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Write or Print out Your Usernames, Passcodes, PINs, and Security Questions and Answers – Healthy Habit #18

digitalkeyPasscode keepers and your browsers’ ability to save access codes time savers. However, should you have a shared household, need to step in and help someone, or have someone step in and help you – without this information the inability to access your online accounts can be a huge roadblock.

I know we have been told NOT to write down this information for years. I get that for employers who have IT departments who can reset your access. At home, we don’t have this and having this written down will save you time and frustration.

How many times has your answer to your own Security Question been rejected? Every time I do a public speech on What to Save and What to Shred, this question always gets an uncomfortable laugh as half the room raises their hand to admit this has happened to them.

Have you ever needed to contact your phone provider or the power company and the account is in the name of your partner, roommate, or spouse?  If so, you will know that you will be unable to make changes or service specific account needs if the person to whom the account is titled is not on the call with you. For the variety of accounts that fall into this category, I learned long ago to login as the owner of the account and handle our service needs in the portal. Saves ME time and allows both me and my spouse to fill in for each other should we be traveling or unavailable.

I have a book that my husband and kids are familiar with that includes all of my usernames, passcodes, security questions/answers, and PINs. I use the book every week to quickly look up or update my online accounts. The average consumer has 90 online accounts, and as a business owner, I have closer to 150 accounts.

My husband and kids also have documented and shared their information in case I ever need to step in and help them. For my kids I told them to put it in a sealed envelope I would only open in an emergency. It was an easy ask since they knew I had already provided them with an option to access my accounts. Parents have no online access rights to their children’s accounts.

The good password keepers have an option to print out a summary and I hope you will do that. In many cases, I have families that have shared this information in a document on their computer only to find out that no one knows the passcode to get into the computer. So I just recommend you have one option be paper access that can be stored in a safe or even hidden in plain site.

I guarantee having this will save you time and angst and be a huge help to those that may need to access your shared accounts when you are not home, or provide them with the keys to your digital legacy should they want to protect it and you are unable to do so. Advised.

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Get Powers of Attorney and Share Them – Healthy Habit 17

poaIf I could make one thing happen, my wish would be for all Americans to have a ritual of putting into place powers of attorney when they legally become an adult. If we had the understanding that should something happen to us whether we are 18 or 80, these documents will allow someone to help.

My son received these for his 18th birthday. Initially, I was most worried about being able to talk to a doctor if he got hurt. As an athlete I knew he would be traveling with his team and wanted to make sure I could get answers from the doctor if he got injured on his travels.

However what scared me more was how could we help if something happened to him after college and he was living on his own. I’ve come across families that had to step in to help their adult children and were totally unprepared and unable to help.

If this was just a standard rite of entering adulthood, I think we would all have better habits of managing our lives and information so that someone could help us if we needed it. We also wouldn’t make getting these things in place something you do when you get older since every adult should have these.

I’m frustrated that most American’s equate creating an Estate Plan with end of life wishes. A good Estate Plan includes both financial and medical powers of attorney, beneficiary designations, end of life wishes, a Will and maybe a Trust. When I work with families most of them believe they are all set because they have done their estate plans. When I ask them who is the power of attorney and if they have a copy of the document, I’m never surprised when “no” is the answer. These also aren’t once and done tools. You will need to update them over your lifetime.

For those of you caring for a loved one already, you know how precious, valuable, and necessary the power of attorney. If you don’t have these documents, please know that someone diagnosed with dementia may still have decisional capacity. Ask their doctor to validate this and get these documents into place.

Your plans won’t help you if the people that would step in to help don’t know about them or where they are.  So I hope you will make it a habit to confirm and check in with those you have named as power of attorney annually. Hoped. 

 

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Review Your Credit Card Charges Every Month – Healthy Habit 16

creditcardstatementCredit card fraud where a card is not present for the transaction was $4.57 billion in 2016 and increasing every year. Cyber pickpockets have made checking your statement monthly a necessity of being a credit card holder. I have set up an alert on my card so that every time it is used, I get a text notice.

The nonprofit Merchant Risk Council estimates that 80 percent of credit cards in people’s wallets have been compromised.  From a skimmer at the gas station to malware on a merchant card site to the data breach at Equifax – assume your card information has been exposed to criminals.

In the past few years, I have been able to save clients thousands of dollars in the first few months by just reviewing their past credit card statements. From monthly charges for services they don’t recognize or use, to purchases they never made but never reported. I shiver at the suggestion of setting up a credit card on an automated payment plan.

That automated system continues to roll and too often no one is minding the store. No matter what your financial resources, most of us would be upset to know we are paying for things we don’t use or never received. Warned.

 

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Get Rid of All the Stuff You Don’t Use – Healthy Habit 15

downsizingI heard a colleague share that we seem to spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of the stuff we collected. I tend to agree with that statement.

It’s easier to buy an organization system (okay a plastic tub) than it is to decide what to do with the stuff. I’m appalled that our spare room upstairs has become ground zero for all of the things my children are discarding. Goodwill is on my list of to-dos.

However, I have my own goal of starting the dispose, re-purpose, or donate process. It’s already a habit to do it with clothes, but now I need to do it room by room. The household needs a more regular purge.

It’s easy to just dispose or donate, but I’m finding it hard to find places who can value and could use that stuff you don’t want that still works or could be useful. I plan on having my daughter help me find out if we can sell some of the stuff online. I did this for my mother about a decade ago but found that most things never demanded the value she believed they held and cost time and money to set up. However, I would rather things in good working order find a good home versus ending up in land fill.

It’s never too early to start this habit and this is the one that I need to develop of my own. I don’t have the issue with knowing what to get rid of … it’s just how to have it go to the best home. Open to all suggestions! Requested.

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Develop a regular social calendar – Healthy Habit 14

busy calendarStudies are showing that half of Americans feel lonely and isolated. Lonely people are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social connections. Loneliness contributes to poor health and emotional well-being. Being alone is different than being lonely.

I see it in the clients I work with who are adamant they want to age-in-place. They lose a spouse, their friends move away or they lose their ability to safely drive and don’t want to use a cab to get around. Often, it’s just the fear or inability to be able to do something new. They insist they are not social people – I get it. I am a proud Introvert and savor those blocks of time when I can recharge my batteries in solitude.

However, my clients that insist they are fine alone at home with no activities start to have more health issues and I see a general decline in their cognitive abilities as we sit down to pay bills or discuss a home maintenance project.

You will find more on this topic in this Inc. article: Loneliness Is as Lethal As Smoking 15 Cigarettes Per Day. Here’s What You Can Do About It

If you are caring for a loved one at home, see if you can find a local adult day care center where they can meet others and have an opportunity to try something new in a safe environment. If they are physically mobile, maybe you can find a local walking group they can join for both social and physical engagement.

My husband and I are trying out pickleball, and I am always on the hunt for a good seminar on practical topics. Those give us the opportunity to make new connections and stay socially engaged in our community.

I continue to enjoy tennis which wonderfully combines exercise with the social engagement. It has expanded my local network of friends and acquaintances threefold. I hope by having the habit of using a calendar and by being on the hunt for ways to engage new ideas with my husband and my own, I will ensure that I continue to nurture my need to be socially connected. Practiced. 

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Brush, Floss, and Visit the Dentist Regularly – Friday the 13th Healthy Habit

lifeisbetterwithteethIf you don’t know, oral health has a link to your general health. You can get a deeper dive on the topic and the related health conditions from Mayo Clinic.

There are many reasons why brushing and flossing are healthy habits, but it’s also important to see your dentist regularly.  They may catch oral cancers early when they can be more easily treated. While my father had Alzheimer’s, a tumor at the base of his tongue is what ultimately took his life. I had tried many times to get him to the dentist before we knew about the tumor,  but he just refused. In reflection, I wonder if somehow he knew. He had always been a good dental patient before the diagnosis.

If you are caring for someone with cognitive issues, be kind to yourself if they just refuse. In some ways it maybe the one way they feel control over their lives.

As difficult as it was to see my Dad’s physical pain and suffering the last month of his life, I also feel he was blessed to get to take a celestial departure before he lost more of himself.

The habits we develop and maintain can carry us and help us maintain good health. I often have to remind myself of that when I’m waiting for my tooth brush timer to end. Brushed.

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Know Short-Term Memory Loss is NOT a Normal Consequence of Aging – Health Habit 12

totalmemoryworkoutThere are many conditions that can cause memory loss and an early diagnosis can make a huge difference for you and your loved ones.

When you dig into the science, short-term memory loss is not a normal consequence of aging. You should consider your brain like you do a muscle and it needs exercise to stay strong.

Our brain processing speed slows down generally at 50, but we should still be able to retrieve the information. If you believe you have short-term memory issues, speak with your primary care physician and request a visit to a neurologist for an evaluation if you don’t find a cause.

In general, we can store from 5-9 pieces of information in our short-term memory. If you want something to stick you need to pay attention and attach meaning to it. Where you distracted when someone was talking to you so you didn’t really hear what they were saying to you?

I’m thankful I still have a child at home so I can see that even she seems to forget things. However, the reality is that she never received the information in the first place, which our modern and distracted lifestyles seem to encourage.

Just know that memory loss is NOT a normal consequence of aging. To learn more about this and find out how to boost your memory and recall get a copy of Dr. Cynthia Green’s Total Memory Workout.

Please don’t believe that memory loss is a consequence of getting older and take the time to learn more about how you can rev up recall. Encouraged.

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