Senior Care Products That Can Save The Day

Senior Care Products That Can Save The Day

Helpful Senior Care Products

As our seniors age, how we support them will need to grow and change with them. You may find your loved one needing to apply different techniques in order to overcome certain challenges in their daily routines. Every individual has their own unique set of skills and personal obstacles that they face, so something that has worked well for others may not be as helpful for you and your elderly loved ones. But luckily there is a large range of senior care products available on the market, and you’ll surely be able to find a few that could positively impact their everyday experiences and overall lifestyle.


Taking Pills on Time

Is taking pills a crucial part of your senior’s routine? For many conditions, the appropriate and regular use of prescribed medications is essential to maximizing health and reducing uncomfortable or even painful symptoms. Often, a senior will have a number of medications to keep track of, sometimes at different times or multiple times a day. Following such a strict regimen would be difficult for anyone to follow, but for seniors with memory impairments it can be especially frustrating. These pill reminder devices range from simple to complex with talking, beeping or flashing systems. But one thing these helpful senior care products have in common is streamlining an essential part of your senior’s life by giving them better control over this daily task.

 


Shower Assistance

Shower time can easily be one of the most challenging — and dangerous — activities for elderly individuals. As your loved ones age, you might find yourself needing to make additional accommodations for their bathing needs. And seniors can range in the level of assistance needed for this activity. Some may need additional devices installed in their shower. Others may require options that can get them clean without the unnecessary risk of using a traditional shower or tub. Regardless of where your senior is on that spectrum, there are a number of senior care products available that promise a safer experience when getting clean.

 


Staying Connected

No matter what stage of life you’re in, communication is always key. This is especially true between elderly individuals and their loved ones or caregivers. Even if it’s not possible to have someone with your senior at all times, you can easily make sure they are better-equipped for these moments alone. While modern technology can be incredibly useful for communication, sometimes your best bet will be to provide a simpler, more instinctive contraption. Many senior care communication devices have only a few buttons, but this is enough for them to be able to request care or signal for help in case of an emergency. Other tools may have been developed to monitor babies, but can easily be repurposed effectively for more vigilant senior care. Regardless of what you select to communicate with your loved one, you’ll be able to rest a little easier knowing that you have a system in place for communication. 

 


Have questions? Sagepoint Advisors are ready to help you understand your options and provide you with all of the information you need to make decisions. Give us a call today at (301) 934-1900.

 

 

Our Seniors Deserve the Best Care. So We Need Your Support.

 

Most of us at some point in our lives have encountered this situation with someone we know, most likely someone we love. They get older, and they just can’t do the things they once did. And that means they can’t live the way they once lived.

 

What would you give to know that someone you loved wasn’t suffering? To know that they were cared for and had access to innovative technology and expert medical support?

 

That’s the care that Sagepoint Senior Living Services provides each day. But it isn’t easy.

 

To continue to provide the highest levels of care, we rely on the generosity of donors within our community. In fact, we’ve just launched our end-of-year giving campaign. We’re calling it Grateful Hearts, because we would be so grateful to have your support.

 

It takes just minutes to visit our Giving page and make a tax-deductible, year-end gift to Sagepoint. You can even set up recurring payments to keep sending your support and your love all year.

 

Why is this so important?

 

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is greater than it has ever been. In Charles County alone, the number of residents ages 80 to 84 is expected to double in the next five years. The amount of care these men and women need — and will need — is significant.

 

Sagepoint relies in large part on funding from government programs. Funding for these programs is shrinking, and we desperately need to make up the difference and then some.

 

Every day, we provide a full spectrum of services for our patients, including Adult Day Services, Rehabilitation, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care, Memory Care and Home Care.

 

Last year’s giving campaign helped fund our music therapy program for residents with dementia patients, upgrade technology infrastructure and purchase new equipment to enhance resident’s comfort and staff safety. It was a great start, but there’s so much more we can do for our seniors.

 

Will you help us ensure that the care we provide remains second to none?

 

Tax-Free Charitable Giving From An IRA

Seniors age 70 ½ or older can make tax-free charitable donation from IRAs that count toward satisfying required minimum distribution and reduce taxable income.

What is a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD)?

A QCD is a tax-free charitable distribution of funds directly from the IRA trustee (custodian) of an eligible IRA account payable to a qualified charitable organization that can receive a tax-deductible contribution. A tax-free QCD is defined in IRS Publication 17 – Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals on page 126.

Normal distribution from an IRA of deductible contributions and earning is included in income and taxed as ordinary income. The tax-free QCD removes the distribution from taxable income. QCDs are recorded on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Tax Return 2018 – the sum total QCD distribution is included on line 4 a – IRA distribution, and the abbreviation ‘QCD’ is written on line 4 b – taxable amount.

Who is Eligible to Make a tax-free QCD?

IRA account owners and beneficiaries age 70 ½ or older on the date the tax-free QCD is made to one or more qualified charitable organizations.
Taxpayers who now claim the standard deduction can still make tax-free QCDs.

What type of IRA accounts are eligible for a QCD?

Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA, Inherited IRA accounts and non-active SEP and Simple IRA accounts are eligible for a tax free QCD. Active SEP or Simple IRA account currently receiving employee or employer contributions is not eligible.

Roth IRA accounts are eligible but a tax-free QCD will not lower income tax because distributions from Roth IRAs are already tax-free and not included in income.

What type of retirement savings accounts are ineligible for a QCD?

Employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457(b)s are not eligible for tax-free QCD. A normal or tax-free QCD distribution to satisfy the IRA RMD requirement in a given tax year cannot count toward satisfying the RMD requirement for employer-sponsored requirement plans.

However, an employer-sponsored plan account owner may consider a direct transfer rollover to an IRA Rollover account that would then be eligible for tax-free QCDs. RMD calculations for tax-deferred IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans for the current tax year will be based upon the fair market value of the account at the close of business on December 31 of the prior year, factored by your age and life expectancy. Therefore, before implementing a rollover strategy the time and suitability should be taken into consideration.

What is the tax-free QCD distribution limit?

Seniors age 70 ½ or older may make tax-free charitable donations and exclude up to $100,000 from gross income per tax year by making tax-free QCD’s directly from an IRA. There is no carry-over from year to year. Your spouse may also make a tax-free charitable donation and exclude up to $100,000 from gross income per tax year for a combined total of $200,000.

Does a tax-free QCD distribution count towards Requirement Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

Yes. A tax-free QCD may be an appropriate strategy for individuals who are charitable inclined and do not need RMDs for living expenses. A tax-free QCD can potentially reduce income tax liability on RMDs to zero. A tax-free QCD can be counted toward satisfying your RMD requirements for IRA accounts.

Here is an example of a normal IRA distribution of $5,000 at ordinary income tax rates:
22% 24% 32% 35% 37%

22% 24% 32% 35% 37%
IRA Distribution $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Income tax 1,100 1,200 1,600 1,750 1,850
Net Distribution 3,900 3,800 3,400 3,250 3,150

 

Assume you are in the 24 percent income tax bracket – you make a tax-free QCD of $5,000 to count towards satisfying your RMD requirement, provide an income tax break of $1,200, lower taxable income, and help fulfil your philanthropic goals.

The annual RMD must be calculated by you or your custodian for each IRA account, but the sum RMD may be aggregated and distributed from one or more IRA accounts. Note – RMD for employer sponsored retirement accounts cannot be aggregated and distributed from IRAs.

The first distributions from an IRA are consider to satisfy the annual IRA RMD requirement. If you have already taken a portion of your RMD requirement earlier this year, you may consider a tax-free QCD for the remaining balance of the RMD requirement that needs to be distributed before the year-end deadline. The only exception to the year-end RMD requirement deadline is in the first year an IRA account owner turns age 70 ½.

What charities qualify to receive a tax-free QCD?

As defined by IRS Publication 590-B Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs,) a charity eligible to receive a QCD is a “qualified 501(c)(3) organization (a charitable organization eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.)” Donor advised funds and private foundations are not eligible to receive tax-free QCDs. Upon request a charity can provide you their IRS issued ‘Letter of Determination’ verifying tax-exempt status. Additionally, please find information about a tax-exempt organization’s federal tax filing status on the IRS web site at www.irs.gov.

How to set up direct payment to the charitable organization?

To make a tax-free QCD, there must be direct payment by the IRA trustee (custodian) on behalf of the IRA account owner to the charitable organization. You may call your IRA trustee (custodian) and request a check made payable to a charitable organization and delivered to you so that you may forward to the charity. (IRS Notice 2007-7, Q&A-41). Consider including a ‘Letter of Intent’ with the check to describe your wishes and purpose of the charitable gift. Check with you IRA trustee (custodian) for year-end processing deadlines for issuing checks. As normal, you will need to keep records to include written acknowledge from the charitable organization for your tax-exempt charitable donation.

What are key benefits of lowering taxable income, Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for seniors?

A tax-free QCD can count towards satisfying your RMD requirement but does not add to your taxable income, AGI. You may benefit from lowering your taxable income to lower Medicare Part B premium and prescription drug premium for high income earners, lower taxable percentage of Social Security benefits, and larger deductions for medical expenses; among other benefits.

Medicare Premium for High Income Beneficiaries – Potential lower AGI to qualify for lower income threshold to lower income related monthly adjustment amounts for Medicare Part B and Prescription Drugs premiums. For more information, please view Social Security Administration publication – Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries.

Itemized Deduction for Medical Expense – Potential lower AGI to reduce threshold for claiming unreimbursed medical and dental expenses you paid. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) lowered the AGI threshold for medical expenses from 10 percent to 7.5 percent for 2017 and 2018 for all taxpayers and reverts back to 10 percent in 2019.

Percentage of Social Security Benefits to be Taxed – Potential lower ‘combined income’ to qualify for a lesser portion of your Social Security benefits to be taxed. For more information, please visit Social Security Administration web page – Benefits Planner | Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefits.

Summary

Tax-free QCDs may be an effective strategy to fulfill your philanthropic goals and make a lasting charitable impact in your community. Before implementing any strategy, please consult your professional tax accountant, estate planning attorney and/or investment adviser.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice. Any investments and strategies mentioned here may not be suitable for everyone. While every attempt is made to provide accurate information, we cannot guarantee the accuracy and completeness of this content. Christine does not provide legal or tax advice.

Written by Christine Parker, CPF®, president of Parker Financial, LLC and member of Sagepoint Senior Services Foundation Board of Officers and Directors.

A Brief Guide to Medicare and Understanding Your Options

By Sharon Wagner, SeniorFriendly.info




Medicare is a blessing to many seniors, but navigating all of your options and deciding on a plan can be extremely overwhelming. How are you supposed to know which plan you need, which insurance companies to trust, and how to enroll? There are many things to consider when choosing your plan and nearly endless options when you look beyond the basic federal program. Hopefully, this guide can clear up a few things and point you in the right direction.

Finding Plans in Your Area

To start, it’s important to know what kinds of Medicare plans are available in your area. The government website Medicare.gov provides a handy search tool for finding Medicare Part C and Part D plans. This can help you narrow down your choices based on certain criteria, such as whether you need drug coverage and which pharmacies you would like included in your plan. Take a look at this useful step-by-step guide for help using the search tool.

Learning About Basic Medicare

Original Medicare, also called Medicare Part A and B, is the most basic coverage provided by the government for seniors 65 and older. Original Medicare covers things like hospital stays and outpatient doctor’s services. Most people will not have to pay anything for Part A, but everyone must pay a monthly premium for Part B. It’s also important to understand that Original Medicare will not pay for 100 percent of the services it covers; you will still have out-of-pocket costs from deductibles and copayments. This is why many people supplement their Medicare plans.

Understanding Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and are similar to health insurance plans you may have signed up for in the past. In addition to everything covered by Medicare Parts A and B, Medicare Advantage plans offer additional coverage for things like hearing, vision, and dental. These plans may also include daily living assistance and lifestyle support, such as transportation or meal delivery services. US News explains the pros and cons of Medicare Advantage based on different criteria you may have.

You’ll notice that many Medicare Advantage plans have no premiums. These can be a good option for people who are healthy and looking to save money while still being protected from large medical expenses. These zero-premium plans typically have high deductibles, meaning you’ll have to pay more for your services before your plan will cover the rest. Choosing a plan with a higher premium may be a better option if you have a chronic condition or some other reason to require regular medical care.

Medicare Part D for Drug Coverage

Medicare Part D, which is also offered by private insurance companies, covers prescription drugs. You can add Part D to your Original Medicare plan. However, the majority of Medicare Advantage plans include Part D. According to Investopedia, the costs associated with Medicare Part D are fairly similar to the premiums, deductibles, and copayments of any standard medical insurance plan. Before picking a plan, it’s important to consider the particular drugs you need to be covered since certain plans cover different drugs. Using the Medicare.gov search tool mentioned above can help you find Part D plans that will cover your prescriptions.

Considering Medigap

Finally, Medigap is yet another option for supplementary coverage offered by private insurance companies. Medigap specifically covers the gaps in Original Medicare. This can be beneficial for people who anticipate future chronic conditions and are worried about expensive healthcare needs. There are several Medigap plans to choose from, so think carefully about the kind of coverage you need most. Some plans have coverage for travel emergencies, whereas others are better for covering the deductibles and copayments from your Original Medicare plan.

Getting the most out of Medicare means taking the time to learn about your plans and coverage options. Continue to do your research and check out some of the resources mentioned here. Although it will take some serious planning to evaluate your choices, consider your criteria, and anticipate your future care needs, this will help you secure your health for the future.

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A Story of Recovery Thanks to Your Support



Every patient that Sagepoint works with faces their own unique challenges. We’re here to help them all. What keeps us going is the support of our community, people like you, and the opportunity to play a part in stories like this.

‘He’s Back to Doing Everything’

“I knew Sagepoint was there, but I really didn’t know much about it,” says Barbara Howell, a lifelong resident of La Plata.

That changed in September 2015 when her husband of 43 years, Edward, suffered a massive stroke. After a brief hospital stay and a short time in an out-of-state rehab facility, Ed came to Sagepoint. He spent two months undergoing speech, occupational, and physical therapy.

“Everything improved,” Barbara said. “If I had to do it all over again, he would have come straight to Sagepoint.”

Today Barbara says, “his brain is wonderful,” and at age 81, he’s “back to doing everything.” His grateful wife calls the staff and aides “outstanding.”

“The place is as nice as could be,” she said. “Now that I know about it, it’s certainly a place I would go, too.”

We Need Your Help Once More

Because of the high costs of the care we provide and the limitations of government funding, we’ve set a goal to raise $1 million to enhance and expand care for our patients and residents by 2021. The first phase of this campaign we are calling Forever Grateful and our first goal is to raise $150,00 by the end of 2018. We know that you can’t give to every worthy cause, but as you consider your year-end donations, please consider donating to Sagepoint.

Another Story Made Possible by Your Incredible Support



While most of the care we provide at Sagepoint is for seniors, that’s not always the case. We thought you’d like to hear this story of a young married couple and the medical challenges they are overcoming– thanks in large part to the support of donors like you.

‘A 100% Miracle’

Karen Shifflett remembers her second wedding anniversary all too vividly. She sat at her husband’s beside in a hospital intensive care unit. Driving home from work in February 2013, John’s car was struck by a train in Brandywine, MD.

“After his first week in the hospital, the doctors told me to make arrangements for a nursing home- that he’d be a vegetable for the rest of his life.”

John, age 29, arrived at Sagepoint a month later. From the very beginning, Karen says, “the care was like nothing we had ever experienced. It was phenomenal.”

John arrived still very much in a “vegetative” state. After two months of speech, occupational, and physical therapy, he was eating a soft diet, sitting up, and responding to his family.

Today John continues to improve with the help of a walker and a wheelchair. He attends Sagepoint’s Adult Day Services every Saturday. Karen calls him a “100% miracle” and credits the staff and aides at Sagepoint.

“The time they put in with the therapy… they didn’t give up. They pushed him and they were always so positive. Just to know that he wasn’t alone meant everything to me.”

We Need Your Help Once More

Because of the high costs of the care we provide and the limitations of government funding, we’ve set a goal to raise $1 million to enhance and expand care for our patients and residents by 2021. The first phase of this campaign we are calling Forever Grateful and our first goal is to raise $150,00 by the end of 2018. We know that you can’t give to every worthy cause, but as you consider your year-end donations, please consider donating to Sagepoint.

Your Support Makes Stories Like This Possible




To our friends and supporters of Sagepoint Senior Living, we thought that you’d like to know a little bit about what your donations make possible. This is Miriam Kimball’s story:

A Tale of Two Parents

When Miriam Kimball’s father grew increasingly fragile from Parkinson’s disease, she moved him from a Pittsburgh nursing home to Sagepoint. Her mother, Miriam Donnellon, soon became a fixture there. Her daily visits cultivated close relationships with the staff, so close, in fact, she often invited staff members to her home for tea and cookies.

Years later after her father passed away, her mother needed care for severe dementia. Miriam Kimball again chose Sagepoint.

“Because my mom was in that frightened state, she was desperate for a friend,” Miriam Kimball said. “So many of the aides remembered her from when she cared for my dad. Even though my mother was not very lovable at times, they still provided her with loving care. The aides and nurses are simply outstanding human beings who will listen and help anytime, day or night.”

We Need Your Help Once More

Because of the high costs of the care we provide and the limitations of government funding, we’ve set a goal to raise $1 million to enhance and expand care for our patients and residents by 2021. The first phase of this campaign we are calling Forever Grateful and our first goal is to raise $150,00 by the end of 2018. We know that you can’t give to every worthy cause, but as you consider your year-end donations, please consider donating to Sagepoint.

You’re Not Just ‘Growing Old’ If This Happens To You

Elderly woman sadly looking out the window, a black-and-white ph



When Dr. Christopher Callahan examines older patients, he often hears a similar refrain.

“I’m tired, doctor. It’s hard to get up and about. I’ve been feeling kind of down, but I know I’m getting old and I just have to live with it.”

This fatalistic stance relies on widely-held but mistaken assumptions about what constitutes “normal aging.”

In fact, fatigue, weakness and depression, among several other common concerns, aren’t to-be-expected consequences of growing older, said Callahan, director of the Center for Aging Research at Indiana University’s School of Medicine.

Instead, they’re a signal that something is wrong and a medical evaluation is in order.

“People have a perception, promulgated by our culture, that aging equals decline,” said Dr. Jeanne Wei, a geriatrician who directs the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“That’s just wrong,” Wei said. Many older adults remain in good health for a long time and “we’re lucky to live in an age when many remedies are available.”

Of course, peoples’ bodies do change as they get on in years. But this is a gradual process. If you suddenly find your thinking is cloudy and your memory unreliable, if you’re overcome by dizziness and your balance is out of whack, if you find yourself tossing and turning at night and running urgently to the bathroom, don’t chalk it up to normal aging.

Go see your physician. The earlier you identify and deal with these problems, the better. Here are four common concerns that should spark attention — only a partial list of issues that can arise:

 
Fatigue. You have no energy. You’re tired all the time.

Don’t underestimate the impact: Chronically weary older adults are at risk of losing their independence and becoming socially isolated.

Nearly one-third of adults age 51 and older experience fatigue, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.  (Other estimates are lower.) There are plenty of potential culprits. Medications for blood pressure, sleep problems, pain and gastrointestinal reflux can induce fatigue, as can infections, conditions such as arthritis, an underactive thyroid, poor nutrition and alcohol use.

All can be addressed, doctors say. Perhaps most important is ensuring that older adults remain physically active and don’t become sedentary.

“If someone comes into my office walking at a snail’s pace and tells me ‘I’m old; I’m just slowing down,’ I’m like no, that isn’t right,” said Dr. Lee Ann Lindquist, a professor of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“You need to start moving around more, get physical therapy or occupational therapy and push yourself to do just a little bit more every day.”

 
Appetite loss. You don’t feel like eating and you’ve been losing weight.

This puts you at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies and frailty and raises the prospect of an earlier-than-expected death. Between 15 and 30 percent of older adults are believed to have what’s known as the “anorexia of aging.”

Physical changes associated with aging — notably a reduced sense of vision, taste and smell, which make food attractive — can contribute. So can other conditions: decreased saliva production (a medication-induced problem that affects about one-third of older adults); constipation (affecting up to 40 percent of seniors); depression; social isolation (people don’t like to eat alone); dental problems; illnesses and infections; and medications (which can cause nausea or reduced taste and smell).

If you had a pretty good appetite before and that changed, pay attention, said Dr. Lucy Guerra, director of general internal medicine at the University of South Florida.

Treating dental problems and other conditions, adding spices to food, adjusting medications and sharing meals with others can all make a difference.

 
Depression. You’re sad, apathetic and irritable for weeks or months at a time.

Depression in later life has profound consequences, compounding the effects of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, leading to disability, affecting cognition and, in extreme cases, resulting in suicide.

A half century ago, it was believed “melancholia” was common in later life and that seniors naturally withdrew from the world as they understood their days were limited, Callahan explained. Now, it’s known this isn’t so. Researchers have shown that older adults tend to be happier than other age groups: only 15 percent have major depression or minor variants.

Late-life depression is typically associated with a serious illness such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis or stroke; deteriorating hearing or vision; and life changes such as retirement or the loss of a spouse. While grief is normal, sadness that doesn’t go away and that’s accompanied by apathy, withdrawal from social activities, disturbed sleep and self-neglect is not, Callahan said.

With treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and anti-depressants, 50 to 80 percent of seniors can expect to recover.

 
Weakness. You can’t rise easily from a chair, screw the top off a jar, or lift a can from the pantry shelf.

You may have sarcopenia — a notable loss of muscle mass and strength that affects about 10 percent of adults over the age of 60. If untreated, sarcopenia will affect your balance, mobility and stamina and raise the risk of falling, becoming frail and losing independence.

Age-related muscle atrophy, which begins when people reach their 40s and accelerates when they’re in their 70s, is part of the problem.  Muscle strength declines even more rapidly — slipping about 15 percent per decade, starting at around age 50.

The solution: exercise, including resistance and strength training exercises and good nutrition, including getting adequate amounts of protein. Other causes of weakness can include inflammation, hormonal changes, infections and problems with the nervous system.

Watch for sudden changes. “If you’re not as strong as you were yesterday, that’s not right,” Wei said. Also, watch for weakness only on one side, especially if it’s accompanied by speech or vision changes.

Taking steps to address weakness doesn’t mean you’ll have the same strength and endurance as when you were in your 20s or 30s. But it may mean doctors catch a serious or preventable problem early on and forestall further decline.

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When an Elderly Loved One Needs Extra Help



Family members of aging adults typically travel one of two paths to becoming a caregiver: the sudden sprint, or the gradual march.

The sudden sprint towards providing care for a loved one is often set off by an unexpected event—a stroke, a fall, complications from surgery—which acts as a catalyst, escalating your family member’s care needs practically overnight.

The gradual march in the direction of caregiving is less abrupt. You can’t say exactly when it began, but you’ve started noticing little changes in how your family member interacts with the world around them. Perhaps they’re getting lost while driving to the grocery store, maybe they’re having trouble keeping track of their medications, or balancing their checkbook—tasks they’ve performed countless times over the years, without any problems.

If an aging family member is consistently exhibiting these kinds of behaviors, they may soon be in need of extra care.

Here are 22 common signs your loved one may need extra help:
 

Physical

Fluctuating weight
Balance problems
Poor hygiene
Sleeping too much or too little
Unexplained burns and bruises (especially on the legs and arms)

Home Environment

Unkempt yard
Unusual carpet stains
Excessive clutter (several weeks’ worth of newspapers, piles of junk mail)
Unusual odors (urine, garbage)
Not enough food in the house
Failure to turn off stove, or water after use

Emotional

Mood swings
Abusive behavior (most likely verbal)
Lack of motivation
Uncharacteristically anti-social behavior

Cognitive

Confusion
Memory loss
Repetition
Hallucinations

Other

Dents and scratches on the car
Unfilled or untaken prescriptions
Unpaid bills

Whether these problems appear suddenly or slowly, they are all warning signs that indicate your loved one is having trouble attending to their own needs.

Being able to identify the presence of these red flags as soon as possible will enable you, your aging loved one, and the rest of your family to come up with a plan that ensures everyone’s needs get met.
 

Normal Aging, or Alzheimer’s Disease: What’s the Difference?

As a loved one ages, one of the questions that may come up for you and your family is how to tell the difference between the cognitive changes associated with “normal aging,” and those that could signal serious health conditions, such as dementia.

At this time, there’s no definitive way to distinguish between benign memory slips, Alzheimer’s, or other forms of dementia, but it may help to consider this as a general rule of thumb: occasionally misplacing the car keys is normal, while forgetting what to do with them is not.

Here are a few additional indicators that your loved one’s cognitive troubles may be caused by something more serious than the simple advance of age:

  • Bad judgment (poor financial decisions, public outbursts)
  • Movement issues (stiff movements, hunched posture)
  • Loss of inhibition (saying or doing socially inappropriate things)
  • Language problems (can’t form coherent sentences)
  • Hallucinations and delusions (seeing things that aren’t really there)
  • Trouble performing familiar tasks (can’t remember how to get to the doctor’s office)
  • Memory loss that interrupts daily life (regularly forgets recent conversations)

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your family to determine if, and when, a loved one’s cognitive issues warrant investigation by a medical professional.

 
Provided courtesy of AgingCare.com, the go-to destination for family caregivers. AgingCare.com offers resources and support for those taking care of elderly parents. This article is one of a series of articles included in the eBook, Family Caring for Family. Download your free copy at www.AgingCare.com/ebook.

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A Crash Course on Medicare



Has your loved one recently celebrated their 65th birthday? If so, then they now qualify for Medicare. Keep reading for a crash course on a few facts that you need to know about this program.

Medicare Eligibility is not Based on Income

Unlike Medicaid which is made available to individuals whose income falls below a certain income level, eligibility for Medicare does not depend on income. Medicaid is a fully federally funded program, whereas Medicare is paid for partly by Social Security and Medicaid taxes, partly by the premiums that people with Medicare pay, and partly by the federal budget. If you are age 65 or older, under 65 and depend on Social Security Disability Insurance, or have End-Stage Renal Disease, then you are eligible for Medicare.

There Are Four Different Plans

Once you qualify for Medicare, you have a range of plans available to you, and each plan offers different benefits. Original Medicare is comprised of Parts A and B. Once you turn 65, you’ll automatically be enrolled into Part A, which is a free program as long as either you or your spouse paid the Medicare payroll tax for at least a decade. Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient services, and there is an income-based component in determining cost. Part C, also called Medicare Advantage, is a private insurance option that covers the benefits of Parts A and B. Part D is a prescription drug plan that offers coverage for prescription medications.

You May Need Supplemental Insurance…But You May Not

Medicare is a wonderful program, but it doesn’t cover everything. Depending on your loved one’s healthcare needs, they may find themselves overwhelmed with copayments and deductibles. This is where supplemental insurance, or Medigap, comes into play. Medigap policies are sold by private insurance companies and mainly cover Medicare deductibles. Medigap can only be used alongside Parts A and B, so if you’re enrolled in Part C, you’ll need to drop out before your Medigap coverage begins.

Many seniors find that any savings that they get with a Medigap plan are offset by the monthly premiums, which can be several hundred dollars. For that reason, most find that unless they’re making weekly trips to the doctor’s office for expensive tests and lab work, Medicare sufficiently covers their needs.

There Are Several Enrollment Periods

When you turn 65, the government will send out an eligibility notice. If you’re already getting Social Security benefits, you’ll automatically be enrolled; otherwise, you’ll need to send in your application by the due date. If you don’t sign up for Part B during that time, you’ll have an opportunity to during the enrollment period that runs from the first of the year through March 31. However, you’ll pay a 10% penalty for every 12-month period that you delay in signing up for Part B, unless you are still employed.

If you are employed, you’ll have an 8-month period after you retire to apply for Part B without penalty. If you should miss that enrollment period, then you’ll need to wait for the open enrollment period, which runs every year from October 15 through December 7. During this time, you can also enroll in Parts C and D.

Medicare is a wonderful program that ensures that seniors are able to receive quality healthcare after they retire. To learn more about the program and the options available, visit the Medicare website.

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