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Tour the Local Adult Communities – #21

50plusadultsIn my role as a caregiver, I learned that my own community had very few aging life care, memory, or assisted living communities. I toured all three at the time to understand what they had to offer. I learned that the one we liked the most had a really long wait list.

Now that I work with older adults and their families, I have seen that most of my clients are only moving in AFTER there is a critical incident. Sadly, that limits the choices since many of the best communities have long wait lists.

When I start to work with an individual and family because they need help with the day-to-day bill pay, medical care or home upkeep, I always suggest they tour and select one. You can get on a wait list and you never have to move in, but should something happen, YOU or YOUR LOVED one got to choose the place.

For many communities, the individuals on the wait list have the ability to use the community for any short-term rehabilitation or skilled nursing needs.

It is reported that one in three working Americans will become disabled for 90 days or more before age 65 (TMA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that at 65, 7 out of 10 American’s will need long-term care services. That information means that most of us are going to need some help and what we do know gives us more control over future events.

You may find a local 50+ community in the area that might be better suited your lifestyle. There are now a lot of choices you can make for living well.

You have probably received a postcard inviting you to a local community or heard about a nearby senior fair. It’s worth an hour of your time to get familiar with the resources for when someone needs them. Suggested.

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Learn How to Advocate for your Medical Needs – Healthy Habit #20

iwantanswersThe days of the family doctor are gone. Most doctors are crushed for time as they try to address your needs in what feels like a shrinking time window. The average time physicians are spending with patients is less than 24 minutes. According to The Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2017. Thirty percent of physicians spend 17 – 24 minutes with their patients. That is followed by 29 percent of physicians who are spending between 13 – 16 minutes with patients.

Here is a quick primer on 6 Ways to Be Your Own Health Advocate by Elizabeth Renter. In short, you need to arrive prepared and refuse to leave until you have a diagnosis or next step toward one. You may need to repeat this cycle if your condition persists. 

You have probably noticed that no one seems to do more than glance at the 4 (plus) pages you diligently completed before your appointment. After caring for my parents and navigating a host of doctors with them, I learned to come prepared for each appointment. I could quickly cite their health issues, medicines, and stated the reason for our visit. I learned that if the doctor in front of me could not resolve the issue, I would find a secondary resource to help.

It is now the requirement of every adult to be their own advocate. The healthcare system is unable to do that for you.

When it comes to short-term memory issues (remember this is not a normal consequence of aging) it is important to push to get diagnosed. It could be a side-effect from a medicine — and it can happen with medicines you have taken for years. If you notice a change, bring it up with your primary care physician. Some will do a screening for it, but I recommend you request a referral to a neurologist. Memory issues are not really a primary care physician’s expertise. The earlier you know you have an issue, the earlier YOU can decide how you want to live should it be permanent and should you decline.

This ideal applies to any medical issue that is impacting your quality of life. Push to find a reason and understand how it may impact the rest of your life.

If you know this is not your skillset, or are overwhelmed by other matters, consider a consultation with an Aging Life Care Manager. In minutes they would resolve issues that I failed to unravel in days when it came to caring for my parents. Visit this website to find one located near you.

Can you eventually figure it out? Most likely. I know because before I knew about Aging Life Care Managers, I was working to handle a lot of the issues as the primary family caregiver for my parents. However, I would do anything to have a mulligan and spend that time enjoying my parents’ company instead of fretting over the next medical hurdle to traverse. Wished.

 

 

 

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Organize your Finances and Accounts – Healthy Habit #19

Everyone who has had to step in and help a loved one knows how difficult it is to make sense of someone else’s finances.

Most couples can remember a time when they needed to access an account but were unable to because it was in the other person’s name. The phone and utility companies don’t care if you are married or on the home title or mortgage.

It will take some time and organization to make it easy for someone to access, but the reality is that for every adult I have worked with, all of your important information can fit into a 2” ring binder. Filing cabinets become organized dumping grounds for our personal papers and most people will admit they often have trouble finding their own information in the system they set up for themselves.

You can download a free guide to walk you through how to organize your binder here. If you want a workbook that will walk you through this process you can find it on Amazon (it’s less than $17).

Having it organized will save you time, and once it’s done, it’s easy to stay on top of the organization. One of the most important things you can do, is to create a simple roadmap of your finances. Many households have multiple bank accounts and often those people who would step in to help don’t know which account the income drops into and which account is step up to pay the mortgage, long-term care insurance, or even auto-pay utilities or other services on which you rely. Here is a simple example:

financialMap

It’s very basic, but can easily provide you with an easy way to understand your account set up and the interconnections between your financial assets.

Getting this done will benefit you now by saving you time in the long-run, and benefit you later if someone does need to step in and help you.

I started doing this organization when I was caring for my parents. It took me over a year to get a handle on all of the accounts and finances. I wanted to make sure that when my siblings visited, they could easily step in to help me. It was the origin of my business MemoryBanc. I  hope you will access the free resources to set up a system that will benefit you and your family. Shared.

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Write or Print out Your Usernames, Passcodes, PINs, and Security Questions and Answers – Healthy Habit #18

digitalkeyPasscode keepers and your browsers’ ability to save access codes time savers. However, should you have a shared household, need to step in and help someone, or have someone step in and help you – without this information the inability to access your online accounts can be a huge roadblock.

I know we have been told NOT to write down this information for years. I get that for employers who have IT departments who can reset your access. At home, we don’t have this and having this written down will save you time and frustration.

How many times has your answer to your own Security Question been rejected? Every time I do a public speech on What to Save and What to Shred, this question always gets an uncomfortable laugh as half the room raises their hand to admit this has happened to them.

Have you ever needed to contact your phone provider or the power company and the account is in the name of your partner, roommate, or spouse?  If so, you will know that you will be unable to make changes or service specific account needs if the person to whom the account is titled is not on the call with you. For the variety of accounts that fall into this category, I learned long ago to login as the owner of the account and handle our service needs in the portal. Saves ME time and allows both me and my spouse to fill in for each other should we be traveling or unavailable.

I have a book that my husband and kids are familiar with that includes all of my usernames, passcodes, security questions/answers, and PINs. I use the book every week to quickly look up or update my online accounts. The average consumer has 90 online accounts, and as a business owner, I have closer to 150 accounts.

My husband and kids also have documented and shared their information in case I ever need to step in and help them. For my kids I told them to put it in a sealed envelope I would only open in an emergency. It was an easy ask since they knew I had already provided them with an option to access my accounts. Parents have no online access rights to their children’s accounts.

The good password keepers have an option to print out a summary and I hope you will do that. In many cases, I have families that have shared this information in a document on their computer only to find out that no one knows the passcode to get into the computer. So I just recommend you have one option be paper access that can be stored in a safe or even hidden in plain site.

I guarantee having this will save you time and angst and be a huge help to those that may need to access your shared accounts when you are not home, or provide them with the keys to your digital legacy should they want to protect it and you are unable to do so. Advised.

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Get Powers of Attorney and Share Them – Healthy Habit 17

poaIf I could make one thing happen, my wish would be for all Americans to have a ritual of putting into place powers of attorney when they legally become an adult. If we had the understanding that should something happen to us whether we are 18 or 80, these documents will allow someone to help.

My son received these for his 18th birthday. Initially, I was most worried about being able to talk to a doctor if he got hurt. As an athlete I knew he would be traveling with his team and wanted to make sure I could get answers from the doctor if he got injured on his travels.

However what scared me more was how could we help if something happened to him after college and he was living on his own. I’ve come across families that had to step in to help their adult children and were totally unprepared and unable to help.

If this was just a standard rite of entering adulthood, I think we would all have better habits of managing our lives and information so that someone could help us if we needed it. We also wouldn’t make getting these things in place something you do when you get older since every adult should have these.

I’m frustrated that most American’s equate creating an Estate Plan with end of life wishes. A good Estate Plan includes both financial and medical powers of attorney, beneficiary designations, end of life wishes, a Will and maybe a Trust. When I work with families most of them believe they are all set because they have done their estate plans. When I ask them who is the power of attorney and if they have a copy of the document, I’m never surprised when “no” is the answer. These also aren’t once and done tools. You will need to update them over your lifetime.

For those of you caring for a loved one already, you know how precious, valuable, and necessary the power of attorney. If you don’t have these documents, please know that someone diagnosed with dementia may still have decisional capacity. Ask their doctor to validate this and get these documents into place.

Your plans won’t help you if the people that would step in to help don’t know about them or where they are.  So I hope you will make it a habit to confirm and check in with those you have named as power of attorney annually. Hoped. 

 

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Review Your Credit Card Charges Every Month – Healthy Habit 16

creditcardstatementCredit card fraud where a card is not present for the transaction was $4.57 billion in 2016 and increasing every year. Cyber pickpockets have made checking your statement monthly a necessity of being a credit card holder. I have set up an alert on my card so that every time it is used, I get a text notice.

The nonprofit Merchant Risk Council estimates that 80 percent of credit cards in people’s wallets have been compromised.  From a skimmer at the gas station to malware on a merchant card site to the data breach at Equifax – assume your card information has been exposed to criminals.

In the past few years, I have been able to save clients thousands of dollars in the first few months by just reviewing their past credit card statements. From monthly charges for services they don’t recognize or use, to purchases they never made but never reported. I shiver at the suggestion of setting up a credit card on an automated payment plan.

That automated system continues to roll and too often no one is minding the store. No matter what your financial resources, most of us would be upset to know we are paying for things we don’t use or never received. Warned.

 

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Get Rid of All the Stuff You Don’t Use – Healthy Habit 15

downsizingI heard a colleague share that we seem to spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of the stuff we collected. I tend to agree with that statement.

It’s easier to buy an organization system (okay a plastic tub) than it is to decide what to do with the stuff. I’m appalled that our spare room upstairs has become ground zero for all of the things my children are discarding. Goodwill is on my list of to-dos.

However, I have my own goal of starting the dispose, re-purpose, or donate process. It’s already a habit to do it with clothes, but now I need to do it room by room. The household needs a more regular purge.

It’s easy to just dispose or donate, but I’m finding it hard to find places who can value and could use that stuff you don’t want that still works or could be useful. I plan on having my daughter help me find out if we can sell some of the stuff online. I did this for my mother about a decade ago but found that most things never demanded the value she believed they held and cost time and money to set up. However, I would rather things in good working order find a good home versus ending up in land fill.

It’s never too early to start this habit and this is the one that I need to develop of my own. I don’t have the issue with knowing what to get rid of … it’s just how to have it go to the best home. Open to all suggestions! Requested.

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