Older Americans Month 2018: Give Back

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Community service and volunteering are becoming more and more popular – even among older Americans. Being involved in the community benefits you and the people around you. Engaging in meaningful work can prevent mental health issues and provide physical benefits by being active and social.

One in four older Americans makes a positive impact through volunteering.

There are many benefits to volunteering. It can improve your mental and physical health.Volunteers report greater satisfaction in life and a greater sense of purpose in life. Also, studies suggest that volunteers are likely to live longer. Here’s how you can get started in giving back:

  • Schedule. Determine how much time you can and want to give. Then, choose community service projects that fit your lifestyle.
  • Tailor. Get involved in something that matches your interests and skills. You can visit nationalservice.gov/serve for tips and inspiration.
  • Support. Reach out to your neighborhood, spiritual community, or club to find programs that need help or different volunteer opportunities. Ask friends or family or even other seniors in the community to join you.

Getting involved and giving back is a great way to improve your overall wellness.

Source: Older Americans Month
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Older Americans Month 2018: Be Well

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Although people are living longer, there are more people are developing chronic illnesses. Many think that the older you get, the sicker you will be. However, this is not necessarily true. Aging does not automatically mean you will have chronic illness. There is much that seniors can do to be more active or have a healthier diet. Small changes can lead to huge differences in the way you feel and how well your body works. You should always consult your doctor before making major changes to your health, but these small steps can improve your overall wellness no matter how old you are.

About 80% of older Americans have at least one chronic health condition.

Having a healthier lifestyle can help you control weight, strengthen muscles, and improve balance. These changes can make falls and other injuries less likely to occur. Healthy living also decreases risk of depression and risks related to brain health. You can even have more opportunities to be social and have fun. Here are some small steps you can take to have a healthier lifestyle:

  • Pace yourself. Do not overwhelm yourself and begin training for a marathon if you are not accustomed to exercising. Instead, choose low-impact exercises that you can do a little at a time. For example, take a short walk in the morning or learn some gentle stretches.
  • Get a partnerExercising is easier when you are able to enjoy it with others. You can gather a group of friends to exercise together or join a class. Exercising with others makes it more enjoyable and also keeps you accountable so you’re more likely to continue long-term.
  • Nourish your bodyNutrition is vital to your health. Try keeping a diary of what you eat so you can see how you are doing. Nutritionists can be a valuable resource to help you evaluate your diet. If you have any special dietary needs, consult your doctor before changing your diet.
  • Stimulate the mind. Healthy eating and exercise can reduce risks to your brain’s health, such as dementia. You can do more to exercise your mind by learning new things, reading, playing games, and being social.

Taking these small steps can lead to longer, healthier, and happier lives. Stay motivated to continue in your healthy lifestyle by picking goals that bring you joy. Regardless of your age, we can all improve our wellness.

Source: Older Americans Month

2017 Alzheimer’s Facts and Figures

2017 alz facts
Alzheimer’s disease was first described in 1906 but 70 years passed before it was recognized as a common form of dementia and major cause of death. Although Alzheimer’s is now a significant area of research, there is still much to be discovered about the cause, development, and cure of the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association has published its report for the 2017 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Some of the numbers are highlighted below:
Overview
  • In 2017, an estimated 5.5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In Indiana, there were an estimated 110,000 Alzheimer’s patients in 2017 with a projected 20,000 additional patients in 2025.
  • One in ten people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s.
  • Of people who have Alzheimer’s, 82 percent are age 75 and older.
  • Almost 2/3 of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women.

Deaths

  • Between 2000 and 2015, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased by 89 percent.
  • Among people age 70, 61 percent of those with Alzheimer’s are expected to die before age 80 compared with 30 percent of people without Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s is becoming a more common cause of death, and it is the only top 10 cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

Caregiving

  • More than 15 million caregivers provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • In 2016, caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias provided an
    estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid assistance, valued at $230.1 billion. This is approximately nine times the total revenue of McDonald’s in 2015 ($25.4 billion).
  • In Indiana, caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia reached 335,000 people providing about 382 million hours of care.

Costs

  • Total payments in 2017 for all individuals with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are estimated at $259 billion. Medicare and Medicaid are estimated to cover 67 percent of the total cost.
  • The median cost for a paid non-medical home health aide is $20 per hour and $127 per day. Home care costs have increased by 1.3 percent annually over the past 5 years.
  • The median cost of adult day services is $68 per day. The cost of adult day services has increased by 2.5 percent annually over the past 5 years. Ninety-five percent of adult day centers provide care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and 2 percent of these centers charged an additional fee for these clients in 2012.
  • The median cost for care in an assisted living facility is $3,628 per month, or $43,539 per year. The cost of assisted living has increased 2.2 percent annually over the past 5 years.
  • The average cost for a private room in a nursing home is $253 per day, or $92,378 per year. The average cost of a semiprivate room in a nursing home is $225 per day, or $82,125 per year. The cost of nursing home care has increased by 3.5 percent and 3.1 percent annually over the past 5 years for a private and semi-private room, respectively.
 You can find the full report at the Alzheimer’s Association website.

Older Americans Month 2018: Engage at Every Age

Across the country, older Americans – a rapidly growing population – are taking part in activities that promote wellness and social connection. They are sharing their wisdom and experience with future generations, and they are giving back to make enrich their communities. They’re working and volunteering, mentoring and learning, leading and engaging.

For 55 years, Older Americans Month (OAM) has been observed to recognize older Americans and their contributions to our communities. Led by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging, every May offers opportunity to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders. This year’s OAM theme, “Engage at Every Age,” emphasizes the importance of being active and involved, no matter where or when you are in life. You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotion well-being.

It is becoming more apparent that remaining socially engaged can improve the quality of life for older adults. Troyer & Good will use OAM 2018 to focus on how older adults in our area are engaging with friends and family, and through various community activities. We encourage you to get involved!

How to Respond When Someone with Alzheimer’s Wants to Go Home

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Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers often hear their seniors say “I want to go home” over and over. This can be difficult and frustrating, especially when the senior is already home. But how can you respond in a way that helps the senior calm down and move on in a positive direction?

First, try to understand why they are saying this and what they really mean. Alzheimer’s takes away a senior’s ability to communicate effectively. Often times, when the senior says he wants to go home, he is not talking about the physical location of his home. It could mean that he feels unsafe or insecure or that he wants to be with family. It may be a request for comfort rather than wanting to go somewhere. Look past the actual words being spoken and try to discern why the senior feels that way.

Second, do your best to stay calm and not take it personally. Remember that this is the disease talking, not the senior. When you stay calm, you will be in a far better position to help the senior stay calm too.

Third, use kind and calming responses to help you avoid upsetting the senior or getting into a fight. When you better understand why the senior is saying “I want to go home,” you will be better prepared to respond in a way that meets the senior’s needs. For example, the senior may be saying “I want to go home” because he feels unsafe or uncomfortable. Your response, then, should allay the senior’s anxiety and fear so they can feel safe and comfortable. Alzheimer’s and dementia alters a person’s brain to experience the world in a new and different way. Try to be understanding, focus on comfort and reassurance, and respond to the emotions rather than the words.

Here are three responses that you may use when the senior says “I want to go home”:

  1. Reassure and comfort. Approach the senior with a calm and soothing manner. The senior will pick up on your body language and tone of voice and will subconsciously match you by calming down as well. Depending on your senior, this would be a good time for physical comfort, such as a hug, gentle touching, or stroking the arm. Perhaps the senior would prefer if you simply sat with him. You could provide additional comfort with a blanket, therapy doll, or stuffed animal.
  2. Avoid reasoning and explanations. Do not try to explain that the assisted living is now his home or that he is already at home. Trying to use reason with someone who has a brain disease will only make the senior more insistent, agitated, and distressed. The senior will not understand what you are saying and will feel like you are stopping him from doing something important to him.
  3. Agree, redirect, and distract. First, agree and validate the senior’s feelings. This will calm the senior because you are not telling him he is wrong. Then, redirect and distract. Subtly redirect his attention to pleasant and distracting activities that will take his mind off wanting to go home.  For example, you could say “Okay, we’ll go soon” and then walk down the hall to a big window. Point out some beautiful birds and flowers or offer a snack or drink he likes. Later, casually shift back to his normal daily routine. Or you can ask the senior to tell you about his home. You can later guide the conversation to a neutral topic. Asking about his home validates the senior’s feelings, encourages him to share positive memories, and distracts him from his original goal of going home. If the senior is stubborn and won’t let go of the idea of going home, you could try a brief car ride or go through the actions of getting ready to leave. This can give you more opportunity to redirect the senior to a different activity.

These suggestions can guide you in the right direction, but you may need to get creative. Not everything you try will work the first time or even work every time you try. Don’t get discouraged, though. It will get easier with practice and you can be successful.

Source: DailyCaring

What is an “Insolvent Estate”?

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When an estate is admitted to probate, it is classified as either solvent or insolvent. Solvent means that there are more assets in the estate than there are debts. Once the debts are paid, the remaining assets are distributed in accordance with the Will (or in accordance with state law if there is no Will).

However, if there are more debts than there are assets, then the estate is considered insolvent. The assets are liquidated and used to pay creditors in order of preference as outlined in Indiana code:

  1. Costs and expenses of administration, such as Attorney’s Fees, Personal Representative’s fees, and court costs.
  2. Reasonable funeral expenses, expenses of a tombstone, and expenses incurred in the disposition of the body.
  3. Allowances for surviving spouse and minor children.
  4. All debts and taxes having preference under the laws of the United States.
  5. Reasonable and necessary medical expenses of the last sickness of the decedent.
  6. All debts and taxes having preference under the laws of Indiana.
  7. All other claims allowed through the court.

Any unpaid creditors will have to write off the debt. The heirs of the estate will receive nothing as there are no remaining funds to be distributed.

Note that you are not personally liable for the debts of the estate. Simply tell creditors that the estate is insolvent and there is no money to pay the debts.

Of course, it is preferable to die with a solvent estate so you have a legacy to leave for your family and loved ones. Carefully managing your assets while you are alive will help you accomplish this.

Successfully Dealing with Difficult Dementia Behaviors

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Alzheimer’s affects more than 5.7 million Americans. While many people may think of dementia causing some slight confusion, there is actually a wide spectrum of different behaviors that a senior with dementia may exhibit. Some of these may include angry outbursts or even violent behavior. Understanding and dealing with these behaviors can be a very stressful aspect of caregiving. These tips can help you to deal with difficult dementia behaviors successfully.

First, it’s important to remember that your senior is not deliberately being difficult. Your senior’s sense of reality may be different from yours, which can produce problematic reactions. While you cannot change the person with dementia, you can employ strategies to better deal with these difficult behaviors. The environment you create and the way you communicate with your senior can have a large impact on you and your senior.

Second, try to examine the dementia behavior objectively. Ascertain if the behavior presents a danger to himself or to others. It may be that the behavior is only embarrassing or disruptive but not actually harmful. Avoid correcting or escalating situations by learning to let some things go. It may be better to let your senior engage in irrational yet harmless behavior rather than upsetting your senior by trying to correct him. Protect your senior from harm but give him some freedom and control to make his own choices when possible.

Then, look for patterns to help you predict and prevent difficult behaviors. Try to discern if something specific, a certain season, or a certain time of day has triggered the behavior. New noises, people, or places can sometimes have a negative effect on your senior’s behavior. Being aware of your senior’s triggers can help you to avoid certain actions or events that may cause problematic behavior. Determine if changing the atmosphere or environment helps your senior.  If you cannot avoid the trigger situation, you can at least be prepared to deal with the resulting behavior.

In addition, seek to understand the “why” behind your senior’s behavior rather than what your senior is actually doing. Many times, your senior’s odd behavior may be an attempt to communicate or a reaction to stress or fear. If you can discover why they are stressed or uncomfortable, you may be able to resolve the problem easier. Identify if your senior’s basic needs are being met. Meeting a basic need like hunger or thirst can sometimes resolve the issue before it becomes a big problem.

Lastly, validate your senior’s feelings.  Usually, the senior is not thinking logically. Trying to reason with him might only make things worse. Rather, let your senior know that you understand he is upset and you want to help him. Your body language, facial expression, and tone of voice will mean much more than your words. Use eye contact, a smile, or a reassuring touch to show compassion and help convey your message. Remain calm and try not to take the behavior personally. Look for opportunities to agree with your senior rather than contradicting him. Use familiar or pleasant stimuli, such as a song, food, drink, or photo, to evoke positive feelings. Try to engage your senior in a favorite hobby or interest.

People with dementia often exhibit unpredictable behavior. Try to be flexible and practice patience and forgiveness. Applying these suggestions can leave you better equipped when difficult behaviors arise in your senior.

Source: A Place for Mom, Inc

Transfer 529 Funds to ABLE Account

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The new federal tax law brought several enhancements to ABLE programs in 2018. One of the enhancements allows families who have a 529 college savings plan to transfer funds to an ABLEnow account without incurring any tax or penalty.

The rollover can be in amounts up to the annual ABLE contribution limit. Annual contributions to an ABLE account are currently capped at $15,000. The 529 account and ABLEnow account must have the same beneficiary or be a qualifying member of the beneficiary’s family.

Here is how to transfer 529 funds to an ABLEnow account:

  1. Open your ABLEnow account here.
  2. Complete the Incoming Program-to-Program Transfer request form and send it to your current 529 program.

If you have already closed your 529 account and received the funds from it, you may be eligible to deposit these funds into an ABLEnow account if it is within 60 days of the withdrawal. You can do so by completing the ABLEnow Contribution Form.

Source: ABLEnow

 

Stopping Unsolicited Calls, Emails, and Mail

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Source: Creating Income

Most of us have received unsolicited phone calls, emails,  or mail at one time or another. However, it can be especially frustrating when your elderly relative receives these unsolicited phone calls or letters because they may buy things they don’t need or pay for things they don’t actually owe. The Federal Trade Commission has put together a list on where you can go to say “no” to these unsolicited points of contact.

There are different options and places to go depending on what type of unsolicited phone calls or mail you are receiving.

If you are receiving prescreened offers of credit and insurance, you have two choices: You can opt out for five years or you can opt out permanently. To opt out for five years, you can call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. To opt out permanently, you can begin the process online at www.optoutprescreen.com. You must return the signed Permanent Opt-Out Election form after you initiate your online request. The phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies. When you call or visit the website, you will need to provide some personal information, such as your phone number, name, Social Security number, and date of birth. This information is confidential but necessary to process your request to opt-out. You can also send a written request to permanently opt out of each of the major consumer reporting companies. Make sure to include the above personal information in your request. Here is where you can send the information:

Experian
Opt Out
P.O. Box 919
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion
Name Removal Option
P.O. Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Equifax, Inc.
Options
P.O. Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374

Innovis Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 495
Pittsburgh, PA 15230

If you would like to opt out of telemarketing calls, you can join the federal government’s National Do Not Call Registry. You can register your phone number or get information about the Registry by visiting www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. You can remove your phone number from the Registry by choosing to do so or when your phone number is disconnected and reassigned.

In order to opt out of mail telemarketing, you can register at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) website for a processing fee of $2 for an enrollment of ten years. Registering online is the fastest way to receive fewer telemarketing letters. The website has a simple step-by-step process to decide what gets mailed to you and what doesn’t. In addition, you can opt out of email telemarketing on the DMA’s eMail Preference Service. If you do not wish to register online, you can register for DMAchoice by using the mail-in form that is available online. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can register by mailing in your name and address, signature, and $3 processing fee (via check or money order) to:

 

DMAchoice
Data & Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512

 

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Memory Box for Alzheimer’s Patients

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Alzheimer’s disease affects a person’s memory and thinking. It is the most common form of dementia and affects over 5 million Americans. If you or a loved one is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, you may find that a memory box can help. Memory boxes help those with Alzheimer’s disease recall events and people from the past. It can stimulate memories and encourage conversation with loved ones. Memory boxes can also help link a person to their identity, lifting their spirits.

While creating a memory box for your loved one with Alzheimer’s will take time and effort, here are five reasons why it’s worth it:

  1. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, communication skills decline and sensory stimulation becomes more important. The ability to touch, see, and explore items in a person’s memory box can engender positive feelings.
  2. A memory box gives the person with Alzheimer’s disease the opportunity to explore fond memories of their past, personal interest, and even their youth.
  3. Memory boxes can inspire conversations between the person with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, children, and grandchildren.
  4. You can gain more insight into the senior’s past as you search for special items to put in a memory box. You can also discover other interests and hobbies that your loved one has.
  5. The creation of a memory box can spur on more creativity and possibly inspire the senior to create more boxes about different life events or specific memories.

A memory box can be as decorative or as simple as you like, such as a plastic bin or a shoe box. Ideally, you want a container that is easy to access and lift, can store a number of different items, and can fit on the senior’s lap or a table. There are many items that you can put in a memory box. You should choose items that are personal, like a baby’s toy or a postcard. The memory box should reflect the senior’s interests or a moment in time that has meaning to the senior. For example, you could include family photos, newspaper clippings of important events in the affected person’s life, or another memento highlighting a treasured memory. You can include keepsakes emphasizing a favorite holiday, beloved person, or special theme.

As you choose items for the memory box, try to avoid heavy or sharp items. Items should be easy to handle. Focus on items connected with positive memories, even texture can help stimulate memories. As a note, if an item is irreplaceable,you may want to leave it out. Your loved one may not recognize an item right away or understand why it was included. So you may label each item with a sticker or tag to help jog the senior’s memory. You can also list the items on a sheet of paper and write a short sentence of explanation about each one.

Here are some suggestions from A Place for Mom, Inc. for keepsakes you might include in a senior’s memory box:

  • A baby toy
  • A baseball or cards
  • A keychain
  • A letter
  • A recipe
  • Artwork by children or grandchildren
  • Dried flowers
  • Family photos
  • Postcards
  • Sheet music
  • Vacation souvenirs

You’re not limited to just one memory box. You could create multiple memory boxes with different themes for your loved one, such as one about their children, one for a favorite hobby, or one about the holidays. The keepsakes do not need to fit into one single box.

As you go through the memory box with your loved one, share memories together and ask about their thoughts and feelings for each item. Memory boxes can inspire conversation and help seniors relive old memories.

Source: A Place for Mom, Inc.