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Photo courtesy of - While fluid intelligence tends to peak in younger years, crystallized intelligence can make for smarter, wiser older workers.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 3 years ago

Senior News Line: Better with age

Study shows brains better with age
by: Matilda Charles

If you haven't retired and you work for a company that is trying to ease you out due to age, a recent study might change some minds. The brief from the Center for Retirement Research describes how and why older workers stay productive, and compares accumulated information and experience with the ability to process new information.

That accumulated information (called "crystallized intelligence") won out in many cases over new information gathering, called "fluid intelligence." Younger workers just haven't had enough years on the job in many fields to accumulate that crystallized intelligence.

At the same time, there are certain fields where we might not want to stay employed as we age. In a test of air traffic controllers, older participants did not do as well as the younger ones because new information (fluid intelligence) had to be assessed on a second-by-second basis. "Old" accumulated information had no value in this case. Surgery is another field, and the researchers suggest that people be screened after age 60 for cognitive decline.

One test, however, showed the value of age and experience; the ability to finish a New York Times crossword puzzle. Participants at age 20 didn't do well at all. As the age of participants increased, so did their ability to complete the puzzle. Even 80-year-olds did slightly better than those who were 60, proving that information and knowledge still are being accumulated at that age, even though there's no need to learn new skills. Those who had changed careers along the way didn't fare as well in crystallized intelligence because they had fewer years to gather information.

So if your company is trying to push you out due to age, direct its attention to brief entitled "Cognitive Aging and Ability to Work" at the website.

Waiting on first check from Social Security

If you'll be eligible for Social Security soon and are counting on having the money in hand on your birthday, beware. That's likely not when you'll receive it, especially not your first check.

The month is broken down into thirds. If your birthday is somewhere between the first and the 10th, expect the money on the second Wednesday of the month. Between the 11th and 20th, you'll get your money on the third Wednesday. After that, you get yours on the fourth Wednesday.

Those who began receiving benefits before 1997, however, get their benefits on the first of the month.

Starting in 2013, Social Security stopped sending out checks. You now have two ways to get your money:

• Direct deposit (electronic transfer) into your bank account on the day you're supposed to get it. This is your best bet because it's free. This is not to be confused with an ETA account that is only for electronic transfers. Ask at your bank to be sure which one you have.

• Money applied to your Direct Express Debit card. While it's supposedly free to handle your money this way, it often isn't. You get one free withdrawal each month, can check your balances and can use the card wherever debit cards are accepted. (Probably not to pay your landlord, though.) After that, you'll start getting dinged for small amounts, depending on what services you ask for.

Additionally, you won't receive your money until the month following your birthday – unless you file at age 62 and your birthday is the 1st or 2nd of the month.

Meanwhile read the details before you apply for Social Security so you know what to expect. To view the 2017 payment schedule, go online to

Medicare Welcome vs. Wellness visits

Those who are new to Medicare have to sort out a lot of information in a hurry. One area of confusion is the difference between the Welcome to Medicare doctor visit and the annual Wellness Visit.

You get the Welcome visit once, in the first 12 months of your enrollment in Medicare. You get the annual Wellness visit a year later and every year after that.

What to expect from your Welcome visit:

Counseling, mostly. Your weight, exercise, diet, current drugs, blood pressure, possible depression, general physical condition, family medical history and more will be discussed in a 45-minute visit. They might do a basic vision test and a body mass index. A plan will be provided for screenings, shots or tests. The Wellness visit doesn't cost you anything.

If you're expecting a full physical at that time, you won't get it.

Your annual Wellness visit:

You qualify for this appointment if you've had Part B for longer than 12 months. You'll have to fill out a health-risk questionnaire as a means for the medical staff to develop a prevention plan for you. If you have the Original Medicare, you won't pay anything for the annual exam, unless additional tests are performed at the same time and those tests aren't covered.

Some of those tests that might be requested include prostate cancer, HIV, colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes and glaucoma. Certain tests and screenings are free.

Be sure to ask for the free Medicare Wellness visit not a physical. If you end up with a full physical (depending how you ask for the appointment), thinking it's a free Wellness visit, you could well be charged for various tests. On the other hand, if you do want a full head-to-toe physical, be specific because you won't get it at the Wellness visit either.

(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.

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