Shorts: Seniors

‘Retirement zone’ is expanding

(cns) | With improved medical care and increased life span, many people may stay in retirement for as long as 30 years or more. “Looking Forward: An Optimist’s Guide to Retirement” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $15.95) acquaints baby boomers with their next life stage, dubbed “The Retirement Zone.” Based on 200 interviews, the book reveals what makes for a successful post-work life.

It offers advice, information and personal profiles of healthy, active men and women who, rather than just retiring, refocus their lives by going back to school, trying new kinds of work, learning new skills and volunteering.

The book is divided into four parts: The first describes the changing face of retirement; the second examines what to do with the post-work phase of life; the third looks at what fills retirement hours, such as volunteering, traveling and going back to school; and the last part discusses practical matters such as caregiving for an ailing spouse or older relative and managing financial matters.

Empty-nest trends: bigger may be better

(cns) | Not all married couples with the last child gone are downsizing or moving to Florida, according to an AARP Bulletin online story. Baby boomers are building or remodeling houses to satisfy their own needs and accommodate their hobbies.

The story focuses on a new book, “The House to Ourselves: Reinventing Home Once Kids Are Grown” (Taunton Press, $35) by Todd Lawson, Tom Connor and Rob Karosis. After a year of research, the authors found that many empty nesters are building larger homes with old age in mind.

Many are designing retirement homes with halls 5-feet wide rather than the typical 3 feet. They are lining the halls with bookshelves. If they later need a walker or wheelchair, they can remove the shelves for more space.

Some empty nesters are building additions with bedrooms and baths. When the kids and grandkids leave, the rooms can be closed off. The extra rooms could be used for a caregiver, if necessary.

Vitamin D essential to muscle health

(cns) | Elderly people who get supplemental vitamin D in their diets have stronger muscles than those who don’t, according to a study funded by the Agricultural Research Service.

An estimated one-third of people older than 65 and more than half of those over age 80 are injured in falls each year. Falls lead to 40 percent of all nursing facility admissions and are the largest single cause of injury-related deaths among elderly.

The researchers found that among more than 1,200 participants studied in controlled trials, elderly people fell 22 percent less often if they took vitamin D supplements.

Seniors are flexing their financial muscle

(cns) | Adults aged 50 or older collectively control a household net worth of $19 trillion, own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth, hold more than 70 percent of all money market accounts and certificate of deposit assets and have an income per capita that is 26 percent higher than the national average, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

As for purchasing power, those older than 50 spend more than $1 trillion on goods and services. About 42 percent of museum visitors are older than 55, and mature vacationers travel more frequently than any other age group and stay longer.

The largest 55-plus populations reside in California, New York and Florida, respectively.

Hearing loss affects many

(cns) | About half of the nearly 76 million baby boomers in the United States are experiencing some degree of hearing loss, according to a study by the EAR Foundation and Clarity.

The study found that about 38 million people between the ages of 40 and 59 have some hearing loss. Researchers also found that most people with hearing loss are not seeking help; only one of every three individuals surveyed had gotten their hearing tested.

The study reports that more than half of those with hearing loss attributed their problem to noise pollution — jet planes, rock music concerts, construction equipment, automobile engines and even lawn care equipment.

In the survey, more than one-third with hearing loss said they had difficulty hearing and understanding telephone conversations, 24 percent said their hearing loss made them feel misunderstood and 9 percent said they felt isolated.