Discount Benefits for Baby Boomers

 

What types of discounts are available to baby boomers, at what age do they kick in and what's the best way to go about finding them?
One of the great perks of growing older in America is the many discounts that are available to boomers and seniors.
There are thousands of available discounts on a wide variety of products and services including restaurants, grocery stores, travel and lodging, entertainment, retail and apparel, health and beauty, automotive services and much more. These discounts typically range between 5% and 25% off and can add up to save you hundreds of dollars each year.
Here are some tips and tools to help you find these discounts.

Always Ask

The first thing to know is that most businesses don't advertise discounts, but many give senior discounts when asked if one is available.
You also need to know that while some discounts are available as soon as you turn 50, others may not kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65.

Search Online

Because senior discounts frequently change and can vary depending on where you live and the time of the year, an online search is the easiest way to help you locate current discounts.
To do a search, start by visiting SeniorDiscounts.com, which lists thousands of discounts that you can search for by city and state and by category.
You can also look for discounts at TheSeniorList.com, which provides a large list of national and regional business chains that offer them. You can also go to Google.com and type in the business or organization you're curious about, followed by "senior discount" or "senior discount tickets."
If you use a smartphone, another tool is the Sciddy app (see Sciddy.com). This app lets you search for senior discounts and can send you alerts when you're at an establishment that offers them.

Join a Club

Another way to receive senior discounts is through membership organizations like AARP, Seniors Coalition or the American Seniors Association. AARP, for example, offers its 50 and older members a wide variety of discounts through affiliate businesses and sponsors.
For federal workers, there's also the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

Types of Discounts

Here's an abbreviated list of some of the different types of discounts you can expect to find.
Restaurants: Senior discounts are common at restaurants and fast food establishments, including Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Wendy's, Applebee's and Golden Corral. These discounts range from free or discounted drinks to discounts off your total order.
Retailers: Many thrift stores and retailers offer a break to seniors on certain days of the week. Some of these stores include Goodwill, Banana Republic, Kohl's, Michaels and Ross.
Supermarkets: Many locally owned grocery stores offer senior discount programs, as do some chains like Albertsons, Kroger, Publix and Fry's Supermarkets. Some offer discounts on certain days of the week but they vary by location.
Travel: Southwest Airlines provides the best senior fares in the U.S. to passengers 65 and older. Amtrak offers a 15% discount and Greyhound offers 5% off to travelers over 62. Most car rental companies provide discounts to customers who belong to organizations like AARP. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over. In addition, most hotels offer senior discounts, usually ranging from 10% to 30%.
Entertainment: Many movie theaters, museums, golf courses, ski slopes and other public entertainment venues provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. Additionally, the National Park Service offers a lifetime pass for those 62 and up for $10 (see nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm).
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 December 30, 2016

Nice is named the 2017 LECS recipient

Jaelen Nice has been named the recipient of a four-year, full tuition scholarship as the Washington County Community Foundation 2017 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar.

Nice was surprised after basketball practice with the assistance of coach, Hank Weedin. Lindsey Wade-Swift with the Washington County Community Foundation and Weedin collaborated and decided to bring Nice in to brainstorm ideas of how to encourage more students to attend the basketball game in January for which there are free tickets.  “Most students are ready to go home after a long day of school and practice, but Jaelen was more than willing to meet with us.  In fact, he was going to shoot more baskets after practice.  That’s very telling of his character and drive,” Wade-Swift stated. 

“When I found out, I really didn’t know what to think. I was excited and humbled at the same time.  I just feel very blessed to have an opportunity like this.  It still doesn’t seem real to me yet.  I’m just so incredibly thankful,” states Nice.

Jaelen plans on pursuing a degree in Biochemistry or Radiology and is leaning towards attending Anderson University.

He is an integral part of the Lions Tennis team and Basketball team, a member of Student Council, the Washington County Youth Foundation, Vice- President of National Honor Society, Science Club, Booster Club, FCA President, and Vice-President of the Senior Class.

Nice participates in several community service projects such as Dare to Care food distribution, Jump Start, school blood drives, Relay for Life, VBS, and many more.  He has also received many athletic and academic awards including Tennis All-Conference, FCA Christian Athlete Award, National History Day Career Award, and academic excellence in math, English, history, Spanish, and science.

Thirty-four applications were turned in for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship to the Washington County Community Foundation. The WCCF has developed a score sheet and ranking based on criteria that includes:  GPA, SAT/ACT scores, Financial Need, First Generation College Student, Activities, Community Service, Honors/Awards, and Essay.  The top students are then chosen to interview in front of the WCCF Scholarship Committee.  After the Washington County Community Foundation scholarship committee narrowed the field to 4 nominees, the finalists’ names were submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. (ICI) for the selection of the recipients.

ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 31 regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state.

The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Hoosier students reach higher levels of education. Indiana ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree.  There were 142 scholarships awarded statewide.

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.

How to Spot and Fix Medical Billing Mistakes

 

After a recent hospital stay, I have a stack of confusing medical bills at home I need to decipher. I've heard these bills frequently contain mistakes. How do I spot them to ensure I'm not paying more than I should?
Medical billing errors and overcharging is not uncommon. According to the American Medical Association, 7% of medical bills in 2013 had errors. Other groups estimate that figure to be much higher. Unfortunately, untangling those mistakes is almost always up to you. Here are some tips and tools that can help.

Check for Errors

To help you get a grip on your medical bills and check for errors, you need to familiarize yourself with what your insurance does and doesn't cover. Then you need to carefully review the explanation of benefits from your insurer and the invoices you receive from your doctor, hospital and/or outpatient facility providers.
These invoices need to be itemized bills detailing the charges for every procedure, test, service and supply you received. If you didn't receive an itemized invoice, request it from your health care providers. And if the invoices contain any confusing billing codes or abbreviations that you don't understand, ask them for an explanation. You can also look up most medical billing codes online by going to any search engine and typing in "CPT" followed by the code number.
Once you receive and decode the invoices, check for these mistakes:
  • Typos: Incorrect billing codes, a misspelled name or a wrong policy number.
  • Double billing: Being charged twice for the same services, drugs, or supplies.
  • Canceled work: Charging for a test your doctor ordered, then canceled.
  • Phantom services: Being charged for services, tests or treatments that were never received.
  • Up-coding: Inflated charges for medications and supplies.
  • Incorrect length of stay: Most hospitals will charge for the admission day, but not for day of discharge. Be sure you're not paying for both.
  • Incorrect room charges: Being charged for a private room, even if you stayed in a semi-private room.
  • Inflated operating room fees: Being billed for more time than was actually used. Compare the charge with your anesthesiologist's records.
To make sure the charges on your bill are reasonably priced, your insurance provider may offer an online price transparency tool. You could also use the Healthcare Blue Book (healthcarebluebook.com) or Guroo (guroo.com). These are free resources that let you look up the going rate of many procedures, tests or services in your area.

Make Corrections

If you find errors or have questions about charges, contact your insurer and your health care provider's billing office. When you call, be sure you write down the date, time and name of the person you speak to and a summary of the conversation, in case you need to refer back to it at a later time.
If there's a billing code error or some other mistake that's easily correctable, ask your health care provider to resubmit a corrected claim to your insurance company.

Get Help

If you aren't able to resolve the dispute on your own, you may want to consider hiring a medical billing advocate to work on your behalf. To find someone, try sites like billadvocates.com or claims.org. Most advocates charge an hourly fee — somewhere between $50 and $200 per hour — for their services, or they may work on a contingency basis, earning a commission of 25% to 35% of the amount they save you.
If you're a Medicare beneficiary, another resource is your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). They provide free counseling and can help you understand your medical bills and Medicare coverage. To find a local SHIP counselor visit shiptacenter.org or call 800-633-4227.
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 December 23, 2016

How to Create a Safe 'Aging-in-Place' Home

 

My husband and I are thinking about making some modifications to our home so we can remain living there for as long as possible. Can you recommend some good resources that can help us with aging-in-place ideas?
Many retirees, like you and your husband, want to stay living in their own house for as long as possible. But being able to do so will depend on how easy it is to maneuver in your home as you get older. Here are some helpful resources to give you an idea of the different types of features and improvements you can make that will make your house safer and more convenient as you age.

Home Evaluation

A good first step in making your home more age-friendly is to do an assessment. Go through your house, room-by-room, looking for problem areas like potential tripping or slipping hazards, as well as areas that are hard to access and difficult to maintain. To help with this, there are several organizations that have aging-in-place checklists that point out potential problems in each area of the home, along with modification and solutions.
Rebuild Together, for example, has a two-page "Safe at Home Checklist" that's created in partnership with the Administration on Aging and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Go to AOTA.org and search for "Rebuilding Together Safe at Home Checklist."
The National Association of Home Builders also has an "Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist" that offers more than 100 suggestions to help homeowners age 50-plus live safely, independently and comfortably. Go to NAHB.org and search for "Aging in Place Remodeling Checklist."
Also check out AARP's excellent resource called the "HomeFit Guide" that's filled with 28-pages of tips and diagrams to make your entire home safe and easier to live in as you age. You can access it at AARP.org - search for "HomeFit" or call 888-687-2277 and ask them to mail you a free copy.

Personalized Advice

If you want more personalized help, consider getting a professional in-home assessment with an occupational therapist.
An occupational therapist, or OT, can evaluate the challenges and shortcomings of your home for aging-in-place, recommend design and modification solutions and introduce you to products and services to help you make improvements.
To find an OT in your area, check with your physician, health insurance provider or local hospital, or seek recommendations from family and friends. Many health insurance providers, including Medicare, will pay for a home assessment by an OT if prescribed by your doctor. However, they will not cover the physical upgrades to the home.
Another option is to contact a builder who's a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). CAPS are home remodelers and design-build professionals that are knowledgeable about aging-in-place home modifications and can suggest ways to modify or remodel your home that will fit your needs and budget. CAPS are generally paid by the hour or receive a flat fee per visit or project.
To find a CAPS in your area visit the National Association of Home Builders website at NAHB.org/capsdirectory where you can search by state and city.
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.
 

Free Basketball Tickets for Students of Salem Community Schools

Due to the generosity of Stanley Colglazier and Sara Colglazier to the Washington County Community Foundation, students of Salem Community Schools will receive free tickets to the January 28, 2017 JV and Varsity basketball games versus Eastern High School. Students may enter through any door accessible to the gymnasium and will need to sign-in for entrance to the game.   Salem students are strongly encouraged to wear Salem or black and gold attire.  The tickets are available for students attending Salem Community Schools in grades K-12; however, students in elementary school are required to be accompanied by an adult.  This is a great way to spend quality time together as a family while showing school spirit. This is also a great idea for a Boy Scout, Girl Scout, 4-H club, church youth group, or other group field trip. Be sure to take advantage of these free tickets as the Lions face off against county rivals, the Musketeers.  For questions regarding tickets, please call the Washington County Community Foundation at 883-7334 or SHS athletic director, Hank Weedin at 883-3904. 

Locating Lost Life Insurance Policies

 

When my mom passed away we thought she had a life insurance policy, but we have no idea how to track it down. Do you know of any resources that might help?
Lost or forgotten life insurance policies are very common in the U.S. It's estimated that more than $7 billion in benefits from unclaimed life insurance policies are waiting to be claimed by their rightful beneficiaries.
Unfortunately, there isn't a national database for tracking down these policies, but there are a number of strategies and a few new resources that can help your search. Here are several to get you started.
Search her records: Check your mom's financial records or storage areas where she kept her important papers for a policy, records of premium payments or bills from an insurer. Also contact her employer or former employer benefits administrator, insurance agents, financial planner, accountant, attorney or other adviser and ask if they know about a life insurance policy. You might also check safe-deposit boxes, monitor the mail for premium invoices or whole-life dividend notices, and review old income-tax returns, looking for interest income from, and interest expenses paid to, life insurance companies.
Contact the insurer: If you suspect that a particular insurer underwrote the policy, contact that carrier's claim office and ask. The more information you have, like your mom's date of birth and death, Social Security number and address, the easier it will be to track down. Contact information of some big insurers include: Prudential 800-778-2255; MetLife Metlife.com/policyfinder; AIG 800-888-2452; Nationwide 800-848-6331; John Hancock JohnHancock.com - click on "Contact Us" then on "Account Search Request."
Get state help: Nineteen state insurance departments have a policy locator service program that can help you locate lost life insurance, and many other states offer resources that can help you with your search. To find direct access to these resources visit the American Council of Life Insurers website at ACLI.com/consumers - click on "Missing Policy Tips."
Search unclaimed property: If your mom died more than a few years ago, benefits may have already been turned over to the unclaimed property office of the state where the policy was purchased. Go to MissingMoney.com, a website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, to search records from 40 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The pull-down menu under Links connects you to a map and addresses for unclaimed property agencies. To find links to each state's unclaimed-property division use Unclaimed.org.
If your mom's name or a potential benefactor's name produces a hit, you'll need to prove your claim. Required documentation, which can vary by state, is detailed in claim forms—a death certificate might be necessary. If you need a copy of your mom's death certificate, contact the vital records office in the state where she died or go to VitalChek.com.
Search fee-based services: There are several businesses that offer policy locator services for a fee. The MIB Group, for example, which is a data-sharing service for life and health insurance companies, offers a policy locator service at PolicyLocator.com for $75. But it only tracks applications for individual policies made since 1996.
You can also get assistance at Policy Inspector (PolicyInspector.com) for $99, and L-LIFE (LostLifeIns.com) for $108.50, who will do the searching 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 December 9, 2016

How Much You'll Pay for Medicare in 2017

How Much You'll Pay for Medicare in 2017

I know there won't be much of a cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year but what about Medicare? How will the 0.3% Social Security raise affect our Part B monthly premiums in 2017?
Considering the rising cost of health care coverage, the news regarding your Medicare costs for 2017 is not too bad. Here's what you can expect.

Part B Premiums

Because the Social Security Administration is giving out a measly 0.3% cost of living increase starting in January - that equates to about a $4 to $5 monthly increase on average - the 2017 Part B monthly premium for about 70% of Medicare recipients will increase only about $4 to $5.
Thanks to the Social Security Act's "hold harmless" provision, Medicare cannot pass along premium increases greater than the dollar increase in their Social Security checks.
So, if your Medicare Part B monthly premium is currently $104.90, you can expect it to be around $109 (on average) in 2017. Or, if you signed up for Part B for the first time in 2016, your $121.80 monthly premium will rise to around $127 (on average) next year.

Some Will Pay More

Unfortunately, the hold harmless provision does not protect all Medicare recipients. New Medicare enrollees (those who will enroll in 2017), beneficiaries who are directly billed for their Part B premium and current beneficiaries who have deferred claiming their Social Security will pay more.
If you fit into any of these categories, your Medicare Part B premium will be $134 per month in 2017, up from $121.80.
The hold harmless rule also does not protect high-income Medicare beneficiaries who already pay higher Part B premiums because their annual incomes are above $85,000 for an individual or $170,000 for a couple. If you fit into this category, here's what you'll pay for your Part B premium next year, based on your 2015 tax returns:
  • Individuals with incomes of $85,000 to $107,000, or married couples filing joint tax returns with incomes of $170,000 to $214,000, will pay $187.50 per month.
  • Individuals earning $107,000 to $160,000 (couples $214,000 to $320,000) will pay $267.90.
  • Individuals with incomes of $160,000 to $214,000 (couples $320,000 to $428,000) will pay $348.30.
  • Individuals with incomes over $214,000 or couples above $428,000 will pay $428.60.
Another increase high-income beneficiaries (those with incomes over $85,000, or $170,000 for joint filers) need to be aware of is the surcharge on Part D premiums. Affluent seniors that have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan will pay an additional $13.30 to $76.20 per month, depending on their income, on top of their regular Part D premiums.

Deductibles and Co-Pays

Other changes that will affect all Medicare beneficiaries include the Part B deductible, which will increase to $183 in 2017 from $166 in 2016. The Part A (hospital insurance) annual deductible will also go up to $1,316 in 2017 (it's currently $1,288) for hospital stays up to 60 days. That increases to $329 per day for days 61-90, and to $658 a day for days 91 and beyond. And the skilled nursing facility coinsurance for days 21-100 will also increase to $164.50 per day, up from $161 in 2016.
For more information on all the Medicare costs for 2017 visit Medicare.gov and click on "Find out how much Medicare costs in 2017," or call 800-633-4227.
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 December 2, 2016
 
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Thyroid Disorders Often Missed in Seniors

 

Can you write a column on the overlooked problem of thyroid disease? After struggling with chronic fatigue, joint pain and memory problems, I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Now, at age 70, I'm on thyroid medication and am doing great. Five years of feeling lousy. I wish I'd have known.
I'm glad to hear that you're finally feeling better. Unfortunately, thyroid problems are quite common in older adults and can be tricky to detect because the symptoms often resemble other age-related health problems. In fact, as many as 30 million Americans have some form of thyroid disorder, but more than half of them are unaware of it.
Here's a basic overview: The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck that has a huge job. It produces hormones (called T3 and T4) that help regulate the rate of many of your body's activities, from how quickly you burn calories to how fast your heart beats. It also influences the function of the brain, liver, kidneys and skin.
If the gland is underactive and doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones, it causes body systems to slow down. If it's overactive, and churns out too much thyroid, it has the opposite effect, speeding up the body's processes.
The symptoms for an underactive thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism) — the most common thyroid disorder in older adults — will vary but may include fatigue, unexplained weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, joint pain, muscle stiffness, dry skin and depression. Some patients may even develop an enlarged thyroid (goiter) at the base of the neck. However, in older adults, it can cause other symptoms like memory impairment, loss of appetite, weight loss, falls or even incontinence.
In contrast, the symptoms of an overactive thyroid (or hyperthyroidism)—which is more common in people under age 50—may include a rapid heart rate, anxiety, insomnia, increased appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, excessive perspiration and an enlarged thyroid gland. Too much thyroid can also cause atrial fibrillation, affect blood pressure and decrease bone density, which increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Those with the greatest risk of developing thyroid disorders are women who have a family history of the disease. Other factors that can trigger thyroid problems include: autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto's or Graves disease, thyroid surgery, radiation treatments to the neck or upper chest and certain medications including interferon alpha and interleukin-2 cancer medications, amiodarone heart medication and lithium for bipolar disorder.

Get Tested

If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, or if you've had previous thyroid problems or notice a lump in the base of your neck, ask your doctor to check your thyroid levels. The TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) blood test is used to diagnose thyroid disorders.
Thyroid disease is easily treated once you've been diagnosed. Standard treatment for hypothyroidism involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levothroid, Synthroid and others), which is an oral medication that restores adequate hormone levels.
Treatments for hyperthyroidism may include an anti-thyroid medication such as methimazole (Tapazole), which blocks the production of thyroid hormones. Another option is radioactive iodine, which is taken orally and destroys the overactive thyroid cells and causes the gland to shrink. However, radioactive iodine can leave the thyroid unable to produce any hormone and it's likely that you'll eventually develop hypothyroidism and need to start taking thyroid medication.
For more information on thyroid disorders, visit the American Thyroid Association at Thyroid.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 November 25, 2016
 
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Youth Foundation Announces Grant Recipients

The Washington County Youth Foundation works hard to promote youth directed community service. Part of that is assisting others with their community service projects and they do that annually through a grant cycle.  This year, the Youth Foundation has awarded two grants to local organizations doing great things in Washington County. 

Lesia Ellis, a 3rd grade teacher at East Washington Elementary School, is the recipient of a $440.00 grant for Bundles of Blankets.  Ms. Ellis’ class will be purchasing no sew blanket kits for the students to make.  After the blankets are made, they will donate them to the local Police Department.  The Police will share the blankets with children when they arrive on the scene of an accident or crime to provide some comfort to the child.

Peyton Howard is applying for her Girl Scout Gold Award. To receive her Gold Award, Peyton is interested in constructing a teen obstacle course at Lake Salinda.  The Youth Foundation has awarded Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana a grant for $200.00 to encourage other organizations to donate to her project. 

The Washington County Youth Foundation plans on performing other youth directed community service activities throughout the school year as well. The Youth Foundation was established in 2001 and is comprised of sophomores through seniors from Washington County They have a tradition of being community service leaders in our county, funding such projects as the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, several Gold Award projects, and Water Quality Awareness.

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

Caregiving Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers

 

Can you recommend any long-distance caregiving tips that can help me help my elderly father who lives in another state? He has physically declined over the past year, but is determined to stay living in his own house.
Providing care and support for an aging parent who lives far away can be very difficult and stressful. Here are some tips and resources that can help.
When it comes to monitoring and caring for an aging parent from afar, you have a couple options. You can either hire a professional to oversee your dad's needs or you can manage things yourself by building a support system, tapping into available resources and utilizing technology devices that can help you keep tabs on him.

Professional Help

If your dad needs a lot of help, you should consider hiring an "aging life care professional" who will give him a thorough assessment to identify his needs, and will set up and manage all aspects of his care. These professionals typically charge between $100 and $200 per hour, and are not covered by Medicare.
To find a professional in your dad's area, ask his doctor for a referral or visit the Aging Life Care Association website at AgingLifeCare.org.

Do-It-Yourself

If your dad only needs occasional help or if you can't afford to use a care manager, here are some things you can do yourself to help him:
Assemble a support system: Put together a network of people (nearby friends or family, neighbors, clergy, etc.) who can check on your dad regularly and who you can call on from time to time for occasional help. Also put together a list of reliable services you can call for household needs like lawn care, handyman services, a plumber, etc.
Tap local resources: Most communities offer a range of free or subsidized services that can help seniors with basic needs such as home delivered meals, transportation, senior companion services and more. Contact the Area Aging Agency near your dad - call 800-677-1116 for contact information - to find out what's available.
Use financial aids: If your dad needs help with his financial chores, arrange for direct deposit for his income sources, and set up automatic payments for his utilities and other routine bills. You may also want to set up your dad's online banking service so you can pay bills and monitor his account anytime. Or, if you need help, hire a daily money manager (aadmm.com) to do it for you. They charge between $25 and $100 per hour.
Benefitscheckup.org is another excellent resource to look for financial assistance programs that may help your dad, particularly if he's lower-income.
Hire in-home help: Depending on your dad's needs, you may need to hire a part-time home-care aide that can help with things like preparing meals, housekeeping or personal care. Costs can run anywhere from $12 to $25 per hour.
To find someone, ask for referrals through your dad's doctor or area hospital discharge planners or try websites like Care.com, CareLinx.com, CareFamily.com or CareSpotter.com.
Utilize technology: To help you keep tabs on your dad and manage his care from afar, there are various technologies that can help.
For example, there are motion sensors (like Silver Mother - sen.se/silvermother) and video cameras (nest.com/camera) that can help you make sure he is moving around the house normally; computerized pillboxes (medminder.com) that will notify you if he forgets to take his medication; simplified computer tablets (grandpad.net) that provide important face-to-face video calls; and a variety of websites that can help you coordinate care (lotsahelpinghands.com) and medical information (reunioncare.com) with other family members.
For more tips, call the National Institute on Aging at 800-222-2225 and order their free booklet "Long-Distance Caregiving: Twenty Questions and Answers."
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 November 18, 2016

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