How do I know if Long-Term Care Insurance is right for me?

We are all living longer, and the harsh reality is, if we need care, it’s going to be expensive…and we are not covered.  Costs are soaring, statistically we are living longer and most of us are going to need care at some point in our lives.  Medicare and your health insurance do not cover long-term care services.  You will be faced with self-insuring to pay costs and liquidating or selling assets, all while ensuring you leave enough assets and income for future care of a surviving spouse.  It can be a daunting challenge.

Well, the solutions have changed.  No longer is traditional long-term care insurance the only answer.

Traditional LTC insurance provides the lowest premium with comprehensive benefits and features.  However underwriting may be more challenging and premiums may increase over time.  Additionally, you may not use your benefit.

Hybrid Products combine life insurance with LTC insurance.  You receive a benefit either through use of LTC services, or a death benefit.  Underwriting may be less restrictive, so it could be easier to qualify.  Premiums are guaranteed not to increase and there is a cash value if the policy is cancelled.  However, some policies require a single premium ($50,000 minimum) and you may be able to find lower premiums if you purchase life insurance and LTC coverage separately.

Short Term Care is insurance to pay for care of up to a maximum of one year.  It can be an attractive cost-effective alternative to traditional LTC insurance.  And the underwriting process tends to be less restrictive offering a solution to individuals with pre-existing conditions.  However, the premiums for these policies may increase over time.  And you may find that you utilize your benefit and still need care, thereby requiring self-pay or spend down to qualify for government assistance through Medicaid.

All these options are viable and beneficial in certain situations.  There is no perfect solution that fits all situations.   Education and consultation with a long-term care specialist is the key to helping you find which solution is best for you and your family.

© 2017 Becky Wehrli

For more information about Long-Term Care Insurance

Contact Becky Wehrli 503-758-5725 or info@BeckyLTC.com

Low-Cost Options for Aging in Place

Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Of course your ability to do this hinges on many factors, including the nature of the challenges you face in your current home. Major home renovations may be required, but there are also numerous inexpensive steps you can take to improve your living situation.

Safety Improvements:

  • Flooring: carpeting is preferable to area rugs because it reduces tripping hazards and can cushion falls. But if area rugs are used, make sure they’re secured to the floor.
  • Handrails: on stairways, add a second handrail along the opposite wall for improved stability.
  • Footwear: to prevent falls, non-slip shoes are preferable to slippers of socks.
  • Non-skid safety strips:adhered to the floor of a tub/shower, non-skid strips are preferable to removable in-shower bath mats.
  • Bathroom grab bars: ideally these should be anchored into the wall, but if that’s not possible opt for a safety rail clamped onto the side of the tub.
  • Quality step ladder: purchase a broad-based heavy-duty step ladder with a hand-hold bar across the top to safely reach items stored out of reach.
  • Lighting: whether it’s making a bathtub brighter or installing motion-activated night lights in the hallway, better lighting can help prevent falls and make hobbies, reading, etc. more enjoyable. Lighting improvements might be as simple as changing the bulbs (to higher wattages or to bulbs that mimic daylight instead of “yellow” soft lighting) or adding battery-operated units.

Convenience Factors:

  • Hand shower: convert a standard fixed shower head into a hand-held system with flexible hose.
  • Raised toilet seats: no need to buy a new toilet when a removable seat can be added to most standard toilets.
  • Mail catcher: mail delivered via a slot in the door may be easier to retrieve from a mail box, especially if a narrow basket is mounted below the door opening so the recipient doesn’t have to pick up mail off the floor.
  • Knobs: replace round door and/or faucet knobs with lever styles, which are easier to turn. likewise, loop pulls can make drawers easier to open.
  • Eating: specially-designed cups and eating utensils can minimize food spills, including weighted options that help counterbalance shake-prone hands.
  • Cooking utensils: lightweight and ergonomically-designed options are readily available now, many offering non-slip handles and bright, attractive colors.
  • Keep things handy: move often-used items to easy-to-access locations.
  • Eliminate excess “stuff”: having fewer items to store, sort, juggle, and handle can make aging in place an easier and more enjoyable proposition.

Lynn Mattecheck is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) with RE/MAX. You can count on her to guide you through the process of buying or selling your home. (503) 495-3258.

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation is awarded by the SRES® Council, a subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). To learn more about SRES® and access various consumer resources, please visit SRES.org

Senior Identity Theft

With each passing minute a growing number of our seniors are becoming victims of identity theft. Identity thieves love to prey on older people because they are “sitting ducks”. They are often socially isolated, lonely, tend to be trusting and unprotected. Add early dementia or memory loss to the list and our seniors are the perfect victim profile for an identity thief to prey upon.

 

The sly tricks a thief uses to attain an elderly person’s social security number, bank account numbers and other financial or personal documents are quite simple. Most of our older population have been living in their homes for years and many have unsecured mailboxes. Stealing mail containing bank and credit card statements, tax information or even rummaging through garbage can lead to an easy creation of a new identity.

 

Thieves will even go to such lengths as to send mail, some with “official letterhead”, appearing to come from trusted sources such as the victim’s bank, charitable organizations or well-known companies. Almost daily we hear of thieves calling elderly people, pretending to represent charities, associations or their bank or financial institution. Unfortunately, many senior citizens believe that these phone calls are coming from a trusted source.

 

 

Knowing that identity theft can happen at any time and in various ways there are a few ways we can all initiate our own crime prevention tactics.

  • Never give out personal information over the phone, through mail, or over the internet unless you initiated the contact.
  • Shred all financial documents, bank statements, sensitive mail, credit card solicitations, and documents that contain any type of personal information.
  • Guard credit cards. Watch sales people, wait staff in restaurants, and anyone who asks for your credit card. Destroy credit cards that are rarely used or unused.
  • Don’t allow anyone to copy your driver’s license or similar information. Address and date of birth can be used to get other personal information.
  • Get a locked mailbox or post office box.
  • Be suspicious of emails asking you to click on link to confirm account or respond to an urgent need. It is safer to ignore the email and contact the company directly if you are unsure.
  • Moni
    tor online correspondence for “phishing” e-mails from people asking for help with the promise of financial rewards.

According to the FTC, nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. It’s impossible to say how many seniors are scammed, or even what percentage of known fraud targets seniors, because they are often too embarrassed or ashamed to let anyone know. There are resources you can use to further protect yourself and your aging loved ones as well as resources to help you know where to get help if identity theft has occurred.

 

http://www.doj.state.or.us/consumer/Pages/elder_care.aspx

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft

 

© Catherine Camp  – Autumn of Life Senior Housing and Advisory Services

The Spring Selling Season is in Full Bloom

The Portland housing market is in full bloom.  You have probably seen signs of this as For Sale signs pop up in your neighborhood one day and a Sale Pending sticker appears the next day.   This is a sign of more things to come as we continue to see more people moving into Portland for quality of life choices and jobs.     Our unemployment figures have been trending downward and we are now at 4.4%.

 

Supply and demand and low interest rates are pushing our prices upward.   New listings in March 2017 outpaced March 2016, however pending sales and closed sales lagged behind just slightly in March 2017.   The average price of homes being sold in the previous 12 months ending March 31, 2017 increased by 12% with the average sales price of $404,300.  This figure will differ by neighborhood.   With inventory in months at just 1.3 months, the 2017 Spring and Summer selling season will be brisk.

 

Once the house goes under contract, an appraisal is ordered by the lending institution.   If the home received multiple offers that pushed the sales price over the listed price, the appraisal might come in low.   At that time the sale could terminate, or the buyer and seller will need to renegotiate the terms of the sale that will be acceptable to the lender.

 

Buyers are paying top dollar for homes and expect properties to be in top condition.  Sellers are wise to spend some time and money to make sure their home will attract the right buyer.  A pre-inspection will inform a seller of the necessary repairs that a buyer might want done prior to closing.   The seller can disclose what they know about their home and how they remediated any of the repairs.

 

Making the home ready to show from the moment the buyer first steps through the door will help a seller obtain top dollar in this market.    Windows that sparkle, fresh paint and kitchens and bathrooms with recent updates will impress the buyer and reward the seller with a quick close.

 

© 2017 Lynn Mattecheck , Principal Broker and Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Re/Max Equity Group

Spring into Action

Winter is almost behind us and spring is right around the corner. I don’t know about you, but that always makes me want to start some “spring cleaning.”   It seems like there are always projects to do, things that needs to be done.

In fact, when we are helping to care for others it can feel like there are so many things that need to be done.  There are projects and tasks to complete and at all the same time, even things to do that we don’t even know need doing.  Can you relate?

Often times, getting an answer to even just one question, can help to “make our day,” and even reduce some of the stress we feel.  Here are some questions you might have and tools for how you can “spring into action” to find the answer to one or possibly more of your concerns.
* My Mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.   Where can I find support and encouragement?  Check out  https://www.seniorcareorganizer.com/content/links/  . There are several great books written by authors who have dealt with family members with Alzheimer’s.

* I need to find some local senior care support in my County.  This link allows you to put in the zip code to find local resources. http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

* My Father lives alone.  I keep thinking if he fell, no one would know it.  I’ve heard of the emergency pendants, but which one is the right one?  Reviews.com has done quite a large review of medical alert systems. http://www.reviews.com/medical-alert-systems/

* My brothers and I have different ideas about whether Mom and Dad can stay in their own home now that they both have medical needs.   Is there anyone who can give us some advice?  Contact a Geriatric Care Manager.  http://www.aginglifecare.org/

* My Mother is 80 years old, in good health, but doesn’t have anyone close by to help her move. Where can I find help?   Contact a local Move Manager.   http://nasmm.org/

* My Dad was a Veteran.  Is help available for long term care for him and Mom?  Here are a couple of national groups that can help.  http://www.veteranaid.org/    http://www.veteranscarecoordination.com/

* I need to handle my parents’ Social Security.  Do I need authorization?  How does this work?  Become a Representative Payee.  https://www.ssa.gov/payee/faqrep.htm

* My Father is definitely having problems with driving.  Maybe it’s time for him to give up his license?  Check out this Link:  http://keepingussafe.org/

* I really should get more organized as it relates to senior care issues.  Is there a resource for this? There absolutely is.  It comes both as a downloadable interactive PDF and the Notebook version.  http://www.seniorcareorganizer.com/.

By Claudia Rumwell, Senior Care Organizer

Facing Challenges

“You’re going to be new parents! Congratulations!” The joy and excitement of becoming a new parent is a lifetime memory. New parents have at their fingertips limitless resources to help them overcome what they believe are parenting challenges few in the history of the world have ever encountered. From the day we were born our parents lead us to reach milestones, cheering us upon each completion.  As time marches on we find ourselves looking more towards our parent’s milestones than our own and the sounds of cheering are often replaced with voices of concern.

 

As adult children, we begin to notice our parents with their graying hair, deepening wrinkles and other subtle or not so subtle signs of their advancing age. We subconsciously push aside any thought of when milestones ahead are to be reached, often thinking mom and dad have many more years ahead of them before things could take a turn.  We avoid setting a firm date for that conversation of when we have to “tell” our parents what we see. Yet, it’s on our mind frequently, “Dad needs to stop driving.” Or “Mom is getting more and more forgetful.”

 

Inevitably, there will come a time when we can no longer wait for our parents to act on their own. When their safety and well being is at risk and we must step in and become more involved. You may feel alone and think you are one of the few people who has had to deal with such an emotional issue. Preparing for that most intimate of conversations to discuss their future milestones can be overwhelming. Likely, you’ve never been an adult child to an aging parent with elder care issues before. It’s a world you’ve never entered and it can be complex and overwhelming.

 

You have at your fingertips a remarkable group of professional resources who are experts in helping families prepare, process, and complete the many areas of help needed at various stages of an aging parent’s life. NW Retirement Professionals is there for you. You can come to the family table with solutions, answers and the confidence of knowing these can guide you in one or all of the following areas whether it is for your parents or for yourself:

 

Organizing and Downsizing

Long Term Insurance

Estate Planning & Elder Law

Medically Based In-Home Care

Personal safety & Health Solutions

Senior Housing Placement

Residential Real Estate

Estate Sales & Appraisal Services

 

There is so much to figure out and most of us don’t have a clue where to start.  NW Retirement Professionals believes that education is the key to successful aging. In addition to providing services we also have designed several educational series to help folks understand and prepare for the issues and decisions they will face as they age.  Future issues of this newsletter will arm you with information and resources,so you will be better prepared to face your future aging and support your loved ones.

By Catherine Camp

Got the Music in Me

musicWith one in eight baby boomers expected to develop Alzheimer’s, care giving communities must continue to pursue ways to reach people where they are through music, art, athletics, pet therapy and even the way we use language.

No truer example of how music can touch detached residents than in a YouTube video called, “Old Man In Nursing Home Reacts To Hearing Music From His Era” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ.  (Get ready for the tear ducts to start flowing!)  This video has been viewed over an astonishing 6 million times. Obviously, loved ones and care providers are actively engaged in learning more about inspiring therapies as an instrumental addition to their care giving programs.

“Measure of the Heart: Caring for a Parent with Alzheimer’s,” is a memoir by author, broadcaster and former jazz singer, Mary Ellen Geist. She writes she always found a song to sing to her father at the start or the end of his day.

“Music changed everything in the way I was able to communicate with my father,” she said. “It made him come alive. I don’t know how it worked in the brain, but music seemed to cue him to wake up; he would remember verses, sing entire songs. It elevated his mood, but when he was done he didn’t remember what he did.”

We have found that Retirement Communities of every level use music as a part of their regular programing, including Adult Care Homes, which most people are not aware of.  The key being “from their era” or “age appropriate” music.  The music must mean something to the people hearing it. Won’t it be interesting to see how that changes as the different generations age?

At GPS we always make site visits to facilities prior to showing them to our clients. It’s imperative to provide our client’s with the opportunity to participate in daily activities and interests.  We know they can vary greatly from facility to facility and it’s clear to see and compare their offerings. As communities continue to embrace new ways of engaging their residents we look forward to telling you more about who is putting forth such programs.

by Cherie Henry and Diane Delaney of Golden Placement Services at goldenplacements.com

Estate Sales

Preparing for Estate Sales

When you are downsizing, there is always the question: What do you do with belongings you are not taking with you? With everything else you need to consider, this is not what you will want to be focusing on.

Consult an estate sale company for help.  Left over furniture, housewares, tools, clothing, collectibles, and knick-knacks can all be sold after you’ve moved.  Your old home will be left empty – and ready for “move-in” or home sale preparation.

Leaving items behind to be sold at a moving sale is not the same as giving them away or throwing them out!  The professional will conduct a sale for you and manage the disposition of your items in a professional manner.

That professional manner includes a number of services prior to, during, and after the sale.  The company staff will:

  • Prepare items for sale – which may involve some cleaning, polishing and even minor repairs
  • Set up, arrange, and display items to maximize their appeal for the buyer.
  • Research items to assure proper pricing.
  • Conduct the sale – which may be by invitation only or open to the public.
  • Hire sufficient, trained staff to assure security as well as the safety of customers.
  • Provide effective marketing and advertising for the sale – from newspaper ads to email notices to personal calls.
  • Dispose of the items that didn’t sell in accordance with the client’s wishes

These are the basic services offered.  Some items in a sale may be best sold through other methods such as eBay ® or other auction venues.  In those cases, the estate sale company will provide those services as well.

Additionally, the estate sale company can provide a menu of services to assist those customers who want to conduct their own sale.  They can give guidance on pricing and display.  They can write advertising copy and consult on the important matters of security during a sale.

Estate sale companies charge a commission on the gross sales.  The company will provide a free consultation, references, and a service agreement or contract that spells out their services.  The best part about the moving sale is that you will receive a check for the sale of your items.

This article was contributed by Sandra Millius from Millius Estate Services, who have been providing these services for over 11 years.  Their principals are trained personal property appraisers.  They have experienced set-up and sales staff and are licensed, bonded and insured.  They are dedicated to putting their client’s needs first.

Millius Estate Services, Inc.  –  503.282.3838  –  sandramillius@comcast.net  –  www.milliusestatesservice.com

Aging in Place

Stay Put (Age in Place) or Head Out?

The following article was contributed by Claudia Rumwell of Senior Care Organizer. The Senior Care Organizer is a winning combination of resource material, care giving information and organizational insights.

It’s not to say we shouldn’t think about the future. We need to because we don’t know what our needs will be when we’re in our 70’s or 80’s. We may be fairly healthy at the moment, but we also know that things can change. If you’re caring for your parents right now, you’ve already learned that. If, like me, your parents have already gone on to Heaven, you could be thinking about what your own future may be like with respect to care needs. Do I stay put? (“Age in Place”) OR do I move?

This article is to discuss “staying put.” And if that choice is made, there are definitely ways to make our home safe and more senior-friendly, as we move through our ‘day to day” activities. In fact if needed, these ideas can also apply to our aging parents as well. It’s not to say that everyone can “age in place” for the rest of their lives; but certainly whatever time we add to staying in our own homes is a ‘plus’ in so many ways.

Several years ago, I remember going through our parents’ home and making several safety-based changes to allow them to safely “stay put” longer. Now, however, there is a profession that specializes in helping people stay safely in their homes. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) will come in and review your home room by room, ask questions about your conditions and habits, provide an evaluation report and go over it with you. Most will recommend providers who can do the work for you, but basically, you will make the choice of who the contractor will be. For you in the Portland area, I recently met a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.

So, to get you started, the following ideas are offered from The Senior Care Organizer, along with The Complete Eldercare Planner (chapter 10), by Joy Loverde.

General safety

  • Replace door knobs with door handles. [Arthritic hands make it difficult to turn a knob].
  • Remove throw rugs and any clutter on the floors to reduce/prevent falls
  • Be sure there is easy access to doorways and windows
  • Make sure the front door has a “peephole” for checking on who is at the door
  • Make electrical outlets accessible. Check that appliance and electric cords are safe to use.
  • Install nightlights in the bathrooms, hallway, kitchen.
  • Make sure any stairs are non-slippery, well lit, and have a handrail.
  • Check that smoke detectors are present and in working condition. Consider having a carbon monoxide detector.

Outside

  • Check outdoor steps. There should be a handrail. Determine if steps are difficult to maneuver. Consider placing a ramp for accessibility.
  • Employ a family member or other individual to mow the lawn, weed, etc.when it becomes more difficult to take care of the yard to reduce the possibility of injury.
  • Secure windows so as not to allow easy entrance for intruders.Consider adding motion sensor lighting.

It’s a fact… we’re all going to be older and our lives will change in various ways. Many of us will be able to stay in our homes late into our senior years, but some will not. However for the time being, we can make a concerted effort to prepare our home to be as safe as possible for us to live in.

To Keep or Not to Keep?


question mark
The thought of going through all of your possessions may sound daunting but it is often a necessary step in preparing for a move. It is the process of thinking through what you own and then making decisions about whether to take them with you to your new home or whether they are items you no longer need and they should be shared with others.

 

This process is important whether you are moving to a similar sized home and need to update your possessions to meet your current lifestyle or whether you are downsizing to a smaller space and need to adjust what you own to fit comfortably into your new space.  Taking the time to make wise decisions about your belongings before you move can make the transition and the adjustment to your new place much less stressful.

 

Sorting through and editing your things does not have to be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to lighten the burden and anxiety of this process:

  • Start with small steps. Accomplishing a large task like this can be intimidating if you view it as a whole. When the job is broken down into smaller pieces it becomes more manageable.  It took years to accumulate what you have, so it will take some time to work through it all. Continue reading