SUBMITTED BY FAMILY FEATURES You may not want to consider a time when you might not be able to fully take care...
Dear Savvy Senior, Does Medicare cover outpatient counseling services for its beneficiaries? Since the death o...
Entering a new year and even a new decade is a great time to reorder and prioritize our lives. We do that by c...
Dear Savvy Senior, I would like to find out if my 73-year-old aunt is eligible for food stamps or any other ty...
Having a house-full of guests during the holiday season, I was amused and delighted by the interaction among s...
Especially during this time of year, the response to the question, “How are you?” is, “Busy.” When and w...
Dear Savvy Senior, My husband, who lives at home, has dementia and I worry about him wandering off and not bei...
Twenty years ago, when I first met my now husband, I admired his writing ability. He was the commissioner of a...
Dear Savvy Senior, A couple months back I read that the IRS will be offering a new senior-friendly tax form th...
SUBMITTED BY FAMILY FEATURES
You may not want to consider a time when you might not be able to fully take care of yourself, but the reality is there is almost a 70% chance someone turning 65 today will need some type of long-term care service and support in his or her lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Even if you’ve worked hard to save for retirement and create the financial security you want in the future, the need for long-term care could throw a wrench into even the most well-thought-out plans and impact you and your loved ones’ finances.
Consider these questions as you begin the long-term care planning process.
What is long-term care?
Different from traditional medical care that treats illnesses and injuries, long-term care includes services designed to help you maintain your quality of life and perform everyday activities even if age, illness, injury or a severe cognitive impairment make it a challenge to take care of yourself for an extended period of time. Long-term care services help with common daily functions including dressing, bathing and eating, and even skilled nursing services such as giving medication.
When should you start thinking about long-term care planning?
Because you never know when a need for care may arise, planning for care when you are younger and healthier can provide additional options as you’re more likely to qualify for coverage. Plus, cost is based on your age when you apply, so waiting can end up costing you more. Some people are beginning to plan as early as in their 40s.
How much does long-term care cost?
Long-term care costs vary depending on where you live, the type of care provided and the setting. Home-care services average $24-$135 per hour, according to the New York Life Cost of Care Survey, while private rooms in nursing homes can cost more than $100,000 a year.
Long-term care is generally not covered by health insurance, and government programs like Medicare or Medicaid have limitations, which often isn’t discovered until care is needed. However, New York Life offers long-term care options to AARP members and provides specially trained agents who can provide guidance. The agents can work with you and your family to create a customized plan based on your financial goals, helping protect your assets should you ever require long-term care.
Where is care provided?
Long-term care can be provided in a variety of settings, including at home, in an assisted-living facility or in a nursing home depending on the amount and type of care needed. In fact, some insurance plans cover care on a part-time basis by a family member or home health worker. Planning ahead can allow for more control over how and where you receive care.
How much coverage do you need?
The amount of coverage you need typically varies based on several considerations including budget, age, the type of care expected and how much of your assets and income you may be willing to use to offset the care costs. You don’t have to cover your entire risk – choosing a modest amount of coverage can still provide benefits and help protect other assets.
While planning for long-term care can seem daunting, you can find more benefits and information to make the process easier at aarp.org/benefits.
Dear Savvy Senior,
Does Medicare cover outpatient counseling services for its beneficiaries? Since the death of my sister last year, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety and would like to get some help.
I’m sorry for your loss. Yes, Medicare covers both outpatient and inpatient mental health services to help beneficiaries with depression, anxiety and many other needs. Here’s what you should know.
If you have original Medicare, your Part B coverage will pay 80 percent (after you’ve met your $198 Part B deductible) for a variety of counseling and mental health care services that are provided outside a hospital, like individual or group therapy, family counseling and more. They also cover services for treatment of beneficiaries who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse.
You, or your supplemental insurance is responsible for the remaining 20 percent coinsurance.
Medicare also gives you the option of getting treatment through a variety of mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and clinical nurse specialists.
To get this coverage, you’ll need to choose a “participating provider” that accepts Medicare assignment, which means they accept Medicare’s approved amount as full payment for a service.
If you choose a “nonparticipating provider” who accepts Medicare but does not agree to Medicare’s payment rate, you may have to pay more. And if you choose an “opt-out provider” that does not accept Medicare payments at all, you will be responsible for the entire cost.
To locate a mental health care professional in your area that accepts Medicare assignment, use Medicare’s online Physician Compare tool. Go to Medicare.gov/PhysicianCompare and type in your ZIP code, or city and state, then type in the type of profession you want to locate, like “psychiatry” or “clinical psychologist” in the search box. You can also get this information by calling Medicare at 800-633-4227.
If you need mental health services in either a general or psychiatric hospital, original Medicare Part A covers this too (after you’ve met your $1,408 Part A deductible). Your doctor should determine which hospital setting you need. If you receive care in a psychiatric hospital, Medicare covers up to 190 days of inpatient care for your lifetime. And if you use your lifetime days but need additional care, Medicare may cover additional inpatient care at a general hospital.
In addition to the outpatient and inpatient mental health services, Medicare also covers yearly depression screenings that must be done in a primary care doctor’s office or clinic. Annual depression screenings are covered 100 percent.
And if you have a Medicare prescription drug plan, most medications used to treat mental health conditions are covered too.
If you happen to get your Medicare benefits through a private Medicare Advantage plan, they must provide the same coverage as original Medicare does, but they may impose different rules and will likely require you to see an in-network provider. You’ll need to contact your plan directly for details.
And for more information, call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and request a copy of publication #10184 “Medicare & Your Mental Health Benefits,” or you can read it online at Medicare.gov.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
Entering a new year and even a new decade is a great time to reorder and prioritize our lives. We do that by choosing what values matter most. Values bring clarity. It is like cleaning out closets and keeping only outfits we love. Living in the values we choose brings order, discipline, and simplicity. It is the genesis of fulfillment. Operationalizing what we care about informs the decisions of what we pursue and how we spend our time. Values are our source of motivation intrinsic to who we are and who we desire to become. They give life meaning, purpose and direction silencing the firehose of noise and information that surrounds us. Outlining our values, quiets our spirit and allows us to function without all the chatter so we can directly connect our behavior with what we truly value.
In her newest book, Dare to Lead, Brene’ Brown challenges readers to outline three life values. She opines, through years of research as a psychologist, that “Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things.” When life gets hard and distracting, values help us resist the temptation to get immediate relief from our discomfort. Living out our three chosen values gives us courage to rumble and fight for them, staying in the arena and not checking out with pleasure-seeking, drugs, alcohol, pornography or just giving up.
In order to choose only three values to live by, we must first be quiet with ourselves knowing we are enough. We do not have to prove ourselves worthy, but, rather, know that we already are.
We must discover what lights us up and motivates us. We must think about the sweetest moments in our lives and the greatest disappointments and unpack the why of those experiences. We must name our greatest heroes and those we admire and then examine the reason we revere these people. We must set goals and figure out what really matters.
A significant body of research demonstrates that identifying and adopting three values catapults our ability to succeed and live with purpose and passion. Asking adolescents to outline and articulate what they deeply care about has a profound effect on their school performance, their partnering decisions, the friends they choose, their behavior and their life outcomes.
When we engage in the capacity to choose and to embrace the values that inform our actions, we are building human capital, living in an intimate, committed, and effective way accelerating the capacity to live authentically and strategically. Values set the direction of our life-path like a compass on an amazing adventure.
Companies set values to grow. The team at The Center for Relationship Education recently finalized three corporate values and built a strategic plan for growth and influence. The process was challenging; however, the clarity this exercise provided will allow this agency to accomplish its mission and do what matters most which is to provide relationship education skills training to everyone with the values of reliability, relevance and respect. joneen@my
I would like to find out if my 73-year-old aunt is eligible for food stamps or any other type of food assistance program. It seems that she has a difficult time affording enough food each month, and I would like to help if I can. What can you tell me?
Sadly, millions of older Americans, like your aunt, struggle with food costs. According to a recent study by Feeding America, 5.5 million U.S. seniors age 60 and older are food insecure. Fortunately, there are several programs that may be able to help. Here’s what you should know.
While there are millions of seniors who are eligible for food stamps, less than 40 percent actually take advantage of this benefit. Food stamps are now referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. However, your state may use a different name.
For seniors to get SNAP, their net income must be under the 100 percent federal poverty guidelines. So, households that have at least one-person age 60 and older, or disabled, their net monthly income must be less than $1,041 per month for an individual or $1,410 for a family of two. Households receiving TANF or SSI are also eligible.
Net income is figured by taking gross income minus allowable deductions including a standard monthly deduction, medical expenses that exceed $35 per month out-of-pocket, and shelter expenses (rent or mortgage payments, taxes and utility costs) that exceeds half of the household’s income.
In addition to the net income requirement, a few states also require that a senior’s assets be below $3,500, not counting their home, retirement or pension plans, income from SSI or TANF, and vehicle (this varies by state). Most states, however, have much higher asset limits or they don’t count assets at all when determining eligibility.
To apply, seniors or an authorized representative will need to fill out a state application form, which can be done at the local SNAP office or, it can be mailed or faxed in. In many states it can be completed online.
If eligible, benefits will be provided on a plastic card that’s used like a debit card and accepted at most grocery stores. The average SNAP benefit for 60-and-older households is around $125 per month.
To learn more or apply, contact your local SNAP office – call 800-221-5689 for contact information or visit fns.usda.gov/snap.
In addition to SNAP, there are other federal programs that can help low-income seniors, age 60 and older, like the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).
The CSFP (see fns.usda.gov/csfp) is a program that provides supplemental food packages to seniors with income limits at or below the 130 percent poverty line.
And the SFMNP (fns.usda.gov/sfmnp) provides seniors coupons that can be exchanged for fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs in select locations throughout the U.S. To be eligible, your aunt’s income must be below the 185 percent poverty level.
There are also many Feeding America network food banks that host “Senior Grocery Programs” that provide free groceries to older adults,
Having a house-full of guests during the holiday season, I was amused and delighted by the interaction among siblings, cousins, friends, in-laws, grandparents, grandchildren and neighbors. Multiple generations were interacting, baking together, dining together and playing games. Personality differences were on full display. Some were the life of the party being loud, funny and directing the conversations. Others were reserved, great listeners and encouragers. Still others were bossy and competitive. I thought about emotional intelligence as I watched and enjoyed my guests interact with one another.
What is emotional intelligence? According to the expert, Daniel Goldman Ph.D., emotional intelligence consists of five characteristics which are: self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and social skills.
Self-awarenessis the ability to recognize emotions, strengths, boundaries, feelings, behaviors and understand how these affect others. It is knowing and honoring who you are. My 88-year-old mother showcased her emotional intelligence several times during her visit. One morning she passed the mirror before putting on her make-up. She was obviously not happy with how she looked. She then took the time to complete her morning routine make-up and all, came back to that same mirror and exclaimed, “There you are!” I laughed out loud. She certainly is self-aware!
Self-regulationis characterized by the power to manage emotions, delay gratification and resist temptations. Those who have this amazing trait are intentional and proactive rather than reactive. With many house-guests having strong opinions regarding politics, I was a bit concerned about family drama. I was delighted to see self-regulation in action as cousins held their tongue and changed the subject when the conversation started to escalate.
Empathyis the third characteristic of emotional intelligence.
To be empathetic means you can identify and understand others’ emotions. This trait was on display when family members cried with one another regarding a tragic event being shared. It was emotional, raw but compassionate and encouraging to have others understand the pain of the one sharing.
Motivationis part of being emotionally intelligent because it is about knowing what lights you up. People are motivated and excited when they are doing something they love, honoring their passions and their gifts and talents. It is about dreaming big and getting to your goals even if it sometimes feels like baby steps. My nephew just graduated with an MBA. He was certainly motivated to complete his studies and finish so he could jump start his career. It was exhilarating to witness his excitement and high level of motivation.
Social skillsare what you possess as the fifth characteristic of emotional intelligence.
Knowing about social pleasantries and the subtle dance of effective communication and etiquette is imperative. Having the intuitive skills regarding when to listen and when to speak, making others feel relaxed and comfortable with authenticity and approachability is a gift to self and others. It is the glue that forms and maintains healthy relationships.
The holidays brings out the best and the worst of us. When we get stressed, overstimulated, overloaded and busy, emotional intelligence serves us well. email@example.com; www.myrelationshipcenter.org
Especially during this time of year, the response to the question, “How are you?” is, “Busy.” When and why is this happening? We have more devices to be efficient. Certainly, we are not spending hours plowing fields or shepherding animals. The refrain, “Busy” is so overused, it almost feels like a status symbol or a way to let people know how valuable we are. Perhaps we are just not managing time well.
Time is valuable, once used we will never it get back. It is also the great equalizer of humanity. No one gets to appropriate more time. Not even the uber wealthy can purchase an extra 24 hours.
Managing this dwindling commodity, I have decided that in 2020, I am going to be on a massive hunt for people and things that are time-sucks. I am going to set boundaries with my time and ensure that I value it more than I have in the past. I am going to prioritize what is most important and ensure that I honor what I value. I am going to limit my time on social media and spend my time more wisely.
Looking at my 2020 calendar, I have added fields that are missing. Each month I have added time for meetings, time for grants and contracts, time for problem solving, time to dream, time with my family, time for learning, time for giving, time for playing, time for relaxing and time to be still and wonder. I will spend time in gratitude and grace. Being intentional about my time will result in joy and increased energy. It is my version of work-life balance and time management.
Acknowledging that I am in control of my time, I am going to hold myself accountable to the boundaries regarding where I spend time and what I spend it on. I will create task lists and timelines with benchmarks so I can take baby steps toward big audacious goals and not get overwhelmed by what needs to get done. I will ask for help when I need it and not procrastinate. I will work hard to be accurate about estimating the time it takes to do a task and give myself margins so that I am not stressed. I will seek to multi-task when I can. For example, I will download books and podcasts on my phone so when I am in traffic or waiting at the doctor’s office, I can find pleasure rather than frustration in the time waiting. I will stay in the moment and be present and intentional about my time and I will forgive myself when I occasionally waste it.
Managing time is hard. Many go through their entire lives without figuring it out. Taking back our power over time and how we spend it is almost more important than how we spend money. We can always make money, we cannot, however, make more time. Replacing the word, “Fine” with “Busy” should not be the new normal. Welcome to 2020! firstname.lastname@example.org; www.myrelationshipcenter.org
My husband, who lives at home, has dementia and I worry about him wandering off and not being able to get back. Can you recommend some monitoring technology devices or any other solutions that can help me keep tabs on him?
This is a concern for millions of Americans caring for a loved one with dementia at home. About 60 percent of people who suffer from dementia wander at some point, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
For caregivers, this can be frightening because many of those who wander off end up confused and lost, even in their own neighborhood, and are unable to communicate who they are or where they live. Here are some product and service solutions that may help.
For starters, there are a number of simple home modifications you can do to keep your husband from wandering away. Some solutions include adding an extra lock on the top or bottom of the exterior doors out of the line of sight or installing door alarms on the exterior doors that let you know when they’re opened. See AlzStore.com for a variety of product solutions. And, be sure you hide the car keys to keep him from driving.
You should also alert your neighbors that your husband may wander so they can keep an eye out and have a recent picture of him on hand to show around the neighborhood or to the police if he does get lost.
For high-tech solutions, there are a variety of wearable GPS tracking devices available today that can help you keep tabs on him. Some top options to consider include AngelSense (AngelSense.com), which can be attached to clothing or worn around the waist; wristwatches like the Theora Connect (TheoraCare.com) or NurtureWatch (NurtureWatch.com); and the GPS SmartSole (GPSSmartSole.com), which is a shoe insole tracker.
All of these products come with smartphone apps that would alert you if your husband were to wander beyond a pre-established safe area and would let you know where to find him if he did. These products (except the GPS SmartSole) also provide two-way voice communication and auto pickup speakerphone so you can talk to him if he does wander off.
If the previously listed options don’t work for you, there are also locating services – like the MedicAlert + Safe Return program (MedicAlert.org/alz) and Vitals Aware Services (TheVitalsApp.com) – that can help you if he does wander off.
The MedicAlert + Safe Return program comes with a personalized ID bracelet that would have your husband’s medical information engraved on it, along with his membership number and the toll-free MedicAlert emergency phone number. If he goes missing, you would call 911 and report it to the local police department who would begin a search, and then report it to MedicAlert. Or, a Good Samaritan or police officer may find him and call the MedicAlert number to get him back home.
The Vitals Aware Service works a bit differently. This is a free app-based network system that comes with a small beacon that your husband would wear. If he did go missing, anyone in the Vitals app network community that came within 80 feet of him would receive an alert and information about him so they could contact you.
Another option that could help, depending on where you live, is a radio frequency locater service like SafetyNet and Project Lifesaver, which are offered by some local law enforcement agencies.
With these services, your husband would wear a wristband that contains a radio transmitter that emits tracking signals. If he goes missing, you would contact the local authorities who would send out rescue personnel who will use their tracking equipment to locate him. Visit SafetyNetTracking.com and Projectlifesaver.org to see if these services are available in your community.
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