planning your retirement

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More and more Americans are reaching the age of 65 and above and some are even considering to retire at an early age. There are many factors that seniors need to consider when planning their retirements such as the expenses, alternate options, medicare, and type of care they will need.

Here are some must know information that will come in handy when the time comes:

1 Medicare Advantage Plans – Medicare Advantage, also referred to as Medicare Part C, is privately-offered insurance that serves as an alternative to Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B). Unlike Original Medicare, which is a federal program that provides the same coverage to all beneficiaries, Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private insurance companies and can have varying coverage levels and costs. Medicare Advantage plans can also provide extra coverage that is unavailable with Original Medicare, such as hearing, vision, and prescription drug coverage.

Seniors interested in Medicare Advantage in California have numerous plans and insurance providers to choose from. Health Maintenance Organizations, Preferred Provider Organizations, and Special Needs Plans are all available, as are MA-PDs, which include prescription drug coverage.

2 Assisted Living Options for Low-Income Elders – Assisted living facilities are an excellent option for elderly adults who are no longer able to live alone in their home, but don’t require the around-the-clock care provided in a nursing home. Unfortunately, it can be incredibly challenging for elders and their families to find affordable assisted living. The high cost associated with many assisted living communities can cause a huge financial strain for many people, but especially for those individuals with lower incomes.

  • Section 202 Program – Low-income seniors over the age of 62 may qualify to live in subsidized housing via HUD’s Section 202 program, which covers both independent and assisted living environments. Established in 1959, Section 202 is the only HUD program that provides housing exclusively for seniors. These properties are often owned by nonprofit organizations.
  • Veteran’s Benefits Veterans and spouses of veterans may qualify for aid from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Although the VA does not pay a veteran’s rent, it may cover some of the services provided by an assisted living facility. Known as Aid and Attendance (A&A), this benefit is a monthly, needs-based payment above and beyond the VA pension that can help cover the costs of long-term care. It is important to note that a veteran or surviving spouse may only receive Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits (if they are unable to leave their home), not both at once.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance Long-term care insurance, or LTCI, can be tricky. While it appears to be a natural hedge against a future possibility of becoming ill or disabled, long-term care insurance is not a catchall solution.

3 Type of Senior Living – Across the United States, the number of seniors is growing. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, almost 20% of Americans will be age 65 or older by 2030. With such a fast-growing population, it’s critical for our communities to address the needs and socio-economic conditions of the elderly. And for families trying to find appropriate, high-quality care for their loved ones as they age, it’s important their needs are being met.

Independent living – A lot of seniors prefer to stay home rather than going into an assisted living facility. In an independent living community, residents maintain their independence, living in a private home, apartment or suite, coming and going as they please and making the choices that are right for them. Sometimes known as retirement homes or 55 and over apartments, these communities do not offer health or nursing care or assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and medication management.

Assisted living – At some point in their later years, most older adults will need some type of senior care. Health challenges such as reduced mobility, complicated medication schedules, and reduced vision can make it unsafe for the adult to continue to live independently. Assisted living is a long-term residential care option designed for older adults who need some help with activities of daily living and support in their other daily tasks, such as laundry and transportation.

Nursing Homes – Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities or convalescent homes, serve anyone who requires preventive, therapeutic, and/or rehabilitative nursing care. Nursing homes provide residential care for people who don’t require hospitalization but need 24-hour care they can’t get at home. Some nursing homes are set up like a hospital with staff members providing medical care. Nursing homes also provide a wide range of other services.

COVID-19 STATE TESTING DIRECTORY

Since the aging seniors are the once most likely to be affected by the current pandemic. Here’s a resource guide on when, how and where to get tested for COVID-19.

spotless kitchen

A Parent’s Guide to Prepping a Spotless Home for Sale

As a parent, you know how hard it can be to maintain a clean home on a regular day. Once you start prepping to sell your house, it only gets more stressful to keep the place looking spotless. Selling your house when you still live there with kids can be a challenge. By taking a few steps, you and your family can work together to keep your place ready for showings at the drop of a hat.

Depersonalize Your Living Space

Removing personal items from a home is known as depersonalization. This step can be difficult and time-consuming, but it’s one of the most important things to do. When a home looks like a blank slate, it’s easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves living there.

The process of depersonalizing might include taking down family photos, stowing away personal knickknacks and even repainting the walls a more neutral color. Certain paint color choices can make your home sell for more than expected.

As a parent, you also have to keep in mind that not all buyers will have families of their own. If there are piles of toys and other kids’ items lying around, it might be harder for buyers to picture life in your home.

Get Rid of Clutter

Whereas depersonalizing a home involves storing possessions away, decluttering means getting rid of extra things you don’t really need. Depending on how much stuff you have, decluttering can be a huge job. However, not only will it make your house look great for showings, it will also make it easier to move once that day comes around.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the amount of clutter you have to deal with, you’re not alone. These tips can help you get started on the difficult task. You might also consider trying proven decluttering techniques, such as the ever-popular KonMari Method.

Parents know that there are special considerations to take when decluttering kids’ toys, but the process doesn’t have to be painful. These tips from Simple Families can help you tackle the issue together.

Do a Good Deep Clean

Having a sparkling clean home is essential before the showings start, since few things will give buyers a worse impression than dusty or grimy surfaces. A deep cleaning should address all the nooks and crannies that might get overlooked during a regular cleaning session. That includes things like grout, baseboards, and ceiling fans, to name a few.

It’s possible to do a deep cleaning on your own, but when you’re short on time, it might be better to hire a professional to do the job for you. Keep in mind that not all cleaning services are the same. Apartment Therapy explains what you’ll want to consider when hiring a cleaner for the first time.

Make a Home-Showing Checklist

If you do things right, you should only have to declutter, deep clean, and depersonalize your home once during the process. But that doesn’t guarantee your home will always be in top shape the second the realtor sets up an open house.

The best way to ensure a great showing every time is to have a checklist of things to get done. A good list should include things such as doing the dishes, stashing valuables, putting laundry in the hamper, and neutralizing odors in the home. If you have pets, make sure you have a game plan for what to do. Finally, remember to open the curtains to ensure there’s as much light as possible filling your home.

Depending on the age of your children, you might find that they enjoy helping you check these items off the list for showings. If not, it might be best to give your kids an activity to do so they’re not in the way as you get things ready.

Showing a home with kids can present extra challenges. Luckily, most of the steps you take to have better showings will also make things easier when moving day comes around. Having your place clean and decluttered for showings means you can breeze past those steps while moving out.

Costs Associated with Alzheimer’s Care

Many seniors will eventually need to move to an assisted living facility because they can no longer take care of themselves. It will likely fall on their adult children to identify the signs that indicate it’s time for a change so it’s important they know what to look out for.

Recognizing when a senior would be safer and happier in an assisted living facility doesn’t have to be a traumatic event, and I’d like to help ease some of the stress that comes with this big life change.

I have been writing on this very topic, would you mind to take a look at the article below and let me know if you’d like to share this on your site? In the article, I’ve about what behaviors or factors indicate it’s time to consider the move to assisted living as well as how to have a sensitive and productive conversation about it.

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Wisely Managing the Costs Associated with Alzheimer’s Care 

Tending to the needs of someone with Alzheimer’s is costly in many ways.  It’s expensive in terms of time, energy, emotions and last but far from least, finances.  The financial struggle can be so overwhelming that even though you know things will work out, some days you wonder how you’ll get through.  Here are some words of advice for managing the financial burden that comes along with Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn and plan

When you care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, it doesn’t take long to recognize the financial toll is tremendous.  It’s vital to become educated on the costs of services, available options, and resources for assistance. According to NextAvenue, Alzheimer’s caregivers spend an average of nearly $60,000 per year.  If your loved one should require nursing home care, a private room costs an average of more than $82,000 per year.  If you need to hire an unskilled caregiver, the cost is an average of $21 per hour. Those expenses can add up quickly, so it’s wise to make appropriate plans for your situation.  Also keep in mind costs for care vary widely, sometimes even within the same city. Paying for Senior Care offers an online guide for locating quality, affordable care wherever you live.

Resources and options

First and foremost, you should think about what options pertain specifically to you.  Chances are you have some resources in place you can turn to in order to pay some of the expenses associated with Alzheimer’s care.  You might want to make a list of your potential resources.

Here are some of the options available for covering the costs associated with Alzheimer’s care:

  • Veterans benefits.  The Veterans Administration offers assistance to veterans and surviving spouses.

  • Area Agency on Aging.  Your local Area Agency on Aging can likely connect you with numerous options for offsetting costs, such as transportation to appointments and respite care.

  • Medicare.  As Huffington Post explains, Medicare does not cover long-term care costs but does assist with medical expenses associated with Alzheimer’s care.

  • Medicare supplemental insurance.  These insurance policies help with some of the expenses Medicare doesn’t cover such as coinsurance, deductibles and copayments.

  • Medicaid.  There are strict financial qualifications to receive Medicaid.  For those who qualify, Medicaid provides coverage for services not covered by Medicare, such as expenses associated with long-term care.

  • Disability benefits.  Those who are still employed when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s might be able to take advantage of disability insurance.  When you stop working you can apply for Social Security disability benefits.

  • Health insurance.  If you or your spouse is still working and one of you is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, your health insurance plan through your employer should help cover approved medical expenses.

  • Health savings account (HSA).  An HSA can be used toward health-related expenses, if you have high-deductible health insurance.

  • Long-term care insurance.  Long-term care insurance is specifically designed to cover the costs associated with long-term care.  That means it helps pay for much of what other insurances do not, including custodial care. Usually premiums rise with age and some health conditions can disqualify individuals from coverage.

  • Selling assets.  Many people have some form of assets available to liquidate when a need for long-term care arises.  This could be in the form of investments, pensions, vacation homes, RVs and so on.

  • Life insurance.  Although life insurance doesn’t help cover costs right away, it can provide you with financial relief in the future.  If your loved one has final expense insurance, it can be used to cover funeral costs and medical bills upon death. You might also be able to sell a life insurance policy for a cash payout if you need the money sooner.

Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s can often feel overwhelming in more ways than one, but always keep in mind that you do have options for financial assistance.  Start with the above suggestions, and reach out to family for advice and support.

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7 Cheap, Simple Ways to Stay Healthy as You Age

If you’re on a budget, it’s easy to feel like staying healthy as a senior just isn’t achievable. However, health is not a matter of spending lots of money on supplements, superfoods, and exercise machines. It’s about simple and accessible choices, most of which can be undertaken without spending any money at all.

Find Your Best Health Plan

Having the right health plan not only prepares you in the event of an emergency or diagnosis, but it can also help you maintain your health on a daily basis. Depending on your needs, you may discover that you need a better plan than your current one to fulfill those needs. For example, if Original Medicare isn’t offering enough benefits, you can choose a Medicare Advantage plan. This plan combines the benefits of Medicare Parts A and B, plus adds in coverage for dental care, fitness programs, and other benefits. You can find such plans through a provider like UnitedHealthcare. Be aware that plans can change each year, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on your plan to keep getting the best care possible.

Go Walking

Walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise out there, and perhaps one of the best for older adults. Indeed, benefits for seniors include improved heart health, lower blood sugar, better mood, and more chances to meet up and talk to people. Walk as little or as much as you can, but do it regularly (daily if possible).

Take Up At-Home Exercise

Walking is great for your health, but you do need more for a well-rounded exercise routine. Specifically, you need to work out your muscles, flexibility, and balance. Luckily, these areas are very easy to work on at home, either through online yoga videos or simple exercise routines.

Take Care of Your Home

Believe it or not, the air inside your home isn’t nearly as clean as you may believe. If you don’t open your windows and air things out on a regular basis, you’re pretty much recycling the dust, allergens, and irritants that pets, cleaning products, and other things can introduce to our homes. So, throw open those windows once or twice a week (weather permitting) and let the fresh air in, and spend a few bucks every month to change out your HVAC filters. It’s also incredibly important to keep your eyes peeled for signs of mold, as this could signify a major problem. If you allow this issue to continue, the cost of cleaning your home could quickly skyrocket.

Sign Up for Social Activities

Loneliness isn’t just unpleasant, it’s bad for your health. In fact, research seems to indicate that it may be a bigger health riskthan obesity or smoking. As you grow older, opportunities for socializing may not happen as organically, so you need to actively look for them. There is a wide range of free and cheap social activities you could sign up for: book clubs, walking groups, bridge teams, crafty workshops, language classes, etc. Just pick something you’re interested in and go find other people to share that passion with!

Learn to Batch Cook

Cooking for yourself when you are older can be a chore. You are not always going to feel like making a hot, nutritious meal from scratch, and you may sometimes resort to unhealthy and convenient foods or skipping meals altogether. This is one of the common causes of the issue that is senior hunger.

One easy solution is to cook a few times a week, making big batch meals that can be easily chilled or frozen. Soups, stews, casseroles, curries, pasta sauces – the possibilities are varied and exciting. Bon Appetit has an excellent collection of batch-friendly recipes on their website, such as slow-roasted chicken and overnight oats.

Try Meditation

The benefits of meditation for seniors are well-proven. A regular meditation practice can boost memory, prevent cognitive decline, improve digestion, reduce stress, and much more. It can also help you manage the unpleasant feelings of growing older by grounding you in the present instead of worrying about the future.

Best of all, it can be totally free – check out the Insight Timerapp if you have a smartphone, or alternatively just look up “guided meditation” online and try a few different videos out.

As you grow older, various factors conspire to make it harder for you to take care of your health. Your body changes, your lifestyle becomes more sedentary, you don’t have kids anymore to set a good example for – the list goes on. But just because it’s challenging to take control of your health doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. The more you take care of your mind and body as a senior, the more you will be able to enjoy the next few decades as fully as you deserve.

When it comes time to make your Medicare selection, you have many things to consider. The three biggest ones are cost, coverage, and quality of care. Whether you’ve recently turned 65 or just aren’t happy with your current plan, looking deeper into these areas will help you make a better choice. Here’s what to factor into your decision.

Cost

Medicare is like most other insurance products in that it involves premiums, deductibles, and copays. With Original Medicare, there is no out-of-pocket limit, and some benefits are capped once you reach a certain dollar value. A supplemental plan (Medigap or Medicare Advantage) can help you set a limit so that you aren’t essentially writing a blank check if you receive treatment for a serious condition, such as a heart attack or liver failure.

With Medicare Advantage plans, the bulk of your cost is in the premium, which may be slightly higher than that of Original Medicare. However, Original Medicare can leave you on the hook for approximately 20 percent of your total medical charges, according to the New York Daily News.

Coverage

Original Medicare can help you cover the cost of basic healthcare. Things like hospital stays and doctor visits are covered under either Parts A or B. If you need dental, vision, or hearing services, you’ll have to upgrade to a Medicare Advantage plan. Original Medicare does not provide prescription drug coverage unless you enroll in Part D, which is a prescription drug plan. Most Advantage plans include prescription drugs and durable medical devices.

You may have more provider choices with Original Medicare, but an Advantage plan, which is either a PPO or HMO, is typically more flexible. Humana explains that a PPO, or Preferred Provider Organization, is the most beneficial when you use in-network providers, which have signed an agreement with the insurance company on cost.

Quality of Care

When you have Original Medicare, you are free to choose any provider that accepts Medicare. These may be limited, however, since the government requires providers to accept what it’s willing to pay for each individual service. A Medicare Advantage plan works on a network platform, so you may be restricted to providers within that network, or you’ll have to pay an out-of-pocket coverage premium. Because care quality can vary from physician to physician, you will need to determine which form of Medicare your preferred providers accept.

If you aren’t satisfied with the provider and wish to look for a new doctor, you may need to change your Medicare plan. Short of interviewing every health care provider in your area, spend some time on HealthGrades.com, which is a website that allows patients to review their doctors. While your experience and relationship with your medical team are unique, these reviews can help you determine your physician’s bedside manner and overall level of competence.

If you’re still unsure about the type of plan you need, talk to an insurance agent. A licensed insurance agent cannot only save you time and money, but he or she can also serve as a translator to help you understand often confusing legal, medical, and insurance terminology. Shopping for a Medicare Advantage plan can be confusing, but an agent can demystify the information and help you make a more informed decision.

The good news is that once you do make a decision, you are not stuck with your insurance plan. Medicare recently approved a secondary enrollment period for Medicare Advantage subscribers. Talk to your insurance agent or Medicare representative about what’s available and if you’re eligible to make changes to your coverage.

Medicare can seem intimidating, but you have numerous resources available to you. With a little time, research, and help, you can find the coverage that’s best for you.

 

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