Managing Medication and Pill Aversion

There seem to be two kinds of people in this world. One that uses medication and appreciates the benefits, and the other that has a general aversion to taking medication.

I fall in the second category and was happy when the one prescribed medication I was taking (a baby aspirin/day) fell out of favor. Well, I suppose there was the science to it, but when my doctor said to discontinue taking it, I was happy to comply.

I see many people struggle with medications, including those with no cognitive issues. I think it’s too easy to miss a dose and think pill caddies are helpful solutions.

A reader asked if there were any simple books for medication management for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While I’m not trained in health management, from the brain health training I have done, I do know that starting a new habit is difficult for someone diagnosed with any form of cognitive issue, include all dementias.

The bubble packs are dated and have time stamps that are easy reminders to follow and track.

There are two simple options to help manage medication as well as see if and when someone has missed a dose. The first is the pill caddy and the second is bubble packs. For anyone with more complicated medication scheduling or a lot of pills, the doses are packed with dates and times and come on a roll or in a blister pack.

I always consider options that give an individual more control over their life. I think those two options are helpful in managing medication and provide simple cues on when to take and if a dose was missed.

For those that are averse to medication, but diagnosed with something that medication can prevent or abate, I hope family and loved ones will speak up and help the individual understand the choices they are making and the potential risk to their health. One of the entitlements of being American is that we are given the opportunity to make really bad choices for ourselves. However, when it comes to our health, sometimes our spouses, siblings, and friends need to recognize that someone diagnosed with a cognitive issue might be unable to make a reasonable choice. The act of not taking that medication might result in a need for a higher level of care or other health complication that requires medical intervention or nursing care.

I hope if you have someone in your life in this second category, you will at least share your concern and give them the opportunity to explain their choice. Once diagnosed with any form of dementia, I see many deal with loss after loss. They have lost friends who fell away, the ability to perform at a job they loved, and even just manage the simple act of cooking a meal. Is the refusal to take the medication one place that gives them a sense of control? Wondered.

Now it’s Time to Get Organized

While our social lives are slowing down, now is a good time to work with your spouse, partner, family, and friends to build a roadmap of your important personal documents, asset details, and account information.

You can download a free checklist here to get started.

While I initially created this checklist for caregivers, I found it was incredibly useful to organize all of the information that surrounds my family. I also went from two drawers in a filing cabinet to one 2-inch three ring binder.

You can download a free copy of the checklist (and get a simple guide on what to save and what to shred) to put together a binder of your information. In my house it sits on the desk in our home office so everyone can find the information when it is needed.

I hope you will find it useful for you and your loved ones. Feel free to share this PDF. Given.

When to claim Social Security?

A report released estimates that “almost all American retirees claim Social Security at the wrong time … which means they will miss out on a collective $3.4 trillion in benefits before they die.”

Oooaaaaffff. That hurts.

Especially when we are living longer and care costs are escalating. Most American’s don’t realize that many care costs are not covered by their medical insurance. Help in the home (dressing, bathing, eating, toileting) is not covered by medical insurance, but is why long-term care policies are offered.

The last year of my Mom’s life cost over $200,000 in 2015. That included the memory care community she lived in (it wasn’t super fancy, it was just the right community for her) along with the additional costs for a personal care assistant added up quickly. Unfortunately, my Mom was unsteady on her feet so we had to pay for additional care when she was awake so she didn’t keep trying to walk and then fall and end up in the Emergency Room.

Social Security offers a retirement calculator which I recently used with my sister. It made it easy to see when to turn on her benefits.

If you work with a financial advisor, I would contact them to learn how and when turning it on makes the best financial sense for you. Talk to you friends and family to learn how they made their decision. This is a situation in which talking about money and the choices we make can be great learning experience.

Let me know what you decided to do!

Sort your Postal Mail Daily PLUS … Healthy Habit 27

stackofmail

I am the WORST offender of the first part of this habit.

Sorting mail daily for clients has made me akin to the cobblers children with no shoes. I usually let it pile up and go through the pile weekly.

It’s annoying to friends and family that have sent mail because I typically prioritize the bills and statements and leave the “fun” stuff for that period of the day when I have a bunch of free time. That usually means I won’t see it until the weekend.

I keep trying to remind myself to “touch it once” and now I am at least reviewing it daily and culling out all the junk mail when I bring it up from the mailbox.

Do what you can. I am just recommending you sort it daily, at least weekly, and be sure to REVIEW your statements.

I find people decide to set up their credit cards on autopay and they truly set it and forget it. They STOP checking the itemized purchases. When I start working with clients and  we do this together for the first time we find HUNDREDS of dollars that have crept into their monthly charges they either didn’t know about or are not using.

The paperless setting lures you into this habit. I hope you will at least add a monthly reminder to review your charges if you have electronic billing. If you find you are not doing this, maybe you can go back to mailed statements? Suggested. 

Visit Missing Money – Healthy Aging Habit 26

money

I found $100 on Missing Money in my name last year. It was a refund check from a utility that never made it to my mailbox. Some of the unclaimed money could be something you never knew you were entitled to receive.

I recommend visiting this site annually for you and your loved ones since it is constantly being updated. I can take years for accounts to go dormant.

Follow these steps:

  • Visit MissingMoney.com
  • Put in your name (or the name of a loved one) and “Start Your Search”
  • Scroll to find the results and initiate the Claim. See the example below for what you should look for. You will have to scroll down past Ads to find the results. The “Claim” button will take you to the state or province website to initiate your claim.
missingmoneyclaim

Please know that you should NEVER have to pay to get your own money so if you are being asked to give a credit card or agree to a percentage of the money, you have ended up on the wrong site. You should never have to pay anyone to get back your own money.

You should also not find that anything is downloading from this site to your computer. If you are prompted, you have clicked on an Ad instead of finding the Claim button.

If and when you find some money – please tell me!  I love to hear all the stories of those that have done this and found money they never knew they were entitled to receive. Whether it is this your or a future year becuase you have continued this Health Aging Habit. Encouraged.

Make color copies of your important personal documents and include a directory of their location – Healthy Aging Action 25

birth cert

In order to get my “Real ID”, I had to show up with a few of my own personal documents. There will be several times in your life when you are going to need these papers and most likely, will have to provide a color copy.

Most agencies require color copies because they are more difficult to alter.

Caregivers know how important having access to health insurance cards and personal documents like birth certificates can be. There were many instances when I needed to have copies of my parent’s military, social security, birth and marriage certificates. I also needed a host of personal documents as their Executor.

Take ten minutes to go to the color copier you probably already have at home to make copies of your

  • Birth certificate/naturalization documents
  • Social Security card/number/statements
  • Marriage license/divorce /child custody documents
  • Driver’s license
  • Military identification/service records
  • Passport/green card

Put them in the same place you have stored your other important papers and estate plans. The good news is that once this is done, you really don’t have to do it again. Just make sure they can be easily found when you need them. Encouraged.  

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.

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

digitalkey

Passcode keepers and your browsers’ ability to save access codes are 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 that system 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.

Review Your Credit Card Charges Every Month – Healthy Habit 16

creditcardstatement

Credit 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.

Make copies of everything in your Wallet: Healthy Habit 10

wallet

Should your wallet ever get lost or stolen, having copies of everything that was in it will minimize your stress. It will save you a lot of time when you need to call to cancel credit cards and follow up to request replacements of medical or insurance cards.

It will help if you make notes on the credit cards in your wallet that are set up for auto-payments for other services. A few things you should know about this:

  • Some credit card companies will ask that you pay for charges made on a lost card if you never called to report it missing. When they added the chip to our credit cards, they now have the ability to know if the credit card was physically used. If your card is not in your possession, but you did not report it missing, the credit card company fairly has the right to hold you liable for those charges.
  • Many larger vendors have dozen’s of 800 numbers linked to the specific credit card account. If you have a copy your card you have quick access to the direct number to report the card lost/stolen as well as the identifying information they may request from you about your card.

If you are incapacitated when your wallet is missing, this gives your loved ones an easy way to step in and help you.

Recently, I had a client whose wallet was stolen while he was in the hospital. Unfortunately, I had not made a copy of everything in his wallet and had to wait until he was well enough to talk through and figure out what he was carrying in his wallet.

It’s now one of the first things I do when I work with a new client now. Warned.

Healthy Aging Habit 1 – Use ONE Calendar

calendar

Having more than one primary calendar will get you into trouble. I have a book that I carry during my work day and sits next to my computer that is my “master” calendar. I sync it up at least every Sunday with my digital calendar that is shared with my family and coworkers. When I’m out and someone asks to schedule something, I can quickly check it on the digital calendar I can access from my phone (if I don’t have my book calendar with me).

I’ve always had a paper system. I like to take notes and also use my “master” paper calendar as a To-Do List. Some people may use only digital, others only paper. Just make sure you have ONE MASTER Calendar.

I watched my parents and now my clients that have more than one paper calendar. They invariably double book or miss appointments because its difficult to manage appointments consistently in two paper versions.

If you are assisting a loved one, I recommend getting them a small format desk calendar (11×17) that can sit in the kitchen. Not only does it offer more space to write down information, but it’s too big to get picked up and moved. Here is a link to the one I have given to a few clients – it’s attractive and offers space to list important phone numbers and key tasks for the month.

I don’t recommend the wall calendars because they aren’t easy to use. Invariably, they get taken down to write down appointments and seem to move around the living space instead of being kept on the wall.

My favorite planner for the past few years is the Action Day Planner.  Please check out the different formats and sizes, there are quite a few.

No matter what you chose, I just hope you will find a format that works for you. Experienced.

** Please shop around. I don’t get any incentives or kickbacks on these links – I’m just sharing some suggestions that have worked well for me and my clients.