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Turn on your Long Term Care Insurance Now

LTCinsuranceIn talking with several families recently, there seems to be a reticence to start benefiting from the Long Term Care insurance. Whether it’s the idea to save it ’til later when things get really expensive or that they won’t qualify … I’ve seen it too often recently that I want to encourage you to apply for the benefits now.

A few reasons to take it now include:

  1. Once you turn it on, you don’t have to make anymore payments.
  2. Should the individual with the benefits predecease the use of the insurance, or before they have claimed all of the benefits,  you won’t get any of that money back. Exhaust the plan before you exhaust personal savings.

Many of the plans have limits and caps, but there are still a few really good ones that don’t. Do you know what your plan limits are?

Most plans have an exception for individuals diagnosed with dementia versus having to qualify with two or more activities of daily living. First read through the plan to find the qualifications and then call the provider and ask about the policy. Key questions to ask include:

  • Is there an exclusionary period?  Many plans have 90 and 100-day exclusion periods once the individual qualifies for the benefits.
  • How much per day is covered for Home Care Assistance? Most plans have a dollar amount per day for personal care assistants in your home. You can actually set up the billing so they bill the insurance provider directly and you only have to cover any overages. Many cover up to 10 and 12 hours per day.
  • How much does it pay toward Assisted Living; Skilled Nursing; Memory Care? It’s good to know how much will be covered when you are making a decision about a care community.

This truly is a use it or lose it scenario and from what I have seen, there is no benefit to NOT taking it as soon as you qualify … and that could simply be a diagnosis of dementia. Experienced. 

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How much money is needed to care for a loved one with dementia?

DMMHouseI wish I could tell you there was an easy answer to this question. But there isn’t. Just like every dementia is different, every support network is different as is every metropolitan area in terms of costs and options.

The Alzheimer’s Association just posted a campaign stating it is the most expensive disease in the United States. They do state that 1 hour of Alzheimer’s costs taxpayers $21 million, but most of the costs are in terms of Medicare and Medicaid expenses. How might your family look at the cost and impact to your family?

Some things to consider include:

  • How much time are you spending each week providing unpaid care? From rides to the doctor to meal preparation and financial management?
  • Is the time you are spending helping a loved one impacting your job in terms of lost wages? Diminished opportunity for promotions?
  • What will be needed to spend in terms of personal care assistance? Is it all out of pocket or is there long-term care insurance that can cover some of the expense?
  • How much does a memory care or assisted living community cost?

The numbers add up quickly. For an example, the year after my dad died, we spent around $40,000 (or her money) in personal care assistance for my mom. She was living in a life-care community, wasn’t progressed enough to live in the Memory Care neighborhood, but needed more assistance navigating her day. Her community costs were $96,000. So in 2014, we spent around $136,000 on her community and care costs. Had she just moved in with us, having a personal care assistant around the clock would have been around $120,000. Had that been an option, we could have probably decreased that costs when we knew we would be at home to help with her care.

The last year of Mom’s life, after we moved her into a community designed for an active woman with dementia, the cost was close to $200,000. While her community cost was a little less expensive then the life care community they chose a decade earlier, her personal care costs were $96,000. After she fell and wasn’t steady on her feet, we needed to pay for a personal care assistant to be with her 12 hours a day so she wouldn’t try to get up and walk on her own.

Frightening numbers! Thankfully, my parents had saved and had the money to cover their expenses.

One thing to consider is that allowing an individual to maintain their independence and purpose as long as they can is something they will treasure. It can also minimize expenses, but shouldn’t be at the risk of other factors. If they are living alone, find a good solution to detect falls since that is the greatest risk for most older adults.

Dementia stinks. It robs us emotionally, and financially. As a Daily Money Manager, I help families develop plans to assess the costs and consider the options. To learn more about how I help families, visit here. I’m always happy to help families navigate these issues. Offered. 

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There is no bottled miracle for memory

vialofpillsBeauty products have been referred to for decades as “Hope in a Jar.” I feel that same desire for memory loss cures and prevention. However, the scientific studies continue to find time and time again that none of the promises made by the supplements are working.

What a recent story from Consumer Reports suggested to do instead:

  • Brain Workouts.  Do something that will “enhance reasoning and memory-abilities” like learning a new language. They report that training can help processing speed and reasoning, but made sure to exclude “computerized brain games” from this recommendation.
  • Exercise Your Body. Physical activity can delay or slow cognitive decline, but not prevent it. I noticed for my Dad with Alzheimer’s how much better he did day-to-day when we got him to the racquetball court.  I think most of us recognize the feeling of well-being we get from exercise, even though we may curse it while we are in it.
  • Manage Blood Pressure. Reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke help since they are major risk factors for memory loss.

However, I do see reports and hear from my colleagues how some new treatments are showing some promise with their clients. As I interpret it, the idea is to basically clean your body of toxins that might be impacting your memory. After seeing the number of kids with nut-allergies mushroom in the past two decades, I have been wondering how the ways in which we package and store food and the products we use on our skin might be impacting our health.

I’d love to hear from caregivers if you have seen good success with one of these newer treatments for your loved one. Curious. 

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Imposter Scams Net $328 Million

scamalertA girlfriend just shared how her mom, who is in good health and of sound mind, received a call that she (my girlfriend) had been kidnapped. They wanted her mom to immediately drive to a check cashing place and wire money for her release. Her mom tried to text and call on a second phone, by her daughter was in an appointment with her phone off.  Thankfully, her mom navigated it well but it was a quite a traumatic event. Her mom lives in a condo and kept the people on the phone while she went down to the concierge who called the police and helped. However, she was wondering if her mom was really of sound mind if she fell for this.

I confirmed to her that really smart people can be victims of this scam because the fraudsters are so good. In fact the FTC reported that the kidnapping scam is the top “Imposter Scam” for 2017 and cost Americans at least $328 million.

For those of us caring or concerned about loved ones that live alone, I hope you will consider how you can implement a call screening service or device to help eliminate these callers. I implemented this system in my own home and never answer an unidentified call at home or on my mobile phone.

As a Daily Money Manager, I work with older adults in their homes and one of the first things I do is implement a call screening solution. In metro-DC, I can implement Nomorobo which is free service from Verizon. The Nomorobo website can help you find out if you can get their free service in your area.

If you can’t get a service like Nomorobo, you can purchase a call blocking device like Sentry 2 that lets you blacklist numbers. It does require that you tag calls to the “blacklist” to block, and you can also add numbers and only get calls from those on your “whitelist”. It can fill the need but does require assistance to be effective.

Two other simple options include:

  1. Sign up for “Anonymous Call Rejection” with your local carrier. This service rejects calls from anyone that has blocked their caller ID information. It is usually something you can enable using *77 but varies by provider.
  2. Suggesting they never answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number.  A doctor, or friend will leave a message and they can easily call back

For many, the comfort of home and the costs can make aging in place the best choice. However, there are many things to consider to make sure our loved ones are safe. Advised. 

For more on this topic, check out this story:

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Virtual Kidnapping Scam The Washington Post

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I could finally let it go.

keywallet2I have a host of small memento’s to my parent’s lives all over my home. Last month I saw that I still had my dad’s key wallet when I was digging through the key drawer. It’s in sad shape and had been when my Dad still carried it with him. What used to hold seven keys was now only managing two — and one of them was to a storage closet in their retirement community that was no longer theirs, but it didn’t matter so on the key wallet it remained.

That key wallet was part of my Dad’s habits. He never misplaced it, and always picked it up and put it in his pocket when we left their apartment … all the way into a moderate stage of Alzheimer’s. When I saw it last month, I thought about dropping it into the trash, but just wasn’t ready to do it. It brought to me a host of great memories.

It ended up in my key drawer because after my Dad passed away and my Mom came across it in her apartment, she asked me to take it to him in the hospital. The months after my Dad passed away were really difficult for us all, but most for my Mom who couldn’t remember he had died, because she was in a moderate stage of Vascular Dementia.

Why would I want to keep it?

I could still imagine it in my Dad’s hand and then him quickly dropping it into his pocket. When I held it, I could imagine he was still here for a moment. So I put it back in the key drawer. I wasn’t ready to toss it quite yet.

When my husband decides to attack the key drawer today, I notice this is sitting in the odd-ball pile. I pick it up, exhale, and let it drop into the trash. I’m ready to let go of this memento.

I don’t need to hold onto this sad key wallet with useless keys. I have a host of rich memories and traditions that allow me to let go and move on. It’s time. Celebrated. 

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Another reason to eat our veggies!

leafygreensResearchers at Rush University Medical School in Chicago found that “one serving of leafy greens a day may slow brain aging by 11 years.”  I initially read the story in The Washington Post that reported “eating as little as one and one half cups of lettuce daily — or a bit more than half a cup of dark leafy greens — may delay the decline in memory and thinking skills that occur with age.”

For those of us with family members with any form of dementia, any and all proven methodologies are gladly received.

The report from Rush states that “cognitive abilities naturally decline with age” which is not the same as the wording in the The Washington Post story that gives you the impression that our memory will decline with age. I see and hear people buy into this belief too often.

In general, our processing speed does slow down staring in our 50s, but memory loss is not a normal consequences of aging. To quote Dr. Green of Total Brain Health, most of us have a “getting problem, not a ‘forgetting’ problem.” There are many things we can do to rev up our recall, and lots of reasons why we might not remember something which doesn’t mean we are showing early signs of dementia.

If you are having memory concerns, go see your doctor. If they don’t take your concerns seriously, ask for a referral to a neurologist. There are many mild cognitive issues that are reversible.

I watched as the doctor’s dismissed the overwhelming number of early warning signs for my parents and hope everyone has a better chance to battle and weather the life-stealing  beast of dementia.

Now off to the store to buy me some greens. Hungered. 

For more on the full report, you can visit: Neural and behavioral bases of age differences in perceptions of trust.  In summary:

“Older adults are disproportionately vulnerable to fraud, and federal agencies have speculated that excessive trust explains their greater vulnerability.

Two studies, one behavioral and one using neuroimaging methodology, identified age differences in trust and their neural underpinnings. Older and younger adults rated faces high in trust cues similarly, but older adults perceived faces with cues to
untrustworthiness to be significantly more trustworthy and approachable than younger adults. This age-related pattern was mirrored in neural activation to cues of trustworthiness. Whereas younger adults showed greater anterior insula activation to untrustworthy versus trustworthy faces, older adults showed muted activation of the anterior insula to untrustworthy faces. The insula has been shown to support interoceptive awareness that forms the basis of “gut feelings,” which represent expected risk and predict risk-avoidant behavior. Thus, a diminished “gut” response to cues
of untrustworthiness may partially underlie older adults’ vulnerability to fraud.”

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Why Auto-Debit is a Bad Idea.

autopayI understand how easy it is to “set-it and forget it” so you never miss a payment.  However, in reality, you have set up a system that no one is minding and there are many ways for scams and fraud to sneak into your life.

I have talked with adult children who have either helped mom and dad set this up to avoid missing or late payments, as well as heard from older adults that this is their plan B should they have a crisis.

It seems like a simple solution, but I want you to be forewarned that there are risks associated. Last year I started working with a new client to find that she was still paying for Juno.  Yeah, she was paying $9.95 a month for dial-up service, even through she had wifi in her home and had for years. We also found a monthly “shipping service” billing her $24.95 monthly she didn’t use, and several hundred dollars in ongoing charitable contributions she didn’t realize she was making.  If you want to set up an auto-debit, do it for an amount that will cover the minimum payment and plan to review the statements before you pay the balance.

In an audit of 20 new clients, I had only one that did’t have a variety of charges on their credit account they couldn’t explain. As we investigate those charges, they realize they were paying for things they don’t use, or worse, never recalled subscribing to ongoing payments.

What’s the harm? Over the course of a year, it’s typically over one thousand dollars. In a few cases this year, I had clients who it was costing several thousands dollars a year. Charities, face creams, supplements, a shipping service, iTunes/App subscriptions … it’s easy to get lost in the list of charges. The scammers are crafty.

I understand wanting to simplify and make things easier, but when it comes to money, you need to make sure someone is minding your finances, or you may find there are several sticky fingers in the till.

If you have a loved one that needs some help, Daily Money Managers are insured and guided by professional ethics to represent their clients best interests. I have yet to find a client where I didn’t save them more money than my time cost. Here is a link to a directory of professionals in the United States. Referred.  

 

 

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