SUBMITTED BY FAMILY FEATURES Stroke is often thought of as something that happens to older people, but more pe...
In 2014, Kanye West married Kim Kardashian stunning millennials who appear to value cohabitation over marriage...
Dear Savvy Senior, I need to get a hip replacement, and want to find a good, safe hospital to have it done in....
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...
SUBMITTED BY FAMILY FEATURES
Stroke is often thought of as something that happens to older people, but more people under 50 are having strokes due to increased risky behaviors, such as smoking and untreated high blood pressure.
Strokes don’t discriminate, according to the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to fighting cardiovascular disease and stroke. They can happen to anyone, at any age. About 1 in 4 people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. However, up to 80% of first strokes may be prevented.
“Healthy habits can protect and improve brain function and lower your stroke risk,” said Dr. Lee Schwamm, MD, American Stroke Association volunteer chairman and executive vice chairman, department of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In recognition of World Stroke Day, the American Stroke Association offers these five tips to help reduce your risk of stroke and maintain mental sharpness as you age:
Keep blood pressure in mind and under control
High blood pressure is the No. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke. Work with your doctor to manage your blood pressure and get it into a healthy range (under 120 over 80).
Eat colorful fruits and veggies
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure over time, which may help reduce your stroke risk. Some fruits and vegetables, such as mangos, avocados and blueberries, are especially rich in vitamins and minerals that improve brain function and heart health.
Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night can improve brain function both today and long-term. A soothing bedtime routine and avoiding screen time before bed can increase the quality of sleep you’re able to get. Sleep-related breathing issues may also increase stroke risk, so seek treatment right away if you suspect sleep apnea or similar problems.
Emerging science shows practicing mindfulness and being aware of your breathing may reduce blood pressure. A quick way to be mindful anytime is to pause, notice your breath and observe details in your surroundings.
Take a hike
Getting active activates brain cells, encouraging them to grow and connect more efficiently. Aerobic exercise, like going for a walk, also gives your arteries a workout and makes your brain more resilient to reductions in blood flow that can cause strokes. To maximize health benefits, the American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (or a combination) and two days per week of moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening activity.
“These simple suggestions are great for everyone to follow, even if you don’t think you’re likely to have a stroke,” Schwamm said. “While many adults don’t think they are at risk for stroke or reduced brain function, the reality is that nearly half of all adults in America have high blood pressure, and untreated high blood pressure is one of the most common causes of stroke and also causes up to 60% of dementia.”
For more information and tips for preventing stroke, visit Stroke.org/WorldStrokeDay.
In 2014, Kanye West married Kim Kardashian stunning millennials who appear to value cohabitation over marriage. When asked why he married, Kanye replied, “People think that I have the ability to make things cooler if I’m doing it. This stuff’s starting to be cool … Family is super cool. Going home to one girl every night is super cool.” The rapper used his star-power to champion marriage. Beyoncé’ and Jay Z also represent a new class of celebrity marriage which is non-traditional, even counter-cultural. These artists outline lyrics in their music that reveal a complicated picture of imperfect, yet committed, monogamy in a world where multiple partners and variety is the norm. These rock stars represent a newly designed re-imagined marriage for contemporary couples.
Not surprisingly, marriage rates are down dramatically. Marriage is rarely talked about in schools or future life-planning. It is maligned in the public square on commercials where millennial bridesmaids do not want to catch the wedding bouquet. Non-marital childbearing rate is 40%. The Colorado Strengthening Families Initiative Conference held every two years in Vail doesn’t even mention marriage in any of their plenary or breakout sessions.
Because marriage, the bedrock of a civilized society, is a prosocial stabilizer, an institution that has at least 26 social science cited benefits for health, well-being and wealth building, we have to make marriage cool for the next generation and those trapped in the cycle of poverty as a single parent of one or multiple children.
Ways to make marriage cool is to highlight, celebrate, and honor those who are role models of long lasting, healthy, committed coupling. It is digging, discovering, discussing and disseminating the secrets of staying in love. It is helping couples obtain the skills to develop and maintain a healthy friendship and working every day to make life easier for one other. It is encouraging millennials to reimagine and redefine what their marriage could be.
In order to serve the most vulnerable among us, many of whom have not experienced married parents, who are on public-assistance called TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) and live lives that are fraught with struggle and scarcity, we need to accomplish, not one TANF goal, but all four goals in order to empower them to build a bridge out of poverty.
The four goals of TANF are:
We need to reform tax policy to stop disincentives to marriage. We need to ask media and entertainment outlets to highlight healthy married couples and families on television and movies. We need to give voice to children who desire to have both parents be a role model for healthy relationships and marriage. There are many things we can do together to make marriage cool. Call us to find what we can do together. Please join us in this effort. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.myrelationshipcenter.org
Dear Savvy Senior,
I need to get a hip replacement, and want to find a good, safe hospital to have it done in. What resources can you recommend for evaluating hospitals? I don’t currently have a doctor.
Most people spend more time shopping for a kitchen appliance or flat-screen TV than choosing a hospital. But selecting the right one can be as important as the doctor you choose. Here are some tips and resources to help you research the hospitals in your area.
While you may not always have the opportunity to choose your hospital, especially in the case of an emergency, having a planned procedure can offer you a variety of choices.
When shopping for a hospital, the most important criteria is to choose one that has a strong department in treating your area of need. A facility that excels in coronary bypass surgery, for example, may not be the best choice for a hip replacement. Research shows that patients tend to have better results when they’re treated in hospitals that have extensive experience with their specific condition.
In order to choose a hospital that’s best for you, it is important to discuss your concerns and alternatives with the doctor who is treating you. Some doctors may be affiliated with several hospitals from which you can choose. Or, if you’ve yet to select a doctor, finding a top hospital that has expertise with your condition can help you determine which physician to actually choose.
Another important reason to do some research is the all too frequent occurrence of hospital infections, which kill around 75,000 people in the U.S. each year. So, checking your hospital’s infection rates and cleanliness procedures is also a smart move.
Free Researching Tools
There are a number of free online resources that can help you evaluate and compare hospitals in your area, including:
Medicare’s Hospital Compare (Medicare.gov/HospitalCompare): Operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this tool has data on more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals.
Why Not The Best (WhyNotTheBest.org): Created by the Commonwealth Fund, this is a private foundation that provides performance data on all U.S. hospitals.
The Leapfrog Group(LeapfrogGroup.org): This national, not-for-profit organization grades more than 2,000 U.S. hospitals on quality and safety.
These websites use publicly available data to rate hospitals on various measures of performance like death rates from serious conditions such as heart failure and pneumonia, frequency of hospital-acquired infections, patient satisfaction and more.
On these websites, you plug in your location to find hospitals in your area. You can then check to see how well or poorly each hospital manages patients in various conditions.
Two other good sites that can help you choose a good facility include U.S. News & World Report (USNews.com/best-hospitals) and Healthgrades(Healthgrades.com).
U.S News & World Report is an online publication that publishes a hospital ranking in 17 medical specialties like cancer, orthopedics and urology, and rates common procedures and conditions, such as heart bypass surgery, hip and knee replacement and COPD. They also rank hospitals regionally within states and major metro areas.
And Healthgrades, which is a private for-profit organization, provides free hospital ratings on patient safety and medical procedures, and scores hospitals using a 5-star scale. They also provide comprehensive information on most U.S. doctors including their education and training, hospital affiliations, board certification, awards and recognitions, professional misconduct, disciplinary action and malpractice records, office locations and insurance plans.
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.
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.
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.
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
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