Weekly Round-up

From presidential candidates to the man on the street, healthcare costs are on everybody’s mind.  But other than knowing that the U.S. spends more money on healthcare services than any other country in the world or that the cost of medical spending is rising faster than inflation, no one seems to have a fix.  A Kaiser Health News article has broken down the problem to seven factors that we all contribute to one way or the other.  Find the list here.

The national economy is improving.  How do we know?  Medicaid spending this year slowed to 2 percent, the smallest since 2006, and state-federal health insurance programs for the poor also slowed according to a report out from the Kaiser Family Foundation.  At least that’s the findings in a Kaiser Health News article  by Phil Galewitz.   While there’s no real agreement on what the numbers actually mean in the long run, states are projecting the slowdown in enrollment to continue in 2013.  Spending, however, is expected to increase by 3.8.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that because of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), 5.6 million people in the Medicare Part D “donut hole” saved an average of $657.  During the first nine months of 2012, over 20.7 million people with original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them according to an article here .

Share this to your favorite network:

Campaign ad features Medicaid’s middle class role

Under the 2010 health care law, Medicaid would expand to cover as many as 17 million more people starting in 2014.  Medicaid is often portrayed as a program for the poor but a recent Barack Obama ad changes the focus to the impact of Medicaid cuts to middle class families in covering nursing home care and supporting children with disabilities.  While Medicare has been the subject of both candidates’ ads, this is the first time this year that Medicaid has taken center stage in a presidential election ad.  See the ad here .

Share this to your favorite network:

Weekly Round-Up 7/7/12

  • Reverse mortgage report: There is an upside to a reverse mortgage, and then there is a down side. The upside it that it can be a godsend to those trying to tap their equity in retirement to make ends meet; the downside is that most people using the reverse mortgage are not doing so for the reasons why the mortgage was created in the first place. So, when should you consider a reverse mortgage? View this PDF to learn more.
  • Cardiac surgery leads to extended cognitive problems: You don’t just have to be concerned about Alzheimer’s. Turns out many elderly patients who undergo cardiac surgery face extended cognitive problems. Is that a risk you should consider before opting for the surgery? Could the cure be worse than the illness? But more importantly, what should you do when considering cardiac surgery late in life? If you don’t want to become a burden on others, explore care management options! Chart out a plan of action before the surgery in case you have to deal with the issues. And a good Geriatric Care Manager can be of immense assistance in the process. Learn more about effects of cardiac surgery.
  • Vitamin D prevents fractures (you know, the one that comes from the sun): In the great Northwest, Vitamin D is in more demand. Are you getting enough? And if not, does it increase your risk of fractures in later years?

Share this to your favorite network:

Weekly Round-Up for 6/30/12

Long Term Care Insurance.  Only 10 percent of the elderly have a private long-term care insurance plan, and because coverage under these plans is often limited, only 4 percent of long-term care expenditures are paid by private insurance, while fully one-third of expenditures are paid out-of-pocket.  Long-term care expenditures represent a significant financial risk for the elderly. A 65-year-old woman has a 44 percent chance of entering a nursing home during her lifetime and, upon entering, faces an average stay of two years. Long-term care is extremely expensive – the average rate for a semi-private room in a nursing home is about $90,000 per year in Washington state.   (see The Economic Bureau of Economic Research for more details).

The question here is whether you should buy the policy or not, and if you choose not to buy then what are your long term care options.

Social Security Statements ONLINE!  Did you know you can get your social security statement online?  In a cost cutting move Social Security first eliminated the paper statements that were being mailed out to all citizens.  But then it reinstated the paper statements for those 60 and over.  It is important for you to see your statement regularly for two reasons: one to check to make sure your earnings are being properly reported; and two, to review when to start your social security payments.  Click here to get your statement online.

Reverse mortgages are getting more popular as people are living  longer and investment returns have dwindled.  The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) has launched an education campaign on the issue.  Though it is another elaborate sales pitch, the  tools it provides do have merit and can be used to review the viability of the product in your individual case.  For individuals who have planned around aging in place and  have made sure that they will not have to move even if incapacity strikes, a reverse mortgage is an excellent way to access locked equity in the home; but if you are looking at a reverse mortgage knowing that you will be moving sometime in future from the current home, this is a BAD choice to make.  Click here to see the amount you can obtain using the reverse mortgage and to calculate the costs involved.

Legal rights of residents with dementia acting out on sexual urges in retirement communities is going to become a bigger issue.  There is truly no legal barrier to a resident having consensual sexual relationships in a nursing home, but the staff generally discourage such activity for many different reasons.  Whatever the reasons, there are calls for residents to be able to exercise their legal right to have intimate relations with whoever they desire to have such a relationship with and it would certainly be a violation of one’s legal rights to be interfered with in the exercise of the legal right.  But the issue is not that simple.  Here is an excellent article on the issue in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Supreme Court Decision on health care laws.  Although it is a heated topic, healthcare reform is here to stay, for now.  Argue all you want, it is a fact.  Take your concerns about its affordability to the polls come election time, but for now, understand what it does for you. So, what would be most productive is to sit down and understand what the law does for you and how you can benefit.   Focus on what is in your control and let go of what is not.  What is in your control is to take advantage of the rules and regulations, seeing as you are going to be paying for it.  Here is one source of analysis – Wall Street Journal.  Off course, stay tuned to AgingOptions for regular updates and news about your legal rights under the new health laws.  Click here to get your copy of the actual decision (in PDF).



Share this to your favorite network:

Weekly Round-Up for June 23, 2012

  • Financial exploitation of elders.  51% of fraud that is commited against seniors is at the hands of strangers; 34% by family, friends and neighbors.  But, you can protect yourself.  Aginging ini secrecy is not a good thing.  It is true that many seniors want to keep their affairs private.  But those who are close to their family and discuss their finances openly with ALL family members, make arrangements so that all family members are aware of the role one may be playing to help a parent, keeps transparency and keeps exploitation at bay.  http://www.preventelderabuse.org/documents/mmi-elder-financial-abuse.pdf
  • 64 percent of those over 65 are more afraid of losing independence or living with pain or physical limitations than of dying (7 percent).  This is a fact that is raised often by AgingOptions advocates.  It should be no surprise that being shuffled to a nursing home is more scary a proposition than dying itself.  The sad part, though, is that most who harbor those fears also feel that there is nothing that can be done about it.  Which is simply not true.  There is much that one can do to better prepare for a time when incapacity might be reality, including moving to a progressive care living community or moving closer to children.  The biggest mistake is not doing something about it under the false premise that there is nothing that can be done to alleviate the issues one might face in future  due to incapacity.  http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Aging/2012/20120620-Older_Americans_Optimistic.htm
  • Living alone increases risks of cardiovascular disease, functional decline and mortality, Compared to many other parts of the world where joint family systems are the norm, we live in a society where nuclear families are the way we age.  One significant downside to this system is that when we face old age and lose our partner isolation will be a haunting reality for most.  And isolation manifests itself in the form of cardiovascular disease, functional decline and accerated mortality.  Perhaps, isolation leads to one giving up on life.  What can you do?  Be aware about it.  Be socially active and mentally engaged.  Move to a progressive care living community, move closer to children and become part of their lives.  Don’t throw away the one life we get on earth by not planning for a time when you might be alone later in life.   http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Alzheimers/2012/20180618-Living_Alone.htm http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Alzheimers/2012/20120618-Older_People.htm
  • Is the memory loss normal aging or something more?  Testing can tell you whether you are dealing with normal aging or something more sinister like Alzheimer’s.  We all start go forget as we grow old, but it is not always bad. Not knowing if it is a disease could mean that you miss out on being able to arrest the problem when intervention could help slow down the process or cure  it altogether.  http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Aging/2012/20120615-The_Answer.htm
  • Not having enough money’ is the biggest surprise for retirees; retirement different than expected, ‘shocked’ by financial surprises.  But why should this be a surprise?  We all know how much money we have in our bank account at any given time.  A bit of planning will help us get a grip on some basic facts we will face in retirement.  What our retirement income will be, what our projected expenses will be and how much money we will need in retirement.  It is a basic retirement budget that can be developed with the assistance of most financial advisors, but many fail to take this step.  Knowing these facts will allow you to time your retirement age correctly as well as develop a plan around social security benefits, when to start those benefits.  http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Retirement/2012/20120607-Top_Life_Advice.htm
Share this to your favorite network:

Traditional financial planning advice about annuities that misses the mark!

Like so many others, this link takes you to an AARP article that touts the benefits of annuities as a way to smooth out future retirement income.  And once again, just like most traditional planning solution, it misses the mark.

Annuities are a way to reduce your assets and increase your income.  Say you had $500,000 in assets and a $1500 per month income.  And say the income is proving to be inadequate and you have to raid the  assets on a regular basis and are concerned that you might outlive your money.  The annuity solution is  presented as the solution – you will be asked to take a certain amount of your $500,000 and give it to an  insurance company who will in turn then guarantee you a monthly income for the rest of your life, no matter what the market conditions.  This way you will not outlive your money.

Sounds like a great trick, right?  But, what this strategy does not take into account is that if you are concerned about running out of money, this is an indication that you do not have a very large estate.  And today, the biggest threat that will wipe out your savings are not estate taxes (death taxes) or probate costs, rather it is a very likely but unanticipated illness not covered by Medicare or your health insurance.  A Stroke that leaves you paralyzed, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.  And the cost could  eat your estate quickly.  But, where Medicare and your health insurance will not cover the cost of care, VA and Medicaid might.  But, to get these benefits you will need to give up control of any assets in your name.  And the income that you have will have to be used for your care costs before VA or Medicaid will pay.  So, the annuity you purchased is money down the drain.  Income cannot be protected in most cases whereas with some planning you will be able to protect assets.

For most retirees today converting assets to income is NOT a wise idea given the fact that according to the Alzheimer’s Association, about half of all American’s over age 85 will deal with dementia related issues which will render them unable to care for their own needs without the assistance of others.  And this will either result in the individual facing uncovered medical and long term care costs or a need to access VA or Medicaid benefits, both of which will mean that though you could plan to protect assets, you could not protect income.  This makes the traditional wisdom of buying an annuity not such a hot idea.

To learn more on how to  manage your long term care risk go to www.agingoptions.com.

Here’s the link to the article referenced at the beginning of this post: http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/info-06-2012/older-americans-ambivalence-toward-annuities-AARP-ppi-econ-sec.html.

Share this to your favorite network:

What will not be around in the next several years?

Besides you or I, lots of things.  Knowing what will not be around could help you plan on making more wise buying decisions.  Life is evolving quickly.  Just like rotary phones and pony express are a romantic memory now – so will a lot of gadgets we use today.  The change is already afoot.  It also is a good way to know what not to spend money on, for surely sooner or later these ‘things’ will not be part of our life and will have to be carted to the “unwanted things grave” by you or someone else.  Likely someone else if you are like most people and want to hang on to things that you paid good money for.

Look at this list of items that will soon be gone by AARP, good stuff to think about: http://www.aarp.org/entertainment/style-trends/info-06-2012/world-without-toilet-paper.2.html

Share this to your favorite network:

Weekly Round-Up for June 9, 2012




  • Agreements that residents sign when they enter a long-term care facility deserve another look. In California, a resident who sued her assisted-living facility, was awarded more than $750,000 in attorney’s fees and costs by a state appeals court, despite the requirement in the facility’s agreement that residents with disputes must pay their owner attorney’s fees. The plaintiff in the case sued the home for elder-abuse violations. The court upheld the facility’s requirement that the dispute go to arbitration, but it refused to make the resident to pay her own attorney’s fees, as the agreement required. That clause, the court said, violates public policy. The Elder Abuse Act specifically called for recovery of attorney fees and costs to plaintiffs who win in court, and the facility’s agreement was contrary to that law and thus public policy. The court affirmed the arbitrator’s award of $666,725.30 in attorney fees and $94,694.70.


  • Finally. In this age of changing technology, more than half of seniors are online, where they have access to more information about health care, aging services, and elder-care data. But being online also helps keep seniors and their families in touch, which can lead to happier families all around. http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/WebsWeLike/2012/20120606-More-Than_Half.htm
Share this to your favorite network: