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


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.


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

Automatic Medicare Advantage Enrollment Causes Confusion


I'll be 65 in a few months and I recently pre-enrolled in original Medicare. But last week I received a member card in the mail for a Medicare Advantage plan that I did not enroll in. What's going on? Medicare is so confusing with all the different choices and now it seems like I'm getting automatically enrolled in a plan I didn't even choose. Is this a scam?
It's not a scam, but it is a growing problem the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs to resolve. Here's what you should know.

Automatic Enrollment?

When Americans first become eligible for Medicare - typically at age 65 - they can choose to enroll either in original Medicare or they can opt for a Medicare Advantage plan, which is offered by private insurance companies. But some people, like yourself, are being enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan without their knowledge.
Here's how it's happening.
Before becoming eligible for Medicare, many people are covered by a commercial or a Medicaid health care plan run by a private health insurance company. These insurers often operate Medicare Advantage plans too.
Under a little-known rule authorized by the federal government, some insurers can shift their beneficiaries who are turning 65 to their own Medicare Advantage plan. It's a process called "seamless conversion enrollment." All it requires is that the insurance company send a letter to the beneficiary explaining the new coverage, which takes effect unless the member opts out within 60 days.
The idea is to preserve continuity for those who want to stay with the same company. But some seniors are unaware that they've been signed up, in part due to the flood of mail they get around their 65th birthday from insurers marketing their Medicare plans. This makes it easy to miss a notice of seamless conversion or fail to understand the letter.
It can also have serious financial consequences. Medicare Advantage plans tend to be HMOs and PPOs with limited provider networks. If you unknowingly get enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and receive treatment from a doctor who's not in the network, your medical bills may go uncovered.
Consumer advocate groups like the Medicare Rights Center are pushing for a change in the rules. They want it set up so beneficiaries must respond to the letter/invitation before they're enrolled, versus having to opt out of automatic enrollment. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to protect yourself from unrequested Medicare enrollment.

Self Protection

If you are approaching age 65 you should carefully read all mail received from your current health insurance provider. If you come across anything suggesting that the insurance company intends to enroll you in a Medicare Advantage plan that you do not wish to have, contact the insurer and decline to be enrolled.
Also, to be safe, about a month prior to Medicare eligibility, call your current insurer to confirm that you are not being automatically enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan against your wishes, call Medicare at 800-633-4227. People in this situation have been allowed to convert to traditional Medicare without having to wait until the next open-enrollment period, or enroll in a different Medicare Advantage plan that they choose. It even might be possible to be retroactively enrolled in Medicare so that out-of-network expenses already incurred are covered.
If you need help with your Medicare enrollment, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free one-on-one Medicare counseling in person or over the phone. For contact information visit Shiptacenter.org or call the eldercare locator at 800-677-1116.
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 11, 2016

Ten Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan


You have completed a will and perhaps a revocable living trust. Your durable power of attorney for healthcare and a living will are accompanied by a HIPAA release. All of your records are safely in place and carefully organized.
So you now are finished with your estate planning. Or are you? Will there be changes in your circumstances or your family that should lead to a review of your plan? Could some events cause you to need to revise or update the plan?
Yes, there are a number of reasons to consider revising or updating your plan. These include any of the following reasons:

1. New Children, Grandchildren or Other Heirs

Your estate plan almost certainly makes provision for children and other heirs who are living when you pass away. If you have a specific transfer to one child, a new child may receive a smaller than intended inheritance.
For example, John Smith had a $1 million estate and left a $400,000 residence to child A. He then divided the balance of the estate with 1/6 of the balance to child A and 5/6 to child B. If a third child is born, depending upon state law, the child might receive nothing or perhaps would benefit from a portion of the residue. In either case, the uncertainty could lead to estate litigation or to family strife.
If you have a sizeable estate and there are large specific bequests, the arrival of a new heir is a good time to review your plan. One option is to transfer assets to the heirs "then living" when you pass away.
If the estate is $1 million, in some states a child C who is born later would receive 1/3 of the estate. This could dramatically change the benefit for child B and leave her with a reduced inheritance. In addition, child C could be a minor or a very young adult and not be capable of managing his or her property. For several reasons, the arrival of a new heir makes a review of your plan very important.

2. Move to a Different State

If you are married and move to a different state, there may be a change in the laws that affect ownership. Some states are called "common law" property states and some are "community property." If you move from one state to another and change in either direction, it may be important to clarify the ownership of your property as separate property or joint property.
For individuals with moderate to larger estates, there could be significant estate or inheritance taxes. Several states have inheritance taxes that will apply at lower levels than the federal exemption per person. Depending on who among your relatives receives your property, a new state may have a substantial tax.
Finally, many states have specific rules on durable powers of attorney for healthcare, living wills or advance directives or even the HIPAA release. If you acquire permanent legal residence in the state, your doctors will expect that your medical planning documents reflect their state law.

3. Sale or Purchase of a Major Asset

You may have a major real estate asset or a business that is to be transferred to one of your heirs. If that property is sold or substantially increases in value, your entire plan could change. For example, if a property greatly increases in value and there is a large estate tax that is paid out of the residue of your estate, the beneficiary of that specific property could receive a much larger inheritance than you intend. Those children or other heirs who are receiving the residue could find their inheritance greatly reduced by estate tax paid on the asset transferred to the first child.
Alternatively, if the first asset is sold, then a child may receive a smaller than intended inheritance. Therefore, a significant sale or purchase is a good time for an estate planning review.

4. Reaching Age 70½

The four types of estate property are generally cash and cash equivalents, stocks, real estate and qualified plans. Over the years, your qualified retirement plan may become a large portion of your estate. Your IRA, 401(k) or other qualified plan will require distributions to start on April 1 of the year after you reach age 70½.
If you pass away before the entire plan is paid out to you during your retirement years, the balance is transferred to your designated beneficiary. Because retirement plans have grown substantially over the past decade (even with a reduction in plan value during the 2008 downturn), it's very important to review your beneficiary designations. Many individuals pass away and the plan value is transferred to beneficiaries who have been selected 10, 15, and even 25 years earlier. There could be many reasons why you would want to update that beneficiary designation, and age 70½ is a logical time to do so.

5. Your Selected Beneficiary is Deceased

In many families there are unmarried brothers or sisters. It is quite common for these individuals to receive an inheritance and to remember the surviving brothers and sisters in their plans. However, even if there are two or three unmarried brothers or sisters, one will inevitably be the survivor and hold most of the assets. If you are remembering a sibling in your plan, there is a substantial possibility that he or she will pass away before you do. In that case, it is useful to revise the plan and select a new recipient of that share of your estate.

6. Divorce or Remarriage

Estate plans for single persons are quite different from those of married couples. A single person who transfers assets to a former spouse will not qualify for the unlimited marital deduction. While property settlements are typically handled during the dissolution of marriage proceedings, there are many cases where individuals forget to change beneficiary designations on retirement plans and insurance policies. Particularly if you later remarry and then pass away with a new spouse, there is a high likelihood of litigation between the ex-spouse and the new spouse if you have forgotten to update your beneficiary designations. Therefore, your plan and your beneficiary designations should always be reviewed in the event of a divorce or remarriage.

7. Substantial Change in Value

If your estate increases or decreases significantly in value, there can be major impact on beneficiaries. For example, mother has children A, B and C. She leaves a home valued at $300,000 to child A, a farm valued at $800,000 to child B and the liquid assets to child C. While she is in a nursing home and no longer able to change the will, oil is discovered on the farm. When mother passes away, child B receives not $800,000 but $8 million. To add insult to injury, the estate is now larger than the estate exemption and each child must pay estate tax on his or her inheritance. While child B with the largest inheritance will under most state tax apportionment laws pay the largest tax, it will be a matter of considerable sibling unhappiness for the two children who receive the smaller shares and still have to pay a large estate tax on their portion.

8. Adding a Major Property to a Living Trust

If you have a substantial estate, you may hold your real estate in a living trust. If you invest in real estate or acquire a major new property and transfer that to the living trust, it will be useful to review the plan. In some circumstances, there may be different beneficiaries for the living trust than for your qualified plans and life insurance. The addition of a high value asset to the living trust could increase the benefits for the persons receiving shares from the trust in comparison to the rest of your heirs.

9. Selected Executor or Trustee Not Available

With a will or a revocable living trust, you may also select a successor executor or trustee. While this usually will handle the situation in which the primary executor or trustee predeceases you, it still is useful to review your plan if one of these persons passes away. You can easily select a new primary executor or trustee with an appropriate backup person.

10. Passage of Time

Estate plans are affected by changes in your asset value, by changes in your family, and potentially by changes in federal or state law. Therefore, it is useful every three to five years for you to sit down with your attorney and review your plan. Given all the potential areas that can change, it's quite likely that you may wish to modify some portion of the plan.

847 Preschoolers Receiving FREE Books At First Anniversary of Imagination Library

847 Preschoolers Receiving FREE Books At First Anniversary of Imagination Library

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library marked its one year anniversary in Washington County the last week in October, but it has been a dream of the Washington County Youth Foundation since 2010.   847 preschool students are enrolled or have graduated from the program in that short year and the number grows every week.  Next year, Washington County preschoolers will receive over 10,000 books in their mailboxes thanks to the generous sponsors of the program:  Duke Energy, First Harrison Bank, First Savings Bank, Jason Wade State Farm Insurance, GKN Sinter Metals, Jean’s Extrusions, Telemedia, Kimball Office Team Members, and many individual sponsors.

The free service is open to all Washington County residents age five or younger. Once the child is enrolled, they will receive an age appropriate book every month in the mail.  Families can register their child at any of our sponsors’ location.  It only takes a couple of minutes to enroll.  Children can enroll at any time, as long as they have not reached their fifth birthday. 

“This program is the direct result of high school members of the Washington County Youth Foundation dreaming BIG,” stated Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington County Community Foundation. “The Youth Foundation has been raising funds for this for several years, and the Washington County Community Foundation is the formal sponsor and manager of the program.  Since this is an on-going program, we constantly need sponsors to make it happen.  We project that our cost to maintain this program in 2017 will exceed $25,000.00.  We can’t do it without sponsorship and we are grateful to the corporate and individual sponsors who make it happen.”

The cost to sponsor one child for an entire year is $26.00. If you would like to sponsor a child, please send a check to the Washington County Community Foundation at PO Box 50, Salem, IN  47167.  You can also donate on-line at www.wccf.biz.  All donations are tax deductible.  For more information, contact the Foundation office at 812-883-7334. 

How to Find and Hire a Good Handyman or Contractor


What's the best way to find a good handyman or tradesman to do some work around the house? I've have had some bad luck lately with unprofessional workers who do shoddy work and charge too much.
Hiring a good home repair handyman can be a bit difficult. How do you find someone who will return your calls, show up on time, do the job right and finish it, all at a fair price? Here are some tips that can help.

Who to Call

While it may seem obvious, whom you call for help will depend on what you need done. If, for example, you have a small home repair or improvement project that doesn't require a lot of technical expertise, a handyman may be all you need. But if you have a job that involves electricity, plumbing, or heating or cooling systems, you're better off going with a licensed tradesman. Bigger jobs like home renovations or remodeling may require a general contractor.
Whatever type of work you need, the best way to find the right person is through referrals from people you trust. If your friends or family don't have any recommendations, turn to professionals in the field like local hardware or home improvement stores, or even real estate agents.
The Internet can also help. Websites like HomeAdvisor.com can put you in touch with prescreened, customer-rated service professionals in your area for free. You can also try AngiesList.com, a membership service that will connect you with contractors and service companies with various types of expertise for free. They provide ratings and reviews of local professionals who've done work for other members in your area, plus details about the type of work they've done, prices, professionalism and timeliness. They also offer an upgraded silver or gold membership for $25 or $100 per year, which offers discounts, a magazine, complaint resolutions and more.
Another option for finding handyman services is through a local or national service company like MrHandyman.com, HouseDoctors.com or HandymanConnection.com. You'll probably pay more going through a company than you would with an independent handyman, but service companies typically promise professional workers who are screened, licensed, bonded and insured.
To find local handyman services in your community, check your yellow pages or go to any Internet search engine and type in "handyman" plus your city and state.

Things to Know

Once you've located a few candidates, your next step is to get written estimates that list the materials, costs and details of the project. It's a good idea to get at least three estimates from different sources to be sure you're getting a fair deal.
Before hiring someone, check out his or her work history with your state consumer protection agency (go to usa.gov/state-consumer for a list) and the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org/council). You can also search the Web using the company or individual's name and such words as "reviews" and "complaints."
You also need to find out if your candidates have an approved contractor or tradesman license. Using an unlicensed worker in a state that requires a license is dangerous - you'll have little legal recourse if the job goes bad. To see which states license contractors, visit contractors-license.org. Contractorcheck.com is another good resource for researching local contractors.
Also, ask to see their proof of insurance, which covers any damages they may cause while working on your home, and ask for several references from past jobs and check them.
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 28, 2016

Forgetfulness: What's Normal, What's Not?

Forgetfulness: What's Normal, What's Not?

At age 76, my husband has become forgetful lately and is worried he may have Alzheimer's. What resources can you recommend to help us get a grip on this?
Many seniors worry about memory lapses as they get older fearing it may be the first signs of Alzheimer's disease or some other type of dementia. To get some insight on the seriousness of your husband's problem, here are some resources you can turn to for help.

Warning Signs

As we grow older, some memory difficulties - such as forgetting names or misplacing items from time to time - are associated with normal aging. But the symptoms of dementia are much more than simple memory lapses.
While symptoms can vary greatly, people with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or traveling out of the neighborhood.
To help you and your husband recognize the difference between typical age-related memory loss and a more serious problem, the Alzheimer's Association provides a list of 10 warning signs that you can assess at 10signs.org.
They also provide information including the signs and symptoms on the other conditions that can cause dementia like vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and others - see ALZ.org/dementia.

Memory Screening

Another good place to help you get a handle on your husband's memory problems is through the National Memory Screening Program, which offers free memory screenings throughout National Memory Screening Month in November.
Sponsored by the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, this free service provides a confidential, face-to-face memory screening that takes about 10 minutes to complete and consists of questions and/or tasks to evaluate his memory status.
Screenings are given by doctors, nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers or other healthcare professionals in thousands of sites across the country. It's also important to know that this screening is not a diagnosis. Instead, its goal is to detect problems and refer individuals with these problems for further evaluation.
To find a screening site in your area visit NationalMemoryScreening.org or call 866-232-8484. It's best to check for a screening location at the end of October, because new sites are constantly being added.

See a Doctor

If you can't find a screening site in your area, make an appointment with his primary care doctor to get a cognitive checkup. This is covered 100% by Medicare as part of their annual wellness visit. If his doctor suspects any problems, he may give him the Memory Impairment Screen, the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition, or the Mini Cog. Each test can be given in less than five minutes.
Depending on his score, his doctor may order follow-up tests or simply keep it on file so he can see if there are any changes down the road. Or, he may then refer him to a geriatrician or neurologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating memory loss or Alzheimer's disease.
Keep in mind that even if your husband is experiencing some memory problems, it doesn't necessarily mean he has dementia. Many memory problems are brought on by other factors like stress, depression, thyroid disease, side effects of medications, sleep disorders, vitamin deficiencies and other medical conditions. And by treating these conditions he can reduce or eliminate the problem.
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 21, 2016
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