DO IT NOW!

do-it-now

 

I have been struggling with thinking time is short lately.  No, I don’t think I am dying or being depressed but I need to get moving on things i want to accomplish NOW.  So, I am making some serious changes and will be documenting the successes and failures here.  I hope they might inspire some of you to do the same.

Scams Hurting The Elderly! – Protect Your Loved Ones!

Just imagine what you would think if someone called and said that your child/grandchild was hurt and you needed to send money right away!  What would you do?  I would be reaching for my purse.  BUT, this is how some people are scamming others.

Or, they may say that you owe the IRS money and there is an arrest warrant out for you, your utilities are going to be shut off, your house auctioned for back taxes, etc.

These people will call with things that threaten the things most important to youyour family, your home, your freedom.

It is sad to say that we have to become jaded and not believe all the things we see, read or hear.

My mother would believe most anything.  It was not that she was not smart, she just believed in people.  She donated a LOT of money to veteran’s charities without checking to see if they were legitimate.  Why would she, no one would lie about something like that, she use to say.

So, how do we protect our friends or families that are not as jaded as we are?  Good question.  I started by going through mom’s mail before I gave it to her.  That is illegal, you say?  Yes, tampering with the federal mail is illegal.  It just happened that some of it fell in the trash before it got to mom’s table.  She was getting at least 10 “give me money” letters on average every day.  I also sent letters to many of them telling them to stop but it didn’t help.

Mom has been gone almost 3 years and I still get mail saying that she agreed on the phone to give them $10.00 or something like that.  CREEPS!

Mom was a very caring person.  She was raised in a time when everyone helped each other without questioning them.  Unfortunately, those days are gone. 

We would go through the remaining mail and sort out what she needed to do something with and what she wanted to throw away.  She still gave to some groups that were legitimate but not as many as before.

What about those frightening phone calls?  Those would be harder to handle.  We finally got Mom a call identifier and answering machine.  I told her if she didn’t know the number, to let it go to the answering machine.  Generally I have found that scams, “sales” calls, etc. hang up after 4 rings.  So,  we told mom to not answer the phone till after 4 rings.  Not really a problem because it usually took her longer than that to do it anyway.  Unfortunately, her answering machine could only be set to answer after 4 rings too so sometimes, we would have to call, let it go to voice mail and then call right back.  She would then be at the phone and could see our numbers.  On a side note, we do not answer our home phone till after 4 rings so have told family and friends to just let it ring.

Although it is good to sit people down and explain to them that there are bad people in the world, it is harder sometimes with someone who might be forgetful.  I would talk with mom about the latest scams in the news but knew the best way to get around them was to not let them get in contact with mom.

Bottom line, keep on eye on those you love.  Talk about how some people are taking advantage.  IF you can, help with their banking.  Keep on eye on their accounts.  With e banking now, it is easy to supervise from a distance.

You have to give people their dignity to make their own decisions but yet be able to protect them from the people in the world that would hurt them.  Very hard to do.

WHAT STEPS HAVE YOU TAKEN THAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK?

 

 

That Dreaded “D” Word – DIET

When I use to hear that word, I just shuddered.  You mean eat all that stuff that had no flavor, no sugar, no fun?

But, diet is now a way of life for a lot of people.  If you stop to think of it, our ancestors did not eat like we do and they had a much more active life than we do.  So, basically, we are going back to the way it was when life was simpler.

There are so many diets out there that I wouldn’t even think of saying what the right one was.  Some people do the no carb one, some do the vegan one, some do the one where nothing can come out of a box.  You have to research and pick the best one for you and your lifestyle.

I recently went through several of my fast food store’s websites so that I could pick the least harmful thing to eat.  It might really surprise you what sandwiches are actually less calories than that salad you were going to eat.  I made some notes in a little book I keep in my purse and then when I know I am going somewhere I can check it out and make a wiser decision.  I can’t wait until I am in line and then hold the line up while I am trying to read the calories on the order board.

Another thing that just stunned me was portion sizes.  I thought we had been eating somewhat healthy until my nutritionist showed me plastic models of what 1 serving was.  I think everyone would be shocked.  Just google it some time.  I think we were eating at least 2 – 3 times more pasta than what we should have been.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that we have made all the life changes we need and now are down to the correct weights.  That would be a BIG lie.  We are making small changes which include portion control.  I even bought one of those sets off Amazon where it gives you different size and colored containers so you know how much of each type of food you should eat.

But, bottom line, we probably all could stand to lose some weight.  We all have different reasons.  For me it is about the fear of someone having to take care of me at my current size.

Losing weight gets harder the older you are. So, for us, the time is now.

So, if you pass that overweight woman walking or riding a bike while you are driving your car, just remember, at least she is off her tush and trying to do something about it.

 

What diets of lifestyle changes have you made to become healthier?  Share with us your knowledge so we can all become healthier.

 

Just do it – Having the talk with your parents about their wishes during aging

Hopefully, many of you still have your parents living. One of the biggest gifts you can give them is to make sure you will be able to take care of them in the event they can’t take care of themselves. This can be a very hard thing to do.

Most people do not want to face the fact that we all do not live forever. Aging is something we all do but when it is our parents it is especially hard to face. They are supposed to live forever, right? Each family is different so you might be able to skip over a lot of this. Or you may have to add many steps. You just have to tailor this to your situation.

Let me share with you why I feel this is an important one, even though my parents are both gone. I have a friend who is going through a hard time as her parent has consistently refused to let her do anything that might help with this. She has tried over the years and now that her parent is having problems, she is powerless to help without getting the legal system involved. Although she does not want to have to do this, she has to for the safety of her parent.

Her parent will not tell her any financial information – “I have taken care of myself all these years and I do not need you to tell me what to do” but her taxes are not being paid on her home. She has no control over her parent’s medical care and needs it badly as her parent is obviously not taking her medication. Her parent will not let her even take her shopping for groceries.

Naturally, this is causing a lot of stress. What is actually concern on her part is being seen as a control issue by the parent. This could be dementia setting in but watching a love one go downhill with no way to step in and help is devastating when it could be avoided.

My mother was one of the people who wanted to make sure that things were taken care of. She also is the one who use to tell me to “get off your duff and do it”. Keep in mind that even though you try to do this, it may not work. But, you will feel better for having tried.

  1. Figure out why you are avoiding it.
    1. I can think of several reasons. First you may not want to accept that you need to do this. After all, we all want our parents to live forever.
    2. You do not want to hurt your parents. This is valid but it might hurt worse to see your parents in a situation where you cannot step in to help.
    3. Your siblings may think you are sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong.
    4. You don’t know where to start.
  2. Break it into small steps.
    1. Accept that this has to happen. I could tell you horror stories of families that do not do this and then their parent’s wishes were not followed.
    2. Think of the way to approach it. If you have a plan, it will be much easier and helpful than just blurting it out one day.
    3. Do some research for your state as to the legal steps needed. This can be as simple as going onto the internet to see what is required. Of course we all know that just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true. Another place to check is with your friends that may be going through the same process.
    4. Talk to your siblings. This is especially important if they do not live close and it will be your responsibility to physically take care of your parent.   Maybe you are the one they talk to about financial matters. Maybe someone else is more into the medical part of their lives.
    5. Work the subject in to the conversations slowly instead of just sitting them down one day and say “we are going to do this”. That approach usually won’t work and may make them just shut down the whole subject.
    6. Work up to the point of discussing each point. Things I would suggest are end of life decisions, power of attorney for both medical and financial transactions, funeral arrangements, will, etc.
    7. Make sure it is done through an attorney. Even though you may know what your parents want, it if it not written down in a legal manner, you may not be able to make it happen.
  3. Get the materials together.
    1. I covered this in step 2 but basically it is researching your state’s laws, discussing with family members, etc. You could also talk to an estate lawyer, read different books or articles on the subject and many other steps but do not let this be a stopping place or a place to get bogged down.
  4. Just do it.
    1. Get off your duff and do it!

 

While you are at it, think about this for yourself. No matter what your age, you should have these legal matters taken care of. I would like to live forever but I won’t. We have this taken care of and my children are well aware of what I want to happen. There will be no fighting about anything as it is all taken care of. This actually gave me peace of mind as I don’t want them to have to guess at what I wanted.

Medicare and nursing homes – who pays?

It is hard enough to be dealing with a personal who is either sick or injured without having to deal with the financial end of things.  I had a friend call this morning in a panic.  She had just found out that Medicare does NOT pay for nursing homes.  She has to pay over $600.00 per day for her father.  She asked what I knew about nursing homes and Medicare so I thought I would write this post.

Here is what I believe to be true from an official AARP website:

Q. I read that Medicare doesn’t pay for staying in a nursing home. But my friend is in a nursing home, and she says Medicare’s picking up the tab. Who’s right?

A. Both are right. Medicare doesn’t normally cover “custodial” care for people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. Custodial care means help with daily living activities, such as eating, getting in and out of bed, washing and bathing, going to the toilet and moving around. Paying for this type of care is your own responsibility, unless you have long-term care insurance that covers it or you qualify for Medicaid benefits from your state.

But there’s one exception. Medicare’s skilled nursing facility (SNF) benefit covers a temporary stay in a nursing home in certain circumstances.

How to qualify for the SNF benefit:

* You must have Medicare Part A hospital insurance.

* You must have spent at least three days as an admitted patient in the hospital. Days spent “under observation” in the hospital do not usually count toward the three days.

* Your doctor must order that you need skilled nursing services as a result of the same illness or injury that put you in the hospital, or because of a new one that developed while you were there. For example, you may need continuing intravenous injections or physical therapy.

* The services your doctor ordered can be provided only on an inpatient basis at a Medicare-certified SNF (either a nursing home or hospital).

What you get:

Medicare covers up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility. This includes medical and nursing services, custodial care, semiprivate room, meals and prescription drugs. (Any drugs you need while receiving the SNF benefit are paid for under Medicare Part A hospital insurance, not under Medicare Part D drug coverage.)

What you pay:

* Days 1 to 20: You pay nothing. Medicare pays 100 percent of the cost.

* Days 21 to 100: You pay a daily copayment—$137.50 in 2010—and Medicare pays the rest. (If you have medigap supplementary insurance, long-term care insurance or are in a Medicare Advantage health plan, some or all of this cost may be covered, depending on your policy or plan.)

* Beyond 100 days: You pay the full costs and Medicare pays nothing. (Long-term care insurance may cover part of the costs.)

Do not take this as the hard rule as it seems like different people have different rules.  Mom was lucky enough to have a secondary insurance that paid what Medicare would not after the first 20 days.  However, Medicare only pays if the person is improving daily.  At the point where they decide the patient isn’t, they cut off the money.

I would strongly suggest anyone that can to get a supplemental insurance.  However, these insurance plans vary from state to state and can be very expensive.

Always have a back up person in case you can’t be there to be a caregiver

This just sounds like common sense but too many times, one person feels like they are the only one capable or willing to take care of the loved one.

Recently, I was sick for over 3 weeks.  Had my mother still been with us, who would have been able to take care of her?  I would not have been able to be with her as I could have given her my chest congestion,cough and other symptoms.  Symptoms that are bad for you would be possibly fatal for someone with a compromised immune system.

It does not always have to be an illness.  It could be a family emergency that takes you away like another family member ill, having a baby or a death.  Also, sometimes it is job related.   Sometimes you just need to have a break.

If your loved one has family and friends around that could step in or if you would have had to hire someone if you have an emergency, it is important that you have enough information available for the “replacement” to do what you do on a daily basis.

If family and friends are not available, make sure you have a medical team (CNAs, CMAs, bath aides, nurses, etc) up to date with the necessary information.  You can find employees like this through your local health department, senior center, Area on Aging or your health professional.

This can be as simple as having a representative of their agency come out, visit with you and your loved one.

For example, you need to have the medication schedule written out with where and how the medications are bought.  What is a typical daily schedule?  Are there any food allergies?  Does food need to be prepared in a special way?  Where is any non medical equipment (special eating tools, bath aids, etc) that you use? Is there anything that brings out bad behaviors in your loved one?  What calms them?

What to you is automatic may not even occur to someone else.

This is why I think it is critical to have the binder that was discussed in a previous post.  It has the doctors involved with your loved one, medications, other treatments such as physical therapy or any other therapy, etc.  It also has a copy of all legal paperwork such as living will, DNR, etc.

A calender is also necessary for medical appointments that are coming up.

So bottom line, make sure everything in the binder is kept up to date.  It will give you peace of mind in case of emergency.

 

 

November is Caregiver’s Month – Celebrate Yourself!

Following are some very interesting facts about caregivers in the United States.    Here are some very interesting facts about caregivers:

 

  • 39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or disabled – up from 30% in 2010
  • Alzheimer’s is driving the numbers up.  15 million family caregivers are caring for 5 million loved ones with Alzheimer’s
  • It is NOT just elderly who need caregivers.  The number of special needs children is rising too.
  • Wounded veterans need care too.  As many as 1 million Americans are caring in their homes for service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who are suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder or other wounds and illnesses.
  • It’s not just the women doing the caregiving.  Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men, 40% of women).  36% of younger Americans between 18 and 29 are family caregivers as well.
  • Family caregiving is serious work.  Almost half of family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks for their loved one.
  • Family caregivers are the backbone of the Nation’s long-tern care system.  Family caregivers provide $450 BILLION worth of unpaid care each year.  That is more than total Medicaid funding and twice as much as homecare and nursing home services combined.

These facts are from the Caregiver Action Network – www.caregiveraction.org – 202-772-5050

You are a very vital part of your loved ones life.  Too many times, caregivers just do what needs to be done without thinking they are doing something special.  After all, these are our loved ones we take care of but YOU ARE SPECIAL and so is what you do.

Veteran’s Benefits – Check Them Out

Many people overlook this possible way to pay for elder care.  Not only does the veteran possibly qualify, so does the spouse.  Below is some information but the quickest way to find out if your loved one qualifies if to get the DD-214 (discharge paper) of the veteran and call your local Veteran’s Service Officer.  He/she is usually located in the county seat.

Below is some information I have taken from the internet to help you.

Veterans who are at least 65 years-old and who served during war time (though not necessarily in actual combat) may be eligible for financial assistance through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) that can be used to help pay for care. Spouses and surviving spouses of wartime veterans are also often eligible. Veteran’s benefits can make all the difference for families who struggling to pay for care.

*Veterans who are under 65 but rated 100% disabled can also qualify for the VA Pension described in the article.

When you had to serve:

The foremost eligibility requirement is the service requirement. The veteran must have served at least 1 day during wartime. The dates that the VA considers wartime are below:

World War II:12/7/1941 through 12/31/1946

Korean Conflict:6/27/1950 through 1/31/1955

Vietnam War: 8/5/1964 through 5/7/1975, although veterans who served in Vietnam itself (“in country”) as early as 2/28/1961 may also qualify.

Gulf War: 8/2/1990 to date to be determined by U.S. government

These dates can be found on your DD-214

Three different types of help:

There are three tiers of VA benefits for older wartime veterans and their dependents. Basic Pension can be considered the first tier, Housebound the second tier, and Aid and Attendance the third tier. Award amounts increase as the tier increases, and the tiers are based on the needs of the applicant:

  • Basic Pension: Basic Pension is designed to function as cash assistance for low income veterans and their dependents, so applicants may be healthy, but must have a very low income.
  • Housebound Benefit: For the second tier, Housebound, assistance with day to day activities must be needed “regular basis.”
  • Aid and Attendance: Assistance must be required on a “daily basis.”

Depending on the veteran’s care needs and financial status, Aid and Attendance can provide $2,000 or more towards the cost of assisted living or other types of senior care. Even surviving spouses of wartime veterans may qualify for related benefits. Considering the relatively high cost of senior care, the benefit can be a godsend for families and seniors who would have had great difficulty affording senior care otherwise.

Financial Eligibility

Assistance from the VA is “means tested,” which means that only people who seem to genuinely need these benefits will receive an award. It also means that benefits are determined based on the applicant’s income, assets, and needs.

Applicants whose countable incomes are over maximum thresholds, including their homes, may still qualify, depending on their age and the amount of their monthly allowable medical benefit. In situations that are borderline, it can’t hurt to apply, as decisions are largely made on a case-by-case basis:

I found this very confusing but my veteran’s service officer was very helpful.

Where to go to apply:

To apply for VA health care or determine eligibility, contact a Veterans Benefits Office or VA health care facility (find the nearest location at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).

 

Legal – Power of Attorneys

Once again – I am not a lawyer.  This is my understanding.  Consult your attorney for clarification in your area.

There are two different power of attorneys – one for medical care and one for financial.  You need both regardless of your age.  Both can be changed at any time and need to be if there are changes in the people involved.  The people named do not have to be family members.  Usually there are two named in case one is not available.  Whomever you choose should be consulted prior to this decision and have a complete understanding of what your wishes would be in any situation.

Medical care power of attorney is so that someone can make decisions if you are unable to.  This does not mean just when you are old or have dementia.  What if you were in a car accident, had a critical illness, etc?  It is straight forward and says who can make those decisions.

Financial power of attorney is so that someone can make financial decisions for the same reasons above.  You can limit what the person can do but mom’s basically said I could do whatever I needed to do.

Both medical power of attorney and the living will should be given to your medical team.  We gave a copy to mom’s doctors and the hospital.  When we moved her here, we then gave copies to her new medical team including the local hospital.  If there becomes a nursing home involved, they will want one too.

Bottom line – you need to have them.  An attorney can draw up a straight forward one without much time.  It literally could be a life saver and is worth the money.

Legal – Wills – We all need them.

Once again – I am not a lawyer.  This is my understanding.  Consult your attorney for clarification in your area.

We all should have these in place but if you are like me, you probably don’t.  Everyone should have a will especially when kids are involved. Then as life changes, we should always keep them updated.

My mother did not have a will.  She just assumed that everything would be divided between the four kids. So, we made an appointment and went to the lawyer.  For a reasonable amount of money she wrote out a basic will.  I thought we had it all covered with a few specific items going to my brothers that had meaning for them and the balance divided between all us kids equally.

The lawyer advised to change the beneficiaries on the life insurances to the estate of MOM.  But, mom didn’t tell me there were multiple life insurance policies.  I changed them on the two I knew about.  Now, we have found others so I may have messed up the funds without meaning to.  Also, her checking account and savings account were not set up right so they might revert to the person on the account with mom.  The lawyer has to talk to the bank and see exactly how they were set up.

It is very important to understand the differences between and, and/or, payable upon death, with rights of survivorship, etc so that you make sure everything is written they way the person wants. What did she actually mean to happen we will never know.

Bottom line, make sure you understand exactly how everything is titled (like vehicles and houses), know about all the life insurance policies and accounts (IRA, CDs, 401K, etc.) and how they are set up.  Have your lawyer go over exactly what will happen when your loved one passes so they understand it.  By doing this, you can make sure that their final wishes are carried out.