older doesn’t mean your life is over after divorce.

Finding a new partner, which helps both financially and emotionally, can help those who divorce later in life. However, women tend to be less interested than men in finding a new spouse, perhaps enjoying their newfound independence. In addition, older men often partner up with younger women.

So, what else can you do?

Writer Tania Brown makes some good suggestions in an article for Forbes:  “Take some time to re-evaluate your life and consider working with a therapy group, a life divorce coach, or a career coach (some colleges, places of worship, senior centers and community centers offer classes on these topics for little or no cost) to get you back on your feet). Think of your ‘bucket list,’ wish list, hobbies, volunteer service, and prior career for direction on what to do next.”

There are other strategies you can use to combat potential problems. Seritan recommends the following per the U.S. News article:

  • Avoid isolation.
  • Broaden your social support network.
  • Exercise
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Adopt a pet
  • Get professional help if needed

Barry Gold, author of “Gray Divorce Stories,” who divorced at 54 years of age after 27 years of marriage, wrote an interesting article for HuffPost. He outlines three essential stages:

  • Survive. Grieve your loss. Deal with legal and financial matters.
  • Revive. Let go of the anger and practice forgiveness.
  • Thrive. Follow your path to become “a stronger, more insightful, happier person, ready to enjoy whatever comes next.”

His philosophy: “It wasn’t the plan, and it isn’t ideal. But a divorce over 50 can let you hit the reset button, be the person you want to be, and move forward into a bright, exciting future.”

Summer 2019 Blog Hop: What This Boomer is Up To

Summer is just around the corner! As visions of sailing, road trips, and time at the beach dance around this baby boomer’s head, my writerly pals and I are sharing our summer dreams and inspiration in the C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y – Summer Blog Hop. (For more summertime fun, click over to meet the awesome #Gr8Blogs bloggers listed at the end of this post.)

What have I been up to lately? What have I been writing? What books am I reading? What’s making me proud? What am I anticipating?

And…will I go shark cage diving on our trip to Africa this fall?

Read on to find out…

* What I’m Loving

My family, of course, on an early summer road trip! We went camping on Pismo Beach – a drive-on beach in Central California where the cold wind blew, my daughter-in-law got her car stuck in the sand, and we took an exciting bumpy ride on the sand dunes. But a fun time was had by all! Next summer family trip – Catalina Island!

* What I’m Writing

After promoting my latest book, I’m happy to get back to writing again. Next up, a book to help those over 50 who are struggling to lose weight.

Confession time. After caring for my mother for a few years, I had gained a lot of weight stress-eating. Since I had neglected my health during that time, a check-up was in order. The doctor bluntly informed me that I had gained 10 pounds since my last visit. Okay, I already knew that, but it was still painful to hear!

So began my quest to drop the weight. The pics below show me before and after my weight loss.

Before

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you, losing weight is a whole new ballgame as you age. This was a a learning experience as I mastered what worked – and found out what didn’t work anymore now that I’m older.

I’m ready to share my secrets. No dangerous surgeries, expensive weight loss programs, or crazy fad diets involved. I’ll discuss why it’s so hard to lose weight as you age and what you can do about it. I’ll share with you my personal struggles, tips so you never feel hungry, how to stop stress-eating, some of my favorite recipes, and how to keep the weight off. ​I hope to have it finished and ready to publish by the end of the year just in time for 2020 resolutions.

By the way, I’m so grateful that my book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia, published a few months ago, has been well-received with several five-star reviews including this one from Readers’ Favorite:

“…It is a caring, heart-filled story of a daughter’s journey with her mother, as they both face the monster of an illness that steals so much.”

The book, as well as other reviews, are available on Amazon.

 

* What I’m Anticipating

This fall, I will fulfill a lifelong dream and visit South Africa with my husband, Scott. I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that he was trying to talk me into going shark cage diving with the great whites in Cape Town.

One of the reasons I think our marriage works so well – even after 40 years – is because we support each other’s dreams and Scott was super excited about this idea. Oh dear! Although I consider myself an adventurer, visions of the scene of a shark attacking the cage in Jaws kept dancing around in my head.

Now, for the big question. Will I do it?

Drum-roll please….yes, we have booked this adventure.

Mind you, this decision was not made lightly. I did plenty of research and watched several videos so I’d know what to expect. I discovered that the companies in South Africa do not chum the waters or feed the sharks and closely follow safety regulations. I couldn’t find any reports of fatalities, but I did see a viral video of a cage dive gone wrong on Guadalupe Island in Mexico when safety precautions were ignored. Horrifically, the shark ended up thrashing around violently inside the cage with a man – who miraculously was unharmed. By the way, even though I am scuba certified, I would never go shark diving without a cage or try to feed the sharks. I have my limits and that just seems dumb and dangerous.

Now, if I could only stop hearing “duun-dun, dun-dun, duun-duun, dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun” every time I think about the cage dive.

Stay tuned, I’ll be blogging all about my experience.

* What I’m Reading

Ready to hit the beach or sit by the lakeside with a good book this summer? Here are a few books I’ve read lately that you may want to check out:

I was impressed with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. The protagonist is a 30-year-old isolated, socially-awkward woman. Her unrequited crush on a musician, the way her workmates make fun of her, and her first experiences getting a manicure and a bikini wax – made me want to laugh and cry. Mostly cry. Despite Eleanor’s initial resistance, a man she works with befriends her. The book eventually reveals the mysterious event that left her so physically and emotionally scarred. This character touched my heart and reminds everyone that a bit of kindness and empathy goes a long way.

If you’re looking for a good thriller, a book that I couldn’t put down is The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn. Sort of a combination of Rear Window, Wait Until Dark, and Gaslight. I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I’ll say. But take my word, this is a gripping story that will keep you guessing.

I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and have mixed feelings about it. I was impressed with the lyrical, hauntingly beautiful writing as the author describes the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coastline. The murder mystery combined with a coming-of-age story drew me in. But some of the book didn’t make sense and although some people loved the controversial ending, without any spoiler alerts, let’s just say I didn’t.

* What’s Making Me Burst with Pride

So proud of my oldest son, Jonathan, who graduated last month with high honors. He earned his degree while working full-time and with three kids – who were delighted to decorate his graduation cap with their names!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* What’s In My Camera Lens

I don’t claim to be a photographer (sadly, writing is my one and only creative talent), but with the “super bloom” we had this year, how could I resist snapping lots of pics? They say it never rains in Southern California – but this year, it did in a big way with record-setting rainfall. The result? An eye-popping explosion of flowers on hillsides.

These first photos were taken at Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore where a poppy paradise drew massive crowds. Tourists from around the world could be seen on the trails enjoying the spectacular sight. The last two were taken near Hemet where I grew up – and yes, that’s my adorable youngest granddaughter posing in the flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What else this summer will bring remains to be seen. Hope you enjoyed sharing my life and a big thanks for stopping by! For more Summer 2019 C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y moments, please visit the #Gr8blogs below:

Cat Michaels on Cat’s Corner

Rebecca Lyndsey

KidLit Blog by Rosie

James Milson “Writing & Things”

Sandra Bennett

Carmela Dutra

Auden Johnson

Mackenzie Flohr

 

Baby Boomers: How to Avoid Top Four Retirement Mistakes

What do you baby boomers think of when you hear the word “retirement”? If you’re prepared, you may have blissful thoughts about life without the need for an alarm or days spent with the grandkids. In contrast, if you aren’t financially prepared for it, the word itself can inflict apprehension about what the future will bring.

Too often, boomers don’t realize until they hit retirement that they weren’t ready. My guest blogger, Danielle K. Roberts, co-founder of Boomer Benefits and a member of the Forbes Finance Council, lists four of the top mistakes boomers can avoid, to be one step ahead in your retirement planning.

Mistake #1: Taking Social Security benefits too early

First, it is important to know that Social Security was not designed to sustain your lifestyle without another source of income. The majority of seniors need 70% or more of their pre-retirement income to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.

How to Avoid:

The longer you can delay Social Security, the easier it will be to supplement your other savings in retirement, leaving you a comfortable amount to live on.

Full retirement age is 66 or 67 depending upon your birth date. For every year that you delay taking your benefits (beyond full retirement age), you will increase your benefits by eight percent.

If at age 67 you are set to receive a benefit of $1,600 a month but delay taking your benefits until you are 70, you would instead get $1,984 a month for the rest of your life. A few years can equate to a large sum of money over time.

Mistake #2: Having debt entering retirement

The sad reality is that over 70% of baby boomers in the U.S. (60 and older) are in debt. Debt alone can wreak havoc on your retirement.

How to Avoid:

Before you quit your job and head off into the sunset, pay off as much debt as you can.

Interest rates have a bad habit of increasing and your income is likely going to be fixed. Having a fixed income makes it a lot more difficult to put a dent in your debt. Eradicating debt before you retire will be both a financial and mental relief as you head into your Golden Years.

Mistake #3: Underestimating the full cost of health care in retirement

Medical costs in retirement are staggering, even if you’re healthy! In a widely publicized study, Fidelity estimates that a healthy couple retiring in 2019 would need $285,000 set aside for health care costs. This number will only grow over the coming years.

How to Avoid:

Don’t assume that having Medicare will mean no out-of-pocket expenses. In fact, you could potentially have hefty bills that you are responsible for. Of course, Medicare will help cover a large portion of your health care costs, but you will still have monthly premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.

The best thing you can do is prepare ahead of time with a tool like a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HSA can be a vehicle for setting aside money for health care costs, but it can also act as a triple tax advantage for you.

Last, don’t forget about long-term care. Long-term care is one of the costliest expenditures a senior can face. Whether you choose a long-term care insurance policy or set aside a portion of your HSA savings for this substantial expense, don’t let it become an afterthought.

Mistake #4: Assuming your money will outlive you

Most of us want to get as much out of life as we can. Too often, our optimism overshadows our savings accounts. Data from the Federal Reserve shows that the median amount Americans have saved for retirement in total is $120,000; a fraction of the recommended $1 million nest-egg.

How to Avoid:

It is never too late to start stockpiling money into a 401k or IRA. These types of savings accounts will propel your money much further than storing it in a traditional savings account.

Whether you need to cut down on your grocery expenditures, downsize your home, or find a way to boost your income – getting more money into one of these accounts will make life easier for you in retirement.

It’s Never Too Late

The best thing you can do is have a plan. Whether you find yourself in the middle of retirement without enough to live on or you are a pre-retiree realizing the monster expenses you’ll face, devising a plan to build up a nest-egg is still in reach.

Start today, your retired-self will thank you later.

Danielle K. Roberts is the co-founder of Boomer Benefits where she and her team help baby boomers navigate their Medicare insurance options. She is a member of the Forbes Finance Council and writes frequently about Medicare, retirement and personal finance.