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.

Legal Talk – Living Wills

Make sure you check the laws in your state!

A living will is where you designate what you want to happen in case you are in certain situations that could mean living beyond what you would want to.  For example, you could state that if you were in a permanent vegetative state you would not want to live.  There are many options for this so you will need to make the choices that are right for you.  Thought should be given to the person you are selecting as some people due to religious reasons might not be able to follow through with your choices.  Whomever you choose should be consulted prior to this decision and have a complete understanding of what your wishes would be in any situation.  The person that you designate would not actually physically do anything to end life but would be able to give the document to the medical personnel.

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 than gave copies to her new medical team including the local hospital.  If there becomes a nursing home involved, they will want one too.

Living wills are a very serious decision and should be given a great deal of thought.  Do not rush into a decision and do not assume just because you are younger that you do not need one.

Legal/Medical – Do not resuscitate order – DNR

 

Make sure you check with your medical team to make sure this is true in your state!

DNR (do not resuscitate) is another option you need to think of.  This is when you are having a heart attack or other medical emergency and dictates whether you want heart compressions done.  Mom did want to be revived and we went along with her wishes until she was hospitalized when she was in her 80s.  The doctor told us his opinion was that if Mom ‘coded’ it would kill her to have the compressions done.  He stated that her bones would break and if she did live she would be in excruciating pain or have her lungs punctured.  I fought it for quite a while but finally made the tough decision to follow through with his advice.

 

Think it through and do what is right for your family.  This decision is hard either way.

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.

Having the talk – What to do when your parents should no longer stay home alone.

nursign hoFor the sake of these posts, I am going to post as if the person(s) we are talking about are your parents.  Naturally they don’t have to be.  It could be a family friend, other relative, etc.  More specifically, I will be referring to ‘she’ as this is mostly coming through my experience with my mother.

Additionally, I am not a lawyer or doctor so make sure you double check all I talk about here with your legal or medical team.  The laws in my state may be different than in your state.  This is all meant to be a guideline, not a rule.

Talk……sounds simple right.  But, how do you talk to your parents about what is going on in their private lives without sounding like you are interfering?

My mother was always a private person.  We could discuss kids, work, home life, etc. but we really did not talk about what she wanted for the future.  When she started to get older, it became necessary to discuss some very sensitive subjects.  For me, the easiest way was just to ask.  Depending on your family situation, this could be done at a family meeting or just one-on-one.  I would definitely let them know if you are going to discuss this with all family members as your parent might want to be ready.

What did she want done when her health got so she couldn’t stay at home?  Of course, she said this would never happen.  I told her that I would like it if I could move her in with me as long as our health allowed it.  She didn’t say yes or no, just ignored it.  She did say she didn’t ever want to go to an ‘old folk’s home’.  In her mind that was a place that people went to die.  The very word made her think of the sights and smells that use to be in some facilities.  I told her that nursing homes and/or assisted living facilities were much improved from what they were.  She still insisted that she did not ever want to go to one.  I promised her that if it was in my power, she never would go to one.

Where she wanted to be buried at?  This was easy as my father was buried in a double plot that already had a headstone on but I live in a different state so I wanted to make sure she wanted to be brought “home”.  It just made sense that she did but she flatly refused to make any funeral arrangements or discuss it at all.  This is understandable as it means thinking about dying.  I think the older you get, the harder that is.

Who did she want making decision for her if she could not make them herself?  Since Mom had gone through a very serious illness previously, I suspected she would want me to do this as I knew her medical conditions but I did not want to assume something so important.  Also, due to a health condition I had, I wanted to make sure who would be second in line.

Would she want to be kept alive if there was no hope?  This one was very difficult.  No one wants to think of this possibility.  This took a lot of thought as to what no hope meant.  To some it might mean if they were hooked up to a breathing machine, dialysis, feeding tube, etc.  After much talking, we decided that if there no way she could live without all that machinery and no hope that she would ever be off it, that she would rather not be here.  She had seen her own mother being kept alive during a fight with cancer when there was no hope and she didn’t want the family to go through that.

Who should make her financial decisions?  Due to her earlier illness, I was already on her checking account and safety deposit box but I wanted this to be clear.  I was not on her savings account, my oldest brother was.

Where all her financial papers are?  Does she have multiple checking and savings accounts?  Where are they?  Does she have life insurance?  Where is her health insurance through?  Does she have both Medicare and secondary insurance or Medicaid?  Does she have CDs, IRAs, etc?  Are there any other assets that you need to know about?  Where is the deed to the house, title to car, etc?  What all automatic deposits or withdrawals come out of her account.

Of course, just talking about all this did not make it legal.  We would have to go see a lawyer and get both financial and medical powers of attorneys,  a living will and a regular will.  More about that later.

The most important this is to start talking about this BEFORE it is too late.