Annual Meeting will be Virtual This Year

The Washington County Community Foundation’s annual meeting will look a little different this year. Instead of meeting in person, the Foundation will be hosting an online event.

Like many businesses and Washington County residents, COVID-19 has forced all of us to be creative. The annual meeting is something that both updates the residents of Washington County on what the Foundation and members of the community have accomplished over the past year and what is on the agenda for the future.

The health and safety of our donors and staff is a primary concern. Given the state of the health emergency, this year the annual meeting will be a virtual presentation that will be aired on July 23 at 7 P.M.

“Although we wish there was an opportunity to see everyone in person, it is our hope that people will join in on the online presentation from the comfort of their home,” stated Judy Johnson Executive Director. 

Please “Like” The Washington County Community Foundation FaceBook page for updates.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.  Visit the website at www.wccf.biz and like the Foundation on Facebook. 

Free Mental Health Counseling Now Available to Washington County Residents

 

As COVID-19 start to open back up after weeks of closures, cancellations, and stay-at-home directives, household stressors can really pile up. Not only are health concerns causing anxiety, but lost income, lack of childcare, isolation, and uncertainty are pushing many to the breaking point. For Washington County residents there is now help available from Serenity Now Psychiatric & Counseling, made possible by our wonderful donors. 

Sessions are conducted with a professional family or individual therapist over the internet via an easy to use telehealth portal using the browser on your computer, tablet, or phone.  The sessions will initially be open to first responders, healthcare providers and retail workers who have been working at essential businesses throughout this crisis.  Depending on utilization, we may be able to open up to other individuals in the community.
 

Anyone interested in scheduling a session or just getting more information can call Serenity Now directly at 812.275.4053. 

Thanks to our generous donors for making this opportunity possible. 

These services will be available for the duration of the grant.  The Foundation will review the impact before extending the grant.

Donors to the WCCF Award $2,500 Grant to Washington County Helping Hands

Thanks to generous donors who have supported the Washington County Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, Washington County Helping Hands is the grateful recipient of a $2,500.00 Rapid Response Grant.  The grant money will be used to assist elderly and disabled home owners with repairs as well as continue developing self-help programming for those with suicidal tendencies and addiction.

The Foundation reactivated the Disaster Relief Fund in March to address emerging community needs cause by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  “We knew that fundraising for some of our nonprofits would be negatively impacted by COVID-19,” explained Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington County Community Foundation.  “We reactivated the Disaster Relief Fund and are actively accepting donations to that fund.  Nonprofits directly working with clients impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, or have been impacted by the Pandemic, are encouraged to apply.  Our goal is to respond to the applicant within a few days.”   More information about the Rapid Response Grants can be found on the Foundation’s website. 

Washington County Community Foundation has updated their website with many resources for the COVID-19 crisis. 

If you would like to support Washington County residents struggling during this crisis, please donate to the Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund.  You can donate on line via the Foundation’s website:  www.wccf.biz, or you can mail a check to The Washington County Community Foundation at PO Box 50, Salem, IN, 47167. 

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.  Visit the website at www.wccf.biz and like the Foundation on Facebook. 

Donors to the WCCF Award $2,500 Grant to Washington County Helping Hands

Thanks to generous donors who have supported the Washington County Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, Washington County Helping Hands is the grateful recipient of a $2,500.00 Rapid Response Grant.  The grant money will be used to assist elderly and disabled home owners with repairs as well as continue developing self-help programming for those with suicidal tendencies and addiction.

The Foundation reactivated the Disaster Relief Fund in March to address emerging community needs cause by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  “We knew that fundraising for some of our nonprofits would be negatively impacted by COVID-19,” explained Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington County Community Foundation.  “We reactivated the Disaster Relief Fund and are actively accepting donations to that fund.  Nonprofits directly working with clients impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, or have been impacted by the Pandemic, are encouraged to apply.  Our goal is to respond to the applicant within a few days.”   More information about the Rapid Response Grants can be found on the Foundation’s website. 

Washington County Community Foundation has updated their website with many resources for the COVID-19 crisis. 

If you would like to support Washington County residents struggling during this crisis, please donate to the Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund.  You can donate on line via the Foundation’s website:  www.wccf.biz, or you can mail a check to The Washington County Community Foundation at PO Box 50, Salem, IN, 47167. 

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.  Visit the website at www.wccf.biz and like the Foundation on Facebook. 

How to Make the Most of Your Telehealth Appointment

I manage a large doctor’s clinic that treats hundreds of seniors each month. We are moving to more telehealth visits to help keep our patients safe at home during the coronavirus pandemic, but this new way of seeing a doctor is befuddling to many of our elder patients. How can patients best prepare for a telehealth appointment?

To help keep patients safe and at home during the coronavirus crisis, more and more doctors and other health care providers are turning to telehealth or telemedicine appointments. These remote visits use digital communication devices, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Although telehealth has been around for a few years, recent updates to regulations and a surge in demand has made it the easiest way to receive many different types of medical care. Most telehealth appointments tend to be primary care, follow-up visits that can assess symptoms or follow up with patients who have had a medical procedure. Telehealth also works well for some specialties like dermatology or mental health care (counseling/therapy) services.

What can patients expect from a telehealth visit and how should they prepare? The first step is to call your doctor’s office to find out whether telemedicine visits are available and whether you will need to set up an account or install special software on your computer, phone or tablet.

Until recently, medical professionals were required to conduct telehealth visits through platforms such as Doxy, Thera-Link or MyChart that were compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. Some of those requirements have been relaxed in the current crisis, so many providers are using popular apps such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom to conduct visits.

Once you know what technology you will be using, get familiar with it. You do not want to spend the first 10 minutes of your visit trying to figure out how to unmute the audio. For patients that are not familiar or comfortable with technology, ask a relative or friend with a smartphone, tablet or laptop to assist you.

Take the time to clarify the purpose of the televisit before it begins. Prioritize a written list of three or four issues you want to discuss with your doctor and make a list of the medicines and dosages you are taking. Also, have relevant medical devices or logs on hand, such as a penlight or smartphone flashlight for viewing a sore throat, a blood-pressure cuff and thermometer (or recent readings), blood-sugar logs if you are diabetic or a food log if you have gastrointestinal problems.

Wear loose clothing that will allow you to show your medical provider what is concerning you. If you have received medical care at different places, such as an urgent care facility or another doctor’s office, have your latest medical records with you during the telemedicine visit.

The length of the appointment may depend on the problem. A routine visit could be very quick, while others, such as a physical-therapy appointment, may last as long as a session at a clinic. Waiting rooms are sometimes replaced by virtual waiting rooms.

Before the visit ends, make sure you know the follow-up plan. Do you need to schedule an in-office visit, fill a prescription or get a referral to a specialist?

Right now, Medicare and Medicaid are covering the cost of telehealth visits (see medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth for details), and most private insurers are following suit.

If, however, you do not have a primary care physician or need urgent care, you can get help through virtual health care services. Many of these services currently do not accept original Medicare, but they may be covered by private insurers including some Medicare Advantage plans. Be sure to check before your visit.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published June 19, 2020

What to Know About Advance Care Planning in the Age of Coronavirus

The recent news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic got me thinking about my own end-of-life decisions if I were to get sick. Can you recommend some good resources that can help me create a living will or advance directive, or other pertinent documents? I have put it off long enough.

Creating an advance directive is one of those things most people plan to do, but often do not get around to actually doing. Only about one-third of Americans currently have one. The current global pandemic may be changing that. Here is what you should know about advance directives, along with some resources to help you create one.

Advance Directives


There are two key documents you should have to adequately spell out your wishes regarding your end-of-life medical treatment: A "living will" which tells your doctor what kind of care you want to receive if you become incapacitated, and a health care power of attorney (or health care proxy), which names a person you authorize to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to.

These two documents are known as an "advance directive," and will only be utilized if you are too ill to make medical decisions yourself. You can also change or update your advance directive whenever you please.

While it is always advised to consult with an attorney to draft legal documents, it may not be necessary to hire a lawyer to prepare an advance directive. There are free or low-cost resources available today to help you create one, and it takes only a few minutes from start to finish. If you are not computer savvy, ask a family member or trusted friend to help you.

The advantage of having a digital advance directive versus a paper document is being able to access it quickly and easily via smartphone, which is crucial in emergency situations when they are most often needed.

Another document you should know about that will compliment your advance directive is the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST (sometimes called Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or MOLST). A POLST form translates your end-of-life wishes into medical orders to be honored by your doctors. To learn more about your state's program or set one up, see POLST.org.

Readers should also know that if you have already prepared an advanced directive, a POLST form or the VA advance directive Form 10-0137, there are websites that allow users to upload, store and share these documents.

Finally, to ensure your final wishes are followed, make sure to tell your family members, health care proxy and doctors. If you make a digital advance directive or have uploaded your existing forms, you can easily share them electronically to everyone involved. If you make a paper advance directive that is not uploaded, you should provide everyone copies to help prevent stress and arguments later.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published June 12, 2020

Why High Blood Pressure is Even More Dangerous in the COVID-19 Era

Are people with high blood pressure at increased risk of getting coronavirus?

If you have high blood pressure, you should take extra care to protect yourself during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Research shows that people with hypertension are more susceptible to getting COVID-19, are more likely to develop severe symptoms if they do get sick and more likely to die from the infection, especially if they are older.

High Risk Links


The key reason individuals with high blood pressure and other health problems may be at higher risk for coronavirus is due to a weaker immune system. Long-term health conditions and aging weaken the immune system, so it is less able to fight off the virus. Nearly two-thirds of Americans over age 60 have high blood pressure.

Some concern was raised that the medications commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), could make patients more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and more susceptible to severe illness if they did become infected. New research published in The New England Journal of Medicine last month found no risk linked to these medications.

COVID Complications


While pneumonia is the most common complication of the virus, it can also damage the cardiovascular system. That is why people with high blood pressure, heart disease and heart failure are at higher risk.

High blood pressure damages the arteries and reduces the flow of blood to your heart. That means your heart has to work harder to pump enough blood. Over time, this extra work can weaken your heart to the point where it is unable to pump as effectively oxygen-rich blood to your body.

Coronavirus can also damage the heart, which can be especially risky if your heart is already weakened from the effects of high blood pressure. The virus may cause inflammation of the heart muscle making it harder for the heart to pump.

If you have plaque buildup in your arteries, COVID-19 may make the plaques more likely to break apart and cause a heart attack. Studies have shown that people with heart disease who contract a respiratory illness, like the flu or earlier types of coronavirus, are at higher risk for a heart attack.

What to Do?


While everyone needs to take precautions to prevent coronavirus, people with high blood pressure and other health conditions should be extra careful.

The best way to avoid getting sick is to stay home as much as you can. If you have to go out, wear a mask and keep at least six feet away from other people. Every time you come home, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Also, clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces like cell phones, countertops and doorknobs.

The CDC also recommends that you have enough medicine on hand to treat high blood pressure and other health conditions. Ensure you have enough over-the-counter medicines to treat a fever and other symptoms if you get sick.

While a coronavirus vaccine is not available yet, health care professionals recommend that you stay up to date on other important vaccines. The pneumococcal vaccines – Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 – may prevent pneumonia. Many health professionals also recommend a flu shot in September or early October. Flu symptoms are easy to confuse with coronavirus, which could make it harder for doctors to diagnose if you do get sick.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published June 5, 2020

Our Donors Award $40,000 to Non-profits

Grants totaling $40,000 were awarded to non-profit organizations serving Washington County by the generous donors of the Washington County Community Foundation for the Spring 2020 grant cycle.  Grants are awarded from the Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow funds.

The Washington County Fair Board was awarded a $20,000 grant to help with completion of the brand new cattle barn at the fairgrounds.  The new structure will allow for a safer environment for the shows as well as being able to be rented out for storage in the off-season.

A $10,000 tele-mental health grant has been awarded to Hoosier Uplands for residents of Washington County seeking mental health services that may not have adequate insurance for mental health assistance.  The sessions will initially be open to first responders, healthcare providers and retail workers who have been working at essential businesses throughout this crisis.  Depending on utilization, we may be able to open up to other individuals in the community.
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The Washington County Food Bank discovered some leaks in their roof this spring.  They will be awarded a $10,000 grant to repair the roof so they may continue supplying food to patrons of the food bank.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

End

How the Coronavirus Relief Law Helps Retirement Savers and Retirees

What can you tell me about the retirement account changes that Congress recently passed in response to the coronavirus crisis?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, was signed into law by President Trump in late March. Tucked inside were a series of changes that can help retirement savers. These changes can help those in need of cash, as well as help preserve the retirement savings accounts of current retirees while the stock market is down. Here is a rundown of how three provisions in the CARES Act might help you or someone you know.

Hardship Withdrawals


Normally, if you took money out of an employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA before 59�, you would be hit with taxes plus a 10% tax penalty on that amount. The CARES Act waives the early distribution penalty on up to $100,000 of distributions in 2020 for "affected individuals." You must still pay income taxes on any amounts withdrawn, but the new law allows you to pay the taxes over three years. Additionally, if you recontribute the amount withdrawn back into your plan within three years, that amount will not be taxed.

To qualify for this penalty-free hardship withdrawal, you, your spouse or a dependent must have been diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) or have experienced adverse financial consequences as a result of COVID-19. This includes being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced, being unable to work due to a lack of child care due to COVID-19 or closing or reducing hours of a business you owned or operated if you had COVID-19.

Bigger Loans


The CARES Act will also allow you to take larger loans against the money you have saved in your 401(k) or 403(b) during the six-month period after the law was implemented on March 27, 2020. IRAs do not allow loans.

Normally, you can borrow only up to $50,000 or 50% of your vested account balance, whichever is less. The CARES Act doubles that amount - up to $100,000 against the amount you have saved in your plan.

Borrowers typically have five years to repay a loan or the amount will be treated as a distribution and taxed. But if you leave or lose your job, you may be required to pay the balance back early, you could owe taxes and you may face an early-withdrawal penalty.

This provision also helps those with an existing 401(k) loan by allowing them to delay repayments that are due in 2020 for one year.

Suspended RMDs


Beginning in 2020, individuals who turn 70� after January 1, 2020 are required to take annual mandatory distributions from their tax-deferred 401(k)s and IRAs when they reach age 72. In prior years, the age of required distributions kicked in when savers turned 70� years of age. This requirement is known as the required minimum distribution or RMD.

The CARES Act suspends RMDs for 2020, including those for inherited IRAs. This means you can skip taking a distribution this year if you wish.

The temporary waiver of RMDs will help retirees who would otherwise have been forced to base their minimum withdrawals for 2020 on their account balances as of Dec. 31, 2019, when the stock market was near record levels. It will also give the market time to recover before resuming distributions in 2021.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published May 29, 2020

Do Pneumonia Vaccines Protect from Coronavirus?

Do vaccines that are currently offered to protect against pneumonia provide seniors any protection against the novel coronavirus disease? I have always been bad about getting vaccinated, but this coronavirus pandemic is causing me to change my thinking.

This is a great question. Because the coronavirus (COVID-19) attacks the lungs and respiratory system, many readers have asked whether the pneumonia vaccines, administered to millions of patients each year, might protect an individual if they contract the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Vaccines for pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B vaccine, do not provide protection against the novel coronavirus.

Because this virus is so new and different, it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are in the process of rapidly developing a vaccine against COVID-19, but it is expected to take at least a year before it is ready.

However, you should know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all seniors get up to date on their vaccinations when the coronavirus pandemic dies down. Here is a summary of these vaccines, when you should get them and how they are covered by Medicare.

Flu vaccine: While annual flu shots are recommended for everyone, they are very important for older adults because seniors have a much greater risk of developing dangerous flu complications. According to the CDC, last year up to 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died because of the flu – most of whom were age 65 and older.

To improve your chances of escaping the seasonal flu, this September or October consider a vaccine specifically designed for people age 65 and older. The Fluzone High Dose or FLUAD are the two options that provide extra protection beyond what the standard flu shot offers. All flu shots are covered under Medicare Part B.

Pneumococcal vaccine: As previously stated, this vaccine protects against pneumonia, which causes the hospitalizations of approximately 250,000 Americans and the deaths of 50,000 each year. It is recommended that all seniors, age 65 and older, get two separate vaccines – PCV13 (Prevnar 13) and PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23). Both vaccines are administered one year apart and protect against different strains of the bacteria to provide maximum protection. Medicare Part B covers both shots if they are administered at least a year apart.

Shingles vaccine: Caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that affects more than one million Americans every year. All individuals age 50 and older should get the new Shingrix vaccine, which is given in two doses, administered two to six months apart. If you have already contracted shingles, you should still get this vaccination because reoccurring cases are possible. The CDC also recommends that anyone previously vaccinated with Zostavax be revaccinated with Shingrix because it is significantly more effective.

All Medicare Part D prescription drug plans cover shingles vaccinations, but coverage amounts and reimbursement rules vary depending on where the shot is given. Check your plan.

Tdap vaccine: A one-time dose of the Tdap vaccine, which covers tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) is recommended to all adults. If you have already had a Tdap shot, you should get a tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster shot every 10 years. All Medicare Part D prescription drug plans cover these vaccinations.

Other Vaccinations


Depending on your health conditions, preferences, age and future travel schedule, the CDC offers a “What Vaccines Do You Need?” quiz at www2.CDC.gov/nip/adultimmsched to help you determine the additional vaccines that may be appropriate for you. You should also talk to your doctor during your next visit about which vaccinations are recommended for you.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published May 22, 2020

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