Flu Shots for Seniors

 

What can you tell me about the flu shots for seniors? I became ill last winter after getting a standard flu shot and am wondering if there is a flu vaccine for older adults that would provide better protection this year.

There are actually two different types of flu shots designed specifically for people age 65 and older: the Fluzone High Dose and FLUAD. 

These FDA approved vaccines are designed to offer extra protection beyond a standard flu shot. This is important for older adults who have weaker immune defenses and greater risk of developing flu complications. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the flu puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills approximately 24,000 people. Eighty percent of those who die from flu complications are seniors. 

While these senior-specific flu shots cannot guarantee that you may avoid the flu this season, they will lower your risk. Here is more information about these two vaccines:

Fluzone High-Dose: Approved for U.S. use in 2009, the Fluzone High-Dose (see Fluzone.com) is a high-potency vaccine that contains four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. This vaccine, according to a 2013 clinical trial, was 24% more effective than the regular-dose shot at preventing flu in seniors.

FLUAD: Available in the U.S. since 2016, the FLUAD vaccine (FLUAD.com) contains an added ingredient called Adjuvant MF59 that also helps create a stronger immune response. In a 2012 Canadian observational study, FLUAD was 63% more effective than a regular flu shot.

The CDC, however, does not recommend one vaccination over the other and, to date, there have not been any studies that have compared the two vaccines.

You should also know that both the Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD can increase the mild side effects that can occur with a standard-dose flu shot, such as pain or tenderness at the injection site, muscle aches, headache or fatigue. Neither vaccine is recommended for seniors who are allergic to chicken eggs or those who have had severe reactions to flu vaccines in the past. 

Both vaccines are covered 100% by Medicare Part B, as long as your doctor, health clinic or pharmacy agrees not to charge you more than Medicare pays. 

Pneumonia Vaccines


The other vaccinations the CDC recommends to seniors, especially this time of year, are the pneumococcal vaccines for pneumonia. Around 1 million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia each year and about 50,000 people die from it.

The CDC is recommending that all seniors, age 65 or older, get two vaccinations: Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Both vaccines, which are administered at different times, work in different ways to provide maximum protection. Medicare Part B covers both shots if they are taken at least one year apart.

If you have not received any pneumococcal vaccine you should get the Prevnar 13 first, followed by Pneumovax 23 six to 12 months later. However, if you have already received the Pneumovax 23 vaccine, wait at least one year before getting the Prevnar 13. 

To locate a vaccination site that offers any of these shots, visit Vaccines.gov and type in your ZIP code.

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 October 13, 2017

Solo Travel Savings Tips

 

Can you recommend some travel companies that offer good deals for single travelers? I've taken a couple trips since I retired a few years ago, but the single supplement fee really cuts into my budget.

Solo traveling is a growing trend among baby boomers and retirees. According to a recent Visa Global Intentions Study, nearly one-in-four individuals who travel today are traveling solo. Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks among solo travelers is the single supplement fee, which is an extra fee charged to single travelers who stay in a double occupancy room alone.

To help you avoid this extra charge, more and more travel companies and cruise lines are making adjustments to accommodate the growing solo-traveler market. Here are several to check into.

Singles Travel


There are a variety of travel companies today that specialize in vacations for solo travelers, including Singles Travel International (SinglesTravelIntl.com) and Singles Travel Getaways (SinglesTravelGetaways.com). Both companies offer tours, cruises and adventures in the U.S. and overseas. These companies will match you with a roommate so that you are able to avoid the single supplement fee or will ensure that you will not be charged if a roommate cannot be found.

General Tour Operators


Large tour companies in this category that have many solo travelers include Intrepid Travel (IntrepidTravel.com) and G Adventures (Gadventures.com). Intrepid Travel handles more than 100,000 travelers each year, sending them to more than 100 countries. G Adventures has more than 700 tours around the globe and offers a variety of travel styles. Both of these companies can pair you with a roommate and some tours offer your own room option for an additional fee.

For higher-end luxury travel check out Abercrombie & Kent (AbercrombieKent.com), which offers a 50% single supplement discount on their select small group solo travel trips and cruises. You can also look into Tauck (Tauck.com), which has no single supplement on its European river cruises.

50-Plus Travel


If you're interested in trips designed for adults ages 50 and older, consider ElderTreks (ElderTreks.com), Road Scholar (RoadScholar.org) and Overseas Adventure Travel (OATtravel.com).

ElderTreks specializes in exotic adventures worldwide and will match single travelers with roommates on most of its trips. The company does not charge if a match cannot be arranged.

Road Scholar offers worldwide learning adventures and has designated trips that offer the same price for solo travelers as for those traveling in pairs.

Overseas Adventure Travel operates in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Cuba, Australia and New Zealand and has free single supplements on all its land tours. It also offers either free or low-cost single supplements on its small-ship adventures.

Cruise Lines


If you enjoy cruising, there are a number of cruise lines that have some ships with single-occupancy cabins, including Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL.com), Royal Caribbean (RoyalCaribbean.com) and Vantage Deluxe World Travel's river ships (VantageTravel.com).

You can also consider booking a cruise at SinglesCruise.com, which searches a variety of different cruise lines for their single customers and provides roommate matching.

Solo Women


For solo women travelers, there are a host of tour companies and clubs like GutsyWomenTravel.com, Women-Traveling.com, SerenDipityTraveler.com, TheWomensTravelGroup.com and Womens-Travel-Club.com. These companies will either match you up with a roommate or reduce the single supplement fee.

Travel Partner


If you would rather find a suitable travel partner before you book your next trip, there are a number of free websites that you can check out. See Travbuddy.com, TravelFriend.us and TravelersMeeting.com. To find a cruise buddy try CruiseMates.com, which has a message board where users can post roommate requests.

For more information on solo travel, check out SoloTravelerWorld.com, which offers solo travel tips, destinations and stories, and also publishes a monthly list of solo travel deals.

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 October 6, 2017

How to Find and Hire a Good Home Care Worker

 

What's the best way to find a good in-home caregiver for my elderly mother?

Finding a good in-home caregiver that is dependable, likeable, trustworthy and affordable can be challenging. Here are some tips and resources that can help.

Know Your Needs


Before you start the task of looking for a caregiver, your first step is to determine the level of care your mom needs. If, for example, she only needs help with daily living activities like preparing meals, doing laundry, bathing or dressing, then a "personal care aide" will do.

However, if she needs health care services, there are "home health aides" who can provide the same support as personal aides but who also have training in administering medications, changing wound dressings and other medically-related duties. Home health aides often work under a nurse's supervision.

Once you settle on a level of care, you then need to decide how many hours of assistance she will need. For example, does your mom need someone to come in just a few mornings a week to help her cook, clean, run errands or bathe? Or, does she need more continuous care that requires daily visits or a full-time aide?

After you determine her needs, there are two ways in which you can go about hiring someone. You can either hire through a home health agency or you can hire someone directly on your own.

Home Health Agencies


Hiring a certified home health agency to supply and manage your mom's care is the easiest but most expensive option of the two. Costs run anywhere from $12 to $40 an hour depending on where you live and the qualification of the aide. This is usually a better choice if your mom requires a lot of in-home health care.

The agency will handle everything, including an assessment of your mom's needs, assigning appropriately trained and pre-screened staff to care for her and finding a fill-in staff member on days her aide is unavailable.

However, there can be a few drawbacks. You may not be able to provide much input into the selection of the caregiver and the caregivers may change or alternate, which can cause a disruption in care and confusion.

You also need to know that Medicare does cover some in-home health care services if it is ordered by a doctor, but it will not cover personal care services, such as bathing and dressing. However, if your mom is low-income and qualifies for Medicaid, some personal care services are covered.

To locate and compare Medicare-approved home health agencies visit www.medicare.gov/hhcompare or call 800-633-4227 and request a free copy of the "Medicare and Home Health Care" (Publication #10969), which explains coverage and how to choose an agency.

Hiring Directly


Hiring an independent caregiver on your own is the other option. It is less expensive with costs typically ranging between $10 and $20 per hour. Hiring directly also gives you more control over who you hire so you can choose someone who you feel is right for your mom.

But, be aware that if you do hire someone on your own, you become the employer. Therefore, there is no agency support to fall back on if a problem occurs or if the aide does not show up. You would also responsible for paying payroll taxes and compensating any work-related injuries. If you choose this option make sure you check the aide's references thoroughly and conduct a criminal background check.

To find someone, you can ask for referrals through friends, doctor's offices or hospital discharge planners. You can also check online job boards like craigslist.org, carelinx.com or carescout.com. Some states offer registries (phinational.org) to help you locate quality caregivers.

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 September 29, 2017

Check-in Services for Seniors Who Live Alone

 

Are there any services you know of that check in on elderly seniors who live alone? My 84-year-old father won't wear a lifeline help button and I worry about him falling or having a medical emergency and not being able to get to the phone to call for help.

Depending on where your dad lives, there are check-in call services, volunteer visiting programs and a variety of technology options you can turn to that can help you keep tabs on him. Here are several to check into.

Daily Check-in Calls


To make sure your dad is okay every day, consider signing him up for a daily check-in call service program. These are telephone reassurance programs run by police or sheriff's departments in hundreds of counties across the country and are often provided free of charge.

Here's how it would work. A computer automated phone system would call your dad at a designated time each day to check-in. If he answers, the system would assume everything is fine. But if he doesn't pick up, or if the call goes to voicemail after repeated calls, you (or whoever his designee is) would get a notification call. If you are not reachable, calls are then made to backup designees who have also agreed to check on your dad if necessary. If no one can be reached, the police or other emergency services personnel will be dispatched to his home.

To find out if this service is available in your dad's community, call his local police department's non-emergency number. If the police or sheriff's department in your dad's community does not provide a daily check-in call program, there are a number of companies you can turn to that offer similar services directly to consumers for under $15 per month. A few programs to check into include the CARE senior calling program (Call-Reassurance.com), CareCheckers (CareCheckers.com) and IAmFine (Iamfine.com).

Volunteer Visiting Programs


Another option you may also want to consider is finding a volunteer visiting program. These are usually run by churches, community groups or social service agencies.

These programs provide volunteers who will visit older adults in their homes usually for an hour or two once a week. The volunteers provide companionship as well as the reassurance that someone is checking in on a regular basis. They can also alert you if they notice your dad's health or living conditions start to decline.

To find out if these services are available, check with local churches or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 to find groups or agencies near your dad.

Technology Solutions


There are a number of different technologies that will help keep your dad safe at home and help you keep an eye on him from afar. For example, for safety and peace of mind there are medical alert systems, which provide a wearable "help button" that would allow your dad to call for help anytime he needed it. Some of these systems also offer wall-mounted buttons that can be placed near the floor in high-risk fall areas, like the bathroom or kitchen, if he will not wear a help button.

If you want to keep daily tabs on your dad, there are wireless sensor-monitoring systems that he can put in his home that will notify you if something out of the ordinary is happening. There are also video monitoring cameras that have built-in motion and sound detection to let you know when something is detected and two-way audio that will let you talk and listen to him.

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 September 22, 2017

Youth Foundation offers grant cycle

The Washington County Youth Foundation has been steadily working to be ready for the start of this year’s fall grant cycle.  They will be conducting a meeting at the Washington County Community Learning Center on September 28th at 7:00 pm to distribute grant applications. One adult and one youth representative from any organization wishing to apply for a grant should be present at this meeting.  The Youth Foundation offers grants for youth directed community service projects. 

Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Foundation, commented, “The Youth Foundation has been offering a grant cycle since 2002.  They have funded many youth-directed community service projects.  It is so exciting to see youth and adults working together for the betterment of Washington County.”

At the September 28th meeting, representatives from the Washington County Youth Foundation will discuss the application process for the grant cycle.  Any organization wishing to apply for a grant should be represented by at least one adult and one youth.  However, this is not a mandatory meeting. 

Applications will be due by October 16, 2017, 3:00pm in the Foundation Office and the grant awards will be announced in November.  For more information, you can call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community.  For more information, visit www.wccf.biz

 

Buying a New Car for an Older Driver

 

My parents are looking to buy a new car. Can you recommend some good resources that can help them evaluate and choose a good car for older drivers?

With more than 40 million licensed drivers in the United States age 65 and older, many automakers today are designing vehicles that are friendlier for older drivers. But what makes a good car for seniors? For many, top priorities include finding a vehicle that is easy to get into and out of, has simple adjustments for fit and comfort, is easy to operate, has good visibility and is safe, reliable and a good value.

To help you narrow your vehicle choices, Consumer Reports (CR) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) offer some great information and tools to assist you.

CR Best Cars


Consumer Reports recently released its rankings of the top 25 new cars for senior drivers. Each vehicle on the list offers excellent or very good ratings in categories like reliability, safety, road-test performance and owner satisfaction. In addition, many of the vehicles offer a variety of features that are extremely important to older divers, such as:
  • Easy front-seat access: Vehicles with low door thresholds, wider door openings and step-in heights make getting into and out of a car easier for those with physical limitations.
  • Good visibility: Being able to see well out of the front, sides and back of a vehicle is important for drivers of all sizes.
  • Simplified controls: Easy-to-read gauges and simplified/intuitive controls for changing the radio, shifting gears and adjusting the heating and cooling is a high priority among older drivers.
  • Bright headlights: Powerful headlights can make driving at night easier for people with decreasing or compromised vision.
The rankings also considered extra safety features (standard or optional) like backup cameras, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warnings and blind-spot warnings.

CR's picks include a variety of compact and midsized sedans and SUVs, two minivans and a station wagon from seven different automakers. Here is its top 25 ranking, starting from the top: Subaru Forester; Subaru Outback; Kia Soul; Subaru Legacy; Kia Sportage; Toyota Highlander; Toyota Prius V; Toyota RAV4; Honda Odyssey; Nissan Rogue; Honda Accord; Ford C-Max Hybrid; Hyundai Sonata; Toyota Camry; Subaru Crosstrek; Toyota Sienna; Honda CR-V; Honda Pilot; Kia Forte; Ford Escape; Toyota Corolla; Kia Sorento; Ford Flex; Hyundai Santa Fe; Hyundai Tucson.

For more information on CR's top 25 list, see ConsumerReports.org/elderly-driving/top-25-new-cars-for-senior-drivers.

AAA Tool


Another great resource that can help your parents evaluate and choose a vehicle that meets their needs is the AAA online tool "Smart Features for Older Drivers."

At SeniorDriving.AAA.com/SmartFeatures drivers can check the problem areas, such as diminished vision, cognitive decline, limited upper body range of motion, decreased leg strength, arthritic hands, weight conditions and height limitations. The tool will identify vehicles that have the features that will best accommodate the driver's needs. Although this tool looks at model-year 2016 vehicles, in many cases the features shown are carried over to 2017 models.

They also have a Smart Features brochure you can download that will tell you what to look for in a vehicle to best accommodate your needs.

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 September 15, 2017

Exercises that Help Ease Arthritis Pain and Stiffness

 

What exercises are best suited for people with arthritis? I have osteoarthritis in my neck, back, hip and knee and have read that exercises can help ease the pain and stiffness, but I do not know where to start and I certainly do not want to aggravate it.

Many people who have arthritis believe that exercise will worsen their conditions, but that is not true. Exercise is actually one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis.

Proper and careful exercises can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, strengthen muscles around the joints and increase flexibility. It also helps manage other chronic conditions that are common among seniors with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Recommended Exercises


Determining exactly which types of exercises that are best for you depends on the form and severity of your arthritis and which joints are involved. It is best to work with your doctor or a physical therapist to help you develop a personalized exercise program. The different types of exercises that are most often recommended to seniors with arthritis include:
    • Range-of-motion exercises: These are gentle stretching exercises that can relieve stiffness and improve the ability of your joints to move through their normal range of motions. These exercises should be done daily.

    • Strengthening exercise: Calisthenics, weight training and working with resistance bands are recommended (two or more days a week) to maintain and improve your muscle strength. Strengthening your muscles will help support and protect your joints.

  • Aerobic exercises: Low-impact activities like walking, cycling, swimming or water aerobics are all recommended three to five times per week to help improve cardiovascular health, control weight and improve your function overall.

It is also important to keep in mind that, when you first start exercising, you need to go slow in order to give your body time to adjust. If you push yourself too hard you can aggravate your joint pain. However, some muscle soreness or joint achiness in the beginning is normal.

To help you manage your pain, start by warming up with some simple stretches or range of motion exercises for five to 10 minutes before you move on to strengthening or aerobic exercises. Another tip is to apply heat to the joints you will be working before you exercise and use cold packs after exercising to reduce inflammation.

If you experience significant pain while you are exercising, you may need to modify the frequency, duration or intensity of your exercises until the pain subsides. Alternatively, you may need to try a different activity (e.g., switching from walking to water aerobics). It is important to note that if you are experiencing severe, sharp or constant pain, large increases in swelling or your joints feel hot or red then you need to stop and see your doctor.

Exercising Aids


To help you exercise at home, the Arthritis Foundation offers a variety of free online videos (see Arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/videos) to guide you through a variety of exercises. There are also arthritis exercise DVDs that you can purchase for a few dollars through Collage Video (CollageVideo.com, 800-819-7111) or the Arthritis Foundation Store (AFstore.org).

Also see Go4life.nia.nih.gov (or call 800-222-2225), a National Institute on Aging resource that offers a free exercise guide that provides illustrated examples of different exercises.

If you need some motivation or do not like exercising alone, ask your doctor about exercise programs in your area for people with arthritis. Hospitals and clinics sometimes offer special programs, as do local health clubs and senior centers.

The Arthritis Foundation also conducts exercise and aquatic programs for people with arthritis in many communities throughout the U.S. Contact your local branch (see Arthritis.org/local-offices or call 800-283-7800 for contact information) to find out what may be available near 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 September 1, 2017

How to Stop Unwanted Junk Mail and Guard Against Mail Fraud

 

My father receives over 100 pieces of junk mail every week and I just discovered that he has given away nearly $5,000 over the past few months to many of the solicitors who mail him this junk. Can you offer any tips on how I can stop this?

Millions of Americans get bombarded with unwanted junk mail these days, including "mail fraud" schemes that you and your dad should be careful to guard against. Here are some tips that may help.

Mail Fraud Alert


While junk mail comes in many different forms—credit card applications, sweepstakes entries, magazine offers, coupon mailers, donation requests, political fliers, catalogs and more—the most troublesome type is mail fraud. This type of junk mail comes from con artists who are trying to take your money.

Mail fraud can be tricky to detect because there are many different types of schemes out there that may seem legitimate. Some of the most common mail scams targeting seniors today are phony sweepstakes, foreign lotteries, free prizes, vacation scams, fake checks (see FakeChecks.org), donation requests from fake charities or government agencies that do not exist, get-rich chain letters, work-at-home schemes and inheritance and investment scams.

If your dad is getting any type of junk mail requesting money in exchange for a free gift or if he's receiving checks that require him to wire money, you need to call the U.S. Postal Inspector Service at 877-876-2455 and report it.

Unfortunately, once a person's name and contact information is included on these mail fraud lists, also known as "suckers lists," it is very difficult to be removed from the list. This is because criminals regularly trade and sell mailing lists of people who they believe to be susceptible to fraud and the scammers will not remove names when they are requested to do so.

Knowing this, a good first step to help protect your dad is to alert him to the different types of mail fraud and what to watch for. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service can help you with this. They offer a list of the different mail fraud schemes at PostalInspectors.uspis.gov.

Another option is to see if your dad would be willing to let you sort through his mail before he opens it so you can weed out the junk. You may want to have the post office forward his mail directly to you to ensure this.

If your dad feels compelled to donate to certain charities, ask him to let you check them out first to make sure they are legitimate. You can do this at charity watchdog sites like CharityNavigator.org and Give.org.

Reduce Junk Mail


While scam artists are not likely to take your dad's name off their mailing lists, most legitimate mail-order businesses will. Start with the Direct Marketing Association, which offers a consumer opt-out service at DMAchoice.org. This won't eliminate all his junk mail, but it will reduce it. The opt-out service is $2 for 10 years if you register online or $3 if you register by mail.

To put a stop to the credit card and insurance offers he gets, call the consumer credit reporting industry opt-out service at 888-567-8688 and follow the automated prompts. He will be able to choose to either opt out for five years or to opt out permanently. Be prepared to give his Social Security number and date of birth. You can also do this online at OptOutPrescreen.com. If you choose the permanent opt-out, you'll have to mail in a form.

You should also make sure your dad's home and cell phone numbers are registered with the National Do Not Call Registry (DoNotCall.gov, 888-382-1222) to reduce the number of telemarketing calls he receives.

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 August 25, 2017

Finding Money for Long-Term Care

 

What resources can you refer me to for long-term care financial help? My 84-year-old mother needs assisted living or nursing home care, but we do not have a lot of money and she does not have long-term care insurance.
If your mother does not have a long-term care insurance policy there are several resources you should look into that may help pay for her care depending on her particular circumstances.
Medicaid: The first thing to understand is that Medicare (the government health insurance program for seniors 65 and older and individuals with disabilities) does not cover long-term care. This includes nursing home care, the costs of assisted living facilities and home aide services (unless your mom is receiving skilled nursing or therapy services too). Medicare only provides limited short-term coverage, which includes up to 100 days for skilled nursing or rehabilitation services after a hospital stay.
However, Medicaid (the joint federal and state program that covers health care for individuals who have very low income) as it currently stands, does cover long-term care facilities and in-home care. To be eligible for coverage, your mother must have a very low level of income. Her countable assets cannot be more than around $2,000, including investments.
Note that most people who enter a nursing home do not qualify for Medicaid at first, but pay for care out-of-pocket until they deplete their savings enough to qualify. Contact your state Medicaid office (see Medicaid.gov) for eligibility details.
Veterans aid: If your mom is a wartime veteran, or a spouse or surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, there is a benefit called "Aid and Attendance," which can help pay between $1,153 and $2,127 a month toward her long-term care.
To be eligible, your mom must need assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom. In addition, her yearly income must be under $13,836 as a surviving spouse, $21,531 as a single veteran or $25,525 as a married veteran (after her medical and long-term care expenses). Her assets must also be less than $80,000 excluding her home and car.
To learn more, see Benefits.VA.gov/pension or contact your regional Veterans Administration office or local veterans service organization. Call 800-827-1000 for contact information.
Life insurance: If your mom has a life insurance policy, find out if it offers an accelerated death benefit that would allow you to receive a tax-free advance to help pay for her care.
Another option to consider is selling her policy to a life settlement company. These are companies that buy life insurance policies for cash, continue to pay the premiums and collect the death benefit when she dies. Most sellers generally get four to eight times more than the policy cash surrender value.
If she owns a policy with a face value of $100,000 or more and is interested in this option, ask for quotes from several brokers or life settlement providers. To locate some, use the Life Insurance Settlement Association member directory at LISA.org.
Tax breaks: If you are helping out your mom financially, you may also be able to claim her as a dependent on your taxes. This could potentially reduce your taxable income by $4,050, which you could use for her care. To qualify, you must pay at least half of your mom's yearly expenses and her annual income must be below $4,050, excluding Social Security. For more information, see IRS Publication 501 at IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf.
If you cannot claim your mom as a dependent because her income is too high, you may still be able to get a tax break if you are paying at least half her living expenses and they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. These expenses include her medical, dental and long-term care costs. You can include your own medical expenses in calculating the total. See the IRS Publication 502 (IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf) for details.
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 August 18, 2017

Low-Cost Wireless Plans for Older Smartphone Users

 

My dad is interested in downsizing his smartphone wireless plan and is looking for the best low-cost options. He uses his phone primarily for talking and texting, but also wants to have some cellular data for checking email when he does not have WiFi access. Do you have any recommendations? There are several great low-cost deals I can recommend for older smartphone users who are looking to save some money by paring down their cell phone plan. Here are three possible options to consider.

Republic Wireless


If your dad is an Android smartphone user, Republic Wireless (RepublicWireless.com) offers one of the cheapest deals available for light data users. Republic uses a mixture of Wi-Fi and cellular networks—Sprint and T-Mobile specifically—to transmit calls, texts and data. This patented technology automatically offloads as much as possible to WiFi networks when available, so he will consume less data than he would with traditional carriers. Republic's no contract service plans start at $20 per month for unlimited talk, text and one gigabyte (GB) of data. If your dad needs more data, their $30 per month plan provides 2GB, and $45 per month buys 4GB. How much data will your dad need? The best way to find out is to check his current phone bills. The average smartphone owner uses between 2GB to 3GB of data each month, but most seniors use less than 1GB. To use Republic Wireless, he will need a compatible Android phone (iPhones are currently not compatible) or your dad can buy a new phone through the company. It currently offers eight Android phones with prices starting at $99.

Consumer Cellular


Another excellent low-cost option for lighter data users, and one that caters to older adults, is Consumer Cellular (ConsumerCellular.com). Rated the number one wireless service by Consumer Reports seven years running, Consumer Cellular offers a variety of "pay for what you need" talk and connect plans that will allow your dad to choose exactly what he wants. Consumer Cellular's talk plans start at $10 per month plus 25 cents per minute, which may be an option if your dad is an infrequent caller. Otherwise they offer $15 per month for 250 minutes, $20 per month for 1,500 minutes or $30 per month for unlimited minutes. Consumer Cellular also offers connect plans for text messages and cellular data. These plans cost $2.50 per month for 300 texts and 30 megabytes (MB) of data, $5 per month for 2,000 texts and 200MB data, $10 per month for unlimited texts and 500MB, $20 per month for unlimited texts and 1.5GB, $30 per month unlimited texts and 3GB or $40 per month for unlimited texts and 5GB of data. Consumer Cellular, which offers 5% monthly fee discounts to AARP members, also allows customers to utilize their own smartphones by offering free SIM cards. Alternatively, customers can purchase a wide variety of Android and Apple iPhones or the senior-friendly Doro 824 SmartEasy.

Lifeline Program


If your dad's income is low enough, another option to check into is the Lifeline Assistance Program. This is a federal program that provides a $9.25 monthly subsidy that can go toward your father's smartphone service. To qualify, your dad will need to show that his annual household income is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (which is $16,281 for one person or $21,924 for two people) or that he is receiving a government benefit, such as Medicaid, food stamps, SSI, public housing assistance, veterans pension or survivor's pension benefits or that he lives on federally recognized tribal lands. To apply, he can contact a wireless provider in his area that participates in the Lifeline program (see LifelineSupport.org or call 800-234-9473) and ask for an application form. He will want to check all wireless providers in his state because some offer better services than others.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 August 11, 2017

Make a Difference
Imagination Library
Youh Foundation
HEAP
Donate Now
education Matters
CF standards
Video Page
Mailing List
25th Anniversary

Washington County
Community Foundation

1707 North Shelby Street
Salem, Indiana 47167
Phone: 812-883-7334
E-Mail: info@wccf.biz

vimeo logo