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

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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Foundation Announces Mahuron Education Fund Grant Recipients

The Mahuron Education Fund was established at the Washington County Community Foundation to encourage educators and staff to teach in innovative ways. This year, the fund has awarded several teachers in the county school corporations over $5100.00. 

Rebecca Jones’ 3rd grade class at East Washington Elementary School will be creating a Makerspace by learning and using creation and innovation as a theme, shifting the learning to the student center.

Students in Anna Marie Endris’ 6th grade East Washington Elementary School class will be using robotics to support good pedagogy and providing hands-on learning that puts the focus on problem-based learning, collaboration and cooperation, and the application of knowledge, skills and concepts.

Carla Coachran’s 6th grade class at East Washington Elementary School will also utilize robots in science by learning to code.  The objective of the project is to have students create projects and solve problems that exist in the real world.

Students in Stephanie Bower’s Bradie Shrum Elementary School Kindergarten classroom will Paint to Play. Bower plans on painting games and activity courses on the kindergarten playground for children to develop skills such as balance and coordination.  Playground markings may include letter, number, and shape designs, maze, hopscotch, Four Square, and balance lines.

Students in Lisa Thomas’ East Washington Elementary School Kindergarten room will be exploring visual spatial skills to designing structures using TEGU magnetic blocks.

Focus will be the key in Lorie Campbell’s 3rd grade Bradie Shrum Elementary classroom when her new standing desk arrives.  The desk provides a way for students to stand while completing work so they may stay focused on the task while learning.

Jenisa Collier’s Bradie Shrum Elementary School Kindergarten class will be enjoying new workspaces to work during the day. The new workspaces will keep students focused and on-task.

Students in Leah Stewart’s 4th grade classroom will be reading a new book this year, the BFG by Roald Dahl.  Stewart will be receiving a classroom set of the book and students will take part in discussion about friendship and kindness.

Greg McCurdy’s Salem High School Biology classes will get an up close and personal look at bacteria growth and other organisms with new teaching tools. The first is a device that clips to a student’s cell phone, turning the phone into inexpensive, portable microscopes.  Another new tool is a time lapse camera that will be programmed to record the growth of bacteria in petri dishes and culture tubes.

All students and staff at West Washington School Corporation can be involved in producing quality YouTube videos for instruction and tutorials as well as building and participating in breakout games within the classroom due to a grant issued to Kelly Williams, Technology Coordinator for the school system.

Erin Moore’s Bradie Shrum Elementary School 2nd grade class will be exploring the world through STEM by utilizing STEM challenge kits, focusing on analyzing real-life scenarios to plan, design, and create models.  The students will test and improve their designs using problem solving brought about by real life disasters.

Students in PE at East Washington Elementary School will begin to learn the sport of tennis. The grant, awarded to Leah Starrett, will be used to purchase smaller rackets, small nets, and tennis balls specifically made to bounce slower for younger children.

Jennifer Olesh’s students at Eastern High School will be using experimental design to determine maximum electricity from wind turbines, allowing students to see how wind generates energy and experiment with different types and sizes of blades for turbines, which will lead to deeper discussion about the pros and cons of wind/alternate forms of energy.

Marcia Smith’s 3rd grade classroom at East Washington Elementary School will be learning about Indiana animals by incorporating reading, writing, and science about a specific animal in Indiana.  Students will examine animal classifications, adaptations, habitat, and animal characteristic and write an organized report and create animal habitats out of LEGOs.

Third grade students at Bradie Shrum Elementary School will also be exploring the world of STEM due to a collaborative grant awarded to Crystal Mikels and Emily Johnson. Mikels and Johnson plan to start an afterschool STEM Club to develop student problem solving skills in the fields of computer coding, robotics, and other STEM related topics.

Angela Snelling’s 2nd grade Bradie Shrum Elementary classroom will be getting their wiggles out with a grant for Isokinetic Balance Cushions.  The cushions are designed to better help students focus and learn throughout the day.

Donors Help Washington County Community Foundation Award Over $28K in Grants

The Humane Society of Washington County will be acquiring a new van thanks to a $2500 grant from the PNC Touch Tomorrow Fund and Salem ACE Hardware Touch Tomorrow Fund. The Humane Society is partnering with surrounding counties to purchase the van that will be used to transport pets that have not been adopted or whose owners have not claimed them from the City of Salem animal shelter to more highly populated areas.

The LJ Fultz/Russell Trueblood Touch Tomorrow Fund and David Beck Touch Tomorrow have issued a$5000 grant for Afterschool Tutoring to CAST (Creating Avenues for Student Transformation). CAST provides free after school opportunities that help to bridge the gap between school hours and home hours in new and engaging ways for Salem Middle School students.  The program offers personalized tutoring, homework help, healthy snacks, recreation, and character education.

Washington County Special Olympics will be using new technology due to a $1000 grant from the Bob and Carol Strange Touch Tomorrow Fund and the First Harrison Bank Touch Tomorrow Fund. The grant will be used for an IPad Pro and IPad Pro pencil to record data for the organization and assist in keeping paperwork more organized.

The Glenn Armstrong Touch Tomorrow Fund and the John M. Colglazier Touch Tomorrow Fund have awarded a $2500 grant to Junior Achievement. Grant funds will be used for educational financial literacy programs in all three county school systems. 

The Bob and Clarice Morris Touch Tomorrow Fund is helping the Washington County Senior Citizen Housing Board upgrade the roofs at Meadow Dell apartments. The $10000 grant from the fund will be used for roof replacement of at least six apartment buildings with Energy Star rated shingles.

United Way 2-1-1 will once again serve Washington County thanks to a $1203.76 grant from the Salem Mortgage Touch Tomorrow Fund and James and Diana Apple Touch Tomorrow Fund. United Way 2-1-1 is a referral service connecting people in need to community resources.

The Bob and Clarice Morris Touch Tomorrow Fund along with the Ron and Deb Mays Touch Tomorrow Fund and the Jeff and Karen Morgan Touch Tomorrow Fund have awarded a $6000 grant to Dare to Care Food Bank for the Backpack Buddy program. The program ensures children from low-income households receive proper nutrition on weekends.

Flu Vaccines Designed Specifically for Seniors

 

Are there any specific flu shots that are better suited for seniors? I just turned 65 and would like to find out what's recommended and how Medicare covers it.
There are actually two different flu vaccines available this year that are designed specifically for seniors age 65 and older. One option is the Fluzone High-Dose, which has been available since 2010. The other is the new FDA approved FLUAD vaccine (you only need to get one of these).
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 does, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. The new FLUAD vaccine (FLUAD.com) contains an added ingredient called adjuvant MF59 that also helps create a stronger immune response.
The extra protection these vaccines provide is particularly helpful to seniors who have weaker immune defenses and have a great risk of developing dangerous flu complications. The CDC estimates that the flu puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills an average of 24,000 — 80% to 90% of whom are seniors.
But be aware that both the Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD are not recommended for seniors who are allergic to chicken eggs or those who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
You should also know that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend one vaccination over the other; and to date, there have been no studies comparing the two vaccines.
If you decide you don't want to get a senior-specific flu shot, there are other options available to people 65 years and older including the standard (trivalent) flu shot, the quadrivalent flu shot that protects against four different flu viruses and the FluBlok vaccine for those who have egg allergies.
To locate a vaccination site that offers any of these flu shots, visit Vaccines.gov and type in your ZIP code. You'll also be happy to know that as a Medicare beneficiary, Part B will cover 100% of the costs of any flu shot as long as your doctor, health clinic or pharmacy agrees not to charge you more than Medicare pays.

Pneumonia Vaccines

Two other important vaccinations the CDC recommends to seniors, especially this time of year, are the pneumococcal vaccines for pneumonia. Around one million Americans are hospitalized with pneumonia each year and about 50,000 people die from it.
The CDC is now recommending that all seniors, 65 or older, get two vaccinations —Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Both vaccines, which are administered just once at different times, work in different ways to provide maximum protection.
If you haven't yet received any pneumococcal vaccine you should get the Prevnar 13 first, followed by Pneumovax 23 six to 12 months later. But if you've already been vaccinated with Pneumovax 23, wait at least one year before getting the Prevnar 13.
Medicare Part B covers both shots, if they are taken at least 11 months apart.
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 7, 2016

How and When to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits

 

What is the easiest way to apply for my Social Security retirement benefits and how far in advance do I need to apply before I start collecting?
The Social Security Administration offers three different ways you can apply for your (or your spouse's) retirement benefits depending on your preference and how much help you need. Here's a rundown of the options, along with information that explains how and when to apply.

How to Apply?

The easiest and most convenient way to apply for your Social Security benefits is to fill out the application yourself online at SocialSecurity.gov. It takes less than 15 minutes to complete the application, as long as you've gathered all of the required information and documentation (more on that at the bottom of the column).
If, however, you'd rather have a Social Security employee assist with the process, you can call 800-772-1213 to apply on the phone or you can visit your local Social Security office. If you apply in person, be sure to call ahead and schedule an appointment to reduce your office wait time.
Whichever method you feel most comfortable using, your application will be reviewed and processed as soon as all necessary documentation and information is received. The Social Security Administration will notify you if it turns out you could qualify for better benefits on your spouse's record or if other family members qualify to receive benefits on your work record.

When to Apply?

While full retirement age is currently 66 (for those born between 1943 and 1954), you can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger your monthly check. See ssa.gov/retire/estimator.html to estimate your benefits.
The Social Security Administration recommends that you apply for retirement benefits three months before you want your payments to start. Therefore, if you want your benefits to begin as soon as you turn 62, then you should apply three months before your 62nd birthday.
It's also worth noting that if you start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits before age 65, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you'll receive your Medicare card approximately three months before your 65th birthday. It will include instructions to return it if you have work coverage that qualifies you for late enrollment.
However, if you decide to delay your retirement benefits, you'll need to sign up for Medicare at age 65, which you can also do at SocialSecurity.gov, over the phone at 800-772-1213 or through your local Social Security office. If you do not sign up, your Medicare coverage may be delayed or cost more in some circumstances.

Needed Information

In order to apply for Social Security benefits, you'll need to be able to document some information about your identity and work history. So, before applying, have the following information handy:
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your birth certificate (original or certified).
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States).
  • A copy of your U.S. military service papers if you served in the military before 1968.
  • A copy of the W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns that you filed last year.
  • Your bank information for the bank account where you would like your benefits to be directly deposited (including your account number and the bank routing number).
For a complete checklist of information you'll need to complete your application, see ssa.gov/hlp/isba/10/isba-checklist.pdf.
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 30, 2016

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