Financial Tips for Low- to Mid-Income Seniors – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Care

Financial Tips for Low- to Mid-Income Seniors  – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home Carewww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

Start the New Year right with this comprehensive financial help program that covers everything from how to get out of debt, tips for reducing costs, and how to boost your income–even if that’s just social security.

Financial Tips for Low- to Mid-Income Seniors
Start the New Year right with this comprehensive financial help program that covers everything from how to get out of debt, tips for reducing costs, and how to boost your income–even if that’s just social security.

One-third of households headed by an older adult has no money left over at the end of the month or is in debt after meeting essential expenses, according to the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. If you’re one of these seniors, it may seem impossible to ever feel financially secure or to put away a nest egg for emergencies. But there is a simple way to start making steps toward these goals, and you won’t have to do it alone.

Savvy Saving Seniors Program

Savvy Saving Seniors is a program developed by the National Council on Aging. Savvy Saving Seniors covers those on the mid- to lower-end of the economic scale from about the age of 50 on up. Specifically aimed at older adults who may lack economic security, the program provides a three-step guide, or toolkit, to build a solid financial foundation.

Toolkit One features lots of free financial resources, Toolkit Two offers tips for avoiding scams that plague seniors, and Toolkit Three covers debit cards. The materials are presented as a training guide for a speaker to deliver to community members, but the guide is equally useful for an individual seeking advice.

Many Ways to Save

Seniors are asked to make a list of their expenses, including supplemental health insurance, life insurance, and prescription drug insurance. Check around to see if your insurance is the best deal for your current situation. Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program can help assess your current drug plan.

Savings, even on necessary expenses, abound. Medicare enrollees may be entitled to more than $100 back on their Social Security check by using Medicare Savings Programs. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars can come off your property tax bill with help from local abate, work-off, or circuit rider programs.

You may qualify for a free cell phone via a state program. If you need extra income, don’t overlook paid volunteer positions. The following organizations offer a stipend for older adults: Senior Corps, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and Senior Community Service Employment Program.

If you’re a homeowner, a reverse mortgage may provide the financial means to keep you in your home. There are many pros and cons to consider before you sign on the dotted line. To gain a better understanding of reverse mortgages for condo owners, check out this Senior Spirit article.

Many stores, including thrift stores, offer discounts to seniors on certain days of the week. Try and shop only on those days to save extra money.

Federal and nationwide programs offer a range of benefits, depending on your income. Money to pay for food is available through SNAP. Find your local food bank on Feed America. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free help with your return. The Low Income Energy Home Assistance Program subsidizes utility bills. The Weatherization Assistance Program can help defray the cost of weatherizing your home.

You may qualify for other benefits. Find out by visiting Benefits Checkup. This wonderful resource takes your zip code and displays assistance programs for food, health, housing, medications, utilities, veterans, tax relief and more available locally. It’s easy and quick. If you don’t do anything else, check out this tool!

Financial Literacy Homework

The essentials of making a budget are covered in Toolkit One. While homework is never fun, it’s a lot easier when you start working on it in a group, and you have a workbook to guide you. Budgeting introduces the concepts of fixed expenses, flexible expenses, monthly expenses, periodic expenses, and discretionary expenses.

The program stresses the need for an emergency fund, even for older adults who are in debt. The first step is to make a plan for getting out of debt, month by month. Think payday loans are the answer? The program discusses how much cheaper an overdrawn bank account is versus payday loan fees. How about setting up automatic payments for fixed expenses to avoid overdraft charges?

Do you know what your financial net worth is? Having a firm grasp of your fiscal situation provides the groundwork for setting goals and achieving them in the future. You’ll be encouraged to make an action plan with prioritized goals and time frames for achieving them.

Banking Explained

You may use a bank for checking, but did you what else it offers? A bank or credit union may hold the key to establishing credit, even after a bankruptcy. Interest rates vary, depending on the type of account your money is in and the going rate. You can set up an account just to save for emergencies or an annual expense. The Social Security Administration can automatically deposit your monthly check, ensuring timely and dependable arrival of funds.

Top Budget Busters

Why does it seem like your money disappears every month? It’s always tricky to stretch a dollar, but your money may be prey to your own bad habits. The good news is, habits can be broken. Check to see if any of your greenbacks are disappearing in ways you can prevent:

  • ATM and bank fees
  • Misusing balance transfers
  • Credit card balances
  • Late payments
  • Handouts to family members or friends
  • Getting scammed
  • Poor credit rating
  • Buying fast food

If you still have questions, or want to dig into financial literacy on a piecemeal basis, visit Bank of America’s Better Money Habits website. Developed in partnership with Khan Academy, the site is easy to navigate, and built to offer users as little, or as much, information as they want to consume in a sitting. While topics don’t target the senior community alone, most of them will apply to all ages. Information is presented in quick bites with accompanying graphics that make the site fun and engaging.


Sources

Savvy Saving Seniors® Financial Education Tools,” NCOA: National Council on Aging.

Savvy Saving Seniors: Becoming ResourceFULL Facilitator’s Guide,” NCOA: National Council on Aging.

Saving & Budgeting,” Bank of America.

 

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America’s Other Drug Crisis – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home

America’s Other Drug Crisis –  Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home – www.OptimumSeniorCare.com

Older adults are popping a lot of pills, but the medications can be doing more harm than good. What are the risks and how can you avoid them?

America’s Other Drug Crisis
Older adults are popping a lot of pills, but the medications can be doing more harm than good. What are the risks and how can you avoid them?

As we get older, we are likely to take more medication. Adults aged 65 to 69 fill an average of 15 prescriptions per year, and it goes up to 18 for those aged 80 to 84, according to the American Association of Consultant Pharmacists. The practice starts earlier. The average 45-year-old takes four different prescription drugs daily.

It’s a problem that tends to build on itself. One medication is prescribed, then side effects appear and another medication is added to counter them. While the current mantra for prescribing to seniors is “go low, go slow”, the medications can still add up.

Why Older Adults Are at Greater Risk

This practice, called polypharmacy, has increased risks for older adults. Seniors are more likely to be living with multiple chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and they have greater rates of anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders. Treating these diverse conditions can involve complex drug therapy by multiple doctors.

Older adults may have a hard time remembering to take their medications at the right time and in the correct dose. Hearing and vision loss can interfere with reading or understanding medication instructions. Using a variety of specialists or different pharmacies increases the chance for unintended drug interactions.

It gets worse. Older adults, especially those experiencing serious health issues, are more likely to have emotional, physical, cognitive, social and functional changes that may encourage them to seek out more medications to cope. In addition, it’s estimated that 14% of adults aged 50 and up have a mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Left untreated, depression can lead to drug abuse. The number of older adults taking three or more psychiatric or pain medications has more than doubled in the last decade, according to a CDC study of data collected from primary care physician visits.

Additionally, changes in metabolism, weight, and body fat that often happen as part of the aging process can affect how a medication works in the body. Older adults cannot detoxify and eliminate medications as quickly as their younger counterparts, leading to adverse reactions to drugs that used to work.

Drug Company Pushes Pill to Seniors for Off-Label Use

A CNN investigation found one drug company making hundreds of millions of dollars a year by targeting frail and elderly care facility residents for whom the drug appears unnecessary or unsafe.

A little red pill called Nuedexta is being prescribed to seniors at an astonishing rate. Its use in long-term care facilities, where more than half of the pills are prescribed, jumped nearly 400% from 2012 to 2016.These aggressive prescribing efforts are pushed by doctors receiving payments from the drug’s developer, Avanir, for seniors suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The drug is approved to treat a rare condition known as PBA that causes sudden and uncontrollable laughing or crying. PBA afflicts less than 1% of all Americans, and is most commonly associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) or ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Avanir acknowledges that the drug has not undergone extensive studies in older adults. The sole research study done by Avanir on patients with Alzheimer’s revealed that those taking Nuedexta fell at double the rate of those taking a placebo.

It is not illegal for prescribers to write scripts for off-label use of medication, although insurance companies may require authorization from the prescriber, justifying the use of the medication, before they’ll agree to pay for the therapy.

The company website avows that about 40% of dementia patients may suffer from PBA. However, medical experts, including some paid by Avanir, repeated disputed that figure. Geriatric physicians and dementia researchers said the condition is “extremely rare in dementia patients”. State regulators found doctors inappropriately making a diagnosis of PBA to justify the use of Nuedexta on nursing home residents that displayed confusion, agitation, and difficult behavior to make them easier to manage.

Between 2013 and 2016, thousands of doctors received nearly $14 million for consulting, speaking, and other services related to the promotion of Nuedexta. An additional $4.6 million was spent by Avanir and its parent company, Otsuka, for travel and dining expenses for speakers and doctors being targeted as potential prescribers of the drug. The practice is legal but controversial.

Almost half of Nuedexta claims filed with Medicare in 2015 were from doctors who had gotten money or other perks from the company. In one Los Angeles nursing home last year, regulators discovered that more than a fourth of the patients were prescribed Nuedexta after a psychiatrist who was a paid speaker for Avanir gave a presentation about the drug to employees.

Jason Kellogg, a geriatric psychiatrist with patients in California nursing homes, calls the drug “such a blessing in psychiatry”. Kellogg says he never hears, “hey doc, we put a patient on this and had really bad side effects.” The doctor has received payments, meals, and travel from Avanir and its parent company in the amount of $612,000 from 2013 to 2016, according to government data.

Soon after its 2011 market launch, reports started coming in about potential harm caused by the drug. Complaints ranged from rashes, dizziness, and falls to comas and death. Nuedexta was listed as a “suspect” medication in almost 1,000 adverse event reports filed with the FDA.

Director of the University of Southern California’s California Alzheimer’s Disease Center Lon Schneider reviewed information from about 500 of those cases. Schneider had concerns about how Nuedexta might interact with elderly patients who often take other powerful medications to treat difficult behaviors. Adding just one more pill, he noted, especially one that hasn’t been broadly tested, could be dangerous.

Finally, care facilities may dole out powerful antipsychotics to elderly residents to keep them manageable by staff, according to the Health and Human Services inspector general. And a ProPublica investigation revealed that some drug companies promote off-label use of their medications to doctors and nursing homes (see sidebar on Nuedexta).

Adverse Consequences of Overprescribing

Every year, hospitals admit 32,000 older adults with hip fractures from falls induced by overmedication. Reactions to medications are one of the five biggest threats to seniors, according to the U.S. Government Task Force on Aging.

“Studies have shown that as many as one-third of hospitalizations in the elderly may be due to multiple-drug interactions,” says Neela Patel, M.D., MPH, a board-certified geriatrician. “Broken hips and other injuries are very common in the elderly due to dizziness brought on by multiple medications.”

Dr. Patel will ask new patients to bring all of their medications on the first visit. “They will bring them in a grocery bag and pour them out on the counter,” Dr. Patel said. “You can instantly see that they are overwhelmed. And we usually find one or two medications that are no longer necessary, or are doing more harm than good.”

What else can you do to manage your medications?

Tips for Effective Medication Management

1. Ask your provider if the dosage is right for your age.
You may need to start with a lower dose and taper up.

2. Some medications are unsafe for older adults.
Consult the Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults. It’s used by Medicare to evaluate skilled nursing facilities to ensure they make proper attempts to reduce medication doses or try “drug holidays” with their patients.

3. Bring a list of your medications to the doctor.
Include vitamins, herbs, and any other over-the-counter medications you take.

4. Check out your prescriber.
Use the ProPublica Prescriber Checkup tool to find and compare prescribers.

5. Help cognitively impaired adults to monitor medications.
Avoid potentially harmful or fatal consequences by assisting cognitively impaired seniors with medications.

6. Create and maintain a current medication list.
Write a list of all medications with generic and brand names, dosage amount and frequency, and what it treats.

7. If in doubt, get a second opinion.
When you don’t feel confident about a medication that has been prescribed, don’t hesitate to check with another professional.

8. Know the side effects of your medications.
Use the internet to check on side effects so you can be prepared if one arises.

9. Check if the pharmacy label states what the medication is for.
This will help keep track of medications if one for a specific problem needs to be changed or adjusted.

10. Use the same provider and pharmacist whenever possible.
This provides another layer of review to avoid drug interactions, over-prescribing or prescribing more than one drug to treat the same problem.

11. Ask your pharmacist questions.
Your pharmacist can tell you what to watch for, how to store the drug, and if the dose looks appropriate.

12. Update your provider about any drug reactions.
Make sure your provider is aware of any drugs you should avoid.


Sources

Prescription Drug Abuse Among Older Adults,” AARP.

The Elderly Are Taking Too Many Pills,” Huffington Post.

Are you (or your parents) taking too many pills?,” The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Are You Taking Too Many Mind Medicines?,” The People’s Pharmacy.

Trends in Central Nervous System–Active Polypharmacy Among Older Adults Seen in Outpatient Care in the United States,” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.

12 Medication Management Tips That May Save Your Life,” A Place For Mom.

The little red pill being pushed on the elderly,” CNN.

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Meet our new board members – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home

Meet our new board members – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Homewww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

We are pleased to announce the addition of three new members to the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter Board of Directors. We welcome and thank Aimee M. Nolan, Daniel M. Gill and Sandy Prabhakar for their commitment to our mission.

Meet our new board members

We are pleased to announce the addition of three new members to the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter Board of Directors. We welcome and thank Aimee M. Nolan, Daniel M. Gill and Sandy Prabhakar for their commitment to our mission.

Aimee M. NolanDaniel M. GillSandy PrabhakarAimee is the Associate General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for W.W. Grainger, Inc. She is responsible for all aspects of Grainger’s IP portfolio, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and domain names. She also supports the company’s Enterprise Systems organization, as well as eCommerce and innovation initiatives. She is a leader of Grainger’s enterprise wide efforts on data protection, data security, privacy and breach response. She also counsels in the areas of marketing, advertising, M&A, International product sourcing and corporate communications.

She is passionate about serving the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association because her mother died at the age of 62 from early onset Alzheimer’s. Her mother and father were divorced prior to her illness, and her mother’s caregiver was her grandmother – who subsequently passed away only 10 days after her mother’s death.

Aimee is relatively new to volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association. She served as a member of the Illinois Women and Alzheimer’s initiative Task Force and is currently chairing the Illinois Women United Against Alzheimer’s (IWUAA) movement.

She joined the board of the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter on July 1, 2017 and is also a member of the American Red Cross Tiffany circle Society for Women’s Leadership.

Alzheimer’s caregiving is taxing, but you may be eligible for savings – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home

Alzheimer’s caregiving is taxing, but you may be eligible for savings – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Homewww.OptimumSeniorCare.com

As a caregiver for someone living with Alzheimer’s, you likely pay for some care costs out of your pocket. You may qualify for tax benefits; tax rules are complex, so be sure to talk to your financial adviser or accountant before filing your returns.

As a caregiver, you likely pay for some care costs out-of-pocket. Because of this, you may qualify for tax benefits from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax rules are complex and can change. Be sure to get advice from your tax adviser or accountant before filing your returns.

Medical expenses

The person with dementia may be considered your dependent for tax purposes. If so, you may be allowed to itemize his or her medical costs. Generally, you can deduct only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. But if either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1952, you can deduct the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. Only expenses that have not been reimbursed by insurance can be counted toward the medical expense deduction.

See IRS Publication 502: Medical and Dental Expenses, for a complete list of allowable expenses.
Here’s a brief list:

  • Medical fees from doctors, laboratories, assisted living residences, home health care and hospitals
  • Cost of prescription drugs
  • Cost of transportation to receive medical care
  • Home modifications costs such as grab bars and handrails
  • Personal care items, such as disposable briefs and food

See IRS Publication 501: Exemptions, Standard Deductions and Filing Information to learn more about claiming the person with dementia as a dependent.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you paid someone to care for the person with dementia so you could work or look for work, you may be able to claim the “Child and Dependent Care Credit” on your federal income tax return. If eligible, you would be allowed a credit of up to 35 percent of your qualifying expenses, depending upon your adjusted gross income.

To qualify:

  • You must have earned income
  • The person with dementia must be unable to physically or mentally care for him or herself
  • The person with dementia must be claimed as a dependent on your tax return

See IRS Publication 503: Child and Dependent Care Expenses for more information.  

TIP: If you pay someone to come to your home and care for the person with dementia, you may be a household employer and may have to withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare tax and pay federal unemployment tax. See IRS Publication 926: Household Employer’s Tax Guide.

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Flexible spending account

If the person with dementia is a dependent under the tax rules, you might be able to use your own workplace flexible spending account (FSA). This money can cover the person’s out-of-pocket medical costs or dependent care expenses in some cases.

State tax credits

Many states have additional tax deductions or tax credits to provide financial relief to caregivers. These tax programs build on the federal tax credit, which reduces the amount of income taxes a family owes. Each state program differs by name and eligibility requirements.

Help Is Available

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers free tax forms and publications explaining various tax deductions and credits.

AARP’s Tax-Aide program provides free tax preparation and counseling information to all low and middle-income taxpayers, even if you are not an AARP member.

Note: This information is not intended as tax advice. The determination of how tax laws affect a taxpayer depends on the taxpayer’s situation. A taxpayer may be affected by exceptions to the general rules and by other laws not discussed here. Therefore, taxpayers are encouraged to seek advice from a competent tax professional.

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We’re counting on you. – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home

We’re counting on you. – Alzheimer’s – Optimum Senior Care – Chicago In Home – www.OptimumSeniorCare.com

I don’t make this request of everyone, and I don’t make it lightly.
Zoltan, you know the fight against Alzheimer’s disease is urgent. You understand that this terrible disease claims more lives than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. And you know the Alzheimer’s Association must work steadily to provide care and support services and advance critical research every single month.
That’s why I’m inviting you to join a very special group of people who’ve made an exceptional personal commitment to this fight. Become a monthly donor today during our 2018 Drive for Monthly Donors, and you’ll ensure that critical programs get the strong and steady support they need month after month.
You’ll find that monthly giving is easy, efficient and powerful. And you’ll gain the satisfaction of knowing that your monthly commitment is ALWAYS working to make a difference.
Zoltan, this is your opportunity to join our community and start making a positive impact in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. But our 2018 Drive for Monthly Donors ends soon. Why not make this the year you decided to help lead the way to the first survivor of Alzheimer’s?
We’re counting on your generous support of our mission 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.
And when you sign up to be a monthly donor today, you’ll receive an Alzheimer’s Association tote bag as our sincere thank-you for your commitment to the cause. As you use it, I hope you’ll feel pride in the powerful difference you’re making each month in the fight against this disease.