Savvy Seniors Get These Discounts

So, you got your invitation to join AARP, the organization dedicated to adults over 50? Maybe you’re sighing and wondering where the years went, but really you should be celebrating how far you’ve come and the person you’ve grown into! And you know what? There are actually a lot of perks that come with getting older that go beyond wisdom, experience, and feeling comfortable with who you are. 

First of all, you get to tell everyone exactly what you think, right? Ok, that’s not really what we were going to say: one of the more forgotten perks of getting older is that you can actually save a whole lot of money on a whole lot of stuff. So while you might be fretting about the days of “living on a fixed income” coming soon, you should be checking out all of the discounts that seniors in the know are getting on the regular.

How to Start Saving illustration of money sticking out of a wallet

Before we get into some of the best discounts available to older adults, there are two things you should do to get yourself on track for optimum savings:

  • Consider joining AARP – While the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) charges a membership fee, it is pretty minimal, considering that you can get a lot of discounts that are only available to its members. You can get a full membership at age 50, which generally costs just $16 a year. 
  •  Speak up! – Don’t be afraid to ask everywhere you go whether you might qualify for a senior discount – the worst that can happen is they say no (and they’ll know you’re over a certain age)! Remember that employees won’t always ask you first, whether out of embarrassment or forgetfulness (or because you look so amazing), so you should take the initiative and see what small – or big – discount you might be entitled to.

With those two tips in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best discounts available to older adults (and remember, some of them might require an AARP membership). 

A Roundup of Some of the Best Discounts

1. Grocery Stores

This might be one of the more expected items on the list, but we wanted to remind you that your local grocery store might offer a senior discount, so you should look into this possibility. The best way to do this is to ask at your preferred local store: what’s on offer can vary a lot between different chains, and even different stores that are part of the same chain. And you usually won’t be looking at a blanket discount; rather, your store might have one day of the week or month when they offer a small discount on your entire bill. It could be as little as 5%, but it’s still worth checking out, especially if you need to stock up!

2. Chain Retail Stores

We know this is a pretty broad category, but if there are certain shops that you tend to frequent, you should absolutely ask if they offer some sort of senior discount. These, too, are usually offered on a specific day of the week – but get this: chain retail stores don’t always advertise their senior discounts, so again, it’s super important to be bold and ask! 

3. Restaurants

Many chain restaurants offer discounts to seniors, usually those over 60 or 65, but be aware that a lot of these discounts are only available to AARP members (although some restaurants simply offer a separate, discounted senior menu). And similarly to chain supermarkets, you’ll have to ask at each individual location, as their policy might vary from location to location. illustration of a gym with someone inside on an elliptical

4. Gym Memberships

Here’s one that you might not have even been aware of! Seniors with eligible Medicare plans can sign up for a program called Silver Sneakers, which will give you free access to certain gyms across the country. It’s definitely worth looking at your Medicare plan  to see if you qualify (or talking to an EZ Medicare agent to find a plan that includes this big perk!)

5. Prescriptions

This one’s a bit trickier: some pharmacies, like CVS, used to offer a specific senior discount, but have moved to offering a savings club that anyone can join. But there are still some discounts on prescriptions available to seniors at certain chains, many of which have partnered with AARP, like Walgreens and Rite Aid. It’s worth speaking to your local pharmacy – it might be as easy as signing up for a senior discount card, which could save you up to 20% in some cases. And here’s another tip: since Medicare doesn’t offer help with vision care, you might want to check out your local Lenscrafters, which offer discounts of 10-50% off on certain items with an AARP membership. 

6. Travel

Here’s where older adults, especially AARP members, can really cash in! One of the other perks of getting older, other than the discounts, is having the freedom to travel – and you might be able to do it a little bit more cheaply. Many airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and rental car agencies offer anything from small to sizable discounts to AARP members: for example, Avis and Budget rental car agencies offer 30% off, and Best Western hotels offer up to 15% off. It’s always worth checking what each company is offering – if you’re not sure, call their reservation line! And if you prefer to see the country by rail, Amtrak offers a 10% discount.

If part of your itinerary includes seeing our country’s beautiful national parks, make sure you check out the discounts available to seniors: you can get a $20 annual park pass or $80 lifetime park pass, plus pass holders get up to 50% off select amenities costs.

And another tip if you’re just looking to tool around town: Zipcar, the company that allows members to quickly book and grab a short-term car rental in their town, offers seniors a 40% discount off of memberships!

7. Entertainment

If a night on the town is more your thing, and you’re looking for something to do after your discounted dinner out, check out the discounts that some of the major movie theater chains offer, or try for some cheaper tickets to the theater or a show. Major movie theater chains like AMC and Regal Cinemas offer seniors discounts like 10-15% off or up to $4 off certain tickets, and Ticketmaster will sometimes offer up to 50% off tickets to certain shows and events with an AARP membership.

hand holding an iphone
Some phone carriers provide discounts for senior citizens on their plans.

8. Tech

Staying connected is so important as you get older, and the great thing is that you can do it for less money if you’re a senior! Cell phone providers like T-Mobile and Verizon offer discounts on monthly plans for seniors – if you’re willing to go for a pretty bare bones plan, you could even pay less than $30 a month with T-Mobile. You could also check out smaller companies like Consumer Cellular or Mint Mobile ( which offers a discount of up to 40% for seniors).

If it’s safety you’re after, you can also save on things like security software and home security systems. For example, Norton 360 (software that protects against things like computer viruses and identity theft) offers discounts of up to 25% off plans, and SimpliSafe Home Security, the DIY home security service, offers 15% to AARP members. 

So you might have aches and pains you didn’t have before now that you’re getting older, but aging is not all doom and gloom! In fact, a new chapter of your life is beginning – you’ve got confidence, a strong sense of self, and freedom to explore what you want to do just for you – and it turns out that a lot of the things you want to do might be a little bit cheaper for you! And next time a younger person scoffs at the way you use your phone? You can laugh it off, knowing that you’re paying a whole lot less than they are for your plan!

Seniors: Don’t Be a Victim of These Financial Scams

You’ve worked your whole life, saved some money, gotten past the days of iffy credit, and hopefully, you’re feeling good about that! All of that means you’re pretty smart when it comes to your finances, but unfortunately, it also makes you the target of a wide range of financial scams that prey on seniors, because you have money in the bank and good credit. Sure, scammers might also target seniors because they think older adults are easier marks, but that doesn’t have to be true. You can make it a point to be aware of the most common scams floating around out there, and outsmart the scammers – and we can help!

Financial Scams by the Numbers different forms of scams

Older adults who have been taken in by financial scams are definitely not alone, or in a tiny minority: these scams happen all the time. In fact, incidences of fraud are rising, especially since scammers are just so much better at it these days, and can mimic legitimate communications from family members, tech support staff, and government employees. 

These scams are leading to a lot of money lost, not to mention a lot of suffering and embarrassment. It’s important to know just how widespread this problem is, so you can be vigilant and avoid it happening to you. So before we get to the specific scams to look out for, check out these numbers:

  • Senior citizens lost almost $1 billion in scams in 2020, according to an FBI report released this month.
  • A total of 105,301 people over the age of 65 were scammed, with an average loss of $9,175, and almost 2,000 older Americans lost more than $100,000 in 2020, according to the same report.
  • There was a 47% increase in fraud and identity theft reports from 2019 to 2020.
  • The older you are, the more money you are likely to be scammed out of: in a 2019 report, those who were 70 to 79 suffered a median loss of $600, and for those over 80, the median loss was $1,600. 

Those are some scary statistics, but they prove that there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there making some serious money off of unsuspecting older adults. That means it’s important to know how they’re doing it, as well as what kind of scams they’re trying to pull. 

How Do Scammers Operate?

We want you to be prepared in case a scammer comes knocking at your door (or more likely, calling or emailing you), so let’s break down the most common ways that scammers will try to get you to part with your money. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scams targeting older adults are most often carried out through:scam infographic

  1. Phone calls – 16,000 cases reported a loss, with a median cost of $1,500.
  2. Online theft – 10,000 cases reported a loss, with a median cost of $395.
  3. Consumer-initiated contact – 6,000 cases reported a loss, with a median cost of $300.
  4. Email scams – 4,000 cases reported a loss, with a median cost of $500.
  5. Mail fraud – 1,000 cases reported a loss, with a median cost of $1,800.

So it appears that, while online scams are very common, phone calls are still the medium of choice for many scammers. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that there are nearly 2.4 billion robocalls made each month. You need to be aware that scammers often use your local area code or the numbers of government agencies to make them look legit. 

That means it’s important to verify any phone calls, not to mention emails and letters, that request any personal information or money from you. It’s also important to know exactly what kind of stories scammers are cooking up.

The Most Common Scams Targeting Seniors

So what types of fraud are older adults most likely to fall prey to? Let’s take a look at the specific types of scams that are raking in the cash from seniors. Again according to the FTC, the top scams are:

1. Online shopping scams

While older adults reported less actual money lost to online shopping scams (an average of around $129 per person) than to other types of scams, this seems to be the most common type of scam. In fact, online shopping surpassed tech support in 2019 as the top fraud type older consumers lose money to, probably because of the rise in online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic. And the amount of money lost is no small amount: people over 60 reportedly lost at least $14 million from online shopping scams last year.

How to avoid this scam: Only make purchases through trustworthy sites, and be skeptical of any sites offering prices that seem too good to be true. Read reviews about companies on third-party sites, and make sure you check that the site you’re buying from isn’t a slight modification of a well-known brand. In addition, NEVER agree to a sale with a vendor who requires an unconventional payment method, like a money order or wire transfer. 

2. Computer tech support scams

With this type of scam, someone will contact you, or a window will pop up on your device, telling you that you have a virus or other tech problem, and that you need to contact them for help resolving the issue. They will then ask for money for services that aren’t needed, or even for remote access to your computer. This scam is so successful with older targets that in 2019 alone, tech support scammers stole $24 million from victims over 60.

How to avoid this scam: The first thing to remember is that major tech companies, like Apple or Microsoft, will generally NOT contact you in this way. The best thing to do in these situations is to simply close the window or ignore the person contacting you, and NEVER allow remote access to your computer unless you know exactly who you are giving access to (ie, you have directly contacted your tech company).

3. Imposter Scamsman holding a white mask close to his face

Now we get to the good old-fashioned “someone pretending to be someone else” scams – but often, nowadays, with a technological twist. These types of scams led to the second highest amount of financial loss for older adults, around $61 million in the aggregate. 

Imposter scams can come in many forms, including:

  • Family imposter scams, in which a scammer pretends to be a member of your family and asks for urgently needed help. This sounds like a crazy scam that no one could possibly fall for, but these scammers are very sophisticated and can hack into email accounts or create fake profiles. 
  • Government imposter scams, which can take the form of scammers impersonating officials from the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare. They might ask for your Social Security Number, saying it has been compromised or used in a crime, or they might even tell you that you are eligible for more benefits. Or, some scammers might try to intimidate you and tell you that you owe more in taxes, and that you are facing jail time if you don’t send money.

How to avoid these scams: Just as big tech companies will not usually contact you, neither will government agencies. If they do initiate contact, it will usually be with an initial official letter. They will NEVER ask for your SSN, credit card number, or other personal information over the phone. If you receive phone calls trying to intimidate you into giving this type of information, hang up immediately. Verify any emails or letters you receive by contacting the agency they purport to come from directly.

4. Romance Scams

This type of scam might not be the most common, but it generally ends in the most money lost per person scammed. In 2020, total reported losses to romance scams hit a high of $304 million, making them the leading cause of fraudulent financial loss across all age groups; people over 60 lost around $84 million. And while older adults are the least likely to fall victim to this type of scam, they had the highest median loss from this type of fraud, at $9,475. 

This type of scam has tripled in the number of incidences in the last few years, and you can probably guess why: the rise of online dating. Yes, dating sites/apps can be a great way to meet people, but they can also be an easy way for scammers to operate, with perpetrators creating fake profiles, shying away from meeting in person (with Covid being a great excuse), and eventually asking for money or gift cards.

How to avoid this scam: Never send money or anything of value to anyone you haven’t met, period. You can even try doing a reverse image search of someone you’re chatting with, so you can see if they are using a stock photo, or an image of someone else.

5. Sweepstakes Scams

This type of scam led to the third largest amount of money lost for seniors, at around $50 million in the aggregate, or around $1,000 per person scammed. Sweepstakes scammers will generally contact you via phone, email, social media, or even the mail, congratulating you for winning a big prize – but you will be required to pay certain “fees” or “taxes” so that the money can be released to you. They might even issue you a check, which will be rejected after a few days, during which time your scammers will collect the “fees” that they say you owe them.

How to avoid this scam: Remember that almost all true sweepstakes are “no purchase necessary” (except for the lottery, for which you purchase a ticket, but they will never ask for money for you to claim your prize). 

What to Do if You’ve Been Scammedquestion mark with who, what, where, why around it

If you’ve been the victim of one of the above scams, or of any other type of scam (there are so many!), you might be both distressed and embarrassed, so much so that you might want to pretend it never happened. And you wouldn’t be alone: numbers show that a huge amount of older adults don’t report scams, especially if they’ve lost money. 

But reporting these crimes can be helpful to others, and you might even be able to recoup some or all of your losses. If you’ve been scammed, contact:

  • The Better Business Bureau
  • The Federal Trade Commission
  • The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center

You can also contact your bank or credit card company to stop any payments, or work something out to get your money back.

The bottom line is: scams can happen to anyone, and they seem to be happening more and more, and in more and more sophisticated ways, to older adults. So if it does happen to you, it doesn’t mean you’re gullible, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed – you should take back control, report the crime, and make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else (and get back that hard-earned money)!

7 Facts You Need to Know About Mental Health and Aging

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s clear that, after the few years we’ve had, we need this time to focus on our psychological well being. But here’s the thing: a lot of the talk surrounding mental health lately has been centered on young people, and while that is an extremely important topic, we need to remember that there is no age limit on mental health issues. In fact, older adults can be hit especially hard in this area. So, for this Mental Health Awareness Month, we’d like to remind everyone of that fact, and restart the conversation about mental health and aging with some important facts.

1. Mental Health Issues in Older Adults Are More Common Than Many People Thinkolder man talking with a doctor

We have a rapidly aging population. It’s projected that by 2050, we’ll have leapt from 900 million people over 60 to around 2 billion! And we have to start recognizing that all of these millions of older adults need to have their mental health needs addressed in the same way that we address their physical needs. Why? First of all, mental health is incredibly important: we know that good mental health contributes greatly to an overall feeling of well-being. But on the other hand, untreated mental health disorders in older adults can lead to diminished functioning, substance abuse, poor quality of life, and increased mortality. 

Second of all, mental health issues are very common among older adults – maybe more common than many people think. According to the CDC, around 20% of adults over 55 (or 1 in 5) experience some sort of mental health concern, with other studies putting that number at 1 in 4 adults over 60. The most common issues are depression, cognitive impairment, and anxiety. Depression and dementia are the most common, affecting 5% to 7% of the population over 60. Anxiety follows as a close second, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that it affects 3.8% of older adults. Considering the size of the older population, these numbers are pretty concerning.

2. Mental Health Issues Can Lead to Physical Issues

To pick up on a point from above, mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand, especially among older adults. Physical issues, like reduced mobility or chronic pain can lead to mental distress, and older adults with physical health conditions such as heart disease have higher rates of depression than those who are healthy. But, this is a two-way street: untreated depression in an older person with heart disease can actually lead to worse outcomes. In fact, studies show that treatment programs for depressed elderly patients suffering from cardiovascular disease and other major illnesses usually take longer than normal and are less successful. 

Mental health issues like depression can affect older adults physically in other ways, too. Depression can lead to overeating and obesity or, can even cause a significant loss of appetite and lower energy levels, sometimes resulting in a condition known as geriatric anorexia. Older adults with mental health issues could also end up with insomnia and memory loss, which is bad in itself, but can also lead to more accidents around the house or on the road.

3. Mental Health Issues Can Develop Later in Lifeblack and white picture of a man holding his head

While some older adults with mental health issues have been living with them for their entire lives, some develop these concerns later in life. Mental health can deteriorate after a stroke, or even after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, cancer, arthritis, or diabetes; some medications can also cause changes in mental health. Not only that, but the changes brought on by getting older, or declining health, can cause some older adults without a history of substance abuse to begin abusing medications, alcohol, or drugs.

4. Depression Is Often Overlooked in Older Adults

Conventional wisdom says that young people tend to experience mental health issues more often than older adults, and that might be true, but it’s also true that older adults seek help less often than young people do. And not only that, but according to the CDC, “Older adults are often misdiagnosed and undertreated. Healthcare providers may mistake an older adult’s symptoms of depression as just a natural reaction to illness or the life changes that may occur as we age, and therefore not see the depression as something to be treated. Older adults themselves often share this belief and do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment.”

In fact, according to some studies, primary care physicians fail to diagnose depression 50% of the time, and only half of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with a physician receive any treatment.

5. Older Adults Have the Highest Rates of Suicide

Think older adults don’t die by suicide at the same rate as younger people? You’re right: older adults actually have the highest rates of suicide of any age group. To be more specific, people aged 85 and over have the highest suicide rate of any age group, and those aged 75 to 84 have the second highest, with men dying by suicide more often than women. Not only that, but older adults’ suicide attempts tend to be more lethal: for people 65 and older, there is one suicide for every four attempts, compared to one suicide for every 20 attempts for all other age groups.

6. There Are Signs to Look Out For

While mental health issues can develop later in life in people who had never been previously diagnosed with them, they generally don’t come out of nowhere. Aging brings with it a lot of changes, both in physical condition and in life circumstances, and these changes can become risk factors for mental health issues. Risk factors can include things like:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Dementia-causing illness (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Illness or loss of a loved one
  • Long-term illness (e.g., cancer or heart disease)
  • Chronic pain
  • Medication interactions
  • Physical disability or loss of mobility
  • Physical illnesses that can affect emotion, memory, and thought
  • Poor diet or malnutrition

There are also warning signs to look out for that can mean things aren’t quite right, like:

  • Change in sleeping patterns (not enough sleep or oversleeping)
  • High stress levels or constant worrying
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Unusual ideas or behaviors
  • A need or dependence on drugs and alcohol
  • Feeling hopeless or giving up
  • Constant headaches and pain
  • Anger and irritability
  • Engaging in high-risk activities

If you or a loved one are experiencing the above, you should speak to your doctor or a trained mental health professional as soon as possible – and don’t be put off or told that what you’re feeling is a normal part of aging! As we’re about to discuss, we need to be doing more for the mental health of older adults.

man sitting across from another man with his head in his hands and the other one listening
It is important to seek help if you are experiencing mental health issues before it gets worse.

7. We’re Not Doing Enough

While adequate social and emotional support is associated with reduced risk of mental illness, physical illness, and mortality, we’re just not doing enough to keep older adults in tip-top mental shape. Unfortunately, the older people get, the less likely they are to say they receive the social and emotional support they need, according to the CDC. Their studies show that adults aged 65 or older were more likely than adults aged 50–64 to report that they “rarely” or “never” received the social and emotional support they needed (12.2% compared to 8.1%, respectively).

And, again, our health system is dropping the ball on this, with far too many older adults not being adequately diagnosed, cared for, and treated. Consider these shocking statistics:

  • Primary care physicians fail to diagnose depression 50% of the time.
  • Only half of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with a physician receive any treatment.
  • Researchers estimate that up to 63% of older adults with a mental disorder do not receive the services they need.
  • 75% of older adults who commit suicide have visited a primary care physician within a month of their suicide.

This is an unacceptable state of affairs, especially when studies show that 80% of older adults recover from depression after receiving treatment that includes both psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. Mental health issues are not a normal part of aging, but they are treatable, we just need to do more to raise awareness in older adults and those who care for them. 

So this Mental Health Awareness Month, take the time to check in with yourself and your loved ones, make sure you know the risks and what to look out for, and stay as social and active as possible to keep yourself in a good mental state and connected to what and who you love. And if you or a loved one are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted professional and get the help you need and deserve. Growing older has its challenges, but you have the strength to face them head on, with a little help if needed. 

Seniors: Want to Jump Back into the Job Market? Now’s Your Chance!

Retirement can be great, but it’s not for everyone. Some people just thrive on the sense of purpose or the social engagement that being in the workforce gives them – and the extra money to fund the fun stuff in life doesn’t hurt, either! In fact, if you’re at retirement age, or heading there soon, and are still working or want to work, you are very much not alone. Just consider these stats:

  • A 2019 survey found that 27% of respondents who were currently planning their retirement planned to work at least part-time later in life, and of those who were already retired, 19% were working part-time.
  • In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that approximately 40% of those aged 55 and over were working or actively looking for work. That number was predicted to grow by the end of 2024 to 41 million people over the age of 55 (with 13 million in that group over the age of 65) engaged in the labor force.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2015, there were 4.6 million men and 3.7 million women in the labor force who were over 65 years old. A total of 5.3 million full-time workers were 65 or older.

So does all this mean that having a side gig is the new retirement? Maybe: it all depends on what you want out of your golden years. But if you’d like to spend some of your free time in retirement getting back out there, now is a great time! Let’s look at why, and how you can start the search for something that’s right for this chapter of your life. 

The Great Resignation

older man working with wood
Seniors now have more of an opportunity to get back in the workforce if they wanted to.

We’ve often heard (or experienced) that finding a new job when you’re of a certain age can be tough. Unfortunately, agesim is still a major issue in our society; some employers have been unwilling to see past age, and see instead the valuable experience older employees have to offer. 

But there’s something going on that might actually be turning that on its head: the so-called “Great Resignation” that started during the Covid-19 pandemic could be the opportunity that older job seekers need to give them a leg up. According to Kerry Hannon, author and career expert, “It is a fantastic time for someone over 45 or over 50 to get back in the market. Employers are grappling with finding workers who have experience that can hit the ground running. They’ve been going for a bunch of months now without filling positions that they really need.”

Just how great is this Great Resignation? An average of 3.98 million people quit their jobs every month in 2021, and numbers out of the BLS from January of this year showed a record-breaking number of people quitting their jobs in November of 2021. 4.5 million people, or around 3% of workers, walked off the job that month. And even if things are leveling off, job resignations are still up 23% above pre-pandemic levels, and employers are looking to fill the over 11 million vacancies in the job market. In fact, they’re scrambling to bring in workers by offering better working conditions: for example, employers in the private sector have raised hourly pay by about 5% in the past year, according to federal data.s

All of this is good news for anyone who wants to get back into the job market. So if you’re an older job seeker itching to take advantage of these opportunities, how should you get started? 

Starting Your Job Search

You’ve got enthusiasm, experience, and wisdom – now you just need to get yourself out there! Try the following tips, geared especially towards all of you more mature candidates.

1. Let Employers Find You Online

If you’re interested in getting back out there, the first thing you need to do is let employers know you’re looking – and these days, that means heading to LinkedIn and creating a profile. LinkedIn is buzzing with activity these days with all of the employers looking for candidates, so if you’re looking for a more skilled or professional position, this is a great place to start. 

You might think that the world of social media automatically puts older adults at a disadvantage, but with a professional site like LinkedIn, you’ll have an advantage: you have lots of experience and lots of different facets of your life to put in your profile. Make sure you highlight all of this, so employers can see the full package that they’ll get if they hire you!

2. Find Employers Online

Once you’ve gotten yourself out there in the digital world, stay online and check out some job search websites to see if there are any openings that appeal to you. You can look at some general sites, like Indeed, or you can also head to some senior-specific sites, like:

  • Rent a Grandma (specializes in work for nannies, caregivers, chefs, house care helpers, pet sitters, tutors and personal assistants)
  • Seniors4Hire
  • AARP Job Board
  • SecondAct Work
  • Jobs 4.0

3. Refresh Your Skills

blue button with the refresh icon
Try refreshing your skills so you can succeed in the ever-changing markets.

They say you should never stop learning, right? Taking some time to learn some new skills (or brush up on what you already know) is always a good idea, but it’s especially important if you’re looking to get back into the job market. Try an online class in a new technological skill, or even checking out a local community college – many have low-cost tuition for older adults. You can update your computer skills or knowledge about technology, and while you’re at it, any other skills you may want to update.

4. Get Back into Networking

In addition to all of your experience and wisdom, you’ve also got the advantage of having a lot of contacts, so check back in with them to see if anyone is hiring or knows someone who is. And even if you already have a pretty big network, you can always expand it. Consider joining (or rejoining) a professional organization in your field, or attending a conference with someone who’s still in the workforce. And don’t forget about getting on LinkedIn!

5. Consider Fast-Growing Fields

Not married to a job in any one particular field? Then familiarize yourself with the fastest growing job markets, where you’re most likely to be welcomed as a valuable addition. For example, looking for positions in the health care, social services, and hospitality industries, just to name a few, could mean better odds of getting your foot in the door.

6. Try Temping or Volunteering

If you’re having trouble landing exactly what you want, or are looking to start slow or small, consider temping or volunteering. Temping is an easy way to brush off your skills and ease yourself back into work if you’re a little rusty, and you’ll be making a little money while you do it. Volunteering is also a great idea: while you won’t be earning anything, you will be getting the pick-me-up of doing something you care about, while also gaining skills and meeting contacts

If you’ve reached retirement age, nobody is going to blame you for wanting to take some time to go lie on a beach (or in a hammock, or on your couch) for a while (or forever) and just relax. You’ve spent a long time in the rat race! But if you find the calm of retired life just isn’t for you, and you decide you want to get back out there, we’re all for that, too – and now is a great time! Employers need people like you, and would be lucky to have the benefit of your years of experience, so if you’re curious what’s out there, take a look. You might just find your second act!

Is Ageism Killing Us?

Getting older can come with a lot of annoyances. Health issues start popping up, your body might ache (remember being able to sit on the floor and then get up with no problems?), your vision and hearing might not be what they used to be, and food doesn’t even taste as good as it used to. Not fair, right? And beyond what is happening with your body, there might be other issues that make your life feel a bit altered as you age: you might actually find that people treat you differently. 

Sometimes – and hopefully – that means getting the respect you deserve for the wisdom and experience of your years, but often, and unfortunately, it can actually mean being dismissed or considered “past it.” Maybe it’s your grandchildren laughing at the way you interact with technology, maybe it’s having to swallow all those negative stereotypes of older adults in the media that are just meant to be “funny” – or maybe it’s even worse than that. You might start encountering all sorts of little microaggressions, but you might also be facing even bigger forms of discrimination, from employment discrimination to biases when you access healthcare, to being made to feel invisible in society. 

All of this can build up and take its toll on you, leading to worse mental and physical health. So how is ageism, this last “acceptable” form of discrimination, affecting older adults – and are there ways to change things? Some interesting studies are taking a look at how much of a threat ageism is to senior citizens and questioning what we all need to do about it.

What Is Ageism?

The World Health Organization (WHO), which has recently been attempting to highlight the damaging effects of ageism, defines it as defines it as “stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination” based on age. They are extremely concerned at how woven into the fabric of societies all around the world it is, and how much it can affect older people. In fact, they point out that, according to a United Nations report on ageism, “Every second person in the world is believed to hold ageist attitudes – leading to poorer physical and mental health and reduced quality of life for older persons, costing societies billions of dollars each year.”ageism in the workplace infographic

We tend to think about ageism as a workplace problem, and there is definitely some truth to that. In fact, between 1997 and 2018, approximately 423,000 U.S. workers filed age discrimination claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, making up 22% of all workplace discrimination claims. Not only that, but more than 21% of surveyed workers over 40 have faced age discrimination, 36% believe their age has prevented them from getting a job since they turned 40, and nearly 1 in 4 workers age 45 and older have been subjected to negative comments about their age from supervisors or coworkers.

But ageism doesn’t stay at the worksite; it’s all around us. In fact, one study in The Gerontologist found that nearly 80% of respondents to a survey reported experiencing ageism, such as other people assuming they had memory or physical impairments due to their age. The survey also revealed that the most frequent type of ageism (reported by 58% of respondents) was being told a joke making fun of older people, and 31% reported being ignored or not taken seriously because of their age. 

The Effects of Ageism

All of the above ways that ageism remains a part of our society can take a serious toll on older adults. It seeps into so many parts of society, including doctors’ offices, places offering social care, workplaces, the media, and the legal system, and it can end up making life worse for seniors in actual, concrete ways. For example, according to the WHO, a systematic review in 2020 of how healthcare is rationed based on age showed that, in 85% of 149 studies, age determined who received certain medical procedures or treatments.

silhouette of a woman looking up with her hands out on the sides filled with a bunch of positive words
Older adults with more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with negative self-perceptions of aging.


The WHO points out that “Ageism has serious and wide-ranging consequences for people’s health and well-being. Among older people, ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity, decreased quality of life, and premature death. An estimated 6.3 million cases of depression globally are estimated to be attributable to ageism.”

The numbers back this up: for example, one 2020 study in the U.S. showed ageism in the form of negative age stereotypes and self-perceptions led to excess annual costs of $63 billion for the eight most expensive health conditions. This amounts to $1 in every $7 spent on these conditions for all Americans over the age of 60 for one year.

In another study, psychologist Becca Levy, PhD, assistant professor of public health at Yale University found that older adults with more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with negative self-perceptions of aging. She also found that older people who see aging in positive terms are much more likely to recover from disability than those who believe negative age stereotypes. They’re also more likely to practice preventive health measures such as eating well and exercising, and they experience less depression and anxiety.

According to Dr. Levy, “With negative stereotypes, older people have a higher risk of dementia. They have greater accumulations of plaques and tangles in the brain, the biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, and a reduced size of the hippocampus [the part of the brain associated with memory].”

Is There a Solution?

These studies all sound pretty dire. In addition, “there’s a lot of social acceptance of ageism,” as Dr. Levy points out, and studies have found that children as young as three or four already hold ageist ideas. With all of this, it can seem like there’s nothing that can be done. But there is also good news: a new study shows that we can change things. 

The WHO has invested half a million dollars in research, with teams around the world collecting and assessing all available evidence on ageism, including its causes and health consequences, how to combat it, and how best to measure it. One of the research groups, at Cornell University, spent a year and a half sifting through dozens of articles, from the 1970s through 2018, evaluating anti-ageism programs – and they actually came up with some very positive findings!

In almost all cases, the participants in the anti-ageism programs they looked at showed significantly less ageism on attitude tests and greater knowledge of aging than people who hadn’t taken part. So what kind of programs seem to change attitudes? Some examples included: 

  • A program in which undergraduate psychology students corresponded with older adults by email, developing deepening relationships over six weeks.
  • A gardening project in which fourth-graders went to a senior center twice weekly for a month and worked side-by-side with older adults.
  • A four-session program in an Australian high school, incorporating discussions, games and role-playing about aging.
silhouette of a person at a stand holding a stick
People in anti-ageism programs show significantly less ageism on attitude tests and greater knowledge of aging.

Programs that included intergenerational components, meaning they included contact between younger and older people, as well as education about aging, were particularly effective at changing attitudes. And these programs didn’t have to be major, expensive undertakings: most were small, inexpensive, and local.

Ageism is a problem – it has been for a long time, and it can have extremely negative effects on a big portion of our population. But studies show both that we can change attitudes, and that changing those attitudes can make a big difference in quality of life for older adults. We need to remember, though, that it can also be very hard to combat all of those internalized negative feelings about aging that you might have if you’re a senior, and it can be hard to find a balance between being forced to shrug off offensive messages, and constantly having to fight with the world around you. 

But you can speak up about ageism, and you can be an advocate for getting involved in programs that bring different generations together and educate younger people to change minds. The lives and well-being of all older adults might just depend on it! So what do you think? What types of ageism have you encountered, and do you think we can rid ourselves of this last form of “acceptable” discrimination?

Winter Woes for Seniors: How to Stay Safe as the Temperature Drops

There’s a lot to like about winter, unless you’re a dedicated sun worshipper, of course; we have to admit, though, we like to get our cozy on when the temperature drops. But now that the icy season is in full swing, it’s also important to recognize the dangers that winter can bring, especially for older adults. There are lots of risks to your health and safety that are lurking both indoors and out, but there are ways you can avoid them and focus on enjoying the winter (or waiting for the spring thaw)!

Stay Toasty When You Head Outside

caucasian person with a blue shirt on holding their heart area
Hypothermia can lead to a heart attack, and even death.

We don’t want to sound like your mom, but, because it becomes increasingly difficult to regulate your body temperature as you age, it’s really important that you wrap up warm if you’re going to be heading outside. After all, according to the CDC, people over age 65 make up over half of all hypothermia deaths! Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and can result in serious health problems, like heart attack, kidney issues, and even death. 

The best way to get yourself ready to brave the cold is to dress in loose layers (the air between the layers will help keep you warmer), which will allow you to shed excess clothing if you become too warm, and make sure that no skin is exposed to the cold. And, because hypothermia happens very gradually and so can be difficult to detect, you should know the symptoms:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness

Keep Your Home Warm

Following on the theme of staying nice and toasty, you should also make sure you’re heating your home properly when the winter chill sets in outside: try keeping your thermostat set to at least 68 degrees at all times. Yes, that can be pricey, so it can be tempting to skimp on the heating if you’re on a fixed income, but before you lower the thermostat, try doing some simple projects around the house (or getting someone to help you with them), like closing vents, putting plastic on windows, or placing rolled towels or blankets in front of doors to reduce drafts.

Keep Your Home Safe

When it comes to time spent at home, you’ve got to think about more than just staying warm during the winter: this season brings some indoor hazards that might not be as much of an issue in the warmer seasons. For example, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of fireplaces, heaters, or lanterns greatly increases at this time of year, so be sure to check that you have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home. carbon monoxide monitor

You should also be sure that you have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers at home: it’s an unfortunate fact that seniors are 3 times more likely to die or be injured in home fires. That means that if you are using alternative ways to keep warm at home, you need to be very careful. For example, you might be using space heaters, which are great for keeping toes toasty, but can be a real fire hazard if used incorrectly. If you’re going to use one, make sure you:

  • Keep all sides of the heater at least 3 feet from anything that could be a fire hazard
  • Put the heater on a stable surface so it won’t tip
  • Don’t plug it into an extension cord or run the cord under carpeting or rugs
  • Unplug it immediately if the cord or outlet become hot
  • Never leave the heater unattended or running while you’re asleep

In addition, if you have a fireplace – well, lucky you! In all seriousness, though, if you do have a fireplace, remember to get your chimney and flue inspected annually to reduce the risk of unintended fires. In addition, always put a large screen around your fireplace to prevent sparks from flying out and landing on flammable surfaces.

Be Prepared for Severe Weather

In many parts of the country, winter brings with it some pretty intense weather, so make sure you’re ready in the event that you have to be holed up (hopefully all cozy in front of your newly cleaned fireplace!). Prepare for possible power outages by:

  • Keeping flashlights and fresh batteries in places where they are easy to find, so you can grab them and find your way around the house.
  • Having piles of blankets, as well as extra hats, scarves, and sweaters stashed in easily accessible places so you can keep warm.
  • Stocking your pantry with nonperishable foods that can be eaten without cooking or storing in the fridge, as well as bottled water, just in case.

Stop Slips and Falls

Alarmingly, the National Institutes of Health report that around 1.6 million older adults go to the emergency room because of a fall each year; other statistics suggest that 1 in 4 older adults will experience a fall at some point. And all studies point to the fact that your chance of a fall greatly increases in colder weather if you’re over 65, and increases even more significantly if you’re over 75. A bad fall can lead to some pretty serious consequences, so it’s important to keep yourself safe if you do have to head out in wintery weather: pair of sneakers

  • Always wear rubber-soled, non-slip shoes.
  • Keep up with your eye health, so your vision is at its best!
  • Maintain an exercise routine, so you can feel more mobile, balanced, and sure-footed.
  • Be extra cautious, and always assume that there could be a layer of ice on every surface.
  • Carry a cell phone or alert device with you at all times, so you easily get help in case of an emergency.

And when it comes to walking safely, don’t forget your own property! If you can’t do it yourself, line up some to shovel and salt your driveway, walkways, stairs, or sidewalk in front of your home. 

Chase Away the Blues

The long, dark winter months, when it can be difficult to get out, can also be challenging to your mental health. The best way to proactively combat the possibility of seasonal depression creeping in? Spend some dedicated time with friends and family, whether it’s setting up regular visits, joining in with activities in your retirement community if you live in one, or even having scheduled video chats with loved ones if you can’t get out. You can even volunteer in your community to get the benefits of feeling connected to others; there are lots of options to do so virtually, as well, if you aren’t comfortable traveling somewhere or being around a lot of people.

One other thing you can do? When the sun is shining, head outside and soak it in! Natural light helps to combat symptoms of seasonal depression.

Boost Your Body

bowl of oatmeal with strawberries on top
Get extra vitamin C and zinc in your body during the winter months to help boost your immune system.

You’ll need to keep yourself emotionally healthy AND physically healthy now that the cold has set in. Number one on the list? Make sure you’re up-to-date on all your vaccines, especially flu and pneumonia.

Next, don’t forget to eat right. Sure, we might be missing all the seasonal summer fruits, but you still need to eat your rainbow, and make sure you’re eating foods rich in essential vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C and zinc. Try making smoothies with frozen strawberries and kale or enjoying some seasonal citrus fruits to get your vitamin C. For zinc, whip up some warming hot chicken soup or chili with kidney beans or garbanzo beans (add bell peppers for bonus vitamin C!), snack on some nuts, or start your day with some steaming oatmeal (yogurt will also do the trick, but won’t warm you up in quite the same way!)

Finally, move your body! Yes, we did warn you to be careful out there, but it’s still important to get out and get moving when the weather permits; when it doesn’t, try doing some stretching or yoga inside – there are lots of videos you can follow along with on the internet. 

You know, as we grow older, we learn to appreciate every season, don’t we? There’s beauty in each part of the year, even if it’s hard to see it while we’re struggling to shovel the walkway or are worried about taking a tumble off an icy curb! But if you take a few precautions as outlined above, you can be ready for this season, and enjoy it for everything it has to offer. Now get out there and get your winter on – or, you know, cuddle up by the fire and have a cozy night in, whatever floats your seasonal boat.