Category Archives: Senior Living

National Social Workers Month

Social workers help you with any psychological and social needs in a stressful situation.

It’s a broad definition, but the field is broad. You’ll find social workers in hospitals, senior living homes, government organizations, and community services.

Here’s an article talking about what services social workers offer for seniors and hospice care.

And, another good article describing how social workers may help you after a fire or natural disaster.

– Susan

Mom is 8 States Away and Needs Help Getting Out of The Chair

Approximately 7 million adults are long-distance caregivers, mostly caring for aging parents who live an hour or more away.

One of our writers, Nancy, was taking care of parents in Florida while she lived in Ohio.  She had the organization and schedules down to a science.  She shared lots of tips with us – here are a few about traveling –

  1. At some point you will need to visit, so investigate travel options well in advance. (This is especially important as airlines continue to cut back on flights – if you need to fly, start looking into it earlier rather than later)
  2. Keep your car well-maintained and have a valid driver’s license, auto insurance and/or a valid passport (if you need to travel internationally).
  3. If something has changed in your loved one’s manner or health, consider contacting a third party (i.e. doctor, social worker, geriatric care manager) to set up an assessment. The assessment helps generate a general plan for long-term care. The plan might be updated or modified to fit your loved one’s needs.

Her article is here. A good checklist for senior living options is here (it’s long – so you only use what you need for your family).

Seniors and the Summer

Every summer brings a heat wave and high temperatures to areas across the nation. This year, the East Coast has already seen record high temps in the 100s.

Seniors are especially vulnerable to high temperatures and severe weather. Here are some steps you can take today to help an elderly loved one in your life:

1. Establish a strong network of contacts. Make sure your loved one has the contact numbers for family members, doctors, nurses, transportation, geriatric care managers, etc. Keep a list of these contact number for yourself as well.

2. Get to know a few of your loved one’s neighbors. Ask them to check on your loved one when severe weather strikes or when high/low temperatures hit.

3. Next time you visit, bring along a few emergency preparedness items as gifts (flashlights, weather radios, emergency kits). Check to see if their air conditioner and fans are working well before the hot weather strikes. Place all the items in an accessible location.

Top Tax Tips for Seniors

In honor of National Older Americans Month, Dan Tomlinson, Director of Tax at Roni Deutch Tax Center, has written up these top tax tips for seniors:

Social Security

Nearly all older Americans receive Social Security payments. A few items to consider with regards to taxes and Social Security:

1. If Social Security is your only source of income, then you should have no tax due.

  • Keep in mind, however, if you have other forms of income like a pension you may have to include some of your Social Security income on your tax return. The formulas are somewhat complex, but if one-half of your Social Security plus your other income is over a base amount ($25,000 for single filers, $32,000 for married filers) then the payments start to become taxable.
  • Up to 85% of SS payments are taxable if you fall under the above formula.

Retirement Funds and Pensions

Pensions, Retirement Plans, and IRAs come in many forms. You should always contact the plan administrator and/or tax professional if you have any questions regarding these payments.

1. Pension payments are generally fully taxable.

  • A portion of the payments can be non-taxable if you had contributed after-tax dollars into the plan. The plan administrator will usually make this calculation for you or provide you with the amount of total contributions to assist you the calculation.
  • Generally, this “cost recovery” lasts for 210 to 360 payments based on your age when first received.
  • Talk to your tax professional in the year before your retirement to see if this applies to you.

2. IRAs:

  • Traditional IRA distributions must begin by April 1st of the year following the tax during which the taxpayer reaches age 70 ½. Failure to do so may result in a 50% excise tax of the required distribution.
  • Care should be taken with Roth IRAs. For example, converting from a traditional to a Roth IRA may not be a good move since this conversion requires all taxes be paid in the year of the change. The Roth IRA will accumulate earnings that will later be tax free, but these earnings may not exceed the earlier taxes paid.
  • The IRA plan administrator will usually contact you in plenty of time to plan for these distributions.
  • Be sure to bring any 1099s or any other information you believe is pertinent regarding your retirement payments to your tax professional.

Medical Care

Medical, nursing home, and in-home care expenses add up very quickly. When you prepare your tax return have a list of all of these expenses ready. Some tips to assist you with adding these expenses on your tax return:

  • Most pharmacies will provide you with a list of all prescriptions purchased during the year which you may be able to deduct on your return.
  • Keep a separate file for each type of expense. For example, one file for doctor visit co-pays, another for medical equipment (canes, walkers, hearing aids), and another for dental visits.
  • Nursing home expenses are deductible, but if they are fully paid by insurance or Medicare then they are not included on your tax return.
  • “Medical mileage” is deductible. Going to see the doctor incurs a 19 cents per mile deduction.

Thanks to Dan Tomlinson for these great tips! Want more tax or senior living tips? Click on the links below:

Tackling the Costs of a Serious Illness

If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a serious illness, you may have already discovered that dealing with actual health issues is just part of the individual puzzle you must reassess and reassemble.

One major hurdle: paying the health care bills. However, there are solutions out there. Our guest columnist and licensed insurance agent, M. Bryan Freeman, explains one often over-looked solution: life settlements.

What is a life settlement??

Basically, a life settlement is the sale of an existing life insurance policy. Although life settlements are usually undertaken by relatively healthy seniors for financial- and estate-planning reasons, people with serious illness also may qualify.

Learn more – read M. Bryan Freeman’s article here…

Four Professionals Everyone Should Keep on Speed Dial

Productivity and frugality blog, WiseBread, has a great post about the top 6 professionals that you should have in your phone’s contact list…just in case. I’ve narrowed their list down to three and added in one extra professional I think you really should have in case of emergencies:

Attorney: Whether it’s a car accident, medical lawsuit or helping you draw up a will or other important document, everyone will probably need or meet with a lawyer at least once in their lifetime. Before something major happens, do the scouting now:

  • Nolo.com (this is a commercial site but they have good, basic information on how to find a lawyer and understanding fees)

Doctor: Even if it’s just a cold, having a doctor that you can trust can make the world of difference. Build that relationship now before you feel under the weather:

Insurance Agent: Auto, car, life, medical, home owner’s and rental insurance…doesn’t matter what coverage you’ve got, you’ll need a great agent to get the coverage you need and help you get the most out of your claims.

Mechanic: Let’s face it. Someday (could be tomorrow, could be next year), something in your car will break. You’ll need a great mechanic you can trust to get your car back on the road – and fast. Otherwise, you’ll be back in the shop before you know it.

What professional couldn’t you live without? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below! (Thanks, WiseBread!)

Nursing Homes and Quality of Care

The NY Times recently published an impressive investigative journalism piece on the quality of investor-owned nursing homes vs. government or independently-owned homes.

“The typical nursing home acquired by a large investment company before 2006 scored worse than national rates in 12 of 14 indicators that regulators use to track ailments of long-term residents.”

Some common areas of comparison they used included: number of residents per registered nurse; number of serious health deficiencies; rate of depression in patients; number of patients with increased assistance needs and so on (see the full article). The article is definitely a worthwhile read, especially if you’re considering care or already are paying for senior living care for a loved one.

Quality of care is indeed a hard thing to find, let alone monitor. If you’re unsure of what types of questions to ask when choosing care, read our Senior Living – Be Prepared section for tips from patients, families, caregivers and nursing home staff on what things to look for when evaluating a nursing home facility.

Thinking Long-Term

My parents are part of the Baby Boomer generation and many of the first members of the Baby Boomer generation are now turning 60. If you have an older parent, you’ve probably thought about who’s going to take care of them when they no longer can care for themselves.

While you’ve thought about long-term care, it’s harder to put planning into action. But you might want to start today…

According to Genworth Financial’s 2007 Cost of Care Survey, the average annual cost of nursing home care is $74,806.

$74,806. For one year of care.

My parents are a ways off from long-term care needs [thank goodness], but in 2025, I’m sure the average annual costs won’t be any cheaper!

If you’re thinking about long-term care planning or talking to a loved one about options, here are a few helpful resources:

In Case of Emergencies…

[Via Lifehacker] – If you were injured or ill and unable to speak, would anyone know how to find your:

  • insurance papers
  • medical information
  • spare keys to your house and car

“If there’s ever a time when you don’t want to be caught unorganized, it’s in the middle of a health crisis. You need certain documents on hand and ready to go when you’re in situations like these.” – Lifehacker. (Click on the link to read more of their article…)

WHN also has handy emergency and personal information sheets that you can print out and fill in to help you keep track of all your important and vital personal details.

Thanks to Lifehacker! Have a handy organizing tip? Share it below in the Comments!