<![CDATA[Carol Marak - Blog]]>Fri, 21 Oct 2022 05:45:25 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Obstacles of Long-Term Planning]]>Wed, 25 May 2022 18:56:34 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/obstacles-of-long-term-planning
Women face the most obstacles when planning for the future. And women have run into other countless challenges and inequalities while achieving success. Today, most still face the same challenges of the 70's and 80's. 

The most significant barrier is preparing for retirement and attaining financial security. In an article published by RSSA, Registered Social Security Analyst Association, earning financial security is no easy task for either gender, but women face a tougher fiscal certainty than men. 

Reasons Why Women Have More Difficulty 

Spend Less Time Working
Women spend more time outside employment than men. Perhaps the woman chooses to raise a family
and opts for parental leave. Or she's a caregiver for an aging relative, or simply chooses part-time work. 

To qualify 
for Social Security benefits, individuals must earn a minimum of 10 years of work. The benefits are calculated on an individual’s earnings—specifically their highest 35 years of earnings. Some women work less than the required 10 years resulting in earning no benefit at all. While some women may work more than 10 years, but less than 35 years. 

If she isn't employed, she's not saving money for retirement. 
She loses out on the employer's contribution in a 401(k) plan. It's likely she isn't saving on her own. And if the woman spends less time working than her male counterpart, her preparation for  retirement suffers. 

Less Pay
It's common knowledge that a pay gap exists between men and women.
Generally, women earn less money. RSSA reports back in 2019, women earned 79 cents for every dollar that a man earns. And her peak earning age is close to 9 years younger than his peak earning age.

Longer Lives
Women live longer than men. At the age of 65, women live, on average, 21.4 more years and men age 65 were expected to live 18.9 more years.

Long-Term Planning Strategies
Read the book, SOLO and SMART. It offers an easy to follow roadmap and sure-fire way to plan for the future. 
  • Save, Save, Save!
  • Establish an emergency account and put away at least 6 months of expenses. 
  • Start a planning group—invite a few friends to discuss finances and investments, legal matters (selecting a health care and financial proxy,) creating a support network, find transportation for when a member can't drive, etc.  
  • Learn about Social Security and Medicare now! Invite a professional to present to the group. Assign each member a topic on Social Security and Medicare. Have them research and discuss what they learn to the next meeting. 

Start early. Research and plan now before an emergency strikes. Be sure to read the book, SOLO and SMART! It offers clear guidance creating a plan for the future. 
<![CDATA[Planning Requires Critical Thinking]]>Thu, 31 Mar 2022 20:09:50 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/planning-requires-critical-thinking
To Live Well Tomorrow Think Critically Today 

My recently published book, SOLO AND SMART, The Roadmap for a Supportive and Secure Future helps readers to attain:  

Their level of satisfaction for each life domain, health, housing and location, social connections, nearby support, legal matters, having enough money, finding rides, and more! But it can't be done without the critical thinking skills.   
  1. Learn which put you at risk. 
  2. Review the obstacles.  
  3. Research the solutions. 
  4. Develop a better version.
Nearly one-third of adults 55 and older are single. 
The largest household segment in America is the single adult. Nuclear families are second. Some have a partner—but are childless or have children who live at a distance. Solo aging doesn’t necessarily mean single! And solo living shouldn’t translate to having no one to count on. (AARP)

And once we reach a certain age, the risks become the focus.

Obstacles that Impede Thinking Critically 
  1. We fear loneliness and being all alone, 
  2. We dread the loss of those we love, 
  3. We have concern about restricted activities and movement: unable to drive and get around, and fear dependence and insecurity.
Build critical thinking skills by asking questions that shift from problem solving to—a possibility outlook:

As I grow older, my health may decline—Is it possible to know the probability of my health years from now? If yes, how do I do that? 
Is the place I live affordable, can I keep up with the maintenance, and will my monthly budget keep up with the expenses? Is the house age-friendly?
Who will watch out for me to make sure my needs are met and who will meet my basic needs for companionship, friendship, and community?
How do I create a sense of being cared about, like the kind most family members have for one another?
What are my options?
Buy the book, SOLO AND SMART, The Roadmap for a Supportive and Secure Future
<![CDATA[Rare Patient Voice Pays for Your Opinion!]]>Wed, 30 Mar 2022 20:55:21 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/rare-patient-voice-pays-for-your-opinion

An estimated 300 million people worldwide will be affected by a rare disease at some point in their lives. ​Rare Patient Voice invites all patients and caregivers to have their voices heard by participating in paid surveys, interviews and online communities! The link to sign up and start talking to the right people:  Join Rare Patient Voice Surveys and Get Paid.  

It’s free, and Rare Patient Voice accepts rare and non-rare diagnoses! 

You’ll earn $100 per hour for participation in your studies. Rare Patient Voice pays by check to ensure that patients can use the compensation in any way they wish. 

In the video, Pam Cusick, Senior VP of Rare Patient Voice hopes to expand Rare Patient Voice’s panels to include all patients and caregivers who want to share their opinions and impact their disease category.

Pam answers questions: 
  • Can you tell us what Rare Patient Voice is? 
  • How does Rare Patient Voice work?
  • Who sponsors the surveys?

Watch the video and learn

Get paid for your opinion! Patients (16+) and caregivers (family, friends) of any disability, disorder, syndrome, illness or condition have the opportunity to express their opinions through surveys and interviews to improve medical products and services.

Why Join Rare Patient Voice?
Who knows your journey and experiences better than you? We put you in touch with researchers who are developing products and services that can help you and others with your condition. These researchers need the input of patients to develop products and services that have a significant impact on patients’ lives. Over the past nine years, Rare Patient Voice has paid patients over $8 million. 
How will I be paid?
You’ll earn $100 per hour for participation in your studies. We pay by check to ensure that patients can use their compensation in any way they wish.

Sign up today and Get Paid!

Learn about my book: SOLO AND SMART! 
Find SOLO AND SMART on Amazon! 

Thank you for reading! Carol

<![CDATA[What's Your Cause for Social Isolation?]]>Mon, 21 Mar 2022 12:25:54 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/whats-your-cause-for-social-isolation
Social Connections are one of the top 10 Life Domains to plan for. Friends are most significant for people who live alone. They are the lifeblood for aging well. In this video, you're asked 5 questions to quickly assess your level of satisfaction for  the domain. Knowing where you stand with each gives you a template of what needs attention and modification.

SOLO AND SMART, The Roadmap for a Supportive and Secure Future, offers a full assessment of the top 10. You are asked 25 questions for each. Check out the book, 
SOLO AND SMART, The Roadmap for a Supportive and Secure Future. 

Today, 35.7 million Americans live alone, 28% of households. That is up from 13% of households in 1960 and 23% in 1980, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Delayed or forgone marriage, longer life expectancy, urbanization and wealth have contributed, demographers say.

Few suggestions for getting along well when living alone and far from family:
  1. Have faith and trust in God and know He is in charge. Since the start of the pandemic, I've learned to turn my power and control over to God and to depend more on Him than on myself for guidance.   
  2. Be good to yourself and those who live near you. Have a morning routine that gets you up and going. It could be making coffee, reading the paper online, or starting the day with exercise. I enjoy praying, stretching and doing a few yoga poses. Connect with someone you know, either by phone or text. It's important to befriend at least one other person and together build a system of support. Make time for yourself and your friend(s.) Don't get bogged down with worry of having no one in the house. It’s a hard reality to deal with, that when you live solo, you cannot rely on anyone other than you. So, it is essential you are as strong and healthy as you can be. And this is the biggest reason I live in a high rise building. I have close neighbors and we look out for one another.
  3. Make friends with your neighbors. Take charge and start a support group of like minded friends or neighbors who live nearby. Gather and discuss ways you can help each other remain independent and strong.
  4. Gain self-control. It's easy to become lazy. To stay in our pajamas and watch TV all day. Instead, get up, practice a routine, go outside, say hello to someone, and get involved — doing so will benefit your body and mind. 
Circle back in a few days for more tips and resources for building a sense of strong social connections. 
<![CDATA[Solo and Smart YouTube Channel]]>Wed, 16 Mar 2022 23:23:11 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/march-16th-2022
Welcome to Solo and Smart - The must see Youtube channel for adults, living solo and duo, and for family caregivers in charge of older relatives. The tips are based on my book Solo and Smart, The Roadmap for a Supportive and Secure Future. It's available on Amazon
Please subscribe to the YouTube Channel

Topics Discussed on the Solo and Smart YouTube Channel

The channel launched close to 2 years ago and we now have over 200 videos that deliver advice, tips, research, news, trends all addressing aging in place and living alone.

Most information is based on my own experiences as a former family caregiver and now, a person aging alone. The book and videos are for anyone 45+ in search of preparing a more secure path for the years ahead.  Check out the YouTube Channel and subscribe

If you’re at risk of aging alone, please subscribe to the 
Solo and Smart YouTube channel -- You’ll receive the latest tips on how to create and plan for a better future. 

<![CDATA[Plan Ahead with Insight and Intention]]>Thu, 10 Mar 2022 18:01:28 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/plan-ahead-with-insight-and-intention
No one knows what lies ahead. When asked, “What do you want and how do you want to live past 50 and beyond?” A large number of people reply, “I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it.” It was caregiving that taught me a different, more mindful approach. To use discernment, pay attention to the self-care routines, and to let go of the excuses that hinder good choices.  Learn about the Roadmap to Evaluate, Measure, and Facilitate a Better Future

The Roadmap
I learned a great deal about aging while helping mom and dad. Since I’m single, have no children with few to rely on, it was time to study the aspects under my control. And to focus on the ones that have the most influence over living well in my 50's and beyond. No need to twist my arm. I experienced firsthand what aging does to bodies, minds, and souls.

​Thinking about the future is a good practice because it takes a person out of their immediate circumstances and opens the door to what's ahead. It's important to do when addressing the challenges of growing older. But to confront these worrisome notions, one must be willing to look at their present circumstances, to study their weaknesses and strengths, and then to consider how these will evolve overtime. It can be intimidating and hard work. But think of it this way, "planning for the future is worth its weight in gold." The process was so valuable to me that I could not have managed getting where I am today without it.  

Chart a Better Course 
I searched long and hard for a strategy, a plan that would outline a rigorous approach for guidance. Something to help me assess where I am, where I need to be, and then how to make it happen. It was never found. So, I did the next best thing, I reflected upon the tasks my parents needed assistance with. From that, I flipped their needs into my own. For example, I delved into health, where I lived, transportation, support community, social connections, faith, legal matters, money, and even purpose. Here are the results: 

​After doing a complete assessment, I had a good handle on the aspects that needed attention. But I didn't stop there, I asked questions of myself that provoked critical thinking:
  • What would it take to create change on this issue?
  • What could happen that would enable me to feel fully engaged and energized about (the issue)?
  • What’s possible here and who cares? (rather than seeing, What’s wrong here and who is responsible?)
  • What needs my immediate attention going forward?
  • If success was guaranteed, what bold steps would I choose?
  • What challenges might come up and how can I meet them?
Since creating a plan, I worked on creating a roadmap to offer others. I had a hunch that people would benefit from using one. Because few are experts at managing their finances, planning retirement, building wealth, and ensuring a secure future. Effective planning is often perceived as: too hard to do, not immediately important, something to be tackled next year, and too expensive if hiring professionals. But if given a simple, practical guide that walks them through the creative process, maybe there's hope that more adults arrive at the age of 60 well prepared. 

Create a Better Future
 Envisioning one's life and determining the course to follow requires time, scanning the present situation, and asking the big questions which lead to insight and clarity. The best vision blossoms from dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with one's values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen a commitment to explore the possibilities of a better future. 

Here's how to create a better future. 

<![CDATA[Sunday Blues and Living Alone]]>Tue, 31 Aug 2021 18:03:29 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/sunday-blues-and-living-alone
Can you relate to the Sunday blues? 

Living alone can bring up a host of fluctuating feelings and conditions: euphoria, responsibility, burden, blame, guilt, sorrow, dependability, depression, and a new one, "the scaries." These terms refer to the feelings most adults have at the end of the week, often on the day of rest, Sunday.

The term Sunday blues have changed from the common labels such as the ones above to a more contemporary expression, one that has gained media attention and is trending on Google, the scaries.  No matter what you call it, the dreaded, high-grade uneasiness is very real to many. 

The reasons are as diverse as the people who experience the Sunday blues. Students may feel a sense of anxiety if the homework is incomplete, working adults may feel "stuck in their job," or have to face a difficult boss the next day, and solo adults, may feel lonely and sad for that reason alone... they're single.   

A 2018 survey requested by LinkedIn found that 80 percent of working American adults worry about the upcoming workweek on Sundays. 

Especially after the best of weekends, there’s a cloud that descends. Chances are, you’ve felt it. Single adults do. Like the LinkedIn survey, 80 percent of American respondents said they get Sunday-night blues—and 59 percent said they experience them “really bad.” For some, the laid-back, relaxed weekend feelings morph into uptight “weekday people.” They get worked up about the drudgery of to-do lists and tasks at work. 

Sunday Blues are Different for Solos

But for the solitary, living day in and day out with oneself, the scaries are instigated by the anxiety of facing a full day of chilling out...yet again, on their own.  

No other day of the week is like a Sunday. In my younger days, it was the day from hell.  I'll always remember that sad, gloomy cloud heading my way around noon. It brought with it a low-grade, buzz-killing anxiety. 

​Many solos are the loneliest on Sundays. Last week, a colleague, who has been single most of her life, called about a work project but the conversation turned to "melancholy Sundays." I wasn't surprised to hear her stories about the sadness she feels on that day, even at 55, she exclaimed! I let her know, there's hope. That dreaded Sunday feeling will one day change, maybe next year, but I promised, it will get better and the Sunday blues will cease its visits. Today, at 70, the dark clouds rarely pay visits.

I often wondered why that day brought so much distress. I believe now it's because I miss my family. Sunday's were so special because my dad was home all day. We'd make it a very special family affair: go to church, eat fried chicken, take short drives to the country, and visit with aunts and uncles.  And if you had good times like that growing up, it's no wonder that Sundays can fill us with a huge void.

Takeaways from the Single Life 

Hang on! There are a lot of takeaways from being single. My top tip is love yourself and be very patient with yourself. Find hope and consolation in these prizes that living solo offers:

You may have heard this before, but the only way you can truly love anyone else is if you love yourself first.

Find ways to lift your spirit—you'll come out on the other side much more creative. what sort of things get you excited? In other words, if you had a free afternoon to do what you enjoy, what would it be? 

Stop wishing for what could have been. It is so easy to think about the past, especially the good stuff. The good memories take up more head space than the bad, but I think human beings have a tendency to romanticize the not so good stuff. 

Living the single life, you get plenty of time to figure out what you want! When you do, you have the freedom to go for it!

Get out there and become the best you can be! Gain strength in knowing YOU have done so much all on your own.  

<![CDATA[Here's what to know about long-term care planning]]>Sat, 26 Jun 2021 14:49:19 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/heres-what-to-know-about-long-term-care-planning
The article, What Are the Odds Your Client Will Need Long-Term Care at ThinkAdvisor.com, highlights data from HealthView Services, a producer of healthcare cost-projection software for financial advisors.

The projection for healthy 65-year-old couples living to their projected actuarial longevity has a 75% chance that one partner will require a significant level of long-term care. The care needed will be required at assisted living, skilled care nursing, and even skilled home care. 

The data reflects the results of another study published at INQUIRY in November 2005 where the analysis projected that people currently turning 65 will need LTC for three years on average. The needed care will be covered by public programs and some private insurance, but much of the care will be an uninsured private responsibility of individuals and their families.

The study at INQUIRY suggests that a third of those now turning 65 are projected to never receive family care, and a third will rely on family care for more than two years. And half of people turning 65 will have no private out-of-pocket expenditures for LTC, while more than one in 20 are projected to spend $100,000 or more of their own money.  

What People Need to Know
  • For an average healthy 65-year-old couple, there's a 75% chance that one partner will require LTC, according to HealthView Services.
  • Chronic conditions reduce the likelihood of needing care but increase the average duration for those who need it.
  • An average 50-year-old couple can expect to pay significantly more for long-term care.

HealthView Services drew on the firm’s actuarial data to highlight the projected LTC costs, the probability that care will be required and duration of care, and the significant effect of age, gender, health condition and location on these expenses. 

There’s a growing trend that people are more aware of long-term care and the likely need for it in the years ahead but even today, most stick their neck out when it comes to these expenses by sweeping the issue away. 

Family Caregiving Exposure

Coming from family caregiving and working in the senior care sector, I know the significance of planning for personal care needs and their expenses long before one requires help.

My work revolves around the aging solo cohort who in many cases have no spouse, children or family members to count on for some kind of support. Unfortunately, most adults don’t prepare and find themselves in a frenzy looking for help because they’ve fallen into an emergency situation. And that’s the worst time to seek out resources because the stress is too overwhelming.  I offer tools and simple worksheets that help you plan

Not a week goes by without receiving three or four frantic messages from people in a crisis situation. They’re fearful and begging for help. I do my best to direct them, but where they land usually isn’t in the best of situations. 

What Adults Living Solo Need

What sets those aging well apart from those who are not is having a plan—those with one age better because they’re prepared to manage the surprises. More importantly, they’ve done the research and have learned the action steps required to prepare for any situation.

As a whole, society is reactive, especially when dealing with life events like medical emergencies, or if one needs care at home, or the body develops a chronic condition.  No one wakes up thinking, “Today I’m going to put a plan together just in case I need it.” People do need one, they just don’t know where to start.

So, I’ve created useful tools and processes that assist individuals when thinking about their future. It’s the one I developed for myself years ago after my parents died, and now I teach others to do it for themselves. The Aging Well circle is a tool that launched my own future plan. The circle came about after observing my parents in later years. The tool gave me and now it gives others the chance to assess life’s domains and the opportunity to witness where they fall short and where they excel.

Once individuals have a solid handle on their strengths and weaknesses of the top concerns of aging, they can proceed to take action.  The top concerns address health, home, location, social connections and engagement, nearby support, transportation, legal and financial matters, and exercise.

​The objective is to assess your life and needs, know your requirements and preferences, find solutions that appeal to your preferences. This is an abridged version of the Aging Well Circle however, it’s a great place to start and it will set your life on the right trajectory of aging well. Here’s what to know about long-term care planning.

Join me at AMAVA where I guide people to plan for the years ahead.

Feel free to send me an email for more information.
<![CDATA[Empowering Techniques for Solo Adults]]>Sun, 23 May 2021 18:01:38 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/empowering-techniques-for-solo-adults Picture

Much of society believes American households consist of a nuclear family: A man, a woman, and two children.  Remarkably, the U.S. Census Bureau tells us otherwise — American households consist primarily of solo adults.

Accordingly, 35.7 million Americans live alone. That's 28 percent of household, an increase from 13 percent of households in 1960 and 23 percent in 1980. Demographers say delayed or foregone marriage, longer life expectancy, urbanization, and wealth have contributed to the trend. 

Solo living was never a relevant topic to me until my parents passed away. Taking care of them took a bulk of my sisters’ and my time and if you ever cared for an older relative, you can relate. Caregiving is chock full of challenges, heartache, and stress—my wake up call. It illustrated the potential struggles that most adults will encounter.

That’s when I got on the stick to create a healthy, connected, and supportive lifestyle. Otherwise, my own aging circumstance would derail quickly since I have no spouse, partner, or adult children to rely on.  

If it’s your first time to live alone or you’re a pro, here are a few strategies to smooth the rough spots.  

Tips to get along when living alone

Read the full article, Empowering Techniques for Solo Agers. 

Looking for support when aging alone?  Check out my Solo Aging Master Group Coaching.

Want to know what the Solo Aging Master Group Coaching is all about? Learn more here.  

<![CDATA[What are the Coaching Outcomes for Members?]]>Fri, 14 May 2021 15:49:53 GMThttp://carolmarak.com/blog/what-are-the-coaching-outcomes-for-members
​Group Coaching Learning Outcomes 

When I was first alerted to the possibility of aging alone, I worried how I would resolve all the issues my parents had trouble with. I knew I couldn't pick up the phone and call a daughter or son to help out, or run an errand, or bring me food. That was not in the cards. However, I had gained a sense about the aging-related issues when helping the older relatives.  The act positioned me to evaluate and rate my own aging course and progression. 

So, I did the next best thing, I set out to become an independent senior, one who has created an empowering lifestyle. I needed to become extremely self reliant, healthy, socially engage, resourceful, have plenty of money, and be surrounded by peers and neighbors who cared about my well being and safety.

More specifically, I learned about the life's domains and aspects of aging well. The first step was to evaluate my circumstances and contributing factors. Once measured and once I learned the level of satisfaction of each, it gave me a bases, a foundation and motive of the things I needed to improve or find resolve. It showed me where my life excelled and where it fell short. 

Self Appraisal

The first most intimidating domain was finances and money. My savings and retirement funds were frightfully bare. At 55, I had minimal financial resources. I could have made excuses and continued to ignore the red flag. But being a single senior, paying bills and expenses all fell on me. No one would step up to pay them. And they shouldn't since it was my problem and responsibility. So, that's where I started. I worked harder, concentrated on making more money, and saved, saved, saved. 

The second factor was my health. But I knew if it failed, no money in the world could fix it. That was the following domain to concentrate on. The contributing factors for aging well. You’ll learn them, how to assess them as they relate to your life, and then, what to do about them to ensure an independent and safe future.  

The Ten Domains of Aging

The group members will address the ten domain factors that contribute to wellness: health and fitness, home and where it’s located, friends and connections, activities for engagement, self-growth, spiritual contentment, having support, finding purpose, money to sustain, and to be mobile. Let me ask you, when reading these:
  • How do you feel about each of them?
  • Do you feel confident or apprehensive?
  • Do any of them cause worry? 
  • How do each measure in satisfaction?
  • Have you ever rated them?
  • What questions do you ask to assess each one?
  • Do you have concerns that your satisfaction falls short on them?
  • Do you want to know or would you prefer not knowing?
  • Do you want to feel more confident and hope for change?

If you were given a process that guides you through a self-appraising strategy, would you do the work and learn as much as possible? 

When answering the questions honestly, do you want something to change? do you want better health? More friends, to find purpose, or have more money? Are you at a point in your life right now to commit to the journey of change for a better life in one, two, five or even ten years from now? 

Empowered Aging 

A single person's biggest concerns when living alone without the help of nearby family can be mitigated and remedied. I truly believe it. Why? Because my life and this process worked well for me. And it has for others as well. One private coaching client writes, 

"Carol, just to let you know, my husband passed yesterday so, I am officially aging alone. Thank you for getting me prepared for this time of life. We need to let people know how much preparing for aging alone has helped me feel more confident about the coming years." 

Members will learn to prioritize their concerns and how to set the trajectory for living a more confident, fulfilling, and secure tomorrow.

The solo lifestyle group coaching will guide you through a roadmap that personalizes a plan just for you. It inspires action with relevant content and simple action steps you can make every day that ensures a healthy, socially connected, supportive, affordable, and purposeful lifestyle.

Join us!