How Empty Nesters Can Repurpose Bedrooms in Their Homes

It can be bittersweet when adult children decide the time has come to move out of the family home. Parents perhaps get their first trial run of this scenario when their children go off to college or enlist in the military. Rooms are left empty, if only for a certain period of time. Eventually, those rooms will remain empty as adult children move out of the house for good.

Converting a child's bedroom into an area for adults may take some planning. It can be exciting to regain space, but at the same time, it can be disheartening to convert a child's bedroom once and for all. When the time comes and homeowners are emotionally ready to tackle bedroom conversions, these tips can help the process go smoothly.

· Repurpose the space for them. Give a childhood bedroom an adult spin without changing too much. If furniture is in good shape, replace the bedding, change the flooring, swap out artwork, and remove "youthful" items like toys, trophies and other collectibles. When the child comes home to visit, he or she will still feel comfortable in the space.

· Create extra storage. The bedroom can be transformed into a walk-in closet or dressing space. According to the design experts at Houzz, many clients request this type of dressing room situation. There's a bonus if the layout allows the space to connect to the owner's suite or bathroom. This is a major overhaul, so homeowners should enlist a professional contractor.

· Make a fitness center. A bedroom can be turned into a home gym to make working out more convenient. Homeowners should take inventory of equipment they may have and then figure out where existing and new equipment will go. They may need to consult a structural engineer to ensure that the flooring can bear the weight of additional equipment.

· Create a work space. One of the best ways to transform adult children's bedrooms is to convert the spaces into home offices. Those who have been setting up "desks" at dining room tables or elsewhere may be excited about the prospects of finally having a private, dedicated space to work from home.

· Turn it into a craft room. The bedroom can be converted into a space to explore hobbies and various other interests. A dedicated craft space, a reading nook, a place to store photography equipment, or another function can serve as a useful way to repurpose an empty bedroom.

Empty nesters have many possibilities when it comes to converting their children's old bedrooms into adult spaces.

Injury Recovery Tips for Seniors

There is no escaping the fact that the human body changes as it ages. Some changes associated with aging are beneficial, such as increased wisdom and knowledge from past experiences. Others, particularly changes to health and wellness, can be disconcerting.

Generally speaking, recovering from any injury can be a time-consuming process. For those over the age of 60, the process of recovering from injury can be especially lengthy.

According to Restorative Strength, a fitness and personal training service for seniors, elderly adults generally heal from injuries slower than young people. Caring Senior Services says there are a few reasons why healing can be delayed:

· Having diabetes is one of the most common reasons why seniors have delayed healing. The disease can negatively impact wound healing because elevated glucose levels narrow the blood vessels and harden the arteries.

· The inflammatory response in seniors drastically slows down as people age. This response is the first phase when blood vessels expand to let white blood cells and nutrients reach wounds. When delayed, the wounds heal much more slowly.

· Reduced skin elasticity and diminished collagen fibers in seniors can contribute to the body's tissues not being able to return to a normal state after injury.

· Sedentary seniors may have lost muscle mass and flexibility, which help physically active individuals regain mobility after an injury. Bones also may be more brittle, particularly if osteoporosis is present.

Although it's impossible to reverse the hands of time, there are steps seniors can take to recover from injuries more quickly, and potentially avoid them as well.

· Slow and steady physical activity: Exercise, including routine strength-training activities, helps strengthen muscles and bones. According to Pioneer Trace Healthcare & Rehabilitation, when complete bed rest is not advised after an injury, getting up and moving even just a little each day can jump-start recovery. Regular activity prior to any injury also may make the body stronger and more flexible to help reduce the liklihood of injuries.

· Maintain a positive mindset. The mind has a role to play in injury recovery. Minimizing stress levels through meditation, and engaging in positive thinking techniques, can make healing and therapies more successful. Reducing stress can boost the immune system, which also will offer healing benefits.

· Improve diet. The body needs certain vitamins and minerals to function properly. Eating a well-rounded, healthy diet can provide fuel that facilitates healing.

· Work with a qualified professional. Seniors should not take on exercise or recovery efforts on their own. Exercising the right way and following prescribed guidelines can speed up recovery and potentially prevent future injuries.

Recovery from injury could take longer for seniors. But with exercise, positive thinking and guidance from health professionals, there are ways to speed up the injury recovery process.

How Does Voting-by-mail Work?

Each Election Day, Americans vote and thus take part in a fundamental principle of democracy. Elections take place on various levels, from local governments to presidential elections.

Until recently, in order to cast a ballot for a particular election, most voters had to physically appear at their respective polling locations and submit their votes in person. Mail-in voting, also known as absentee voting, was frowned upon and not widely available. It first arose during the Civil War, when soldiers were given the opportunity to cast ballots from the battlefield. Absentee voting later became an issue during World War II, when Congress passed laws in 1942 and 1944 enabling soldiers stationed overseas to participate in elections. More recently, during the 1980s, more states made absentee voting available, and it is no longer uncommon for voters to be mailed ballots and submit them before Election Day. According to MIT, the movement to vote-by-mail reached new levels with the 2020 elections, which occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some attest that mail-in-voting enables many individuals who would not normally be able to physically make it to the polls on Election Day to cast votes. Mail-in balloting works in different ways. The United States has universal vote-by-mail and absentee balloting. With the former, ballots are mailed to all voters. In the latter, voters must request an absentee ballot.

In terms of a requested absentee ballot, a voter must write, call or request a ballot online. Upon receipt, the voter will make his or her choice, and then place the sealed ballot in a security envelope provided with the ballot. The voter signs the outside of the second envelope to certify that he or she is a registered voter. When the election authority receives the ballot, it certifies the registration of the voter and that the address matches the one on record with the election authority. On Election Day, the mail ballots are added into the results of the votes with those from people who visited the polls in person.

According to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that works to improve policy and governance at local, national and global levels, there is no partisan advantage to either party related to voting by mail. Also, absentee ballots benefit senior citizens as well as low-income people and those without access to transportation.

Despite some news stories in recent years that may lead people to believe mail-in votes come with risk, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University says there is no evidence that mail balloting increases electoral fraud, as there are several anti-fraud protections built into the process.

Mail-in voting is an option for many people across the U.S. It is secure and convenient for many voters.

Fill Up on Healthy Eating Pointers

Diet and exercise are the key components of maintaining a healthy weight and protecting yourself against chronic disease. According to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, eating smart and being active have similar effects, including reducing risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and diabetes. In addition, these healthy living strategies can improve personal appearance and improve overall well-being - helping people live longer and maintain their independence.

People may wonder how to eat better when faced with many diets, each of which promises great results. It can be confusing when navigating all of the options, and there is no magic formula to eating better. Common sense can come into play when attempting to eat better, and individuals also can consider these strategies to make diet work for them as they seek to live healthier.

· Eat colorful, varied, nutritionally dense foods. Medical News Today says each meal should be 50 percent fruit and vegetables, 25 percent whole grains, and 25 percent protein. Select an array of colorful foods that will provide most of the nutrients needed.

· Choose fiber-rich foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes are good sources of fiber. Fiber helps people maintain digestive health and can help you to feel fuller longer, reducing the potential for overeating, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

· Note how you feel after eating. Create a food journal where you jot down notes about how you feel after eating certain foods. If you notice that certain foods or ingredients trigger adverse reactions, it may be worth avoiding that type of food or looking for an alternative. Stomach upset or bloating after eating dairy, for example, may indicate an intolerance for lactose.

· Explore the Mediterranean diet. While you should avoid fad diets that often produce short-term but unsustainable results, a Mediterranean diet has stood the test of time. According to the authors of a new study published in JAMA Network Open in October 2023, middle-aged and older adults with overweight or obesity and metabolic syndrome lost visceral fat (belly fat) and showed a greater reduction in the percentage of total fat while adhering to a Mediterranean diet. They also had delayed loss of lean body mass, which often comes with aging. Mediterranean diets prioritize legumes, seafood, vegetables, and "good" fats like olive oil.

· Control portion sizes. Sometimes it's not what you eat but how much you eat that affects health. Weighing and measuring food can help you control portions and understand how many calories you're consuming each day. The National Institutes of Health says eating plans that favor 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women and 1,500 to 1,800 for men are good targets to lose weight at a healthy pace when combined with moderate exercise.

Balanced eating is a major component of a healthy lifestyle. While there are many fad diets, eating plans with a proven track record that are supported by the medical community may be your best bet.

Treatment Options after a Glaucoma Diagnosis

Glaucoma affects tens of millions of individuals across the globe. According to the World Glaucoma Association, roughly 112 million people are likely to have glaucoma in 2040, which would mark an increase of 30 million in just 20 years. The National Eye Institute notes that glaucoma is not an individual disease but rather a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness. The NEI also notes that there is no cure for glaucoma, though individuals diagnosed with it might be presented with the following treatment options.

· Medicine: The NEI notes that prescription eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. Eye drops work by lowering the pressure in the eye and preventing damage to the optic nerve, which is located in the back of the eye. Eye drops are not a cure, but they can keep glaucoma from getting worse. Eye drops are used every day, and some must be administered up to four times per day. The NEI reports that eye drops are typically used as long as they're proving effective, so they are a long-term treatment plan.

· Laser treatment: Doctors may utilize laser treatment to drain fluid out of the eye. The NEI characterizes laser treatment as a simple procedure that can be performed in the eye doctor's office. Most patients receiving laser treatment for glaucoma feel little or no pain or discomfort, though they might see flashes of bright green or red light during treatment. Most patients can return to normal daily activities the day after laser treatment. Laser treatment may need to be repeated more than once, as its effects can wear off over time.

· Surgery: Various surgeries may be considered to treat glaucoma, but the NEI notes that these may be recommended only after medicine and laser treatment have proven ineffective. Surgery for glaucoma aims to lower pressure in the eye. Once surgery is completed, patients will be prescribed eye drops with a goal of preventing swelling and infections. The NEI notes that eye drops prescribed after surgery are different from other glaucoma eye drops, and patients may need to use them for several weeks after surgery. Routine checkups to gauge how an eye is healing will be necessary, and patients may need to avoid activities like heavy lifting for a few weeks after surgery. Some people end up needing surgery again, so patients can ask about the likelihood of that when their doctors recommend this treatment.

There is no cure for glaucoma, but these treatments can help to stop its progression and prevent vision loss.

Variables That Can Affect Older Drivers' Ability to Safely Operate a Vehicle

Driving is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly. Estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency indicate the average small car weighs around 2,500 pounds and the average large car weighs about 4,200 pounds, while SUVs and trucks can weigh as much as 6,000 pounds. The weight of cars underscore just how dangerous the roads can be when fast-moving vehicles are being driven by drivers whose focus or physical abilities have been compromised.

Lack of focus and physical issues can affect drivers of all ages, but the National Institute on Aging notes that age-related changes can alter a person's ability to drive. Older adults will not necessarily experience physical and cognitive issues that can affect their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. However, the NIA reports that certain variables that tend to affect older adults could compromise their ability to drive.

· Muscle/joint stiffness and weakness: Aging can cause muscle and joint stiffness and weaken muscles. Arthritis is a common condition among older adults and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports that swelling in the joints is one of the more common symptoms associated with the condition. Stiffness, weakness and swelling in the joints can make it harder for drivers to turn their heads, effectively steer their vehicles and brake safely.

· Diminishing eyesight: Strong eyesight is essential to safe driving. As drivers get older, changes in their eyesight can make it harder to see pedestrians, fellow motorists, animals on roadways, and any movements outside of their direct line of sight. In fact, the Optometrists Network reports that aging has been shown to cause a loss of peripheral vision by one to three degrees for every decade of life. The NIA urges drivers 60 and older to schedule a dilated eye exam every one to two years. Certain issues affecting drivers' vision might be fixable, while others may result in avoiding driving at certain times of day, such as at night and when the sun is at its brightest, or giving up driving entirely.

· Diminishing hearing: Similar to diminishing eyesight, hearing loss, even if it's complete hearing loss, can affect a driver's ability to drive safely. Drivers must be able to hear horns and sirens from other vehicles as well as any noises coming from their own cars that could indicate a problem with the vehicle.

· Medications: Data from the health policy research organization KFF indicates 89 percent of adults 65 and older are currently taking a prescription medicine. Medications often produce side effects that can compromise a driver's ability to drive safely. Such effects include drowsiness, lightheadedness and diminished alertness. Aging drivers should discuss medication side effects with their physicians and what, if anything, they can do to counter the effects of a given prescription on their driving abilities.

A host of age-related variables can affect older motorists' ability to drive safely. More information is available at

Age-Based Financial Goals to Promote Long-Term Security

The importance of saving for retirement is emphasized from the moment young adults enter the professional arena. Whether it's parents urging their grown children to save or financial firms advertising their retirement planning services or employers sponsoring retirement investment vehicles, professionals need not look far to be reminded of the significance of saving for the day when they call it a career.

Despite the ubiquity of the message emphasizing the importance of saving for retirement, millions of people are behind in their retirement savings. A 2023 survey by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan found that 44 percent of the 2,000 Canadian employees surveyed have not set aside any money for retirement in the past year, while 32 percent acknowledged they had not set aside any money for retirement. The situation is similar in the United States, where a 2023 CNBC Your Money survey found that 56 percent of Americans feel they are not on track to retire comfortably.

Such figures can serve as a lesson for all professionals, but especially young adults who recently entered or are about to enter the professional arena. Each individual is different, and those who aspire to retire early will need to save more at a younger age than those who plan to retire at age 70 or later. In an effort to help individuals ensure they save enough to enjoy their golden years, the financial experts at Fidelity® have designed an age-based system that can serve as a guideline for professionals who want to stay on track as they save for retirement. These figures are based on retiring at age 67 and are intended to ensure such individuals can maintain their preretirement lifestyles. Individuals who want to retire before or after that age are urged to work with a financial advisor to meet their goals.

· Age 30: Fidelity® recommends individuals have at least 1x their salary saved by age 30.

· Age 35: This approach calls for individuals to have 2x their salary saved by age 35.

· Age 40: If retiring at 67 is the goal, having 3x your salary saved by age 40 can help make that a reality.

· Age 45: 4x your salary should be saved by age 45 to retire comfortably at age 67.

· Age 50: Fidelity® recommends individuals have 6x their salary saved by age 50.

· Age 55: 7x your salary is the suggested savings benchmark to reach by age 55.

· Age 60: Individuals who aspire to retire at 67 are urged to save 8x their salary by the time they reach age 60.

· Age 67: When the day comes to retire at 67, Fidelity recommends individuals have 10x their salary saved.

These figures are just a benchmark and are not intended to take the place of professional financial advice. Though these goals can serve as motivation to save, individuals should know that savings goals can exceed these recommendations as well.

Reverse Mortgages Explained

As long as there have been homes for sale, there have been financial vehicles designed to alleviate some of the financial pressures associated with owning a home. A reverse mortgage is another way homeowners can borrow money based on the value of their homes, but it doesn't need to be repaid as long as those individuals are still living in their residences.

Eligibility and basics

The Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Advice says a reverse mortgage is an option for those age 62 or older who can borrow money based on their equity, or how much money one could get for the home if sold after what is owed on the mortage is paid off. At least one owner must live in the house most of the year. Reverse mortgages may be paid as a cash lump sum, as a monthly income or as a line of credit that enables the homeowner to decide how much is desired and when.

Determining eligibility

There is a misconception that a loan that requires no monthly repayment of principal or interest will not come with any eligibility considerations. Premier Reverse Mortgage says there are some things to know before doing reverse mortgages. To prevent homeowners using reverse mortgages to avoid downsizing due to financial shortcomings, certain eligibility parameters must be met, including a credit history analysis, income requirements, age requirement, and property stipulations. These criteria may differ from lender to lender.

Differences between traditional mortgages and reverse mortgages

Unlike a traditional mortgage where payments are made to principal and interest and the balance goes down over time, with a reverse mortgage, borrowers do not make any payments right away. The loan balance goes up over time and the loan is repaid when the borrower no longer lives in the home. The homeowners or their heirs will eventually have to pay back the loan, usually by selling the home. However, as the loan balance increases, the home equity decreases with a reverse mortgage. This can affect a surviving spouse or other family members. The FTC advises homeowners to confirm the reverse mortgage has a "non-recourse" clause, which means that the borrower or the borrower's estate cannot owe more than the value of the home when the loan becomes due and the home is sold.

Additional considerations

Due to fees and other requirements, a reverse mortgage may be a more expensive way to borrow money. Other ways to borrow against equity may be a better fit, such as a home equity line of credit. Furthermore, since reverse mortgages are for older adults, scams are prevalent. Some include contractors who approach seniors about getting a reverse mortgage to pay for repairs, or scams targeting veterans.

Borrowers considering reverse mortgages should first speak with a qualified financial planner. Homeowners in the United States can access information through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. All options, costs and interest rate information should be confirmed before signing on the dotted line.

3 Tips to Catch Up on Retirement Savings

One need not look long or far to be reminded of the importance of saving for retirement. Indeed, it's hard to go a single day without encountering roadside billboards, television and streaming service advertisements, and/or promotional emails touting the retirement planning services offered by an assortment of investment firms. If those adds seem ubiquitous, it's for good reason, as saving for retirement is among the most important steps individuals can take as they look to ensure their long-term financial security.

Despite the widely accepted significance of retirement planning, studies indicate that many people are behind on saving and aware that they're behind. According to a recent survey from the online financial resource Bankrate, 55 percent of respondents indicated they are behind on their retirement saving. In addition, a Gallup poll released in May 2023 indicated that just 43 percent of nonretirees think they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. The good news for individuals who are behind or concerned about their financial wellness in retirement is that three strategies can help them catch up on their savings.

1. Take advantage of catch-up rules if you qualify. Laws governing retirement accounts in the United States allow individuals 50 and older to contribute more to their retirement accounts than they're eligible to contribute prior to turning 50. Bankrate notes that current laws allow individuals over 50 to contribute an extra $1,000 per year to a traditional or Roth IRA and an extra $7,500 annually to a 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) account. In Canada, individuals can contribute the maximum to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). According to the National Bank of Canada, individuals can contribute up to 18 percent of their annual income to an RRSP, and those contributions are deducted from taxable income. That means individuals are potentially saving more for down the road and paying less in taxes today.

2. Itemize your tax deductions. The online financial resource Investopedia notes that taking the standard deduction is not for everyone. Individuals with significant amounts of mortgage interest, business-related expenses that are not reimbursed by an employer, and/or charitable donations may lower their tax obligation by itemizing their deductions. That reduction in tax obligation allows individuals to redirect those funds to their retirement accounts.

3. Cut back on discretionary spending. Perhaps the simplest, though not necessarily the easiest, way to catch up on retirement savings is to redirect funds typically spent on discretionary expenses like dining out or travel into retirement accounts. One way to feel better about this approach is to remind yourself that the less money spent on dining out and travel now means more money will be available to spend on such luxuries in retirement.

Three simple strategies make it easier to catch up on retirement savings.

How Caregivers Can Alleviate Stress

Serving as a caregiver for a friend or loved one can be both rewarding and taxing at the same time. The senior housing authority A Place for Mom indicates that 41 million Americans offer unpaid caregiving services, and that number is expected to increase as the aging population grows in the coming decades. Formal caregivers are paid care providers in a home or care setting. However, an informal caregiver is an unpaid individual that assists others with activities of daily living as well as medical tasks.

Whether one is a formal or informal caregiver, researchers have long known that caregiving can adversely affect a caregiver's mental and physical health. The AARP Public Policy Institute says 17 percent of caregivers feel their health in general has gotten worse due to caregiving responsibilities. The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP also indicate older caregivers caring for persons age 65 and older report a higher degree of physical strain.

The fatigue that arises from caring for another individual is often referred to as caregiver burnout. Since caregiving takes place over several years, the impact can escalate over time. Caregiver stress is directly related to burnout. One of the first steps to take is recognizing the signs of caregiver burnout so that action can be taken to improve the situation.

The Mayo Clinic says signs of caregiver stress include:

· worrying all the time

· feeling tired often

· changes in sleep

· gaining or losing weight

· becoming easily irked or angry

· losing interest in activities once enjoyed

· feeling sad or depressed

· experiencing frequent headaches, pains or other health problems

· misusing drugs or alcohol, including prescriptions

· missing your own medical appointments or other appointments

Caregivers need to put themselves first at times in order to help avoid health complications that can come from the stress and demand of caregiving. Make use of these caregiver stress management tips, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic and Penn Medicine.

· Ask for help. Figure out ways that others can help out and then be sure to let them know and accept anything that is provided.

· Do the best you can. Every caregiver feels they are not doing enough at some point in time. Do whatever you can manage and know that it is adequate.

· Set small goals. Categorize responsibilities into smaller, more manageable tasks. Make lists of what is most important and tackle those goals, moving on as needed.

· Reach out to a support group. There are support groups for many different types of needs, including caregiver support. People who are experiencing the same highs and lows as you can offer advice or just be there to listen.

· Find ways to rest and sleep. Many caregivers are sleep deprived. If sleeping has become an issue, discuss potential remedies with your own doctor.

· Look into respite care help. Taking a break from caregiving can do wonders. Certain adult care centers and skilled nursing homes offer temporary respite care services for informal caregivers. A loved one can be dropped off for a night or two, giving you a rest. This also is an option if you want to go on vacation.

Caregivers may feel burdened by stress. There are options available to manage it.