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Messenger RNA Technology a Silver Lining

Messenger RNA Technology a Silver Lining

Many of us have been in lockdown for more than a year. We’ve canceled vacations, restaurant visits, and in-person schooling. More than 500,000 of our loved ones across the country have passed away.

Is there a COVID pandemic silver lining?

It turns out there is. The messenger RNA immunization technology developed for the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat—and prevent—a wide variety of other diseases and illnesses. Scientists are sequencing HIV, seasonal flu viruses, and certain cancers. They are identifying snippets of RNA that could teach the body to fight them off before they can run rampant through the body.

The vaccine approach to the coronavirus uses lipid nanoparticles—essentially fat bubbles—to deliver bits of a disease’s genetic material into the body, helping the immune system spot the spike proteins they use to enter human cells. At the moment, Moderna is working on two HIV vaccine candidates: mRNA-1644 and mRNA-1574.

The vaccine has been tested successfully in macaque monkeys, which developed neutralizing antibodies that bind to the proteins that HIV uses to enter cells, neutralizing the disease before it can spread. Another mRNA test protects mice against HIV infection.

 

Messenger RNA for the Flu?

 

Meanwhile, phase 1 clinical trials for more effective seasonal flu vaccines will start this year. Companies are developing additional RNA vaccines for mononucleosis, types of lymphoma, and nasal cancer. Other experimental cancer vaccines will require doctors to extract tumor samples from the patient, sequence the genome, and create a specific RNA therapy that will teach the immune system to destroy the cancer cells—and only the cancer cells. Six of 10 patients in an early trial responded positively to the treatment; in two, the cancer was destroyed, while four others stabilized and had no further cancer progression.

The newly-developed therapies also offer promise in fighting several autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis. A recent mRNA experiment suggests that mRNA treatment can promote the development of blood vessels. An injection might improve outcomes in people undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery.

Some of these therapies might have happened eventually without the crash COVID vaccine projects, but almost certainly, they would not have been in clinical trials this quickly. We mourn the millions of people lost to the pandemic here and abroad, but there may be fewer deaths, and diseases, in our future.

 

 

 

Are you on track for retirement?

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is a critical part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. An experienced Financial Advisor can help you navigate the complexities of investment management. Talk to a Financial Advisor>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

How Pent Up Demand Could Fuel Economic Recovery

How Pent Up Demand Could Fuel Economic Recovery

With major league baseball’s spring training just around the corner, you may already be daydreaming about the smell of cut grass and roasted peanuts, hearing the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd — just to feel normal again. 

 

If so, you are not alone — not among fellow Americans weary of the COVID pandemic nor within the context of history. This would not be the first time Americans have lived through a period of austerity brought on by a pandemic that resulted in burgeoning pent-up demand and economic recovery. In 1918, the Spanish Flu and World War I largely curtailed social gatherings and other activities across the country. 

 

To be sure, the U.S. was a very different place in the early 20th century, but consider that attendance at baseball stadiums in 1918 was half that of the previous year.

 

By 1919, however, the pandemic had largely subsided, the war was over and attendance at games soared from 2.8 million in 1918 to 6.5 million in 1919. The decade that followed — the Roaring ‘20s a time of exploding economic recovery— coincided with the first golden age of the automobile. Americans eager to see the countryside bought nearly 26 million cars and 3 million trucks in the 1920s, according to Automotive News.

 

Could pent-up demand for travel and leisure drive a Roaring ‘20s economic recovery today? 

 

Ready, willing — and able — to spend

 

Indeed, cabin fever appears to have taken hold of consumers everywhere. There are signs that Americans are prepared to act: Savings rates have soared since the start of the pandemic, and though they have slowed a bit in recent months they remain relatively high.

 

 

Many consumers have boosted their savings during the pandemic

Bar graph showing US Savings Rate 2020

 

Once the current situation subsides, the desire to travel plus the ability for consumers to spend means we could potentially see a powerful economic recovery.

 

The economic environment is much different than the global financial crisis of 2008.  Today, looser fiscal policy, looser monetary policy, strong banking infrastructure and a higher personal savings rate could drive a sharp pickup in demand.

 

These conditions not only can benefit the travel and leisure industries but also the broader economy. To be sure, there will probably be hiccups along the way, and some areas will likely recover more quickly than others.

 

 

Passenger loyalty: A tailwind for cruise lines toward economic recovery

 

Cruise ships became the epicenter of the COVID crisis in February 2020, when 3,700 people were quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess after a shipboard outbreak. At the time, the ship accounted for half of all known cases outside mainland China.

 

Over the past year, this industry has gotten so much negative media, yet people are still booking cruises for 2021 and 2022. 

 

In fact, more than 70% of respondents to an industry survey said they will cruise again.

 

Loyal customers can keep cruise industry afloat

 

While cruising has resumed in Europe, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control imposed a “no sail” order that has not yet been lifted in North America.

 

There is still uncertainty as to when ships will set sail again, but there is a possibility that they will be cruising near full capacity quicker than many people expect.

 

What’s more, with intense focus on healthy sailing practices, there’s a case to be made that they could one day be considered among the cleanest places on earth to vacation.

 

Vacation plans up in the air

 

As was the case in the cruise industry, global air travel was down an estimated 66% in 2020, about 20 times worse than the previous record. Within the U.S., which is more dependent on business travel, the devastation was worse: Air travel declined as much as 95% in the early months of the crisis.

 

The rollout of the vaccines and, prior historical events, leads to increased confidence that demand will bounce back. For example, we also saw this after the September 11 attacks. A lot of people thought consumers would never fly again, and traffic recovered quickly.

 

Indeed, in China, where the virus is largely under control and the economy has rebounded, domestic air travel has nearly returned to pre-COVID levels.

 

Air travel in China has soared back. Will the U.S. soon follow with it’s own economic recovery?

The ripple effect for economic recovery waves

 

A revival in travel demand can also have a powerful ripple effect, creating the need for a range of goods and services and helping drive job growth across a variety of industries. Among these are aircraft manufacturers, jet engine makers, hotels, casinos and restaurants — all of which were devastated by the pandemic.

 

Consider aircraft engine makers, which operate a recurring revenue business model. Companies like Safran and General Electric build the engines and sell them at a modest profit, but the engines must be serviced regularly, and the engine makers can generate a great deal of revenue from the service contracts.

 

Unlike other sectors of the economy during COVID, aircraft engine makers are not going to see digital disruption upend their business. After all, there are no digital aircraft engines. 

 

Markets tend to anticipate recoveries

 

Markets often anticipate recoveries in the underlying economy, so it’s important to recognize underlying trends early. Consider the global financial crisis, a period when the housing and automobile industries were severely beaten down. By 2012 it became clear that demand was building, thanks to changing demographics and an aging auto fleet. In both industries, a full recovery took several more years, but a rebound in auto- and housing-related stocks anticipated the recovery in demand and earnings. From February 2009 through December 2010, auto sales fell 6% while auto stock returns advanced 496%.

 

 

Auto stocks rebounded ahead of sales after the global financial crisis

More recently, since the introduction of the vaccines, shares of companies across a number of travel-related industries have registered strong gains.

 

 

 

The market often reflects a recovery in earnings before they materialize.  In a year from now, we could be in a very different environment where demand and earnings for some of these companies begin to recover in a more meaningful and sustained way.

 

 

 

Maintaining a balance

 

 

 

Students of history can look to many examples of past crises and declines that were followed by powerful economic recoveries thanks in part to pent-up consumer demand. Examples include the travel sector after 9/11 and the housing and auto industries following the end of the great financial crisis in 2008–2009. 

 

 

 

For investors and their advisors, it is important to make sure portfolios are balanced with exposure not only to growth strategies but also to strategies focused on more value-oriented companies, like many of the travel-related stocks.

 

 

 

A review of more than 4,000 portfolios by Capital Group found that investors significantly reduced allocations to value equities over the last three years. It may be time to rebalance. 

 

 

 

Returns for leading growth companies have continued to be strong, for good reason. But it may be shortsighted for investors to become seduced by the runaway growth stories, considering that many of the beaten down stocks in travel and other sectors have attractive valuations. And recently there have been some early signs that the market rally may be broadening as many of these stocks have posted meaningful gains.

 

Investors have scaled back their exposure to value funds

 

We just experienced a market downturn and recovery where the growth-oriented companies led during the decline and on the way back up.  Historically, that is an unusual pattern.  As the vaccines roll out and the recovery broadens we may begin to see companies in the travel industry, or perhaps energy or financials, all of which had been very hard hit during the downturn, participate in the recovery.

 

 

 

 

Are you on track for retirement?

 

Making sure you will be ready for retirement can be overwhelming. Funding your retirement accounts over the years is a critical part of your journey to the retirement of your dreams. An experienced Financial Advisor can help you navigate the complexities of investment management. Talk to a Financial Advisor>

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

6 Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

6 Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

This year many people will be shopping online instead of going to brick and mortar stores. It’s the physically safer way to prepare for the holidays. However, given that so many people will be online, it’s a safe bet that criminals and scammers will also be out in force. 

Stay cyber safe online with these tips. 

 

Keep your online apps updated

Before you start browsing on Thanksgiving night (or whenever you begin your holiday shopping hunt), run your updated antivirus and malware protection software. Also, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of your apps and software.

 

The latest updates typically contain protection against the most recent threats. It’s no guarantee that hackers can’t get in. Yet it does provide a better moat around your cyber fortress than the last version that didn’t have all the new updates.

 

Don’t forget to update and run protection software on all your devices, including your phone. If your laptop is completely protected, but you buy something on your phone without updating it first, what you did on your computer is irrelevant. Don’t forget your tablets and any other online devices too.

 

Build login muscle

Getting strong is not just key to your physical health – it’s essential for your cyber health too. If your passwords are common or too short or have the same password for multiple sites, you need to build up your passwords.

 

Secure password creation is especially crucial for any website with your personal information, such as banking accounts, investment sites, bookkeeping sites. If you use social media channels for business, make sure you bulk those up as well. 

 

For any highly sensitive website, whether monetary or reputation-based, you should change your password. Generate the most robust password possible.

 

For ultra-secure passwords, use a password manager. These services essentially lock all your passwords and info in a secure vault that is too difficult for hackers to access. You’ll need to remember the one (long, strong) password to get into your “vault,” and that’s it. 

 

Even with a password manager, take additional steps to keep your logins safe. Get two-factor authentication wherever possible. In addition to providing your password, you validate your login with another method. Typically this is a call, text, or email with a special code. 

 

Of course, you’ll need to make sure that the website has your correct information. If you’ve changed your phone number or email address within the past year, update the info first.

 

Connect carefully

It would help if you encrypted (or have your IT guy encrypt) your wireless connection (Wi-Fi) at home. You need to sign in with a security key or password. If you’re using the default setting that your modem or router came with, consider changing them to something of your choosing.

 

Not all public wireless access points are encrypted. Some of them are public, which is why you can access them without a password. When you look at the network in the list, you won’t see the lock symbol next to it. They’re often called “Guest” in the network name. 

 

If that’s the case, you should assume that someone will take whatever data they can while you’re on that network. Do not enter any website, especially one with a login and password, that you think might provide the opportunity for data theft. 

 

If you enter a password for a site that you don’t worry too much about, but you use that passwords for other sites you would be concerned about, you run the risk of a hacker taking that password and using it for your other accounts.

 

Rather than connect to a public network, you can use your mobile phone, depending on your plan, as a hot spot for connecting. That will also secure your communications.

 

Shopping at a particular store? Go directly to their website.

You’ll probably get a lot of sales emails and promotions in your social media feeds. But you cannot trust all of them. Remember that anyone can put up a site or send an email and make it look reasonably professional. 

 

It’s great for small business owners but is also great for hackers. They can make the email appear as though it’s coming from a friend, at least until you look closely at the email sender’s address. Years ago, many hackers didn’t write perfect English, but that is no longer the case.

 

To be on the safe side, type the store’s name directly into your Internet browser rather than clicking on links sent to your email. These emails might come from hackers with malicious intent.

 

When in doubt, delete it out. Don’t click on any link when you haven’t verified the sender.

 

If you’re considering ordering from a site you haven’t used before, check out the reviews first. If there are none of the ones that exist are mostly negative, find a different source. 

 

You could tell them, but then you’d have to kill them

Just kidding! Many online shops have lots of form fields for you to fill out. You only need to fill out the required ones, marked with an asterisk *. The other fields are often just so the business can gather more information about you. 

 

More information helps them target their marketing and sales better. But it can also be a boon to hackers if they get through the store’s security walls. If it’s not necessary for your activity, then leave it blank.

 

And if they require information that you think is inappropriate, go elsewhere. There’s no reason for an online store to request your Social Security number, for example. Keep your information to yourself.

 

Do not speed up checkout

Most websites allow you to store your credit card information online to purchase from them more easily. Yes, it’s much more convenient for you. And also for hackers. Just say no. Disable your one-click ordering.

 

Checking out as a guest is more difficult for hackers to get your credit card information should they get through the store’s online security. It also helps ensure that you’re not making impulse purchases outside your holiday budget. There’s nothing wrong with having to think before you spend!

 

If you’d like to talk to us about the security precautions we take with your information, feel free to give us a call at 619.255.9554 or email us to set up an appointment.

 

Dream. Plan. Do.

Platt Wealth Management offers financial plans to answer your important financial questions. Where are you? Where do you want to be? How can you get there? Our four-step financial planning process is designed to be a road map to get you where you want to go while providing flexibility to adapt to changes along the route. We offer stand alone plans or full wealth management plans that include our investment management services. Give us a call today to set up a complimentary review. 619-255-9554.

Prevent Social Media Overwhelm

Prevent Social Media Overwhelm

It’s easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of social media. Especially when we’re still practicing social distancing and businesses aren’t all open yet.

You think you’re going to get caught up with some friends from high school. Next thing you know, you’re arguing about what kind of potato you are two hours later. Or you run your own business and you’re trying to keep up with all the latest channels that people say you “have” to be on!

Here are some tips for avoiding the overwhelm.

 

Give yourself a break

 

It’s not entirely your fault that you find social media addicting. If you’ve been beating yourself up about the time you spend on the platforms, stop. They have been specifically designed to be addicting.

You may be under the false impression that social media platforms exist to connect people with other people. They don’t.

Their business model is to keep people on the platform so they can get as many ads in front of as many eyeballs as possible. The fact that you can catch up with your high-school friends or see your niece’s wedding dress is entirely incidental to what the channels are all designed for, which is to make money for advertisers.

That’s why you find it so easy to get sucked in and waste hours in front of the screen. The designers created it to be that way.

 

Turn off notifications on your phone

 

In the course of designing platforms that will keep us glued to them for hours, the developers also know quite a bit about neuroscience and use that to their advantage.  Definitely to most users’ disadvantage!

You probably know that humans are social animals, and we have a need to fit in somewhere or belong somewhere and have some friends. Introverts included. They just need fewer friends than extroverts do to feel they belong.

Our brains also like novelty. That’s why the app designers have all those beeps and buzzes to let you know when you have a notification. Your brain releases a little hit of dopamine, a happy neurochemical,  when this novelty hits you. That’s your brain saying Yeah! More of this!

The notification leads you to open up the app so you can see where someone liked or commented on your post. More feel-good neurochemicals, because you’re getting social validation with the likes and comments, you social animal you.

Still think you need to leave them on? Studies have been done on how long it takes you to start concentrating again once you’ve been interrupted. The answer may surprise you – it’s 23 minutes.

If you’re trying to focus on your work and you pause to see that someone liked your Facebook post, you’ve just wasted more than 20 minutes. Just on the few seconds that it took you to check the notification.

Even if your business is on social media, you don’t necessarily need to keep your notifications on. Unless you’re selling through the channel, in which case you might. Most of the social media platforms allow you to set up a FAQ where you can answer the questions that you often get.

Turn off your notifications and notice how peaceful life is all of a sudden.

 

If you use social media for business, curate and use technology

 

There are a lot of people out there, who may or may not refer to themselves as social media coaches or gurus or superstars, who will insist that anyone worth their salt must be on platform A or B. And some will advise you to be on all of them. But unless you have full-time social media staff, that is just not possible.

Do you need to have your business on social media? Some people argue that you don’t, but those are the people who made their names early on. They don’t need social media to amplify their bylines.

For most of the rest of us, though, we do need to be out there. After all, the platforms are free. You just need to pick the one or two that match your demographic and that you personally can bear to deal with.

The demographic information for all the social medic channels is widely available (here, for example) if you don’t already have a general idea which channel you should focus on.

One rule of thumb that you probably should abide by is to have a LinkedIn profile if you sell business-to-business or B2B. If you’re B2C, selling direct to the retail customer, it may not be necessary. Instagram and Pinterest both skew female and are visually oriented.  Twitter posts do better when paired with pictures but is mainly a text-based platform.

In order to automate your social media as much as possible, you can find a scheduler where you input all your posts and they’re sent out to your platforms at the time that you choose. That way you don’t have to spend so much time on the channels themselves. Although they do reward organic or non-scheduled content.

You can create video from a blog post using technology now as well. See where you can use systems to your advantage.

 

Give yourself a break, part 2

 

And sometimes, you may just need to avoid social media for a little while. During this time, there’s a lot of misinformation and partisan positioning that can rapidly become overwhelming. If you have a business on social media, look only at your business page and nothing else.

On your personal platforms, you can let everyone know that you’re taking a break. You might even find while you’re off that you don’t want to get back on! If you want to stay in touch with friends and family, you can do that via phone calls and web chats. They’re more effective than social media anyway for maintaining social ties.

 

Focus on offline

 

Before you sit down in front of the screen, it might be worth asking yourself if you’ve done everything else first. Did your kids, pets, and/or spouse spend time with you today? Did you exercise in some fashion, even if it was just a dance party for one? Is there a craft or a hobby that you keep wishing you have more time for?

Spending too much time online makes people more lonely and depressed. It’s healthy for you to spend time offline. Especially when you’re spending it thoughtfully by working on a craft or something else that you really love.

Or talking to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while, or catching up with family. Or taking the whole family for a walk after dinner (staying 6 feet away from other people exercising in the great outdoors). Or whatever behavior is healthy, fun, and lights you up… because social media won’t, in the long run.

 

Are you concerned about your financial health while we deal with COVID-19? We’re working remotely (technology for the win!) so please feel free to give us a call at 619.255.9554 or email us.

 

Staying Productive While Working From Home

Staying Productive While Working From Home

With so many people working remotely, being productive can sometimes be a challenge. Creating an office-like environment is a good start. Try to separate your business space from your personal space as much as you can. Read on for more tips on productivity while you’re working at home.

Old Schedule or New Schedule?

 

There are two ways to best schedule your day when you’re working from home. One is to mimic your usual workday as much as possible. Get up at the same time as you usually would. If you normally exercise and eat breakfast in the morning before work, stick to that schedule.
The other way to schedule your day is to evaluate your new normal. If you used to exercise after work, consider energizing yourself in the morning instead. Now that you’ve reduced your commute time, you might find it works well for you! Get to your home “office” around the same time as you used to.

Working with the same schedule is helpful when you work with a team in the same time zone, and you have meetings or calls with colleagues, clients, or management. Your company might require you to keep roughly the same schedule as before. Staying in the same groove helps keep the boundary between work and home clearer.

However, if you’re able to, you might consider shifting your hours to take advantage of the time when you’re most productive. If you’re a morning lark and your most productive time is earlier in the day, take advantage of that. Use the hours for focused work. By contrast, if you’re a night owl, try adjusting your schedule to take advantage of the afternoon or evening hours when you’re most productive.

You might be amazed at how much you can get done when aligned with your natural circadian rhythm. A “weird” schedule works well for companies with colleagues distributed across the globe. Maybe you’re too early for US peers, but you’re able to connect with the UK or European office in the morning.

Whichever schedule you choose, make sure that you’re also scheduling in breaks. According to Cal Newport, in his book Deep Work, most people have only three or four hours a day of focused, deep work. Give yourself a chance to revive after intense focus and play with the kids, pets, and spouse. Take time to eat and go for a short walk to refresh in the afternoon or whenever your slump happens.

Dress pants optional?

 

Wearing formal business clothing from head to toe might feel strange for days spent working at home. But, there is something to be said for keeping up your professional image during video conferencing. For many clients and coworkers, seeing you in your sweats can have a jarring effect on how they perceive your professional role. Also, if you dress as you usually would at the office, it helps you mark the boundary of work vs. home. Remember the TV reporter caught wearing a blazer and shirt but no pants? If you’re fully dressed in business casual, you don’t have to worry about any accidental Zoom flashes!

Make sure you have an ergonomic workspace

 

You might have worked remotely, occasionally, before the corona virus crisis. Sitting on the sofa with your laptop is fine for the odd day when you’re not in the office.

But when you’re working from home all week, you need to set up your computer, desk, and chair so that you don’t harm your shoulders, back, and wrists.

Even after the crisis passes, more employees are likely to work from home, so investing in the proper equipment will pay off.

Soft tissue injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome may take longer to heal than broken bones. You want to avoid them as much as possible. Not only do they prevent you from working, but they prevent you from doing things with your family and friends.

You can find more details about an ergonomic setup here. The center of the computer screen should be eye level when you’re sitting correctly with a straight neck. Your elbows are at a 90-degree angle when you’re typing and mousing, and your wrists are straight.

In other words, you can’t work ergonomically on just your laptop! You’ll need a monitor if nothing else can put your keyboard at the correct height and not strain your neck while typing. Most laptop keyboards are a little challenging to type on correctly. Adding on an external keyboard and mouse, particularly an ergonomic mouse, will help enormously.

Your chair height should allow your knees at a 90-degree angle, your thighs supported, and your feet at rest on the floor. Shorter workers often need a footrest, so their legs don’t dangle when their knees are at the right height.

If you’ve got the necessary equipment (or you’re willing to buy it), consider a sit/stand setup. Sitting all day is unhealthy, so the easier you can make it to switch between standing and sitting, the better. Creating a tread-desk might be worth looking into, especially if you already have a treadmill at home. Switch out your chair for a stability ball or wobble stool for some time during the day.

 

Reduce distractions

The key to productivity, both at home and at the office, is to reduce distractions. Make it as easy as possible to get your work done. Once you’re interrupted, it takes nearly 25 minutes to get back into focus! Stay one task as much as possible, and you’ll get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time. When you’re at home, that’s more time for yourself and your family.

  • Phone

Your phone may be the most distracting tool of all. Place it face down to hide the notifications. Turn off push notifications from any apps on your phone. If you have a work phone, delete any social media apps unnecessary for your job. 

 

  • Household

Create and enforce boundaries while you’re working to avoid interruptions as much as possible. That’s why having a room with a door that you can close is best for working at home, but that’s not always possible or useful. Make sure everyone knows when you’re at your desk that it’s work time (or whatever signal you have that you’re “at work” and not “at home”), and you’re not to be disturbed. 

You have to enforce this boundary with yourself, too. If your kids see on you on Facebook while you’re at your desk for “work time,” obviously not working, they’ll think they can come in and bug you.

 

  • Pets

If you have someone else at home with you to take care of them, that’s great. Otherwise, they may need to be crated or shut out of the room so that you can work in peace. Play with them on your scheduled breaks too, so they get some time to interact with you. Even cats need playtime to stay socialized and healthy.

Here at Platt Wealth Management we’re working remotely, and we’re happy to answer questions or schedule a virtual meeting. Feel free to call us at 619.255.9554 or email us.

Men’s Health: Live Longer With These Health Screenings

Men’s Health: Live Longer With These Health Screenings

Men tend not to go to the doctor for routine exams as often as women do, but it’s vital for them to catch potential health issues quickly. Poor health and health costs are the number one concern in retirement planning. And unfortunately, as people get older, there are more chances for health issues to crop up!

Men need regular health screenings as they get older

 

Many of the diseases and conditions that can result in a reduced life expectancy don’t have any symptoms. The only way you’ll know if you have them is to get screened. For example, there are no symptoms for high blood pressure. But if left unchecked, it’s a known precursor for cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, when you’re able to catch conditions early, you can treat or even eliminate them. If you wait until lung cancer has metastasized to other areas of your body, it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to treat. However, if you catch it while the abnormal growths are still small and localized, you may be able to eliminate it completely.

 

Men under age 50 health screening checklist

 

  • High blood pressure

If you’re usually at a healthy blood pressure (at or below 120/80), you’ll only need this screening every two years. Otherwise, your doctor will probably recommend it every year.

 

  • Cholesterol

If you don’t have risk factors or a family history of high cholesterol, put this on your calendar for every five years. If you do, you might need it done more often.

 

  • Diabetes

If you’re age 40 or over and you’re overweight or obese, you need to take a diabetic screening. Your doctor may also recommend it if you’re at risk for either heart disease or type II diabetes; if you control your blood pressure with medication; or if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80.

 

  • Hepatitis B for men in an at-risk group

Men who have non-monogamous, unprotected sex or are medical workers exposed to blood are at higher risk for contracting the infection. Your doctor will recommend how often you need to be tested.

 

  • Hepatitis C for men in an at-risk group

The population at increased risk for hepatitis C are those who had blood transfusions or organ transplants before June 1992, are a medical worker who’s ever been stuck with a needle, or ever injected drugs. Your doctor will recommend a testing schedule.

 

  • STDs/STIs

Unprotected sex with someone whose sexual/health history you don’t know? Get tested!

Health checkups for men 50+

Just as the recommended screenings for women seem to multiply past the magical age of 50, men also have some additional tests they didn’t necessarily require at a younger age.

  • Colorectal screening

The schedule for getting these tests starts at age 50. Depending on which one you take, you may be able to go longer without repeating the test as long as the results are healthy. If you take a fecal occult or fecal immunochemical test, you’ll need to have it done annually. Repeat stool DNA every three years, and flexible sigmoidoscopy or virtual colonoscopy every five years. When you choose a colonoscopy, you may not need another for five to ten years.

Colorectal tests are essential because they can catch precancerous cells in your colon or rectum, which might otherwise cause cancer. Removing the polyps can prevent cancer when you detect them early enough.

How to choose among your options? Here are the pros and cons of each method.

 

Fecal tests can be done in the privacy of your own home, as you’ll need to collect stool samples and send them to the lab. You may need to change your diet and medications before you take the test. They’re prone to false-positive results (where there is nothing wrong, but the test comes back positive anyway.) 

 

Stool DNA, like the other fecal tests, doesn’t require sedation or a complete colon cleanse before the test. You don’t need to change food or medications before the screening, either. When you send your stool sample to the lab, they will check for DNA changes that might indicate abnormalities and also for blood. This type of test is not as sensitive as the colonoscopy for finding abnormal growths. 

 

Flexible sigmoidoscopy uses a thin tube with a camera on its end into the rectum, where the lower colon (known as the sigmoid colon) and rectum are in view. Most people don’t need sedation, and the colon cleanse isn’t as thorough as that required for the colonoscopy. It won’t catch anything wrong in the upper colon, and you may need to change diet and medications before the test.

 

A colonoscopy is performed by inserting a flexible tube with a tiny camera in it into the rectum. This type of screening is more sensitive than the others, allowing your doctor to view all of your rectum and colon. It also permits small growths to be removed at the time of the screening.

 

However, it won’t catch everything, particularly very small abnormal growths. You’ll need to change your diet and possibly medications before the test because your colon has to be completely clean. You’ll be sedated for the test.

 

A virtual colonoscopy is similar but without sedation or the scope. Instead, carbon dioxide is pumped into your colon via a small tube placed in your rectum. You’ll still need a completely clean colon for this test.

 

  • Lung cancer (ages 55+)

Your risk for lung cancer is measured by pack-year. You should get the test if you smoked for 30-pack years: that’s one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, three packs a day for five years, etc., and you’re still smoking, or you quit within the last 15 years.

 

  • Height & weight

Measuring your height can be done every ten years, but weight annually to ensure that your body-mass index (BMI) isn’t too high.

Enjoy a healthy retirement 65 and beyond

 

Depending on you medical history, you may need specific doctor recommended tests. General health screenings that you should keep on your calendar include:

 

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm for men who smoked 

You need this test once. Though you may be wondering what this type of aneurysm is! It’s an enlargement of your aorta, and it’s dangerous because if it ruptures, you might die from the internal bleeding. Some aneurysms of this type stay small, others get very large, and they may or may not rupture.

The most significant risk factor is from smoking, which makes it more likely that you’ll have one, which also increases the risk of rupture. Smoking weakens the walls of your aorta, which is the major blood vessel in your body.

  • Colorectal screening – you can discuss it with your doctor if you still need to do it. You might not need this test anymore.

 

You may have noticed that there’s no prostate-specific antigen test listed. Doctors no longer recommend for men to get these screeners regularly.

Enjoy good financial health

 

We’re not the experts on medical tests, but we’re here to help with your financial health. 

Our advisors at Platt Wealth Management are here to help you use your money in a way that not only enhances your life but the lives of others around you. Take control of your future education and give us a call at (619) 255-9554 or email us here for a review of your finances.

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