Healthy Aging Month: The First Steps to Leading a Healthier Life

September is designated as Healthy Aging Month in order to focus on the positive aspects of growing older and how to do it healthily! And aging healthily doesn’t just account for your physical health—while that remains important, the point of the month is to help people better understand their responsibility to staying healthy in a physical, social, mental, and financial state.

There are many ways to maintain your own personal health, and many of them vary person to person. It’s important to know what you need, and the different aspects to staying healthy.

Stay Active and Fuel Your Body. Tai_Chi_Bishan_Park.jpgThe physical aspect of staying healthy is the first thing many people think of when they think of staying healthy as they age. It’s important to stay active, and eat the foods your body needs to fuel these activities. Whether it’s gardening, dancing, jogging, or making it to the gym, there are many ways for you to get the activity you need. Don’t forget, an important part of fueling your body though is letting it rest when it needs to, so make sure that through all of your activities you’re getting the sleep you need.

Stay in Touch With the People You Love. download.jpegSurround yourself with people you love that impact you positively. Meet new people by starting new hobbies and joining groups. Staying healthy socially is extremely important to staying positive in your life.


Keep Track of Your Finances. images.jpegAs you age, your income may become more limited. It’s important to keep track of your finances and plan ahead for the expenses you may encounter in the future.


Taking care of yourself physically, socially, mentally, and financially can be hard, but when it comes to staying healthy, it’s important to account for all of these factors. This September, look into what you need to take care of yourself and lead a better, healthier life!

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Senior Prescription Drug Abuse: Why it Matters

150820-D-RT812-001.JPGWhen people think of prescriptive drug abuse, many don’t think of it as an issue that seniors are commonly faced with. And while the mere numbers may suggest that prescriptive drug abuse does affect the younger members of the community more than the older, senior citizens are actually faced with issues surrounding prescriptive drug abuse specific to them, and in many cases are much more susceptible to abusing prescriptive drugs than one would typically assume.

While adults over the age of 65 are frequently reported as the age group with the lowest percentage of self reported drug abuse, this statistic can be misleading. These numbers may be a misrepresentation of the issue within the community, and the percentage of older adults misusing or abusing prescriptive drugs may be much higher due to the difficulty of diagnosing and recognizing prescription drug abuse in older individuals.



To learn more about the basics of prescription drug abuse and misuse in the senior community go here: or

There are various factors that make recognizing drug abuse in an older individual difficult. One of these factors is the lack of training or understanding providers typically have in identifying substance abuse and addiction in the older members of our community. Many times due to the similar symptoms in older adults, rather than being diagnosed correctly, substance abuse is mistaken as dementia or depression. There is also the problem that many older adults may not realized that they are misusing their prescriptions, and are unknowingly using the drug in an unsafe way—it could be that the adult is taking too much of the medication, or possibly taking it too often.

This inability to recognize and correctly diagnose prescriptive drug abuse in older adults is especially dangerous for their health. For seniors there are many factors that complicate the issue of prescriptive drug abuse. Many times the complications from prescription drug abuse can add to the symptoms of other health issues and exacerbate the problem. And, to make the problem worse, prescription drug abuse or misuse can happen fairly easily. Whether the person is doing it intentionally or unintentionally, it is important to understand that this is an issue that faces the senior community and poses serious risks to their health.


To learn more about the problems associated with prescription drug abuse and misuse in the senior community go here:


Beyond the difficulty of identifying the problem of prescription drug abuse in seniors, there’s also the difficulties of recognizing how to approach or help someone you may think is abusing prescription drugs. Or, if you are a senior yourself, it’s important to understand how to keep yourself from unintentionally misusing the prescription medication you’re prescribed. Drug interactions, incorrect dosage, and unclear directions can all be factors in misusing prescribed medications, which can lead to severe health complications as you grow older.


To learn more about how to protect yourself from misusing your prescriptions, go here:


This topic can be a tricky one to understand and to talk about, but when it comes to keeping your loved ones healthy as they age, and understanding what you need as you age as well, it’s important to be informed and understand the ways that prescription drug abuse and misuse affects the aging members of our community. If you need any more information, feel free to contact me and I can connect you to the resources you need.

-Renee Johnson, Kontor Realty Group. Realtor and Certified Senior Advisor 55+ specialist.

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Senior Immunizations: What You Need to Stay Healthy


Immunizations are widely accepted as an important element to keeping a child healthy as they grow, but many times people forget that as they get older immunizations remain integral to their health. So, whether you’re 6 or 65, it turns out that immunizations are equally important to maintaining your health. While talking to your doctor and getting regular checkups is the best way to know what your body needs as you age, here’s a list of some ofthe most frequently recommended immunizations for seniors.


Flu (Influenza): Whether it’s your doctor, mother, or friendly neighborhood pharmacist, each flu season we’re all reminded by someone about the importance of getting our flu shots. And while many people may skip a year here or there, as you get older it becomes more and more important to stay up to date. The flu is most dangerous for the youngest and the oldest members of our community, so make sure you’re protecting yourself as you age. For those of our community over 65, there is a high-dose flu shot with four times more of the amountof antigen than the typical flu shot to help your body fight off the virus more effectively.

Chickenpox: This shot is recommended for older adults that haven’t had the chickenpox vaccine or chickenpox before. It’s a two dose shot regimen, and can protect seniors at risk for the virus. Make sure you checkwith your doctor for this one though, because while it can help many individuals, it is not recommended for those with immune system deficiencies, cancer, or those of prescriptions that inhibit the immune system.

Shingles: The shingles virusis caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox and it often causes a blistering rash on the skin and can beextremely serious. The good news is that this vaccine is a one-time thing, and it’s recommended for everyone over 60.

Tetanus/ Diphtheria/ Pertussis: Many people have already gotten this one at some point in their childhood, but it remains an important one to boost up on. Make sure you’re getting a booster every 10 years, or after potentially being exposed to the virus—so any time you get a large cut, burn, or other wound.

Pneumonia: The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for everyone over 65 years old. The vaccine consists of two separate shots given at different times.

Measles /Mumps/ Rubella: With the recent rise in measles cases in the communities around us, it’s become more and more important that people knowif they’re protected against the disease. Make sure you mention this to your doctor to see if you need to be vaccinated, or if the vaccination you received when you were younger is still protecting you.

Meningococcal: This one’s recommended for some adults over the age of 56 including those who’ve had their spleen removed, have certain blood deficiencies, or those traveling to certain countries. Check with your doctor if this vaccine is needed to keep you healthy.

Hepatitis A and B: While these two vaccines aren’t recommended for everyone, it’s important to check if they may be needed for you. Checkwith your doctor if you think these vaccines are needed for you.


This list is just the beginning to knowing what your body needs to stay healthy as you age, make sure you’re asking your doctors about all the different ways to ensure your health. And if you have more questions about what vaccines you need, the CDC has a short quiz to help guide you in the right direction:

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What is a CSA?

As a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) it is not uncommon for people to ask me: what exactly is a CSA?  Many people don’t have to think about the topics I advise on for much of their lives—but when these issues do present themselves, it’s really important to make sure you have the necessary information to make well-informed decisions that best suit their needs. So, whether you’re thinking about retirement, downsizing to fit your needs, or you just need someone to talk you through the possible changes in your life, knowing what a CSA can offer you can be extremely helpful in these aspects of your life. To make things a little clearer, here is some information on what a Certified Senior Advisor is and what they can do for you.

What is a CSA?

A Certified Senior Advisor provides professional senior advice about aging and the important health, social, and financial issues that affect the majority of seniors. In short, a Certified Senior Advisor’s job is to advise seniors, or the loved ones of seniors, on any of the issues that they need help with.

How are CSAs certified?

In order to become a Certified Senior Advisor individuals go through an extensive course that familiarizes them with the issues and resources for senior individuals; they are then required “to pass a rigorous exam and to uphold the highest ethical standards for the benefit and protection of the health and welfare of seniors.”

Why do people need CSAs?

When it comes to the social, health, and financial issues of the senior community, at times it can be hard to know what your options are, or where to find trustworthy resources. A CSA is meant to help you through these problems, identify and plan for future issues, and to connect you with the resources you need.

What can a CSA help with?

Certified Senior Advisors are meant to advise on any of the issues associated with the 55+ community. This includes (but isn’t limited to) the financial, legal, social, and health—both physical and mental—aspects of aging, government assistance for seniors, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and ethical communication with seniors.

When is a CSA needed?

A CSA’s job is to help with issues that seniors have, and these issues arise in many people’s lives at different times. The earlier someone begins planning for the future, the more options they will have available, but a CSA can connect you to resources and help you understand your options at any time. Whether you’ve decided to plan ahead for your own life, are helping a loved one in theirs, or are a senior yourself that wants to know more about your options, a CSA will be able to give you the information to help you best understand your options.

How do you find a CSA?

There are many CSAs throughout the country that work in different professions. If you would like the assistance of a CSA, you can find CSAs near you through a search service provided on the Certified Senior Advisor’s website here: If you live in Minnesota and are looking for a CSA to help assist you, or have more questions about CSAs in general, feel free to reach out and contact me with any of your concerns or questions!

-Renee Johnson, Kontor Realty Group. Realtor and Certified Senior Advisor 55+ specialist.


Mobile: 612-636-2807
Fax: 612-225-1828

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Ensuring Your Health as You Age: Immunizations for Every Age

As you reach senior status, it’s important to make sure you’re up to date on your immunizations and getting what your body needs to stay healthy. August is National Immunization Month, and keeping up on your immunizations is an important part of keeping you and your loved ones protected from certain diseases.


While many people remember to immunize their children or young ones, they often forget the importance of immunizing themselves. Staying immunized as you age is an extremely important aspect of aging healthily. Luckily, the CDC outlines the recommended immunizations for each age group, showing what is needed to help you stay healthy at every age.


Getting the right immunizations in early childhood is an important aspect of aging healthily. Here is a link to a list of vaccines for children up to the age of 6:

Here is a link to a list of vaccines for teens 7-18:


After childhood, many people forget that immunizations are still a huge part of keeping themselves healthy. But in reality, getting immunized through adulthood keeps not only yourself healthy, but others around you as well. As you reach your senior years, protecting yourself with the right immunizations becomes even more important. Here is a link to a list of vaccines for adults over the age of 19:


Immunizations are extremely important, and while these charts and guidelines are a helpful source and reference, it is equally important to speak with your physician about what your body needs. Be sure that you know what is best for your body as you age.

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Medicare: A Guide to Finding Your Resources

Medicare can be a confusing topic for many people, and it doesn’t help that many of the resources available can be equally as confusing to find as the topic itself! There are some things about Medicare that people don’t always know—like if you enroll late, you may have higher premiums, or what Medicare will cover for each individual. Luckily there are resources to help you answer the questions you have. This article will link you to a few of the resources to help point you in the direction of the information you need to get started.


What is Medicare?

Many people are not sure what Medicare is, or what it can do for them. The 2017 edition of Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare describes Medicare as “a federal health insurance program for those eligible who are 65 or older and certain people with a disability who are under age 65.” According to the guide, Medicare has four parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Medical Insurance), Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) and other Medicare Plans, and Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage).

Here’s a link to more information on the different parts of Medicare and what each part does:


Should I apply for Medicare?

Many people do not know if Medicare is for them, or if they need Medicare. There are many things to consider when thinking about applying for Medicare, such as if you need health insurance, if you’re working, and whether the company you work for is small or large. Page 8 of this guide will lead you through this question:


How do I apply for Medicare?

This question is one that is pretty common among people considering Medicare, but luckily there are resources out there that help you through the process. Here’s one resource put out by the Social Security Administration to help you through the process:


When do I apply for Medicare?

When applying for Medicare, your initial enrollment period is 7 months long. You can begin applying up to three months before the month of your 65th birthday, and you have until three months after the month of your 65th birthday to complete the application.


What is covered by Medicare?

This is another question many people have when considering Medicare. The Official US Government’s Site for Medicare has a search tool you can use to see what is and is not covered by Medicare. The tool will connect you to all the information or resources you need in finding out if your tests, items, or services are covered by Medicare.



This is just the beginning of the available information and resources you have concerning Medicare. There is a plethora of information available to you in the Health Care Choices for Minnesotans of Medicare guide here:

While the amount of information can at times be confusing or stressful, the good thing is that there are always trained professionals that can help guide you through the process if you need more help, and these people are ready to help you through every step of the way! You can call the Minnesota Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433 to speak with someone to review your options and answer your questions, or you can contact me and I can help you understand your options and lead you to trusted resources to help you with the process as much as I can.


-Renee Johnson, Kontor Realty Group. Realtor and Certified Senior Advisor 55+ specialist.

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Getting your home ready for spring!

Despite what the calendar says, Mother Nature is suggesting that it’s time to think about getting your home or cabin ready for spring. Here is a simple checklist courtesy of HomeDepot that will ensure your home is in top-notch shape for the new season.

Indoor Maintenance

  1. Clean or replace your furnace filter. A dirty filter can lower the efficiency of your home’s HVAC system.
  2. Test your air conditioning system. If you wait until the first hot day of the season day to check it and have a problem, you may end up waiting quite a while to have it serviced!
  3. Check caulking around all doors and windows. Improper caulking allows for moisture to get inside your walls and cause mold. This is also the perfect time to wash/clean all windows and replace torn or damaged screens as necessary.
  4. Check/replace fire extinguishers. Make sure each unit meets current safety standards and check the gauges to ensure they are charged and ready for use.
  5. Test smoke and fire alarms, replacing batteries and cleaning dust from the covers.
  6. Clean ceiling fans. Whether you utilize overhead fans year-round or only during the warmer months, wipe down blades with an all-purpose cleaner. In addition to a providing a calming breeze, ceiling fans increase the overall airflow throughout your home.
  7. Dust and check wattage of light bulbs. While cleaning each bulb, check for correct wattage. A fire can result within a light fixture, wall or ceiling if the wattage used in a fixture is too high.
  8. Clean and store humidifiers and exchange them for a dehumidifier.  Removing moisture from the air will make you more comfortable in warmer weather and keep mold from growing.
  9. Deep cleaning carpets is a spring-cleaning must. Consider purchasing a steam cleaner for your home – not only will it come in handy during twice-yearly major cleaning sessions, but it will also prove to be a lifesaver if you have pets or children in the home.
  10. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer. If you have a coil-back refrigerator, vacuum the coils at least twice each year for maximum efficiency. Wipe down interior and exterior surfaces, and place new boxes of baking soda in each to maintain overall freshness.
  11. Spring is the optimal time to perform both indoor and outdoor pest control. Even if you aren’t currently experiencing a pest problem, it’s best to undergo preventative treatment rather than wait until warmer temperatures potentially create an issue.

Outdoor Maintenance

  1. Check for possible damage to the roof.  Look for missing, cracked or broken shingles and make note of any needed repairs. For safety reasons, you may want to consider hiring a qualified professional to take care of any repair work that needs to be done. Clean gutters and downspouts and make sure they are directing water away from the house.
  2. Cut back tree limbs and shrubs growing within five feet of the house or that are brushing up against the roof. You will create better ventilation, help dry out surfaces and prevent possible damage.
  3. Check for and repair cracks in driveway/sidewalk. Spring is the best time to seal cracks in the driveway or any other concrete.
  4. Pressure wash  your deck/patio and bring outdoor furniture out of storage.  Make sure to wipe down each piece thoroughly prior to placing on a freshly-washed surface.
  5. Check garden hoses for dry rot and inspect hose faucets for possible freeze damage that may have occurred during the winter months.
  6. Clean/condition your outdoor grill by first rinsing all outside surfaces with water.  If grease has loosened on the grill grates and inside of the grill, wipe off using grill cleaner and paper towels. Follow by washing with a mild detergent and water. Rinse well and wipe dry.

If you find yourself needing assistance around the house I have a number of professionals that I would highly recommend.  Call or email me and I will make sure you are well taken care of.

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25 Documents You Should Have Before You Die.

If something were to happen to you today would your family know what to do? Some 25 documents should be on file in case of an untimely incident or death.  Putting these together now can save your family a lot of time, frustration and money.  According to Saabira Chaudhuri from the Wall Street Journal it simply isn’t enough to have an estate plan but you also have to make your heirs aware of what you have and where it is.  Saabira goes on to outline what you should have:

The Essentials:

  • Will
  • Letter of Instruction (health car directive)
  • Trust documents

An original will is the most important document to keep on file.

A will allows you to dictate who inherits your assets and, if your children are underage, their guardians. Dying without a will means losing control of how your assets are distributed. Instead, state law will determine what happens.

Wills are subject to probate—legal proceedings that take inventory, make appraisals of property, settle outstanding debt and distribute remaining assets. Not having an original document means this already-onerous process could be much more of an ordeal, since family members can challenge a copy of a will in court.

A revocable living trust can be changed anytime during your lifetime. After you transfer ownership of various assets to the trust, you can serve as the trustee on behalf of beneficiaries you designate. Provided you do so, there aren’t any ongoing fees.

Also, make sure your heirs have access to a durable financial power-of-attorney form. Without it, no one can make financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you are incapacitated.

Proof of Ownership:

  • Housing, land and cemetery deeds
  • Escrow mortgage accounts
  • Proof of loans made and debts owed
  • Vehicle titles
  • Stock certificates, savings bonds and brokerage accounts
  • Partnership and corporate operating agreements
  • Tax returns

You should keep documentation of housing and land ownership, cemetery plots, vehicles, stock certificates and savings bonds; any partnership or corporate operating agreements; and a list of brokerage and escrow mortgage accounts.

If you don’t tell your family that you own such assets, there is a chance they never will find out.

File any documents that list loans you have made to others, since they could be included as assets in an estate. Similarly, keep a list of any debts you owe to avoid surprising your family. Wills and living trusts generally are drafted to include provisions for how debts should be settled, and creditors have a stipulated period of time in which to file a claim against the estate.

Make the most recent three years of tax returns available, too. “Looking at last year’s returns offers a snapshot of what assets we should be looking for this year. This also will help your personal representative file a final income-tax and estate return and, if necessary, a revocable-trust return.

Bank Accounts:

  • List of bank accounts
  • List of all user names and passwords
  • List of safe-deposit boxes

Share a list of all accounts and online log-in information with your family so they can notify the bank of your death. “If nobody ever takes any more out or puts money in, it becomes a dormant account and then becomes the property of the state.

Be sure to list any safe-deposit boxes you own, register your spouse or child’s name with the bank and ask them to sign the registration document so they can have access without securing a court order.

Health-Care Confidential:

  • Personal and family medical history
  • Durable health-care power of attorney
  • Authorization to release health-care information
  • Living will
  • Do-not-resuscitate order

Possibly the most important health-care document to fill out in advance is a durable health-care power-of-attorney form. This allows your designee to make health-care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. The document should be compliant with federal health-information privacy laws, so that doctors, hospitals and insurance companies can speak with your designee. You may also need to fill out an Authorization to Release Protected Healthcare Information form.

If you are incapacitated and your family can’t locate a health-care power of attorney, they will have to go to court to get a guardian appointed.

Life Insurance and Retirement:

  • Life-insurance policies
  • Individual retirement accounts
  • 401(k) accounts
  • Pension documents
  • Annuity contracts

Copies of life-insurance policies are among the most important documents for your family to have. Family members need to know the name of the carrier, the policy number and the agent associated with the policy..

Estate planners also recommend that you draw up a list of pensions, annuities, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s for your spouse and children.

If your heirs don’t know about these accounts, they won’t be able to lay claim to them, and the money could languish.

Marriage and Divorce:

  • Marriage license
  • Divorce papers

Ensure your spouse knows where you have stored your marriage license.

For divorced people, it is important to leave behind the divorce judgment and decree or, if the case was settled without going to court, the stipulation agreement . These documents lay out child support, alimony and property settlements, and also may list the division of investment and retirement accounts.

Include the distribution sheet listing bank-account numbers that accompanied the settlement to avoid disputes about ownership or payments due. Also include a copy of the most recent child-support payment order. In the majority of states, the obligation to pay child support still exists after death.

You also should include a copy of the “qualified domestic-relations order,” which can prove your spouse received a share of your retirement accounts.

In conclusion: the financial consequences of failing to keep your documents in order can be significant.  Most experts recommend creating a comprehensive folder of documents that family members can access in case of an emergency, so they aren’t left scrambling to find and organize a hodgepodge of disparate bank accounts, insurance policies and brokerage accounts.  That isn’t to say you should keep everything. Sometimes people hold onto so many papers that loved ones can’t find the important ones easily.

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