Income Tax Filing Requirements for Retirees

What are the IRS income tax filing requirements for seniors this year? I didn't file a tax return the past two years because my income was below the filing requirements, but I started working part-time late last year, so I am wondering if I am required to file this year.

Whether you are required to file a federal income tax return this year will depend on how much you earned last year (in 2017), the source of that income, your age and filing status.

Here is a rundown of the 2017 IRS tax filing requirement thresholds. For most people, this is pretty straightforward. If your 2017 gross income was below the threshold for your filing status and age, you probably will not have to file. Your gross income includes all taxable income, not counting your Social Security benefits, unless you are married and filing separately. If your income is above the threshold, you will be required to file. The filing thresholds are as follows:
  • Single: $10,400 ($11,950 if you are 65 or older by Jan. 1, 2018).
  • Married filing jointly: $20,800 ($22,050 if one spouse is 65 or older; $23,300 if both spouses are over 65).
  • Married filing separately: $4,050 regardless of age.
  • Head of household: $13,400 ($14,950 if age 65 or older).
  • Qualifying widow or widower with dependent child: $16,750 ($18,000 if age 65 or older).
To get a detailed breakdown of the federal filing requirements, along with information on taxable and nontaxable income, call the IRS at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you a free copy of Publication 554 "Tax Guide for Seniors," or visit IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p554.pdf.

Additional Factors


There are other financial situations that can require you to file a tax return, even if your gross income falls below the IRS filing requirement. For example, you will probably need to file if you had earnings from self-employment in 2017 of $400 or more or if you receive Social Security benefits and half your benefits plus all other income including tax-exempt interest exceeds $25,000 ($32,000 if you are married filing jointly)

To figure out whether you need to file, the IRS offers an interactive tax assistant tool on their website that asks a series of questions that will help you determine if you are required to file, or if you should file because you are due a refund. It can be completed in less than 15 minutes.

You can access this tool by visiting IRS.gov/filing and clicking on the "Do I Need to File?" button. You can also receive assistance over the phone by calling the IRS helpline at 800-829-1040. If you would prefer face-to-face help, visit IRS.gov/localcontacts or call 800-829-1040 to locate a Taxpayer Assistance Center near you.

Check State Law


Even if you are not required to file a federal tax return this year, you should not assume that you are also excused from filing state income taxes. The rules for your state might be very different. Check with your state tax agency before concluding you are in the clear. For links to state tax agencies see Taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

Tax Preparation Help


If you find that you do need to file a tax return this year, you can get help through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (or TCE) program. Sponsored by the IRS, TCE provides free tax preparation and counseling to middle and low-income taxpayers, age 60 and older. Call 800-906-9887 or visit IRS.treasury.gov/freetaxprep to locate a service near you.

Also check with AARP, a participant in the TCE program that provides free tax preparation at approximately 5,000 sites nationwide. To locate an AARP Tax-Aide site, call 888-227-7669 or visit AARP.org/findtaxhelp. You do not have to be an AARP member to use this service.

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.

WCCF Offering $40,000 in Spring Grant Cycle

WCCF has opened their Spring Grant Cycle. Funds for the $40,000 grant cycle are made possible through our generous donors and the Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow Funds.

Grant applications for the spring grant cycle are available at the WCCF office located on Shelby Street in the Learning Center complex or online at www.wccf.biz. The application deadline will be 3:30pm, April 15, 2018. For more information, you may call Judy Johnson or Lindsey Wade-Swift at the Foundation office. The number is 883-7334.

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

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

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Jinny Scifres Memorial Scholarship Applications Available

The Washington County Community Foundation will be accepting applications for the Jinny Scifres Scholarship. The scholarship is for any individual planning to attend a post-secondary accredited institution in the 2018-2019 school year and plans to pursue studies in the medical field. The scholarship payout this year is $2100.00. The number and dollar amount of scholarships will be determined by the committee. Preference may be given to non-traditional nursing students who may be returning to school after starting a family or career, as did Jinny.

After starting a family, Jinny made the tough decision to return to school and study nursing. After graduation, she began her nursing career at Washington County Memorial Hospital as an Emergency Room Nurse. Jinny’s love of nursing eventually lead her to several promotions and back to school once again. She eventually became the Director of Patient Care Services.

Jinny died in the fall of 2000, after bravely battling bone cancer. Her family and many friends established this scholarship fund in her memory, to assist others who, like Jinny, return to school to study nursing after starting a family or career.  

For questions or an application, please contact Judy or Lindsey at 812-883-7334 or program.officer@wccf.biz. Applications are due by April 15, 2018 at 3:30.

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

The Wall That Heals Needs Volunteers and Names of Vietnam Era Veterans

The Washington County Community Foundation  has been chosen to host The Wall That Heals, a scaled replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile Education Center, to visit Washington County May 17-May 20, 2018 at the YMCA/Community Learning Center/Senior Citizen Center complex in Salem. 

The exhibit includes The Wall replica and a mobile Education Center that comprises digital displays of photos of service members whose names are on The Wall; letters and memorabilia left at The Wall by visitors; a map of Vietnam; and a chronological overview of the Vietnam War.  It tells the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall, and the era surrounding the conflict, and is designed to place American experiences in Vietnam in an historical and cultural context.

Volunteers are needed for several areas of The Wall That Heals including assisting in the Mobile Education Center, assisting visitors with finding names, and assistance at The Wall.  Please email stephanierockeythewall@gmail.com and a link will be sent to you to sign up. We encourage you to sign up for multiple shifts and multiple days.  If you have difficulty signing up, please call Stephanie at 502-291-7360.  Volunteers are requested to sign-up to volunteer by April 15, 2018. 

We are also looking for Vietnam Era Veterans that currently reside in Washington County.  If you are a Vietnam Era Veteran or know one, please call 812-883-7334 or email tanyatwth2@gmail.com

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

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Strength Training Tips

I've fallen several times over the past year and my doctor has recommended that I start a strength training program to help prevent future falls. But at age 72, I've never lifted weights before and could use some help. What can you tell me?

Weak leg muscles and poor balance are two of the biggest factors that cause seniors to fall. Most people begin to lose about 1% of their muscle mass each year beyond the age of 40, which really adds up over time. But study after study has shown that it's never too late to rebuild muscle through strength training.

Resistance exercises and strength training can help you build muscle strength, increase your bone density, improve your balance, coordination and stamina and will help prevent falls. It can also help reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, depression and obesity. Some studies even show that it helps improve cognitive function too. Here are some simple ways to help you get stronger.

Getting Started


After you get your doctor's approval, consider working with a professional trainer or physical therapist for a few sessions to help you develop a safe and effective routine you can continue on your own. You might also go to GrowingStronger.Nutrition.Tufts.edu for a free program from Tufts University in Boston and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also see Go4Life.NIA.NIH.gov, a resource created by the National Institute on Aging that offers a free exercise guide, which includes illustrated examples of exercises you can do at home to strengthen your body. You can order free copies online or by calling 800-222-2225.

To improve your strength, you should try to exercise at least two or three days a week for 30 to 45 minutes, increasing resistance and the number of repetitions over time. Be sure you give your muscles a day off between workouts. It makes the muscle stronger and better equipped to resist future injury.

Equipment


If you work out at home, you will probably need to invest in some equipment. While some strength training can be done using your own body weight (like push-ups, sit-ups and squats), hand weights, ankle weights, medicine balls, resistance bands and rubber tubing are all great tools for strength training. You can find all these products at sporting goods stores or online for around $10 or less. Cans of soup, water bottles or plastic milk containers filled with water or sand may also be used (in place of small hand weights) for resistance.

Senior Classes


If you don't like exercising alone, consider joining a gym or call your local senior center to see if they offer any strength training exercise classes.

You should also check out SilverSneakers (SilverSneakers.com, 888-423-4632) or Silver&Fit (SilverandFit.com, 877-427-4788), two fitness programs offered in thousands of fitness centers, gyms and YMCAs throughout the U.S. that offer special classes designed for older adults. These programs are available for free to seniors who have certain Medicare supplemental policies or Medicare Advantage plans.

Aerobic and Balance Exercises


Some other good fall-prevention exercises that can help you get stronger include aerobic activities, such as walking, cycling and water aerobics. If you would like to improve your balance you might consider tai chi or a number of simple balance exercises that you can do anytime. These include standing on one foot for 30 seconds then switching to the other foot and walking heel-to-toe across the room.

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 February 9, 2018

How to Find Volunteer Opportunities

What resources can you recommend for locating interesting volunteer opportunities? Since I retired, I've been doing some volunteer work but most of the opportunities I've tried have not been very fulfilling.

For many individuals, finding a volunteer opportunity that satisfies your interests, utilizes your talents and matches your availability can be challenging. Here are some tips and online tools that can help you find an interesting and satisfying volunteer opportunity.

Getting Started


Volunteering is a great way to make a positive contribution to your community and stay actively engaged. Not to mention, it is good for your health too. But how can you find the right opportunity for you? Start by asking yourself some basic questions like: What types of organizations or activities am I interested in? What kind of skills can I offer a volunteer organization? How much time am I willing to give? What do I want to gain from my experience (e.g., meet new people, learn new skills, help those in need, etc.)?

Once you have a general idea of what you would like to do, there are dozens of volunteer websites that can help you search for different opportunities in your area. Many of the sites have search engines that allow you to search by location and area of interest. The sites will then give you a list of opportunities that you can browse through. Depending on your interest and expertise, here are some options to help you get started.

General volunteer matching sites: To find a wide variety of volunteer opportunities in your community, check out VolunteerMatch.org, IdeaList.org and AllForGood.org. These websites allow you to search for local volunteer opportunities or start your own project and invite others to help you. Another website worth mentioning is HandsOnNetwork.org, which connects volunteers to opportunities through more than 250 volunteer centers throughout the U.S.

Retiree volunteer sites: If you are retired and interested in opportunities targeting older adults and retirees, some good options include AARP's CreateTheGood.org, along with SeniorCorps.gov, which matches retirees with community projects and organizations that need experienced volunteer help.

Senior Corps offers three different programs: RSVP, which has a variety of volunteer activities with flexible time commitments; the Senior Companion Program that brings together volunteers with homebound seniors who have difficulty with day-to-day living tasks; and the Foster Grandparent Program that matches volunteers with children in the community who have exceptional needs.

Government-sponsored sites: There are a number of government-sponsored websites that can help you look for different volunteer opportunities. To locate dozens of general options in your area, visit Serve.gov. To find natural and cultural volunteer opportunities in places like national and state parks, see Volunteer.gov. If you are interested in emergency preparedness and disaster response volunteer services, go to Ready.gov. Lastly, if you are interested in longer-term volunteer opportunities, check out AmeriCorps.gov and PeaceCorps.gov/50plus, which offers a variety of three-month to two-year programs in the U.S. and abroad.

Professional and executive sites: If you have expertise in areas like business planning and development, marketing, communications, finance, fundraising, web design, graphic design, writing or editing, check out Catchafire.org, TaprootPlus.org and ESCUS.org. These websites can link you to volunteer opportunities with nonprofit organizations in need that are looking for certain skill sets. Another option, if you are looking to help entrepreneurs and small business owners, is to check out a volunteer mentoring program like SCORE at SCORE.org.

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 February 2, 2018

What to Do When a Loved One Dies

Can you tell me what steps need to be taken after a loved one dies? My 80-year-old father has a terminal illness and I would like to find out what I will need to do when he passes so that I am prepared.

I'm sorry about your father's situation. This is an important question and is something that many families inquire about when a loved one's death becomes imminent. Here is a run-down of some things you can do that can help keep a sad event from becoming even more painful.

Before Death Occurs


There are several tasks you can do now while your father is still living that will make things a lot easier and less hectic after he passes away.

First, find out where your father keeps his important papers, including his birth certificate, marriage and divorce certificates, Social Security information, life insurance documents, military discharge papers, financial documents as well as keys to safe deposit boxes or home safes. You also need to make sure you have an up to date copy of your father's will or trust.

You will also want to ensure that your father has an advance health care directive. An advance health care directive specifies end-of-life medical treatments and appoints a health care proxy to make medical decisions in the event of incapacitation. If your father has not filled out an advance health care directive, see CaringInfo.org for free state-specific forms and instructions.

In addition, discuss with your father whether he wants a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, which will tell health care professionals not to perform CPR if your father's heart or breathing stops. Your father's doctor can help you with this.

It is also a good idea to pre-arrange funeral and burial or cremation arrangements.

Immediately After Death


When an individual passes away, a legal pronouncement of death must be obtained. If a doctor is not present, you will need to contact someone to make this pronouncement. For example, if someone under hospice care passes away at home, a hospice nurse can be called. The nurse can declare the death of the individual and help facilitate proper transportation.

If an individual passes away at home without hospice care, call 911 and locate the individual's DNR document, if he or she has one. Without a DNR order, paramedics will generally start emergency procedures and, except where permitted to pronounce death, take the person to an emergency room for a doctor to make the declaration.

If an autopsy is not required, the next step is to call a funeral home, mortuary or crematorium to arrange proper transportation. If your father is an organ or tissue donor, the funeral home or county coroner should be contacted immediately.

Within a Few Days


If funeral plans were not pre-arranged, then arrangements will need to be made and an obituary should be prepared. If you father was in the military or belonged to a fraternal or religious group, you should contact those organizations because they may have burial benefits or conduct funeral services.

Up to 10 Days After Death


To wind down your father's financial affairs, you will need to obtain multiple copies of his death certificate. These are typically provided by the funeral home.

If you are the executor of your father's estate, you will need to take his will to the appropriate county or city office to have it accepted for probate. The executor should also open a bank account for the estate to pay bills, taxes, funeral costs and other estate-related expenses.

You will need to contact your father's advisors including his estate planning attorney, if he had one. You should also contact his tax preparer to see if estate or final income tax returns should be filed. His financial advisor can provide information regarding his financial holdings. His life insurance agent should be contacted in order to obtain claim forms. Speak to a representative at his bank to locate and close accounts. You should call the Social Security Office (800-772-1213) along with other agencies that provided benefits in order to stop payments and, if applicable, ask about survivor benefits. You should also cancel his credit cards and, if relevant, stop household services like utilities, mail, etc.

For more information regarding the duties of an executor, a great resource is "The Executor's Guide: Settling a Loved One's Estate or Trust" available at Nolo.com.

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 January 26, 2018

Financial Tips for Retiring Abroad

 

What are some financial factors to consider when retiring abroad? My husband and I will be retiring in a few years and are interested in saving money by moving to a foreign country.

Retiring abroad has become a growing trend for millions of U.S. retirees who are looking to stretch their retirement savings. Here are some tips and resources for you to consider and to help you prepare.

Researching Tools


For starters, you can find information and articles on the countries and cities you are interested in at websites like InternationalLiving.com and EscapeArtist.com.

Another good idea is to talk with retirees who have already made the move that you are considering. They can give you tips and suggestions, explain the advantages and disadvantages and provide you with the day-to-day reality of living in a particular country. Visit ExpatExchange.com and ExpatForum.com for additional information and resources.

Before committing to a particular location, most experts recommend that you visit the location multiple times during different seasons to see whether you can envision yourself living there, rather than simply exploring the location as a tourist.

It is also important to consider these financial factors:

Cost of living: Retiring abroad was once seen as a surefire way to live beyond your means and, for some countries, it still is. However, the U.S. dollar is not what it used to be, so your money may not stretch as far as you think. See Numbeo.com for a country-by-country cost of living comparison.

Taxes: No matter what foreign country you decide to retire to, as long as you are a U.S. citizen, you must file an annual tax return and report all income above certain minimums. This is true regardless of where the income is earned. For details see the IRS Publication 54, "Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad" at IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p54.pdf.

Health care: Medicare and most U.S. health insurance companies do not provide coverage outside the U.S. Check with the U.S. embassy (see USembassy.state.gov) in your destination country to see how to receive coverage as a foreign resident. Many countries provide government-sponsored health care that is inexpensive, accessible and just as good as what you would receive in the States. Another option is to buy a policy through Medibroker (Medibroker.com) or Bupa Global (BupaGlobal.com).

Be aware that most people who retire abroad eventually return to the U.S. As such, you should consider paying your Medicare Part B premiums. If you drop and resume Part B, or delay initial enrollment, you will pay a 10% premium penalty for every 12-month period in which you could have been enrolled.

Banking: Opening or maintaining a bank account abroad has become more difficult because of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a U.S. law designed to prevent Americans from hiding assets abroad. So, you may have to establish a savings and checking account with an institution that has international reach, like Citibank. Another option is to consider maintaining your bank account so that you can access your account online and get U.S. credit and debit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees.

Housing: Buying a home in a foreign country can be complicated. Therefore, it is usually less expensive and simpler to rent, unless you know you are going to live there for a long time.

Social Security: You can receive your monthly Social Security benefits almost anywhere around the world (see SSA.gov/international/payments.html). Your benefits can be deposited into a bank account in the U.S. or in your new home country with some exceptions.

The U.S. State Department offers a handy checklist that can help you think through all the issues on retiring abroad. To access it, visit Travel.state.gov and search for "retirement abroad."

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 January 19, 2018
 
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The Wall That Heals

The Wall That Heals, a scaled replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile Education Center, is scheduled to visit Washington County May 17-May 20, 2018 at the YMCA/Community Learning Center/Senior Citizen Center complex in Salem.

TWTH1 300“2018 is the 25th anniversary for the Washington County Community Foundation,” explained Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Because of this, we are calling 2018 the year of our Superheroes to honor all of our donors who have been so generous to our community by giving through the Foundation these past 25 years. We will also have events to honor other local superheroes, such as our veterans. We are so thankful to the people at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for selecting us as one of the 39 sites throughout the country to be honored with the opportunity to host The Wall That Heals.”

The Wall That Heals honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed forces during the Vietnam War and it bears the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.

Hosting The Wall That Heals provides a community with a multi-day experience of reflection that includes an educational experience for local schools and organizations on the history of the Vietnam era and The Wall.

The exhibit includes The Wall replica and a mobile Education Center that comprises digital displays of photos of service members whose names are on The Wall; letters and memorabilia left at The Wall by visitors; a map of Vietnam; and a chronological overview of the Vietnam War.

The exhibits tell the story of the Vietnam War, The Wall, and the era surrounding the conflict, and are designed to place American experiences in Vietnam in an historical and cultural context.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is one of the most visited memorials in our nation’s capital, with more than 5.6 million visitors each year. However, many Americans have not been able to visit what has become known to many as “The Wall.” The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), the organization that built The Wall in 1982, wants to provide all veterans, their family members, and the general public across America an opportunity to visit the memorial.

“Taking The Wall That Heals on the road gives thousands more veterans and their family members an opportunity to see The Wall and honor those who have served and sacrificed so much,” said Jim Knotts, president and CEO of VVMF. “It helps veterans from all of America’s conflicts to find healing and a powerful connection through their common military experiences.”

More than 200,000 people visited The Wall That Heals in 2016. Since its debut in 1996, the exhibit has been on display in nearly 500 U.S. communities, as well as internationally during an April 1999 tour of the Four Provinces of Ireland, and a visit to Canada in 2005.

VVMF coordinates local stops of The Wall That Heals and the accompanying mobile Education Center. The current schedule and more information can be found at:  www.thewallthatheals.org.

About the scaled replica of the memorial  

The replica Wall is a scaled replica, and like the original memorial is erected in a chevron-shape. The replica is constructed of powder-coated aluminum, supported by an aluminum frame, and is made up of 24 individual panels, each containing six columns of names.

The names on The Wall That Heals replicate the names on The Wall in Washington, D.C. As on The Wall, the names are listed alphabetically by day of casualty. Beginning at the center/apex, the names start on the East Wall (right-hand side) working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall (left-hand side) and working their way back to the center/apex. Thus, the beginning and ending of the conflict are joined at the center, signifying an epoch in American history.

About VVMF and the Education Center at The Wall

VVMF is the nonprofit organization that built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, D.C. in 1982. VVMF is dedicated to honoring and preserving the legacy of service in America and educating all generations about the impact of the Vietnam War and its associated era through programs, ceremonies and education materials.

Three decades after building The Wall, the mission continues as VVMF raises funds to build the Education Center at The Wall in Washington, D.C. The Center will be an interactive learning facility on the National Mall where our military heroes' stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

The Education Center will feature the faces and stories of the more than 58,000 men and women on The Wall and honor America's legacy of service, including those serving in our nation's Armed Forces today. Time Warner is the Lead Gift Benefactor in the campaign to build the Education Center at The Wall. To learn more about VVMF and the future Education Center at The Wall, visit www.vvmf.org or call 202-393-0090. Or, email Johns Creek Community Relations Manager Grant Hickey or call him at 678-512-3351.

Schedule of events

May 16th - May 20th

Get Involved

Volunteer

Click Here to Donate

For more information, contact Tanya Dustin at: tanyatwth2@gmail.com

Don't Eat This if You're Taking That

 

If a prescription label says "take with meals," does it matter what you eat? I currently take eight different medications for various health problems and would like to know if there are any foods I need to avoid.

It depends on the medication. Many meds should be taken with food — any food — to increase their absorption and reduce the risk of side effects. But some foods and medications can interact, reducing the medications' effectiveness or increasing the risk of harmful side effects.

To stay safe, you should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your prescriptions, along with what foods and beverages to avoid while you are taking them. In the meantime, here are some foods you should avoid when taking some commonly prescribed drugs.

Cholesterol Medications: If you take a certain statin drug to control high cholesterol such as Lipitor, Zocor, Altoprev, Mevacor, or generics atorvastatin, simvastatin or lovastatin, you should avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice. Grapefruit can augment the amount of the drug in your bloodstream and increase the risk of side effects, especially leg pain.

Blood Pressure Medicine: If you take an ACE inhibitor drug including Capoten, Vasotec, Monopril, or Zestril to lower your blood pressure, you should limit foods that contain potassium, like bananas, oranges, tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes and salt substitutes that contain potassium. ACE inhibitors raise the body's potassium levels. Eating too many potassium rich-foods while taking an ACE inhibitor can cause an irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations.

Blood Thinning Medications: If you are taking Coumadin, Jantoven, or the generic warfarin, you should limit kale and other greens, including broccoli, cabbage, spinach and brussel sprouts. These foods can block the effects of blood-thinning medications, which could put you at risk for developing blood clots. You also need to watch out for garlic, ginger, vitamin E and fish oil supplements because they can increase the medication's blood-thinning abilities, which could put you at risk for excessive bleeding.

Antidepressants: If you take a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressant like Marplan, Nardil, Emsam, Parnate, or generics isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline or tranylcypromine, you should avoid aged cheeses, chocolate, cured meats and alcoholic drinks. These contain tyramine, which can raise blood pressure. Normally, the body controls tyramine levels with an enzyme called monoamine oxidase, but MAOI antidepressants block that enzyme.

Thyroid Medications: If you take a medication for hypothyroidism like Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid or generic levothyroxine, you should avoid tofu, walnuts and soymilk because these can prevent your body from absorbing your thyroid medication.

Anti-Anxiety Medications: If you take medication for anxiety like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, or generics alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam or lorazepam, you should avoid alcohol. These medications act as sedatives, binding with the brain's natural tranquilizers to calm you down. If you mix these drugs with alcohol, the side effects intensify and can cause you to feel lightheaded, sleepy or forgetful.

Antibiotics: If you are taking an antibiotic like Sumycin, Dynacin, Monodox, or generic tetracycline, doxycycline or minocycline, you should avoid dairy and calcium supplements for a couple hours before and after taking the medicine. This includes milk, yogurt and cheese. The calcium in dairy products binds to the antibiotic, which can prevent your body from absorbing it and may make the medication ineffective.

To find more dietary guidance on the drugs you take, see reliable health websites like MedlinePlus.gov or MayoClinic.org. Also consider the excellent new AARP book "Don't Eat This If You're Taking That: The Hidden Risks of Mixing Food and Medicine" available at Amazon.com and BN.com for $13.

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 January 5, 2018

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