January 25, 2019

Are you doing these 10 things to save on healthcare?

Filed under: Health Insurance,Healthcare,Medicaid,Medicare,Seniors Health — Tags: , , — seniorlivingguide @ 2:49 pm

Courtesy of Alison Lee

When you’re a retired senior, you finally get to pursue your “real” life. Long vacations, cruises, new hobbies, and other adventures await. However, old age also brings more illnesses, and sometimes it can be a challenge to balance your ideal post-retirement life with your healthcare costs. Make sure you’re doing these 10 things to minimize your healthcare spending.

healthcare saving for seniors

  1. Take advantage of preventive care.

The earlier you spot a disease, the easier and cheaper it is to fix – plus, you’ll feel better sooner. Medicare covers a bounty of preventive and screening services, from cardiovascular disease screening to depression screening. If you’ve been under Medicare Part B for more than 12 months, you’re also entitled to a “wellness” visit every year.

To make the most of your visit, make a list of health questions and concerns throughout the year to take to your wellness check-up so you don’t forget. Being thorough and honest about your habits (such as whether you smoke or drink alcohol), medical history, and family health history can help your doctor catch risk factors early.

  1. Buy generic medications and buy them online from more affordable sources.

You can save a significant amount of money by choosing generic drugs over brand-name ones. Generic and brand-name drugs are deemed “bioequivalent” by the FDA, so there is virtually no loss in quality.

Many Americans also buy prescription drugs online from international and Canadian pharmacies, such as Canadian pharmacy referral service Rx Connected. Pharmaceutical industries in other countries may be more strictly regulated than in the U.S., making their drugs significantly cheaper.

Buying drugs online may sound risky, but there are many legitimate websites that care about drug safety and patient wellbeing. However, do exercise caution when buying anything online. If a price is too good to be true, or if the company claims you don’t need a prescription for something that should, it’s likely a scam. Legitimate websites like Rx Connected will welcome consumer questions and concerns, and even encourages doctors to call them directly.

  1. Get vaccinated.

Make sure you get vaccinated during flu season; it’s often free for seniors under Medicare. The flu bug changes every year, so it’s important to get a flu shot each year. Seasonal influenza isn’t just a nuisance; it’s highly contagious and especially dangerous for seniors. Complications can be serious. Click here for more information about the flu.

You should also ensure you are vaccinated against other contagious diseases. Talk to your doctor about what vaccines to get, including booster shots. Getting vaccinated is not just good for you; you can help protect immunocompromised and high-risk individuals too.

  1. Learn about Medicare Savings Programs and Extra Help, and see if you qualify.

If you haven’t already, research Medicare Savings Programs and Extra Help, programs that help those enrolled in Medicare pay their premiums. You may still qualify for Medicare Savings Programs if your income is higher than the limits. If you’re eligible for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program, Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program, or Qualifying Individual Program, you are automatically eligible for Extra Help for prescription drugs.

  1. Visit a Community Health Center.

Community Health Centers are available in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and every American territory. These state-funded clinics offer free or low-cost care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay or their insurance status, and are located in designated “medically undeserved areas.” Services may include preventive care, mental healthcare, pharmacy services, dental care, and more. You can find one near you by clicking here.

  1. Learn about health.

Now that you’re retired, you have time to read all those books on your backburner book list! Why not also read more about health in general? The good news is, a large amount of useful health information is free and found on the internet. Being informed can alert you to potential problems early.

Of course, there is an unfortunate amount of misinformation on the internet. Stay away from articles with sensationalized titles like “Lose 10 Pounds in 1 Week!” Stick to government-approved websites like the CDC, Medline Plus, and the National Institutes of Health.

However, DO NOT diagnose yourself based on information you read on the internet. There’s a reason why physicians go through years of schooling. When in doubt, see a doctor.

  1. Now that you know more about health, get the appropriate level of help.

Not every little discomfort warrants a trip to the ER. If you have a minor health issue or question, see if you can find a 24/7 phone line where you can talk to a nurse. Many insurance plans offer this service, as do many hospitals. A qualified nurse can decide whether your health question warrants a trip to the doctor’s office. Online services – where you talk to a doctor remotely over the internet – are another low-cost option for more minor health problems.

  1. Compare before you buy.

Just like buying a new car, you should shop around before committing to a health service. Ask your healthcare provider about the Healthcare Bluebook, a good tool to use to compare pricing for health services offered by different providers. Don’t pay for a hundred-dollar X-ray when there’s one at half the price just a block away!

  1. Does your local community center, senior center, or non-profit advocacy group offer discounted or free programs?

If you have a chronic illness like arthritis or diabetes, a non-profit advocacy group may have a facility near you that offers programs to help manage your condition. If you do not have a chronic illness, check out what your local community and senior center offers. Don’t restrict yourself to fitness programs; your physical and mental health can benefit greatly from art therapy, music lessons, and more.

  1. Continue living a healthy lifestyle.

The best way to save on healthcare is to not get sick in the first place. Now that you’re retired, invest some time into making healthful, home-cooked meals, spend an hour or two at the park each day, and make sure you’re active and socializing regularly. If you smoke, now is a good time to quit, and while a glass of wine or two is fine on occasion, if you drink excessively, now is also a time to cut down.

Ask any physician and they will say that good health is really quite simple: eat well, move around, get enough rest, and be happy. So go ahead and enjoy retirement.

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January 22, 2019

How to Get Your Best Sleep in Your Senior Years

Filed under: Healthcare,Seniors Health — Tags: , , — seniorlivingguide @ 2:21 pm

Courtesy of Lisa Smalls

Elderly people in our world deserve the best in their golden years, including the best sleep. Unfortunately, it gets harder to sleep well as we age. Seniors are more likely to struggle falling asleep, staying sleep and sleeping deeply enough—they also suffer from age-specific sleep problems—than any other age group.

Seniors, you are not destined for poor sleep. We will explain how to attack your sleep issues and come out the other end rested and refreshed for another day on earth.

Sleep Issues

The good news for senior citizens here is that most sleep issues the elderly might face can normally be tracked back to physical (soreness, osteoporosis, arthritis, restless leg syndrome, insomnia) and psychiatric illnesses (depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease) and the medications doctors use to treat them.

Thankfully we’re not usually talking about issues that do require medication to alleviate.  But our older friends should discuss their sleep issues with doctors and family members to address them.

better sleep for seniorsAlso, did you know our sleep patterns change as get older? Our internal clock, which tells us when to rest and when to wake up, actually shifts as we age. Seniors tend to want to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.

But our need for sleep, once we reach adulthood, does not change. Popular belief is misinformed. How much sleep we actually need to heal and feel fully restored each morning does not decrease with age. All adults—defined as anyone age 18 or over—need 7-9 hours per night.

Sleep culprits

And we’re all human. We have habits that hinder our sleep.

One sleep thief is the food we eat or drinks we imbibe. Eating too close to bedtime means our bodies are still working to digest as we’re trying to wind down for the day. Drinking alcohol may relax your inhibitions, but it doesn’t ease you to sleep.

Sleeping in a room that is too warm will keep you up. Seniors do get colder because often they don’t move enough to keep the blood circulating. But sleep scientists recommend sleeping in a room cooler than 70 degrees. Your body temperature will regulate to a good temperature once it begins the hard work of repairing itself as we sleep.

Sleeping in a room with too much light definitely robs you of good sleep. The artificial blue light behind our smartphones, tablets and televisions is the worst offender. The light artificially signals your brain that it must stay awake. You must keep those devices in other rooms at bedtime, ideally starting two hours before bedtime.

Ironically not getting enough natural sunlight during the day also slows the process of falling asleep. Seniors may not be mobile enough to go outside. It may be dangerous for them to do so without help, or they may not feel safe enough to do it where they live. Without at least two hours of natural sunlight per day, your circadian rhythm gets confused. You end up not feeling ready for bed once it’s time.

Another problem related to mobility is that seniors may not get enough exercise each day. Whatever you can do to get your heart pumping, based on your physical ability, will burn fuel. Burning off some during the day, eases you to sleep at night.

Finally, the wrong mattress or a too-old mattress will definitely keep you up at night. You toss and turn because your body isn’t comfortable. Any mattress that throws your spine out of alignment or puts too much pressure on delicate joints and muscles needs to be replaced.

Tools for better sleep

It starts with the best mattress, that you can afford, that works for you. Because there is a very competitive marketplace for mattresses these days, you have so many mattress options to choose from that will address whatever issues you have.

Younger adults usually do well with a medium-firm mattress. Medium-soft mattresses are better for seniors, who need a little more give, something more gentle to curve to older shoulders and hips. The important thing is that your spine remains aligned straight regardless of your sleep position.

For example, If you sleep on your back, that area of the mattress should not cave against your weight. That would put your tailbone and lumbar vertebrae out of alignment with the rest of your spine. If you are bothered by back pain, choose a mattress designed to alleviate it.

Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be on your way to better nights of sleep.

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January 16, 2019

Senior and Single? 4 Ways to Develop a Thriving Social Life

Courtesy of Lizzie Weakley

Being a single senior comes with its own unique challenges. Unfortunately, as you’ve gotten older, it has become more and more difficult to keep old friends and make new ones. Some friends move away and retire to warmer climates, while potential friends maybe aren’t looking to add to their social circle. But there are ways that you can develop a thriving social life. Below you will find four exciting ideas on how to expand your network of friends.

Volunteer
One way to expand your social network is to volunteer your time to worthy causes. Instead of sitting at home by yourself, you can go out and meet a lot of great people who share the same passions as you. For example, if you love animals, then think senior and singleabout volunteering at your local animal shelter. Not only will you get to pet and care for needy cats and dogs, but you will be able to make friends with other volunteers and the shelter staff.

Get Out There and Date
Yes, you’ve already been there and done that when it comes to dating, but dating as a senior is vastly different. For one, you already know what you want and who you get along with. And two, you don’t necessarily have to date in order to get married. Many seniors date in order keep their social life alive and active as well as to seek companionship. Going on a few dates can get you out of the house and back into the world. Try double dating with other couples by going to dinner, the movies, or to plays.

Join a Senior Travel Group
Another great way to increase your social life is to join a senior travel group. These kinds of groups will not only help you make new friends, but will help you see the world as well. Traveling with someone can also help you form tight bonds because of your shared experience. Also, if you are retired, there may be no better time than now to take long trips to countries you’ve already dreamed of visiting. You don’t have a boss to report to, so you can spend more time touring Europe or cruising the Baltic Sea.

Move to a Retirement Community
Lastly, moving to a retirement community can increase your social life tenfold. A good retirement community will allow you to participate in group activities, such as sports or cards, to eat meals with other in a clubhouse, and to go shopping with others. When moving, remember the best way to get the most money out of your house is to renovate, especially if you have old laminate benchtops or floors. You want to make sure you get all you can out of your house so that you have more to spend when buying an apartment or condo in a retirement community.

Remember, the only real way to develop your social life is to put yourself out there and meet people! Follow the above tips to strengthen your odds of finding lasting relationships.

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January 11, 2019

Preventing Falls and Senior Safety

Filed under: Senior Safety,Seniors Health — Tags: , , , — seniorlivingguide @ 2:16 pm

By: Darleen Mahoney

A few simple precautions can help make your home or senior living community safe for you or your senior from dangerous falls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the number one cause of injuries among Seniors. A person living with a cognitive impairment Grabcessoriessuch as dementia or Alzheimer’s is two to three times more likely to experience a fall with serious injury than their cognitively intact counterparts. Injuries from falls in seniors are more detrimental as they may result in a more serious injury or even death. These more serious injuries can include hip fractures, cuts, serious head and brain injuries. Even when there is no serious injury, a fall can be very scary for a senior and cause them to avoid activities out of fear of falling.

Due to the high risk of falls associated with this population, creating a safe home environment and living space is extremely critical.

You can make your home safe from falls with a few basic changes. It does not have to be a complete house remodel; a few simple tweaks can make a big impact.

The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms in a home. Falls often occur when getting in and out of the tub or shower. Grab bars are an essential part of any Senior’s bathroom. Grab bars reduce the risk of slipping and falling. Grab bars are inexpensive and simple to install. If you have concerns about the appearance of installing grab bars in your home and want to maintain a certain aesthetic appeal, Grabcessories.com offers beautiful safety grab bars that blend right in to your living space. Their products completely blend into a bathroom design while providing a safe environment. They offer 2-in-1 Fall prevention systems disguising grab bars as bath accessories. These fall prevention accessories are not only available for homes but cater to senior living communities as well.

Other important tips to make the rest of a home or assisted living community safer is:

• Removing any tripping hazards – fix any loose carpet, throw away rugs, remove furniture that may block or make maneuvering around a space more difficult.
• Clutter – A neat home free of clutter can help prevent a fall
• Lighting – Inadequate lighting, especially for seniors who may have poor eyesight or may be unsteady, can be detrimental to a senior living space
• Foot wear – While socks and slippers may be the most comfortable, its important to make sure that they are non-slip. If possible, encourage them to wear something with a rubber sole.
• Non-slip flooring – Add non-slip linings to tubs and showers

Falls among seniors are a serious problem and a bad fall can have a huge impact on an otherwise healthy and independent senior. The good news is that falls can be prevented. Following the simple guidelines and doing a little planning can significantly reduce the threat of a fall, giving you or your loved ones many more years of independent living.

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December 12, 2018

Filling the Medicare Gap: Funding Options for Long-Term Care

Filed under: Health Insurance,Long Term Care,Medicaid,Medicare — Tags: , , — seniorlivingguide @ 2:31 pm

Courtesy of Janet Campbell

A rapidly-aging population and the ever-increasing cost of care means that a lot of Americans will be forced to figure out how to pay for long-term care. Those who Filling the Medicare Gapdelay preparing and planning could be in for a difficult time and high debt levels: the average cost of a private nursing home room is $75,000 annually, and the median cost of engaging a licensed home health aide is about $152 a day. It is projected that these costs will only continue to climb as the Baby Boomer generation ages, which means that now’s the time to begin structuring a financial plan. The cost of delaying is simply too high. Here are a few options to consider as you look to the future.

Medicare Advantage plans

Seniors are all too aware that the older we get, the more our healthcare costs tend to rise. For that reason, many people 65 and older have a Medicare plan, but unfortunately, it won’t cover all of your medical expenses. That’s a big reason why 1 in 3 Medicare recipients have a Medicare Advantage (or Medicare Part C) plan to help pay for some long-term care costs, like dental and vision care, as well as prescription medications. If you already receive Medicare, it’s worth your while to look into an Advantage plan, especially because some of them offer $0 premiums. If you’re getting close to age 65 or are currently eligible for Medicare, be aware of enrollment dates and requirements so you’re prepared ahead of time; depending on the type of plan you get, your disability status and your employment history, you initial sign-up date will vary.

Long-term care insurance

This is one of the more obvious alternatives, but it’s often considered a cost-prohibitive option by many people. Long-term care insurance does become more expensive the longer you wait to enroll (for example, a yearly premium may cost you approximately $2,000 if you go this route at age 55). Many financial advisers recommend not waiting so long, and that there’s nothing wrong with taking out a policy in your 30s or 40s, especially if it’ll save you hundreds of dollars a year in premiums.

Insurance rider

A life insurance policy rider can give you early access to death benefits to help pay for long-term care. This allows you to access benefits early if you meet certain criteria, such as being diagnosed with a cognitive impairment. Benefits paid out early are deducted from the payout to beneficiaries after the policyholder’s death. Also, be aware that you may be able to sell a life insurance policy to free up cash for long-term care expenses.

Personal savings

A 2015 Department of Health and Human Services study found that most Americans required fewer than two years of long-term care, and that saving $70,000 could be sufficient to meet the need. Setting aside part of your investment earnings or long-term, interest-bearing savings can carry you a long way toward meeting that financial objective, and it’ll keep you from having to come up with an annual or monthly premium payment.

Health savings

If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy, you may be eligible for a health savings account (HSA) to help defray the cost of rising long-term health care expenses. HSA contributions roll over from year to year, and withdrawals can be made tax free as long as you use them to pay for healthcare expenses – that includes long-term care insurance payments. Contributions are tax deductible up to $3,450, and nearly double that if you have a family plan.

Medicaid

Medicaid is an alternative to Medicare, which does not pay for long-term care. Medicaid covers long-term care expenses if you’ve gone through all other financial resources, though eligibility differs from state to state. One problem is that you’re limited as to where you can go if you require nursing home care, since not every facility accepts Medicaid.

Long-term care can be prohibitively expensive, but that doesn’t mean it has to put a strain on your financial resources. Preparing early, whether that means buying long-term care insurance or starting a health savings account, is an excellent way to be ready if you or a loved one needs long-term care.

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December 7, 2018

An Incredible Way To Give This Holiday Season – Adopt-A-Senior

Filed under: Seniors,Volunteering — Tags: , , — seniorlivingguide @ 10:54 am

We’re in the throws of the holiday season, everyone is busy planning for company, Help Seniors During The Holidaysshopping, decorating, work obligations, family events, perhaps traveling…and the list goes on.

Sometimes with all that we have brewing during the holidays it’s difficult to make time to give back, but did you know that over 7 million people over the age of 65 fell below the Supplemental Poverty Measure in 2017 and that number is likely to increase this year?

There are plenty of opportunities to give back to seniors in your community during the holidays, here are a few to consider –

Adopt-A-Senior

Adopt A SeniorFounded in 2014 this New Jersey based non-profit programs’ mission is to provide gifts to as many Seniors living in long-term care facilities as possible. For a annual $50 donation the organization will select a Senior(s) on your behalf and ensure that the individual(s) receive their gifts throughout the year. All gifts will be provided to your Senior in your name by the organization. Gifts include: Holiday Gift, Birthday Gift and 2 other Seasonal Gifts during the year.

If you are in the NY/NJ Tri-State area, you can opt to personally shop and hand deliver your gift as part of their Wish List program.

Adopt-A-Native-Elder

Adopt A Native ElderThe poverty rate for Native Americans continues to rise and many need assistance beyond what the reservation’s elder care programs can address. This program, founded in the 1980’s by Linda Myers, focuses on Elders in the remote portions of the Dine’ (Navajo) reservation.

Donors provide $200 annually, covering the cost of a year’s worth of food for an older adult. The program also provides Navajo elders with medicine, clothing, firewood and other essentials. Once you sign on through this Utah-based nonprofit, you’ll receive a photo of the elder you’re paired with, along with his or her contact information, and you’ll be encouraged to stay in touch.

If you are in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, you can volunteer at their warehouse packing food and supplies or with activities such as a Food Run or The Annual Navajo Rug Show & Sale. If you can’t make a donation or attend an event, you are encouraged to share their mission on your social media outlets to help spread the word.

Be-A-Santa-To-A-Senior

This Home Instead Senior Care program partners with local non-profit and community organizations to identify seniors who might not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season. The company then works with local businesses and retail stores to help facilitate the purchase and distribution of gifts by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations. Each senior’s gift requests are written on a Be a Santa to a Senior bulb.

Since the program’s inception in 2003 over 1.2 million gifts have been delivered to deserving seniors.

The program works like this – Find a participating Be a Santa to a Senior location using the search tool on their website. Remove bulb with senior’s gift request from the tree. Purchase the requested gift(s) listed on the bulb. Place bulb and unwrapped gift(s) in the designated box. Volunteers are also needed to collect, wrap and deliver gifts.

There are many ways to touch a senior’s life not only at this time of year, but year round. If at all possible, take time to make someones life just a little brighter this holiday season. It may just be the best gift you’ve ever given.

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November 19, 2018

How best to celebrate Christmas with a person with dementia

Christmas can be a very overwhelming time for someone living with dementia. A sudden influx of friends and family can cause individuals to feel stressed, agitated and confused. Active Minds outline their top tips for supporting your loved one through the overwhelming Christmas period, whilst ensuring you enjoy a magical festive time together.

Planning

This will help the day run as smoothly as possible, ensuring that both you and your loved ones enjoy the festivities without a hitch.

  • Create a schedule, ensure celebrations are planned for earlier in the day to avoid tiredness or agitation.
  • Speak to friends and family in advance about plans, and make sure everyone works together to ensure elderly members feel included and part of conversations.
  • It may be a good idea to familiarise extended family members with any Activities For People With Dementia By Active Mindsbehavioral changes that they may expect to view in the person with dementia.
  • A person with dementia can find large groups intimidating so keep invitations to a minimum.
  • Familiarise you loved one with the guests in preparation for the event, talk about them and show pictures of everyone who will be coming.
  • Have a quiet room set up where your loved one can go if things become a bit too much, with some activities that can help them relax.
  • Plan some simple family activities and games that are inclusive to all generations.

Eating and Drinking

Food and drink plays a big part of Christmas. It’s important to think about eating and dietary requirements for elderly relatives as rather often older party members may have particular needs.

  • Those with dementia may struggle to eat for many of reasons, such as a lack of appetite. So it’s best to avoid overloading their plate with Christmas Dinner, as this can be a daunting prospect.
  • Keep alcohol to a minimum to avoid arguments or accidents that can agitate a person with dementia.
  • Try where possible to serve food that is familiar to your loved one as this will help them feel comfortable and relaxed and may even spark memories and conversation.

Safety

  • Sometimes people with dementia experience problems with vision. To avoid confusion, place colour-contrasting rugs in front of doors or steps to make sure they are visible (dark coloured rugs may be mistaken for holes).
  • If the house is unfamiliar to your loved one, place labels on doors to help them move around easily.
  • If possible, limit access to places where injury could occur, such as kitchens or staircases.
  • Keep a list of emergency contacts nearby.
  • If staying the night, leave lights on in case your loved one gets confused if they get up during the night.

Take time for yourself

Caregivers often struggle trying to balance Christmas plans and looking after their loved ones, meaning it can be an incredibly stressful time of year, so you must make sure you take some time for yourself.

  • Pace yourself and set realistic goals so you don’t overstretch.
  • Assign another member of the family to also be on hand to ensure that your loved one is ok and comfortable, so the job isn’t entirely your responsibility.
  • You may want to have a respite care plan put in place to begin shortly after the festivities have ended. This would ensure to give yourself a well-deserved break.
  • Be proud of yourself – Christmas can be a tough time for both a person with dementia and their carer.

If you have an elderly relative or friend that’s not spending Christmas with you, regular phone calls can help elderly people not feel isolated or lonely. Although this can be a very busy time of year, try and make time for a visit, even if it’s only brief, as this will be hugely beneficial for them.

Christmas Gifts

Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the giving and receiving of gifts. Choosing gifts for people with dementia isn’t always easy, so we’ve put together a few ideas which make the perfect present.

  • A DVD of a classic film or TV series from their past, the film may help to spark memories.
  • There are jigsaw puzzles available which are created especially for someone with dementia, including illustrations which can encourage reminiscence and conversation, perfect as a stimulating gift.
  • Make a memory book or photo album full of special times spent together. Not only will you be creating something that you can enjoy with your loved one, this will be a reminiscent gift, that your family member can pick up and look at any time they want.
  • Giving your loved one a board game to enjoy with everyone is a great gift. Active Minds have developed special dementia friendly games such as Animal Bingo and a specially adapted version of Snakes and Ladders.
  • Colouring books are a relaxing activity to help a person unwind and focus, as well as giving a sense of satisfaction once the colouring is completed.

Activities are one of the most effective ways to keep people with dementia calm and content over the Christmas period, visit Active Minds to take a look at their resources and activities suitable for those with dementia.

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November 15, 2018

Senior Health: Understanding the Holiday Blues

Filed under: Seniors Health — Tags: , , , , — seniorlivingguide @ 12:06 pm

By: Darleen Mahoney

Oh, the holidays! The season where everything is jolly, trees are twinkling, children’s eyes are glistening, and tables are surrounded by family’s laughter and love. This is not necessarily the case for everyone, especially for seniors. As seniors age, they may no longer feel like celebrating the holidays anymore. For them the holidays may take on a different meaning and can make them sad, depressed or feel anxious. A few key seniors health during the holidaysindicators of (SAD) Seasonal Affective Disorder, may be unusual fatigue or sadness or little interest in the holiday season in general.

There may be different triggers that may cause these feelings of melancholy over the holidays. Digging deep into the heart of the matter with a frank conversation will help you to make sure that your loved one has a more joyous holiday season.

Seniors may reflect on holidays past, struggling to find the joys in the present. It’s okay to treasure those old memories and keep them in a special place in their heart. Its also okay to enjoy the present holiday and find joy in making new memories.

The death of a loved one during the holidays can also be a trigger. Even if the loss occurred many years ago, it brings up memories of the loss itself bringing on feelings of grief and emptiness. There may be guilt if they are having a good time.

Take the time to talk through how your loved one is feeling and let them know that their feelings are normal. Everyone grieves in their own way. Ask them what their wishes are to help them handle it as you acknowledge their feelings together.

Here’s a few ideas:

  • Light a candle in memorial
  • Place the person’s picture in a special place
  • Family dinner where everyone shares a special memory

Stress is another factor that can cause depression and/or anxiety among seniors. Pressure from family and friends to attend holiday celebrations the same way or differently than in the past. Keeping a senior occupied with the festivities of the season may very well be therapeutic, but nothing can ruin a holiday occasion faster than having so much to do that that you can’t enjoy the holiday. The idea of baking, decorating, shopping and all the traditions that are enjoyable may become overwhelming if overscheduled. Prioritize what is important and be realistic. Focus on what you and your loved ones need rather than what others expect of you.

Financial pressures can also cause depression for seniors on limited budgets. Not only are they purchasing gifts, but additional holidays meals and their heating expenses tend to increase. This season is an overall expensive time of year.  Reminding your loved one that it truly is the thought that counts when it comes to gift giving and here are a few suggestions:

  • Baked Goods
  • Drawing Names
  • Handmade Gifts
  • Passing Down Family Heirlooms

Keep in mind that there is a difference between the holiday blues and depression. If you feel that your loved one is experiencing something more than the blues, seek the advice of a professional.

Perhaps the most effective cure to the holiday blues is a few simple physical gestures of affection such as a hug or holding a loved one’s hand. These simple acts can reduce stress, anxiety, while bringing joy and love to both of you.

As a caregiver or family member of a senior suffering with the holiday blues, make it your mission to get involved. You can make a significant difference and lessen the holiday blues for your loved ones for a more enjoyable holiday season for all.

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November 7, 2018

The Short Version of Veterans Aid and Attendance

By: Darleen Mahoney

This weekend, our Nation will reflect on the sacrifices that our Veterans and War Heroes have made over the years as it became a national holiday in 1938. As their sacrifices have provided safety, security and the freedom our country continues to enjoy, it’s important to know what benefits our Veterans may be eligible. Its important that they be aware and utilize what is available, especially if they find themselves in unexpected need.

According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, “Elderly Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans.”

What exactly is Aid and Attendance? Its super simple, the veteran must require help Veterans Benefitswith daily living or activities at home, assisted living, nursing home, or skilled nursing. Their need does not have to be related to any military service.

If you are applying for “Aid and Attendance” and would like benefits based on a housebound status, the Veterans Agency will allow some costs and annualized medical expenses if it’s for medical care. Those aging in place and using Home Health services do not have to be licensed. However, if the beneficiary or Veteran has been diagnosed with a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer’s, a physician’s statement must indicate that a protective environment is in place.

If you are seeking Aid and Attendance benefits while living or would like to move to an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility, the facility will be required to sign a statement verifying the type of care being given or what they are expecting that resident to receive.  You will also be required to submit a “Care Provider Report”.

How do you know if you may qualify? Here are a few simple indictors:

  1. Age: you or surviving spouse must be 65 or older or officially disabled if younger.
  2. Period of Military Service- you must be considered a “wartime veteran”, meaning that you have served a minimum of 90 days with only one of those days during wartime dates. You did not have to serve in combat to qualify.
    1. World War II: December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946
    2. Korean War: June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955
    3. Vietnam War: August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975
    4. Gulf War: August 2, 1990-Undetermined
  3. Discharge Status: you cannot be dishonorably Discharged

Applying and understanding these benefits can get very complicated, seeking the professional guidance and advice of a licensed, professional Elder Law Attorney is encouraged to help guide you through this process. If you can receive a referral from a family friend or your Trust and Estate Planning Attorney, this may help guide you in the right direction.

If you are needing additional funds to cover the cost of Home Health services, Assisted Living, or Skilled Nursing for you and your spouse, you may qualify for:

Living Veteran                                                  Monthly Rate

Housebound Without Dependents:                       $1,340

Housebound Without Dependents:                       $1,680

Aid and Attendance W/O Dependents:                 $1,830

Aid and Attendance W/ Dependent:                     $2,169

In October 2018, the VA made new rules to fiscally qualify for benefits. The new net worth limits of $123,600 became effective. They will look at the Veteran’s overall net worth in addition to income. There are also other rules that could affect a Veteran from qualifying, seeking professional guidance may be helpful.

If you believe that you or a Veteran loved qualifies for Aid and Attendance, it can always be helpful to speak to the Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing facility that you are considering, and they may have folks who are trained to assist you through this process as well.

If you find that you or your Veteran qualify, and you begin your process to apply, you are encouraged to get organized, make sure that all your paperwork and forms are completed. Above all, do not get discouraged.

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November 2, 2018

Skilled Nursing or Assisted Living, What’s the Right Choice?

By: Darleen Mahoney

Making the right decisions for an elderly loved can be overwhelming and confusing. Often you may find yourself not really understanding what your options may be or if you even have options when it comes to be the best care of your loved one.  Clearly, you want what is best for them and what is the best facility that can manage their skilled nursing or assisted livingneeds and provide the environment that your loved one requires. Many caretakers ask themselves if they should be choosing an assisted living community or a nursing home/skilled nursing facility?

When making this decision, its important to consider your loved one’s physical, social, mental, and health needs. These will be indicators on the level of care that each will be able to provide your loved one making them a better fit.

Let’s discuss a few of the differences to better assess what each facility will be able to provide your loved and the long-term goals that you are looking to achieve or financial options available to you.

Assisted Living Communities: Typically, the residents at these communities are still active and maintain their own privacy. They may not require significant medical care or constant monitoring, but still receive 24/7 care support. They will have assistance nearby if they do need help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and medication. Activity programs are provided, keeping residents active and social and thriving. Although, there are different levels of nursing and medical care offered at some Assisted Living Communities which you may want to explore on an individual basis.

PROS:

  • Home Environment
  • More Private
  • Amenities offered at many
  • Lower Cost than Skilled Nursing/Nursing Home
  • Long Term Care Insurance and Veterans Aids and Assistance may help with costs
  • Scheduled Activities
  • Outings/Transportation

CONS:

  • Does not have extensive Medical Care on Premise
  • Many are not covered by Medicaid or Medicare

Skilled Nursing/Nursing Homes: The residents rely on the staff to provide all or most of their daily living such as bathing, dressing, meals, using the bathroom. They are facilities that provide 24/7 skilled, licensed nurses on staff to provide medical care and assistance. Most of the residents have severe health and cognitive issues. They typically do not leave the facility unless they are being transported to a scheduled doctor’s appointment or hospital.

PROS:

  • Medicare and Medicaid may cover some or most of the cost
  • 24/7 Medical Care with licensed nurses and clinical staff

Cons:

  • Limited personal freedom
  • Hospital environment, including shared rooms
  • Less privacy
  • More expensive than any other Senior facility, but offers the most in subsidized funding

If you are just starting your journey in your search for either Assisted Living or a Skilled Nursing Facility for your loved one, visit SeniorLivingGuide.com . Visit each listing, taking notes on which one may offer your loved one what they need most, the costs and what insurance may provide before making an appointment to visit their location.

This may very well be the hardest decision you ever have to make, make sure that you have all the information and options available to you. Talk to your loved one if they are cognitive, know what their wishes would be for their own healthcare.  When visiting these facilities enter armed with as much information as possible and ask as many questions as possible to help you make the right decision on their behalf.

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