"Helping You Navigate the Course to Financial Freedom"
December 2016
What Clients Fear Most

When I speak to clients about retirement, I encourage them to visualize their ideal retirement scenario. What would their daily schedule look like? What activities will they engage in? Where would they like to live - in place, warmer weather, closer to children?
But I realize that when giving this visualization guidance, I tend to leave something out - how will their choices accommodate the real possibility of dealing with chronic illness? Because according to a recent survey of financial planners, the number one concern of retirees is not necessarily running out of money.   It's about becoming a burden on their spouse or their children due to declining health. And the number one health concern is not cancer or heart disease, but Alzheimer's/dementia.
A study by an Alzheimer's research team at UCLA estimates that Alzheimer's disease will become a full-blown world-wide health crisis, with a projection of over 100 million patients with the disease by the year 2050. They also found that the rate of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's in older populations doubles every five years - from 1% today at age 77, doubling to 2% by 82, and 4% by age 87.
I became interested in the subject when a cousin of mine recently received a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimers at the age of 55. There was no history of the disease in my family up to then.
And while currently there is no prevention and no cure in sight for the disease (one promising drug failed in recent trials to slow the progress of the disease), there are some steps we can take to reduce our risk profile for Alzheimers, according to Baycrest Health Sciences, a global research firm on aging. These include:
 
Reduce your stress level - anything that reduces your stress level is beneficial, including music, meditation, and hobbies.
Increase the complexity of your activities - the more your mind is challenged, the more you reduce your odds of an Alzheimers diagnosis.  
Experience new situations - vary your routine to exercise different parts of your brain. If you like crossword puzzles, a left brain activity, try learning painting, music, or knitting to use the right side.
Stay physically active - recent studies point out that even 6 months of moderate physical activity can produce significant improvements in cognitive function.
Be socially engaged - a recent NY Times article by the Dalai Lama discussed research that showed senior citizens who did not feel useful were three times as likely to die prematurely. Volunteer to help others in your community, and stay connected to family and friends.
Baycrest Research offers a free website at https://www.cogniciti.com/  where those age 50 to 79 can test their memory and track changes. Your own physician can often be the best place to start if you have concerns about your memory or Alzheimer's disease.
If you'd like to discuss what we can do to help you prepare for this possibility, please feel free to give us a call. ##




In This Issue
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Letters From Dad

As a financial planner, I spend a lot of time with other financial planners - talking to them, reading their blogs and articles, comparing notes.
I recently came upon this article by noted financial writer Dan Richards and thought I would share it with you. In it he describes how we often take for granted those we are closest to, and an easy step to take to remind yourself (and your loved ones!) how much you really do appreciate them.
You can read the article at http://tinyurl.com/zonruol.
 
 

Hours During
 the Holidays
 
During the holidays we typically close our office for the last 2 weeks of the year. This year our office will be closed from Monday, December 19th to Monday, January 2. As usual, we will be monitoring voicemail and email, so if you need us just leave a message or write us an email and we'll get back to you in between cooking, cleaning, and general merry-making!
Have a safe and prosperous New Year.


Market Check-In

I wish I could say that I know what is going to happen under a Trump presidency.  But I can't.  Certainly I have a few ideas on what initiatives the new administration may be taking up in 2017 and beyond.  But at the expense of possibly revealing my age, I will tell you that I've seen a few cowboys with big ideas come and go.  And if governing were so easy, we'd all have no taxes and free healthcare!  But governing isn't easy. Compromise isn't easy.  And even though the Republicans now control all 3 houses, it would be wrong to think all those Republicans will now be speaking with one voice.

In the hours after Trump's election, market indicators fell by over 5%.  But in the days after, the markets have been acting as if they know for sure what is happening in 2017- rising inflation, accelerated US economic growth, lower taxes and trade protectionism. While I may agree with some (or all) of those things eventually happening, the pace of market change based on these assumptions has been breath-taking.

How things will actually unfold is anyone's guess.  But this unbridled enthusiasm is a good example of how even the savviest market strategist can get things completely wrong...

Table 1: Key Index Returns
 
MTD % Nov 
YTD % 2016
3-year* %
Dow Jones Industrial Average
+5.4
+9.7
+5.9
NASDAQ Composite
+2.6
+6.3
+9.5
S&P 500 Index
+3.4
+7.6
+6.8
Russell 2000 Index
+11.0
+16.4
+5.0
MSCI World ex-USA**
-1.8
-3.2
-4.7
MSCI Emerging Markets**
-4.7
+8.7
-5.4
Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com
MTD returns: Oct 31, 2016-Nov 30, 2016
YTD returns: Dec 31, 2015-Nov 30, 2016
*Annualized
**in US dollars

Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA), Member FINRA, SIPC. Supervising office at 678-954-4000. Financial planning offered by Compass Wealth Management LLC. Leslie Beck and Martin Siesta are registered representatives and investment advisor representatives of SFA, which is otherwise unaffiliated with Compass Wealth Management. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Please note that individual situations can vary.  Therefore, the information presented here should only be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.  For more information visit www.compasswealthmanagement.net