Your plain English guide to investment jargon

Definitions of 5 stock market terms you’ll want to know

By Jack Fehr for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

As the stock market continues its gyrations, now is a good time to buy an investment with a favorable NAV and alpha that keeps on giving while reducing beta.

Got that?

If not, don’t be embarrassed. Investment companies and financial advisers love to load up their materials with this kind of jargon. Too bad they don’t just say something like this (a plain-English translation of the first sentence in this article): “You might want to buy an investment that is likely to grow faster and experience less risk than alternatives.”

Well, some actually do, but many still don’t. If companies aren’t willing to talk to you in a language you understand, it’s up to you to decipher their financial-speak.

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Do you really need that knee surgery?

Experts disagree on whether it’s worth going under the knife

By Linda Melone, CSCS for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

You felt it on your last walk when you stepped off a curb the wrong way: a sudden pain and feeling as if your knee were about to give out. Swelling and more pain followed, along with worries that you may need knee surgery.

But would it even help?

A recent Danish review of studies published in the British Medical Journal revealed that people in their 50s and older who get arthroscopic surgery for knee pain show no lasting benefits.

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Achieving your dreams after 60

The authors of ‘Senior Wonders’ on the 3 P’s for Triumphant Aging

By Karen L. Pepkin and Wendell C. Taylor for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Thinkstock

The media abounds with negative views about the impact of aging on physical, cognitive, and financial well-being. In fact, there are entire industries that have emerged to counteract the effects of aging — nutritional supplements, hormone treatments, surgical improvements, lotions, potions, and the like. They all seem to underscore Bette Davis’ famous quote, “Old age is no place for sissies.”

What if there were another point of view? What if aging brought about, not decline but our greatest accomplishments? What if we looked at aging as Dr. Christiane Northrup does? She tells us that “getting older is inevitable, but aging isn’t.”

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Sorry, nobody wants your parents’ stuff

Advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms

By Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

After my father died at 94 in September, leaving my sister and me to empty his one-bedroom, independent living New Jersey apartment, we learned the hard truth that others in their 50s and 60s need to know: Nobody wants the prized possessions of your parents — not even you or your kids.

Admittedly, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s not far off, due to changing tastes and homes. I’ll explain why, and what you can do as a result, shortly.

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Don’t let fear stop you from end-of-life planning

It’s natural to procrastinate, but make this a priority for your loved ones

By Debbie Reslock for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

When I was in my early 20s, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It felt like a one-two punch, since my dad had died unexpectedly a few years earlier. Although Mom tried chemotherapy, the results seemed to suggest that this was going to end badly, which it did — less than six months later.

During that time, her life became a mere shadow of what it once was. And yet no one, including her doctors, myself or my mom, ever talked about what was happening.

Only in the last few days did her doctor suggest to me, not her, that we were reaching the end of this painful road. And then he asked if I thought she’d be more comfortable at home or in the hospital. I remember how angry I was, unprepared to make this decision and wanting to scream, “Why are you asking me?” But of course when I got older, I realized the real question was why hadn’t any of us asked her?

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8 ways to give your investments a spring cleaning

Tax time is an ideal time to declutter your portfolio

By Kerry Hannon for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

Where I live in Washington, D.C., the pink magnolia trees are blooming, and the daffodils are intensely yellow and screaming springtime — just in time for the first day of spring, Sunday March 20.

It’s time to get out in the backyard to tackle garden cleanup… right after I finish my taxes this weekend. Which brings me to a more prosaic chore: Spring-cleaning is also time to clear out the clutter in my financial life, particularly my investments. And I think you should, too. (I’ll tell you how shortly.)

When I’m doing spring-cleaning for my portfolio, I check to see if I need to consolidate and sell extraneous and underperforming funds and stocks. I also do a goals checkup and tune-up to rebalance my investments, so I have the right asset allocation of stocks to bonds to provide the oomph needed to last a potentially long life.

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5 ways tech products will help us age better

A visit to CES 2017 turned up caregiving robots and vital sign ‘tattoos’

By Jim Pagliarini for Next Avenue


Caption: One of the many helpful robot prototypes at CES using voice recognition to assist humans with daily tasks.

It is the year 2025 and I have just celebrated my 85th birthday. I still live at home. This afternoon, I got into my self-driving car and went to my great granddaughter’s house for a visit. She introduced me to a group of her friends over lunch and I heard every word they said. I was a part of the conversation.  

Two weeks ago, I fell in the bathroom and within minutes, my son’s voice came over my watch to ask me if everything was ok. Last night, I sat in my massage chair, and asked “Alexa” to play the top musical hits from when I met my wife in college. I closed my eyes and it brought back wonderful memories.  

And although I technically live alone, I have one of the greatest companions I have ever had in my life — Tina, my personal assistant robot. Life ain’t bad.

Back to 2017 now: I recently returned from the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas — the largest, electronics show in the world where the most innovative cutting-edge technology products are introduced each year. Nearly 200,000 people attended and wandered through some 2.47 million square feet of exhibit space.

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Are you getting enough protein? Too much?

How obsessing over protein could be harmful to your health

By Rashelle Brown for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

If you’re like me, you often find yourself confused by how many health headlines contradict one another. Lately, I’ve found this to be true where protein is concerned, particularly the protein needs of adults aged 50 and over.

In one study, published Jan. 1, 2015, in the American Journal of Physiology’s Endocrinology and Metabolism, scientists split 20 adults aged 52 to 75 into one group that consumed the U.S. RDA recommended level of protein, and another group that consumed double that amount, measuring levels of whole body protein at the beginning and end of the trial. While both groups maintained a positive protein balance (their bodies synthesized more protein than they broke down), the higher protein group ended up with a higher overall protein balance than the lower protein group. The news media jumped all over this, proclaiming that older adults should double their protein intake if they want to live long, healthy lives.

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Meet RaShelle Hensley, social services director

Hensley, RaShelle c 07-2014-2When RaShelle Hensley was about 7 years old, her parents became foster parents. About two dozen foster children cycled through their home over the next four years.

The experience inspired RaShelle in part to become a social worker herself. Since 2006, she has been director of social services at Salina Presbyterian Manor.

When she first applied for the job, RaShelle wasn’t sure she was prepared to work with older adults. Her clients had been mostly mothers and children. But after a few weeks at Presbyterian Manor, she said, “I realized this was where I was supposed to work.” In senior living, RaShelle said, it has been easier to nurture relationships, and the slower pace helps.

“My job is all about building those relationships and keeping the lines of communication open, and encouraging people to come to me if there is a concern — not just with families, but with residents and the nursing staff. They’re the ones I depend on to follow through on a lot of things,” she said.

Social workers play a vital role in senior living communities. They serve as a liaison between a community and residents and their families. They help people transition to life in the community after a move. Sometimes, they just listen.

Margaret Presley, who taught RaShelle at Bethany College, remembers a time when RaShelle was uncertain that she could do social work or work with anyone but children. But since then Margaret said she has enjoyed watching her blossom. “She would periodically consult with me about ethical or other problematic matters. I always felt that she was on the mark with her judgment,” the professor said.

RaShelle is waiting to hear if she has been accepted into the master of social work program at the University of Kansas. “I feel like with my masters I will be able to go further and add more support,” she said. “Mental health with the elderly is a hot topic. I want to have more skills and the knowledge base to address any mental health issues my residents have.”

If accepted, RaShelle will begin studies this summer at KU’s Johnson County campus. She said the Saturday classes will fit into her routine of traveling to Lawrence most weekends to see her three sons and her grandson (“who is perfect,” says the proud grandma).

In her admissions essay, RaShelle reflected on how her childhood experience influenced her: “I learned a lot about empathy, compassion, and respect for diversity as my parents cared for children of different races, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Clearly her family influenced those children, too. About two years ago, one young man reconnected with RaShelle’s family. He first came to their home when he was two, and her parents stayed close with his mother and him until they moved away. “He has been through a lot of stuff, but he seems to have turned it around,” RaShelle said. “It was goosebumps after all those years.”

Capitol contribution

DSC01710-2For 15 years, a sculpture of a Kansa Indian has adorned the Kansas Capitol dome, and Salina Presbyterian Manor resident Jack Gillam helped put it there. Jack created the original drawing for “Ad Astra” for his good friend, Salina artist Dick Bergen.

Dick was exhibiting his work in 1989 at Crown Center in Kansas City when he was approached by “Topper John,” a Kansas City attorney who was president of the Kansas Art Commission. He asked if Dick had entered the competition to create a sculpture for the capitol dome in Topeka. Dick didn’t know about it, so Topper John sent him the materials.

Dick researched state capitol domes, and his favorite was Nebraska, which features a farmer sowing wheat by hand. He decided his statue would show purpose and action. Dick also learned the Kansa Indians were the original people of the Topeka area, and he developed the vision of a Kansa Indian shooting an arrow toward the north star.

DSC01716-2Dick’s son, Richie, became the model for the artwork. Richie stood on a stool with a toy bow and arrow pointed skyward while his dad took photos from every angle. Jack Gillam, then a principal at Jones Gillam Architects and Engineers, created the drawings from Dick’s photos.

The bronze sculpture went on a statewide tour in a truck provided by Long-McArthur Ford and a large trailer from Donahue Trailer. Dick and Jack vividly remember a stop at the School for the Blind in Wichita, where students studied “Ad Astra” with their hands. More than 20 years after the start of the project, the completed piece was installed on the dome in fall 2002. Gov. Bill Graves, also of Salina, accepted the statue, which is just over 22 feet tall, weighing 4,420 pounds.

Dick’s most recent sculpture is “The Last Cowboy,” completed in 2016. He and Jack continue their longtime friendship and enjoy one another’s company.