Family Staffing Blog

Helping Your Elderly Parents Save Money

 

Helping aging parents save money is not a one-time affair. It’s an extended effort that takes time. However, your loved ones will appreciate the help when they realize the benefits as they materialize.

4 Everyday Ways to Help Your Elderly Parents Save Money

If you’re finding a large amount of new purchases and shopping bags on display when visiting a grandparent or parent, you may be justifiably concerned. Just like younger people have problems with spending, older adults sometimes do too.

The fact is, shopping can be a highly social activity, and aging individuals need social contact just as much as anyone else, even more so if they spend the rest of the day fairly isolated. Spending money can be a quick release and source of mental happiness. Unfortunately, it also comes with a very visible price tag, too.

Rather than discourage a loved one from buying things, try these four money-saving strategies to keep them within their budget:

  • Apply Senior Discounts

There are multiple ways to help older adults save money, just as there are for anyone else, but this is one time that aging individuals have the advantage. It is a well-established practice that older adults get a “senior discount” from most businesses, particularly restaurants and hotels. Anyone who is eligible and doesn’t use this discount is literally leaving money on the table. While the savings aren’t tremendous in one transaction, they will accumulate over time when applied consistently.

  • Use Coupons

While some may consider coupons as more of a hassle than an effective money saver, coupons can add another 10 to 20 percent of savings on the average purchase from food to appliances to durable goods. In some cases, the savings can be as much as 50 percent. Again, once a person realizes how much is discounted regularly when using coupons, it’s foolish not to take advantage of them. Older adults are fairly used to using paper coupons, but many businesses have switched to electronic coupons and advertisements by email or text—so it’s just a matter of teaching the older generation how to use a new format.

  • Buy Lightly Used Appliances or Surplus Goods

Big savings can be had on large purchases (appliances, cars, etc.) if they are bought a year old. In almost all aspects, these units work perfectly fine and will last reliably for at least another five to seven years. The savings gained from targeting lightly used or surplus new items can be hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Especially with surplus goods, savings can be anywhere from 50 to 80 percent, particularly on clothes and accessories. Again, these are often new goods or almost-new durable goods. When one realizes how much these items can stretch a dollar, folks often kick themselves for not doing it sooner.

  • Avoid Offers That Are Too Good to Be True

The number one way older adults get separated from their money? Scams and too-good-to-be-true offers, usually on TV. However, many aging parents will react negatively to any kind of control on their liberties. Instead, the way to save them hurt and money is to support them by offering a second opinion. This may mean having to be patient with a lot of oddball questions, but it can be worth the effort saving your loved ones from a scam that can steal thousands of dollars from them.

Ultimately, offering your help versus trying to control the situation will be much more effective in the long term.

 

By Mark Westerman, Chief Marketing Officer for CareOne, Inc., a provider of debt relief services nationwide.

 

Is it Lying or is it Stepping into Their Reality?

Why Experts Recommend Lying to Someone with Dementia

When your older adult has Alzheimer’s or dementia, their brain may experience a different version of reality because of the damage their disease has caused.

Dementia care experts recommend stepping into your senior’s reality rather than trying to correct them or bring them back into ours. That’s because their brain is steadily losing the ability to process information. Forcing them to join us in the “real world” only causes confusion, anxiety, fear, and anger.

This technique takes some getting used to because going along with your senior’s new reality can feel like you’re lying to them. But the reality is that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to someone with dementia.

 

  • Telling the truth can be cruel

Most of us are taught from a young age that any kind of lying is horrible and dishonest. On top of that, we’re told never to lie to parents, spouses, and people we love and respect. So when we hear about lying to someone with dementia, it seems cruel and wrong.

But always sticking to the truth, especially about an emotional subject, is what’s most likely to cause your older adult pain, confusion, and distress.

Plus, their problems with short-term memory mean they probably won’t remember the conversation, so it will come up again. Telling the truth each time forces them to experience the fear and anxiety over and over again.

The disease prevents people from properly processing and retaining information. Is it necessary to cause them so much distress, especially when the truth you tell them is likely to be misunderstood or quickly forgotten?

 

  • Therapeutic fibbing helps you step into their world

An effective way to step into your older adult’s reality is to agree with whatever they say or tell harmless untruths. Experts call this therapeutic fibbing. It means saying things that are not true to avoid causing your older adult distress and to make them feel safe and comforted.

In many ways, it’s similar to telling a friend that you love the thoughtful gift they gave you, even if you don’t actually like it. Telling the absolute truth in that case wouldn’t change the situation and would only hurt your friend.

Here are two simple examples that illustrate the difference between being completely truthful and using therapeutic fibs.

  1. Being completely truthful
    Your mom: School is over. My mommy is coming to pick me up now. I need to go outside to wait for her!

You: You’re 89 years old. You haven’t been to school in decades. And don’t you remember that your mom died 25 years ago? You don’t need to go outside because nobody is coming to pick you up.

Your mom: What? What do you mean my mom is dead? No! She can’t be dead!! I saw her this morning! She told me she would pick me up!!! I need to go outside to wait!! (She’s crying, agitated, and screaming.)

  1. Using therapeutic fibbing

Your mom: School is over. My mommy is coming to pick me up now. I need to go outside to wait for her!

You: Oh yes, it’s almost time to go. Your mom asked me to give you a snack first so you won’t get hungry on the way home. Let’s have some juice and crackers.

Your mom: Ok, I’ll have a snack.

You: (Use this distraction as an opportunity to occupy her with the snack and a fun activity until she lets go of the idea of meeting her mother.)

 

Bottom line

Always telling the truth to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is most likely to upset or hurt them. Therapeutic fibbing is a technique you can use to step into their new reality and spare them unnecessary pain and distress.

Using untruths to validate their feelings and reassure them is not the same as lying for a malicious reason.

 

Source: DailyCaring.com

5 TIPS FOR CHOOSING A GOOD ELDER LAW ATTORNEY

Elder law attorneys help seniors and family caregivers

Elder law is a specialized legal area that’s focused on seniors and their families. Elder law attorneys often concentrate on things like figuring out how to pay for long-term care, drafting Powers of Attorney, and estate planning.

Having the essential legal documents in place allows you to provide the best care for your senior, both now and toward the end of life. That’s why it’s so important to find an expert lawyer you can trust.

Find an elder law attorney through a referral

Getting a referral from family or a friend is a great way to find a lawyer. If they have a lawyer they’re happy with and would work with again, that’s a good sign.

It’s best if you can get a referral from someone whose legal needs were similar to yours. But even if you need an elder care lawyer and your cousin worked with an excellent civil attorney, that referral is still useful. Good lawyers know other good lawyers and will probably be able to refer you to a colleague they respect.

Similarly, financial advisors, accountants, and fiduciaries (someone legally appointed to manage money) are professionals who often work with elder law attorneys. If you know and trust one of these professionals, ask them for a referral.

 5 tips for choosing a good elder law attorney

After getting referrals, you’ll still need to choose an attorney. Don’t make up your mind about hiring a lawyer until you’ve met them, discussed your needs, and checked their credentials.

  1. Meet for an initial consultation (possibly free)

If you summarize your needs in advance, many lawyers will be willing to meet for 15 to 30 minutes at no charge. If there is a fee for a consultation, find out how much it will be. An in-person meeting helps you get a feel for how they work and if their style works for you.

If you meet with a few lawyers and present the same situation to each, you can also compare what they’ve said. That helps you confirm whether their advice is legitimate and helps you think of questions to ask about any differences in advice.

  1. Find out how much experience they’ve had with issues similar to yours

Look for a lawyer with experience handling matters just like yours. Experience comes with years in practice and with how many of those types of situations they’ve dealt with.

If you need help with a Power of Attorney, long-term care planning, or estate planning, ask them to describe their experience with those matters.

  1. Evaluate their customer service

Working with someone who is professional and responsive is important.

Some questions to ask yourself after speaking with lawyer are:

  • Are they polite and professional?
  • Do they return your calls in a timely manner?
  • Do they take time to explain things to make sure you understand what you’re getting in to?
  • Do they follow through with what they said they’ll do?
  1. Take plenty of notes

To help you remember what each lawyer said and how you felt about them, take notes during and after each meeting. Later, you can review your notes as you make your final decision.

  1. Check their credentials

Check the State Bar Association website for your state. Look up the attorney’s name or Bar number to make sure they’re actively licensed to practice law in your state. This will also show if they’ve ever been publicly disciplined.

Source:  DailyCaring.com

Tax Help for Caregiver of Elderly Parents

Are [family] caregiving expenses tax deductible? I provide a lot of financial support to my elderly mother and would like to find out if I can write any of it off on my taxes.

 

 

There are actually several tax deductions and credits available to adult children who take care of their aging parents or other relatives. Here are your options along with the IRS requirements to help you determine if you’re eligible to receive them.

  • Dependency Deduction

If you’re paying for more than 50% of your mom’s living costs (housing, food, utilities, medical and dental care, transportation and other necessities), and her 2016 gross income (not counting her Social Security benefits) was under $4,050, you can claim your mom as a dependent on your tax return and reduce your taxable income by $4,050.

Note that your mom doesn’t have to live with you to qualify as a dependent, as long as her income was under $4,050 and you provided more than half her financial support.

If your mother does live with you, you can include a percentage of your mortgage, utilities and other expenses in calculating how much you contribute to her support. IRS Publication 501 (see irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf) has a worksheet that can help you with this. To receive this, or other IRS publications or forms via mail, call 800-829-3676.

  • Shared Support

If you share the financial responsibility for your mom with other siblings, you may be eligible for the IRS multiple-support declaration. Here’s how this works. If one sibling is providing more than half the parent’s financial support, only that sibling can claim the parent. But if each sibling provides less than 50% support, and their combined assistance exceeds half the parent’s support, then any sibling who provides more than 10% can claim the parent as a dependent. But only one sibling can claim the tax break in any given year. Siblings can rotate the tax break, with one claiming the parent one year and another the next. The sibling who claims the parent as a dependent will need to fill out IRS Form 2120 (irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2120.pdf) and file it with his or her tax return.

  • Medical Deductions

If you can’t claim your mom as a dependent, you may still get a tax break for helping pay her medical costs. The IRS lets taxpayers deduct money spent on a parent’s health care and qualified long-term care services, even if the parent doesn’t qualify as a dependent.

To claim this deduction, you still must provide more than half your mom’s support, but your mom doesn’t have to be under the $4,050 income test. The deduction is limited to medical, dental and long-term care expenses that exceed 10% (or 7.5% if you’re 65 by Dec. 31, 2016) of your adjusted gross income. You can include your own medical expenses in calculating the total. See IRS publication 502 (irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p502.pdf) for details.

  • Dependent Care Credit

If you’re paying for in-home care or adult day care for your mom so you are free to work, you may also be able to claim the Dependent Care Tax Credit, regardless of whether or not your mom qualifies as a dependent on your tax return. This credit can cut up to $1,050 off your tax bill for the year. In order to claim it, you must fill out IRS Form 2441 (irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2441.pdf) when you file your federal return.

  • Check Your State

In addition to the federal tax breaks, more than 20 states offer tax credits and deductions for caregivers on state income taxes. Check with your state tax agency to see what’s available. For links to state tax agencies see taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

Copy by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book.

Cold Weather Hazards For Seniors

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Falls and Hypothermia Top the List of Winter Ailments for Seniors.

Snowy weather and cold temperatures are a bother for everyone, but for seniors it can simply be dangerous. Older Americans are particularly vulnerable to complications from winter weather. Here are some tips to help stay safe and warm.

Preventing Falls

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH.gov), more than 1.6 million older Americans go to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries. One of the major causes for falls is ice. It seems simple enough to not walk through snow and keep away from areas that are covered with ice; however when the temperature drops rapidly, black ice can occur without warning.

To lessen the chances of a fall in cold weather:

  • Stretch before going outside. Stretching improves circulation and limbers stiff muscles.
  • Be cautious of footwear; make sure that you are wearing non-skid sole shoes with a low heel and adequate support if they must be out in the weather.
  • Make arrangements to have safety devices installed around the outside of your home if possible. A simple handrail can provide necessary support to help maintain balance and keep you from falling.

Hypothermia

As people age, their sense of touch declines. Arthritis, diabetes, poor circulation, stroke induced paralysis, and a multitude of other conditions can cause lack of feeling, especially in the extremities.

To prevent hypothermia:

  • Keep your home’s thermostat set at 68 degrees or above.
  • Dress in layers of loose fitting clothing.
  • Keep your head covered when you are outdoors. A great deal of heat is lost when your head is exposed.
  • Know the signs of hypothermia: slurred speech, confusion, dizziness, slow or irregular heartbeat and shallow breathing.

Protecting your skin is another winter weather tip that seniors should pay special attention to. As we age our skin becomes thinner and drier, thus more prone to tears. Certain medications can spell havoc on the lining of your nasal passages, creating an increased risk for nose bleeds. Keep the dangers of dryness low by using a humidifier to keep your air moist, drink plenty of water and eat foods high in water content like soups and vegetables, and moisturize your skin daily with creams or lotions.

We cannot stop Mother Nature from sending us winter weather, however we can do ourselves a big favor and be prepared when it does occur. It’s important to make regular visits with elderly friends and family during the winter. This will help make sure that their health is not declining as a result of cold weather.

 

Source: Chase Patton, AASC.org

Long Term Aging Care: Don’t Expect Your Children to Take Care of You

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When it comes to long term aging care, your self-sufficiency is the biggest gift you can give.

By Pamela Zitron

“Parents do expect their children will take care of them when they get older, Pamela. The truth is, many children don’t.” That is what a social worker friend said to me in 1988 when I talked to her about my plan.

I was living in Dallas, Texas, did not have children and wasn’t going to. My plan was to gather others who did not have children, form a group and get to know one another so we could rely on each other as we aged.

The above response from my friend floored me. I said, “Huh? That can’t be right. Who doesn’t take care of their parents?”

“More people than you can imagine,” was her response.

I have seen first-hand how children respond to parents who expect to be taken care of by them. It’s not pretty. In this particular case, the mother had taken care of her mother and assumed the daughter would do the same for her. The mother let her independence go when her husband passed away. That included giving up driving before she needed to give it up. As a friend of mine said, “It goes to show how out of touch the mother is with today’s world.”

By taking care of yourself now, you and all those who are close to you can breathe a sigh of relief and live long and unencumbered lives.

I agree with my friend’s observation. The daughter, who is in her early 70s, has a husband, daughters and grandchildren. She has a life of her own. I know how much I dig in my heels when someone expects that I respond a certain way. I rebel. That’s exactly what the daughter did. How would you feel?

  • Taking Care of Yourself Will Make Others Want to Care

When I explained the above situation to my 95-year-old mother, she said, “I was just as shocked when I moved to Florida and got a first-hand look at friends whose children were not involved in their lives. I personally can not imagine you and Linda not being in my life, however, parents should never expect to be taken care of by their kids.”

Every time Mom has let my sister and me know that she has gone to the gym, paid all her bills, hired a handyman to fix things, made friends with folks who ultimately call her to make sure she is doing well, de-cluttered her home, updated her will, paid for her funeral arrangements (it’s reality, folks), used her long-term health care policy to hire an aide for six hours a day…and the list goes on, we are relieved. And a voice inside of me says, “Thank you, Mom. Now, what can I do for you?”

  • Achieving The Ultimate Gift

What I learned from that conversation in 1988 is whether you have children or not, taking care of yourself to the best of your ability is the ultimate gift. Do whatever it takes to keep, or get, your own house in order. There are many websites dedicated to physical, mental and spiritual health, finances, insurance and more. Study them.  Use them.

Listed below are a few of my favorites:

The ultimate gift is that by taking care of yourself now, you and all those who are close to you can breathe a sigh of relief and live long and unencumbered lives.

Family Staffing Solutions is experienced in Long Term Care and can help you access your benefits and assist in filing claims.

Malnutrition in Older Adults

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Kick-Start 2017 with a Breakfast for Champions: Recipes for an Energy-Filled Day.

Did you know that older adults can be highly susceptible to malnutrition? That’s right. Not only is it prevalent in older adults, but it also poses a major health concern. Malnutrition in older adults often results in adverse outcomes such as sickness and even death. Unfortunately, it is often unrecognized or misdiagnosed. It is important for you to be conscious about the food you eat and how often you eat. A breakfast for champions is recommended.  Remember what you have always heard, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

How prevalent is malnutrition in older adults?

According to studies, about 60% of hospitalized older adults are malnourished, while 35-85% of seniors in long-term care facilities are experiencing malnutrition. The American Academy of Family Physicians further noted that malnutrition is a predictor of mortality in older adults. Several factors actually account for malnutrition:

  • Appetite loss – you don’t feel that hungry anymore. This could be due to physical or emotional factors. Living alone or being in a care facility away from your family might leave you depressed so you feel less hungry.
  • Lack of mobility may prevent you from preparing food.
  • Changes in taste and smell –  this is normal as you age especially when you’re taking different medications.
  • A decrease in your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
  • Difficulty in chewing and swallowing food so you take in less food and nutrients.

Therefore, it is very crucial that you don’t skip breakfast.  That meal often has many of the nutrients you need each day.

Why is breakfast so important?

Many older adults less food in one sitting than they used to. If you think you belong to this category, remember that you basically need to meet your caloric requirement throughout the day. Skipping even just one meal can make it harder for you to get all the calories and nutrients you need daily. Here are a few other reasons why you need to incorporate breakfast in your daily dietary routine:

  • Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism.
  • It decreases your tendency to overeat in the evening.
  • Older adults tend to have bigger appetite earlier in the day.
  • You get more vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in your diet.
  • It helps regulate your bowels and stimulate your taste buds.
  • It assists you in taking medications you need to take in the morning.

A few more facts:

According to a report released by the National Institute of Aging, women need about 1,600 – 2,200 calories per day while men need about 2,000 – 2,800 calories per day, depending on the level of activity.

Older adults need fewer calories while more focus should be on fiber, high-quality protein, nutrient-dense foods such as those rich in Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and Calcium.

Although these calories are obtained throughout the day, be sure to start your day right by getting the right amounts of energy in the morning to help you get through your day.

breakfast_pic_2For some great breakfast recipes to include in your diet, click here!

Resources for Aging In Place

How to Create a Safe ‘Aging-in-Place’ Home

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My husband and I are thinking about making some modifications to our home so we can remain living there for as long as possible. Can you recommend some good resources that can help us with aging-in-place ideas?

Many retirees, like you and your husband, want to stay living in their own house for as long as possible. But being able to do so will depend on how easy it is to maneuver in your home as you get older. Here are some helpful resources to give you an idea of the different types of features and improvements you can make that will make your house safer and more convenient as you age.

 

Home Evaluation

A good first step in making your home more age-friendly is to do an assessment. Go through your house, room-by-room, looking for problem areas like potential tripping or slipping hazards, as well as areas that are hard to access and difficult to maintain. To help with this, there are several organizations that have aging-in-place checklists that point out potential problems in each area of the home, along with modification and solutions.

Rebuild Together, for example, has a two-page “Safe at Home Checklist” that’s created in partnership with the Administration on Aging and the American Occupational Therapy Association. Go to AOTA.org and search for “Rebuilding Together Safe at Home Checklist.”

The National Association of Home Builders also has an “Aging-in-Place Remodeling Checklist” that offers more than 100 suggestions to help homeowners age 50-plus live safely, independently and comfortably. Go to NAHB.org and search for “Aging in Place Remodeling Checklist.”

Also check out AARP’s excellent resource called the “HomeFit Guide” that’s filled with 28-pages of tips and diagrams to make your entire home safe and easier to live in as you age. You can access it at AARP.org – search for “HomeFit” or call 888-687-2277 and ask them to mail you a free copy.

Personalized Advice

If you want more personalized help, consider getting a professional in-home assessment with an occupational therapist.

An occupational therapist, or OT, can evaluate the challenges and shortcomings of your home for aging-in-place, recommend design and modification solutions and introduce you to products and services to help you make improvements.

To find an OT in your area, check with your physician, health insurance provider or local hospital, or seek recommendations from family and friends. Many health insurance providers, including Medicare, will pay for a home assessment by an OT if prescribed by your doctor. However, they will not cover the physical upgrades to the home.

Another option is to contact a builder who’s a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). CAPS are home re-modelers and design-build professionals that are knowledgeable about aging-in-place home modifications and can suggest ways to modify or remodel your home that will fit your needs and budget. CAPS are generally paid by the hour or receive a flat fee per visit or project.

To find a CAPS in your area visit the National Association of Home Builders website at NAHB.org/capsdirectory where you can search by state and city.

Written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book.

For information regarding in-home care and personal assistance contact your local Family Staffing Solutions’ office.

Family Holiday Celebrations

Celebrating the Holidays When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s

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The Holiday Season is a time when families join together to make memories and reminisce.  When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, a little extra planning can help make holiday celebrations enjoyable for everyone.

Adjust Expectations

  • Discuss holiday celebrations with relatives and close friends. Call a face-to-face meeting or arrange for a long distance telephone conference call to discuss major holiday celebrations. Make sure that family members understand the situation and have realistic expectations.
  • Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. No one can expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event. If you’ve always invited 15-20 people to your home, consider inviting five for a simple meal.

holiday_blog_picInvolve the Person with Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Throughout all stages of preparation, involve the person with Alzheimer’s in safe, manageable activities. This can help to prepare the person for the holiday and give you an opportunity to spend quality time together. You may want to begin slowly by asking the person to help you prepare food, wrap packages, hang decorations or set the table. (Avoid using candies, artificial fruits/vegetables, or other edibles as decorations. Blinking lights may confuse the person.).
  • Maintain the person’s normal routine so that holiday preparations don’t become disruptive or confusing. Remember: Taking on too many tasks at one time can wear on you and the impaired person.
  • Build on past traditions and memories. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs, for example. But also experiment with new holiday traditions, such as renting seasonal videos that the less active person may enjoy.

Adapt Gift-Giving

  • Encourage useful gifts. Among the practical useful gifts for people with this illness are identification bracelets, comfortable, easy-to-remove clothing, audiotapes of favorite music, videos of family members, photo albums, subscription to magazines or cable television or gift certificates for long distance telephone service.
  • Warn people about difficult or unsafe gifts. Advise people not to bring dangerous tools or instruments, utensils, challenging board games, complicated electronic equipment, or pets.
  • Allow the person to join in gift giving. For example, someone who once enjoyed cooking may enjoy baking cookies and packing them in tins or boxes. Or, you may want to buy the gift and allow the person to wrap it.
  • Don’t neglect your own needs. If friends or family members ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate to a carryout restaurant, laundry or dry cleaner, or cleaning service. If you don’t receive these gifts, celebrate the holiday by giving such a gift to yourself.
  • Ask for help and support. If someone ever asks, “What can I do to help?” you can respond with a specific idea.

Try to Be Flexible

  • Consider celebrating over a lunch or brunch, rather than an evening meal, to work around the evening confusion or “sundowning” that sometimes affects some people with Alzheimer’s.
  • Prepare to deal with your post-holiday letdown. You may want to arrange for in-home care so you can enjoy a movie or lunch with a friend and reduce post-holiday stress.

Remember that holidays are opportunities to share with the people you love. Try to make these celebrations easy on yourself and the person with Alzheimer’s disease so that you may concentrate on enjoying your time together.

 

By: Gretchen Dobervich, Regional Center Director for the Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association

About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading U.S. voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. The Association’s vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease. For more information, visit the official Alzheimer’s Association website.