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

WCCF and ROI offering $25K in Grant Funding for Out-Of-School STEM Learning

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) has awarded Washington County Community Foundation a $25,000 grant for Out-of-School STEM Learning.  The purpose of the program is to partner with our local schools and organizations to create inspiring STEM learning environments for our youth. 

Standards for this wonderful grant opportunity include:

  1.  The program creates an inspiring STEM learning environment for all youth.
  2. STEM resources, equipment, and supplies support STEM learning.
  3. The STEM program engages families, schools, and community.
  4. Staffs receive professional development that increases their confidence and ability to facilitate STEM learning.
  5. The program provides opportunities for youth to learn STEM content, skills, and knowledge.
  6. The program utilizes a variety of data to measure the impact of its STEM program.

Eligible expenses for grant funding include program planning, professional development and part of program implementation, actual implementation, program materials, and scholarships for STEM participants.  Grant dollars may not be used for one-time events not related to an ongoing STEM program or staff time (unless a plan for sustainability is defined and realistic.

If your school or organization would like to apply for this grant, applications for the grant can be found in the Grants section of the Washington County Community Foundation website at www.wccf.biz and are due by September 25, 2017. 

For questions, please contact Judy or Lindsey at 812-883-7334.

The Washington County Community Foundation will begin accepting applications immediately for this opportunity. 

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

 

Finding Help for Seniors Addicted to Opioids

 

I'm worried about my 72-year-old mom who has been taking Vicodin—an opioid medication—for her hip and back pain for more than a year. I fear she's becoming addicted to the drug but I don't know what to do.
 
Opioid addiction is a national problem that is hitting people of all ages, including millions of older Americans. Here is what you should know and do to help your mom.

The Cause


The main reason opioid addiction has become such a problem for people over age 50 is because opioids have become a commonly prescribed (and often overprescribed) medication by doctors over the past two decades. It is being used to treat many different types of pain and diseases, including arthritis, cancer, neurological diseases and other illnesses that become more common in later life. Nearly one-third of all Medicare patients—almost 12 million people—were prescribed opioid painkillers by their physicians in 2015. That same year, 2.7 million Americans over the age of 50 abused painkillers. Taken as directed, opioids can manage pain effectively when used for a short amount of time. However, because nearly 5% of those treated will develop an addiction or abuse the opioid medication, people should be screened and monitored when using an opioid for a long period of time.

Signs of Addiction


Your mom may be addicted to opioids if she cannot stop herself from taking the drug and her tolerance continues to increase. She may also be addicted if she keeps using opioids without her doctor's consent, even if it is causing her problems related to her health, money, family or friends. If you think your mom has an addiction, ask her to see a doctor for an evaluation. Go to a family doctor, her prescribing physician or find a specialist through the American Society of Addiction Medicine (see ASAM.org) or the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP.org). It is also important to be positive and encouraging. Addiction is a medical matter, not a character flaw. Repeated use of opioids actually can change the way the brain functions.

Treatments


Treatment for opioid addiction is different for each person, but the main goal is to enable your mom to stop taking the drug and avoid using it again in the future. To help her stop using the drug, her doctor can prescribe certain medicines to help relieve her withdrawal symptoms and control her cravings. These medicines include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. After her body detoxifies, behavioral treatments such as individual counseling, group or family counseling and cognitive therapy can help her learn how to manage depression, avoid the drug, deal with cravings and heal damaged relationships. For assistance, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) confidential help line at 800-662-4357 or visit SAMHSA.gov. The SAMHSA has individuals who can connect you with treatment services in your mom's state. Also, if you believe that your mom has a doctor who prescribes opioids in excess or without legitimate reason, you should report him or her to the appropriate state medical board. For contact information visit FSMB.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 August 4, 2017

How to Choose the Right Type of Walker

 

How does one go about choosing a walker? I have some balance issues along with arthritis in my knee and could use a little more help than a cane provides. When it comes to choosing a walker, there are various styles and options to consider, but selecting the best one for you will depend on your needs and where you'll be using it. Here are some tips to help you choose.

Types of Walkers


There are three basic types of walkers on the market today. To help you choose, consider the type of support you'll need. Then, pay a visit to a medical equipment store or pharmacy that sells walkers so you can test-walk a few (see Medicare.gov/SupplierDirectory). Here are the different types you will be able to choose from:Standard walker: This is the most basic style of walker. It has four legs with rubber-based feet (no wheels), is very lightweight (around 6 pounds) and costs between $50 and $100. This type of walker must be picked up and moved forward as you walk, so it's best suited for people who need significant weight bearing support or who are walking very short distances.Two-wheeled walker: This has the same four-leg style as the standard walker except it has wheels on the two front legs. This allows the walker to be easily pushed forward without lifting. The back legs glide across the floor providing support while you step forward. This type of walker works best for people with balance issues and is priced at around $60 to $120.Rollator: This is a rolling walker that has wheels on all four (or three) legs. This type of walker is best for people who need assistance with balance or endurance inside or outside the home. This walker does, however, require some upper body strength in order to prevent the walker from rolling out from under you. Rollators typically come with a built-in seat, basket and hand-breaks. For those with hand arthritis or gripping problems, there are rollators with pushdown brakes that engage with downward pressure and will lock when you are seated. Rollators typically cost between $75 and $225.

Other Tips


After deciding on a type of walker, there a few additional things you need to double-check to ensure it meets your needs. First, if you have a larger frame, make sure the walker's weight capacity will support you. If you choose a rollator, make sure to test the seat to ensure that you can comfortably fit between the handgrips. Always check the height of the walker to make sure that it is set appropriately for you. To do this, stand with your arms relaxed at your sides. The handgrips of the walker should line up with the crease on the inside of your wrist. You also will want to ensure that the walker folds easily for transport and storage and that it is light enough to lift into your car. Test the handgrips to make sure they are comfortable. Also, be sure you measure the doorways in your home to ensure your walker will fit through them. If you have narrow doorways consider installing "swing clear" offset door hinges. This would be a simple and affordable way to widen your doorways an extra two inches. Walkers also have numerous accessories that can be added for your convenience, such as—food tray attachments, tote bags for carrying personal items, oxygen tank holders and tennis ball walker glides that go over the feet of a standard walker to help the walker slide across floors. For more tips on how to choose and use a walker, visit Mayoclinic.com/health/walker/HA00060. It is also a smart idea to work with your doctor or a physical therapist, as Medicare will cover 80% of the cost if you receive a written prescription for a walker.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 July 28, 2017

How to Find and Claim Your Family's Unclaimed Money

I've heard that there are free online search tools that can help people look for lost or forgotten money left behind by deceased relatives. Can you refer me? When my father passed away his financial affairs were a mess, I'm wondering if there was anything he left behind.


Forgotten or lost money is actually quite common in the United States. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, there is around $42 billion in unclaimed funds sitting in state treasuries and other agencies just waiting to be found.

These unclaimed funds are from accounts that are inactive or whose owners, or their heirs, cannot be located. Unclaimed funds can include lost or forgotten saving or checking accounts, stocks, utility security deposits, tax refunds, life insurance proceeds, uncashed dividend checks, contents of safe-deposit boxes and more.

This typically happens because of a change of address (the owner moved), a name change (the owner got married or divorced) or the owner dies and the estate was unaware of the money or the heirs could not be located. By law, companies and financial institutions that can't find the owner or their next of kin within two to five years must turn the property over to the state where it's held indefinitely.

Where to Search


It's very possible that your father, or you, have some unclaimed money out there and you don't even know it. To start your quest go to Unclaimed.org, which has links to all state programs that will let you to do a state benefits search online for free. Alternatively, you can do a multi-state search in 40 states at MissingMoney.com.

Check every state in which your father or you have lived, worked or conducted business. Also, if you're married, make sure to check under your maiden name as well. Using a first initial and your last name is also encouraged to make sure everything comes up. Every state should be able to tell you immediately if you or your dad have some unclaimed money, as well as how to go about collecting it.

Look Here Too


In addition to state treasuries, here are some other agencies that can help you find unclaimed money.

IRS: Each year thousands of refund checks totaling millions of dollars are returned to the IRS by the post office. To look for lost Federal tax refund checks go to IRS.gov/refunds, or call 800-829-1954.

U.S. Treasury: To find out if there are any savings bonds your dad didn't claim dating back to 1974, go to TreasuryHunt.gov. For older bonds, or those still drawing interest, use form 1048, which you can download at TreasuryHunt.gov/forms/sav1048.pdf, or call 844-284-2676 to request a form by mail.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: If your dad worked for a company that went out of business or ended its defined benefit pension plan, you may be entitled to some of his benefits. To look for lost pensions, use the pension-search tool at PBGC.gov/search/unclaimed-pensions, or you can call 800-400-7242 and get help over the phone.

National Association of Insurance Commissioners: To track down a lost or forgotten life insurance policy, the NAIC, an insurance regulatory support organization, offers a national policy locator service at Locator.NAIC.org.

PenChecks Inc. and Millennium Trust Co.: To search for lost or forgotten retirement benefits or 401(k) funds left behind with an old employer, go to UnclaimedRetirementBenefits.comand MTrustCompany.com/unclaimed-retirement-funds.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: To search for unclaimed bank accounts at firms that were shut down between January 1, 1989 and June 28, 1993 go to ClosedBanks.FDIC.gov/funds. State treasuries hold assets from shutdowns after 1993.

Social Security: To find lost Social Security benefits, including the $255 death benefit, call 800-772-1213.

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 July 21, 2017

WCCF is Offering Scholarships to Non-Traditional Students

The Washington County Community Foundation is now offering scholarships to non-traditional students through its Education Matters initiative. 

Education Matters is a regional undertaking organized by the community foundations that serve Washington, Scott, Harrison, Clark and Floyd counties to try to increase the number of working adults in our region who started but never completed some form of post-secondary education – education that extends beyond high school.

You might be surprised to learn that in Southeast Indiana, only 25% of our workforce has an associate’s, bachelors or professional degree, compared to 38% nationally. Yet one in four of our community’s adult workers has earned some college credits! That’s over 3,100 people in Washington County!  For whatever reason, they started but never completed their post-secondary education. This represents a tremendous amount of untapped potential in our community.

The community foundations that created Education Matters have elected to concentrate on a small sliver of the overall issue, those one in four of our adult workers who have some post-secondary credits but did not complete their degrees or certifications. This population of people who started but didn’t finish their education is where the Washington County Community Foundation sees opportunity to implement immediate changes that can drive our educational attainment numbers up, ultimately having real impact on our community.

The following criteria have been established for round of scholarships:  

  1. Annual awards will not exceed $3,000 the first twelve months and $5,000 per person in any subsequent twelve month period.
  2. Scholarship applicants must be a minimum of 28 years old as of the date of application.
  3. Only individuals who can demonstrate continuing legal residence in Washington County for at least the past five years are eligible. Documentation such as tax forms, housing receipts, or utility bills will be used to verify residency and/or household income.
  4. Scholarship awards may be used for tuition, course-related fees, or books only. Checks will only be written to an educational institution or certified training provider.
  5. The application deadline is October 6, 2017. No exceptions. 
  6. Adult scholarship awards may not be used to pay for college debt.
  7. Subsequent awards will only be considered for students maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA.

Call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334 or email program.officer@wccf.biz to request an application or for more information.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community. 

The Hidden Dangers of Heartburn

 

Is regular heartburn or indigestion anything to worry about? My 60-year-old husband eats a lot of Tums or Rolaids throughout the day to help him manage it, but it keeps him up at night too. What can you tell us?
Almost everyone experiences heartburn or acid indigestion from time to time, but frequent episodes can signal a much more serious problem. Here's what you should know, along with some tips and treatments to help relieve your husband's symptoms.
It is estimated that more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month, with around 15 million people suffering from it daily. If your husband is plagued by heartburn two or more times a week and it is not responding well to over-the-counter antacids, he needs to see a doctor. Frequent bouts may mean he has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can severely irritate and damage the lining of his esophagus, putting him at risk of Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer if it is not treated.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Depending on the frequency and severity of his heartburn, there are a number of lifestyle adjustments he can make that can help provide relief and avoid a more serious problem down the road. Consider these tips:
  • Avoid problem foods: Certain foods can trigger heartburn symptoms, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, fatty foods, chocolate, garlic, onions, spicy foods, mints, alcohol, coffee and sodas. Your husband should keep a food diary to track which foods cause him the most problems and avoid them.
  • Eat smaller, slower and earlier: Having smaller portions at mealtime and eating slower can help reduce heartburn symptoms. He should also wait at least three hours after eating before lying down or going to bed.
  • Lose weight: Having excess weight around the midsection puts pressure on the abdomen, pushing up the stomach and causing acid to back up into the esophagus.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking can increase stomach acid and weaken the valve that prevents acid from entering the esophagus. If your husband smokes, the National Cancer Institute offers a number of smoking cessation resources at SmokeFree.gov or 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
  • Sleep elevated: To help keep the acid down while sleeping, get your husband a wedge-shaped pillow to prop him up a few inches. If that's not enough, try elevating the head of his bed six to eight inches by placing blocks under the bedposts or insert a wedge between his mattress and box spring. Wedges are available at drugstores and medical supply stores. Sleeping on his left side may also help keep the acid down.

Treatment Options

If the lifestyle adjustments don't solve the problem or if antacids such as Tums, Rolaids, Maalox, Mylanta or Alka-Seltzer aren't doing the trick there are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help. His doctor can help him determine which one is best for him. Treatment options include:
H-2 Blockers: Available as both over-the-counter and prescription strength, these drugs, including Pepcid, Tagamet, Axid and Zantac, reduce how much acid your stomach makes but may not be strong enough for serious symptoms.
Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPI): If you have frequent and severe heartburn symptoms, PPIs are long-acting prescription medications that block acid production and allow time for damaged esophageal tissue to heal. They include Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Zegerid, Protonix, Aciphex and Dexilant. Prevacid 24 HR, Prilosec and Zegerid OTC are also available over-the-counter. But be aware that long-term use of PPIs can increase your risk for osteoporosis and chronic kidney disease.
Surgery: If medications don't do the trick, there are also surgical procedures that can tighten or strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter to prevent gastric fluids from washing back up into the esophagus.
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 July 14, 2017

New Medicare Cards Debut Next Year

 

I just received my Medicare card in the mail and was surprised to see that the ID number is the same as my Social Security number. I know it's a bad idea to carry around anything that displays my Social Security number because it makes me vulnerable to identity theft. Wasn't the government supposed to stop putting Social Security numbers on Medicare cards?
Many people who are new to Medicare are surprised to learn that the ID number on their Medicare card is identical to their Social Security number (SSN). After all, we're constantly warned not to carry our SSN around with us, because lost or stolen SSN information could result in identity theft.
But what should you do when the Medicare card itself tells you to carry it with you so that you can present it to administrative staff at a doctor's office or hospital? Here are some tips and information that you can use to protect yourself.

New Medicare Cards

For starters, you'll be happy to know that the government is in the process of removing SSNs from Medicare cards. But with 58 million beneficiaries, it is a huge undertaking that will be implemented gradually. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will start sending the new cards in April 2018, but it will take until December 2019 for SSNs to be removed from all cards.
Under the new system, a randomly generated 11-character Medicare Beneficiary Identifier will replace the SSN-based health claim number on your new Medicare card, but your Medicare benefits will not change.
You will receive information in 2018 letting you know about the new Medicare card with an explanation of how to use the new card and what to do with your old one. You can start using your new Medicare card and number as soon as you receive it. There will likely be a transition period in 2018 and 2019 when you can use either the old card or the new card.

Protect Your Identity

Until your new Medicare card is issued, here is what you can do to protect your SSN on your current card. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a national consumer resource on identity theft, recommends that you carry your Medicare card only when you visit a health care provider for the first time so the provider can make a copy for their files. Otherwise, make a photocopy of your card and cut it down to wallet size. Then take a black marker and black out the last four digits of your SSN and carry that with you instead.
If your Medicare card does happen to get lost or stolen, you can replace it by calling the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or by contacting your local Social Security office. You can also request a card online at SSA.gov/MyAccount. Your card will arrive in the mail in about 30 days.
If your Medicare card containing your SSN gets lost or stolen, you will need to keep an eye out for Medicare fraud. You can do this by checking your quarterly Medicare summary notices for services or supplies you did not receive. You can also check your Medicare claims online at MyMedicare.gov (you'll need to create an account first) or by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227. If you spot anything suspicious or incorrect, call the Inspector General's fraud hotline at 800-447-8477.
Also, watch for other signs of identity theft. For example, if someone uses your Social Security number to obtain credit, loans, telephone accounts or other goods and services, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov (or 877-438-4338). This site will also give you specific steps you will need to take if your identity gets stolen.
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 July 7, 2017

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

Washington County
Community Foundation

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

vimeo logo