Del and Barbara: Going to the chapel

“The first time I saw her was in a sweetshop across from the school,” says Del.  “My neighbor, buddy and best friend was there and I told him I was going to marry her.”  At the time Del was 17 years old and Barbara was 15 years old.  Del talked a good game but Barbara didn’t even see him that first time and he didn’t know her name.  Del bought his Butterfinger and left and Barbara continued talking to her friend quite oblivious that anything had happened.

Del’s opportunity came just a short time later.  There were three boys in the chapel the same age and the chapel had a good youth program so one of the boys asked Barbara to go to chapel with him.  It was the first time Barbara had ever been in a church.

When Del finally convinced Barbara to marry him, he had to ask his mother to sign for him because he was 20 at the time and you couldn’t get married without a parent’s signature until you were 21.

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Helen and Don: A European Romance

Helen and her sister saved money so that they could spend a year in Europe. One of her sisters was training to be a missionary and so they stayed with missionaries and cared for their children while the missionaries were training. The two of them travelled around by train and later bought a car and travelled that way as well. They had been in Europe for about 11 months of that year when they stayed with a missionary family in Germany. They attended chapel with the family and Don was an usher at the chapel and he asked Helen to go out to dinner on Washington ’s Birthday. “He was late,” she said, “and has been late ever since.” Because people never saw them together, people thought he was dating her sister and were surprised when Helen and Don announced they were getting married. They’ve been married 52 years.

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Searching for true love

Valentine’s Day is a month away so it may seem to be jumping the gun, but recently I’ve read two love stories about finding love later in life.  Here’s one and here’s the other.  Do you have a love story you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear it so we can share it with other readers.  Send me an e-mail at [email protected]

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Future of Aging in America

  1. The biggest retirement gaff is not focusing on the planning needs, rather it is not planning comprehensively. Generally, planning is done in pieces. Financial planning, health planning (or more appropriately, health repair), legal planning and to some extent planning around housing issues. The problem generally is that there is no communication within these various professionals and therefore advice you get is not comprehensive advice. AARP article at least puts all the planning pieces together for you to consider. The next step for you should be reaching out to a planner that addresses all these issues under one roof, if you can find such a person. Some resources to help with planning for your future.
  2. Taxes on your mind? Educate yourself about these tax cutting opportunities for 2010. 
  3. Top 3 concerns in retirement: unable to do things I want to do; not being able to care for my own needs; unable to drive. This and much more on aging issues.
  4. Despite partisan rhetoric – Medicare health in good shape. 
  5. The Fiscal Times reports that some 70% of seniors 65+ will need long term care and some 20% will need the care of others for 5 or more years. Yet, we are simply not prepared as a nation to deal with the situation. The Class Act, being offered as an option, is no more than a ponzi scheme Madoff would have been proud of. The answer lies in taking responsibility to build a tri legged stool: savings, private insurance and public insurance-assistance.
  6. Women need to be better prepared to deal with Alzheimer’s disease related issues. Some 65% of total Alzheimer’s patients are women and majority caregivers (60%) are also women. Without proper advance planning women are truly at the highest risk of falling victims in many different ways.
  7. 500,000 adults in Washington could lose prescription drug benefits. This is just the tip of the icebergs on how the state is planning on dealing with the budget woes.
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Rising Cost of Living

It’s official: No Social Security Increase in 2011. Officially there is no inflation. So why does your insurance premium, price of gas, price of food and other bills keep going up?

Brand name drug prices skyrocketing.  What is the difference between government bureaucracy and corporate bureaucracy? Little. But it costs seniors dearly.

Changes in Advantage Plans will mean higher cost for some seniors.  Advantage plans no longer receive the subsidy they once did. For many companies offering these plans, this cuts into their profits. And one way to make up the disappeared revenues is to increase premiums or shave off benefits. For some retirees with such plans it means but one thing – their costs will be going up.

Aging Health costs challenging US future – Bernanke. This should not come as a surprise. More retirees than workers who contribute to Social Security and Medicare add up to deficits. The moral of this tale is clear – expect changes and likely cuts to the programs. Unless you are proactive in planning for your retirement years, uncovered medical and long term care costs may prove to be a hurdle that you will not be able to overcome.

Top concern of caregivers of ALZ patients:

  • Memory loss (41%), personal safety (33%) and confusion (27%) are the biggest worries caregivers have for those in their care dealing with Alzheimer’s. 55% also state that caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s takes a toll on their personal health and 60% of the care providers felt overwhelmed. You know this first hand if you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
  • Walking may save memory. This is no surprise, but a good reminder for those who would wait till the perpetual tomorrow to start exercising.
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Seniors for Sale

What a bizarre headline !!!

But this is true, this was the headline in the Seattle Times last Sunday exposing the reality of Seniors face today. Here were few more disturbing headlines in the newspaper.

"We didn’t know, and i didn’t complain early enough to save her."

"Fragile, pushed out and paying a price."

I would hazard a guess that most of us do not believe that stuff like this will happen to us. But then, I doubt if any of the individuals featured in the Times thought this would happen to them

Here is the link to the full article here: Seniors For Sale

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I write to you with grave concerns about DSHS’s request to shirk its responsibility by having HB 3049/SB 6717 being considered by the legislature for adoption. HB 3049/SB 6717 effectively ask the legislature to pass retroactive laws to disallow DSHS clients, who were illegally denied benefits in the first place, the opportunity to collect those past benefits.

I have some such clients whom I serve as an elder law attorney. These clients are old and/or disabled and do not have much of a voice, other than yours. DSHS first denied these clients benefits and when caught is asking the legislature to retroactively limit the payout to no more than 90 days.

The only reason DSHS got caught is because I and other attorneys took their case pro bono and won at the Supreme Court level. (See Jenkins v. DSHS, 160 Wn.2d 466, May 3, 2007). I have no financial motive to advocate for this position other than seeing to it that the clients who won a victory in court should not be let down by the legislature because the client has still not been paid back the benefits owed.

I understand the budgetary constraints, but it is a shame that DSHS would resort to have their problems covered on the backs of those who are broken and beat down to begin with. Let them get rid of the significant management fluff they have and support amongst their ranks to manage costs instead of wasting time on such efforts.

I will also share with you my utter disgust by the presentation made by DSHS representatives to the House committee suggesting that the bill is only a technical correction and nothing more. Not only do I differ in that position, but think it is outright fraud on part of DSHS not to disclose that the real purpose behind the bill is to shirk on its duty to pay benefits that it wrongfully denied in the first place.

The old and disabled are counting on you to prevent this injustice.

Best regards, 

Rajiv Nagaich

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Reverse Mortgage Fraud Schemes on the Rise

Available to people 62 and older, reverse mortgages allow homeowners to convert their home equity into cash. Instead of writing a check to the bank each month, the bank pays the homeowner, who can elect to receive a lump sum, a line of credit or monthly payments. The loan is repaid, with interest, when the borrower dies, moves, sells the house, or fails to pay property taxes or homeowner’s insurance.

Reverse-mortgage fraud, typically committed by homeowners’ relatives, caretakers or financial advisers, has also been cropping up recently in schemes to unload distressed real estate. Regulators cite cases in which real-estate speculators bought properties on the cheap and then sold them, using inflated appraisals, to senior citizens willing to take out reverse mortgages.

Lenders and administrators of theHUD program say reverse mortgages, for the most part, are still working well. "There are little scams around the edges," says Meg Burns, director of Single Family Program Development for the Federal Housing Administration, the HUD division that administers the reverse-mortgage program. Recent data—and HUD’s own inspectors—indicate reverse-mortgage scams are on the rise. So far this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, HUD has referred 29 cases of suspected fraud to its Office of Inspector General for investigation, up from two the year before. Jacqueline Felton, who heads the FBI’s mortgage-fraud team, says her agency is also seeing an increase. Indeed, HUD’s data on suspected fraud likely understates the extent of the problem. Anthony Medici, who in June testified before Congress as a special agent in the OIG’s Criminal Investigation division, said current cases "involve hundreds of properties."

Source: Wall St. Journal (27 August 2009)

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Multigeneration Living



The current economic downturn brings to light the obvious – the vulnerability of anyone who has not prepared to weather the financial storm. According to a recent report, Living Longer on Less: The New (In)security of Seniors, produced by The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP), a research institute at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, 78 percent of all senior households are financially vulnerable. The vulnerability comes from inability to meet housing costs and healthcare costs, negative budgets, lack of available home equity and lack of adequate assets.

Many seniors will succumb to these vulnerabilities and be rendered dependent on state aid. A significant number of those who succumb to state aid do so because of prohibitively high healthcare costs, particularly long-term care costs, which are generally not covered by Medicare or any health insurance plans (other than long-term care insurance policies, which few seniors have).

Other societies have found answers in multigenerational living arrangements. Such a system did indeed flourish in this nation as well and continues to exist to some extent even today. However, it is all but lost to the majority of seniors, who throughout their lives expected to remain independent all the way to the end and not become a burden on their children. As a society we have succeeded in creating an expectation of self-reliance. The issues such an expectation creates are nothing short of heartbreaking in most cases.

Take, for example, a recent conversation I had with a dear friend of mine who has been caring for his wife for over 14 years. In his early 60’s, my friend’s wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He took care of her, encouraging his children to live their lives while he took early retirement to care for his wife.

As time passed, the care needs became more significant and he tried home healthcare and day health services, which met the needs for a while. However, in the end, with no dependable assistance from family members, my friend found no other solution than to place his wife in an institutional setting, which cost him over $90,000 each year. He searched for a legal solution to try and preserve his estate of about $700,000. At the present rate this nest egg would have allowed him to care for his wife for at least seven years, but for the current economic downturn.

Worried stiff about the dwindling resources, my friend opted to divorce his wife in order to obtain Medicaid benefits to cover her significant care costs and to protect his savings for his own future care needs. And this is not the sad part.

In our conversation my friend was lamenting the fact that his decision had alienated him from his children, not that they ever made time to help him with his wife’s care needs before he decided to divorce her. In fact, they had visited her no more than a handful of times throughout the past year, just as they did with him.

The previous Christmas none of his children invited him to their house, even though he had arranged for a gathering on December 27th with all of them. By coincidence, a few days before Christmas he happened to run into his son, daughter-in-law and family at a restaurant. In this chance meeting his daughter-in-law told him she was busy getting ready for a large crowd coming to their house on Christmas (her side of the family); as an afterthought she added that if my friend was bored at home he could drop in. Devastated, my friend chose not to say anything about it. But the episode looms large and gnaws at him each day. Are these the children he raised? Is this what life amounts to in the end?

Multigenerational living is not a solution for all families, not because we lack the capacity to live it but because the lifestyle is alien to us. Our drive to live independently and not be a burden on our children has become all too common. We are the sad victims of our own success. And unless attitudes change, silent devastation will continue to victimize most of us in a time when we are most vulnerable.

In my own family, my mother-in-law lived with us for 11 years. It was more of a culture shock for my wife than it was for me, chiefly because I was born in India, where multigenerational families are the norm. 

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Forced discharged from Hospital

As an Elder Law Attorney, I experience first hand  the same pain, anguish, struggle and frustration a family goes through while taking care of their loved one. Our health care system is so broken and complicated that it has simply forgotten the notion it was created on. Every one is treated as one fit size all regardless of individual necessities and requirements.

This week I received an email from one of my loyal radio show listener, who herself is a psychiatric nurse practitioner  for last 30 years & taking care of her elderly mother. Her mother is right now at a rehab facility and she has Group Health Insurance. Rehab facility and Group Health managed  care wants to discharge her mother even though she cannot transfer by herself and may even have torn her shoulder rotator cuff in the fall which had not even been addressed yet. 

Daughter thinks Group Health is not meeting their fiduciary duty  & wants to discharge her mom, even when it is not safe for her mom to be discharged…..Daughter is struggling & fighting with the system, simply to maintain the quality, safety and dignity of her mom’s life.

Under the law, Group Health can only discharge mom if it is safe for her to be discharged. I suggested  the daughter to hire the services of a care mangers (social workers) to interface with the medical community and try and work with them in developing the discharge plan. If they are given a hard time then I will write a letter as an attorney requesting their cooperation and informing them that their planned discharge will place mom in physical jeopardy for which they may have liability. If they still insist in discharging then they have to give  a written notice to mom and mom will have the right to request review. While the review is pending, Group Health must pay for the care of mom. However, if the review is unfavorable to mom then mom would have to pay for the days out of her own pocket.

I also suggested daughter to have a backup plan that is to  work on Medicaid and or VA benefits while trying to push the Medicare days. The ideal way to deal with this situation will be to have care managers meet the Group Health folks and get an idea of what needs to be done to ensure the safety & quality of life for mom before discharging her and simultaneously review mom’s estate for VA and Medicaid benefits……

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