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Services

service options, services for seniors, home care services, personal aid services, medical services, mobile services, tranportation assistance, yard maintenance, housekeepingIf family and friends are not available  to help you in time of need, or they live elsewhere and cannot provide the help you need, there are many types of services for the senior aging in place. Health care providers and social workers may have some suggestions. Geriatric care managers are another good source for guidance on services.  They will work with you to form a long-term care plan and find the right services. They do charge for this help, and it probably won’t be covered by any insurance plan. At no cost are many resources provided through the Federal Government. Some in home supportive services are accessible through the Internet and only available if you have access to a computer. As a starting point, you can get suggestions to fit your own needs from the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov. Just click on “Long-Term Care” and then “Long-Term Care Planning Tool.” Type in information about yourself (age, sex, and whether or not you are married), as well as your health problems and other needs.  If you prefer use of online tools, another good website  is www.benefitscheckup.org from the National Council on Aging. By typing in general information about yourself, you can see a list of possible benefits you might qualify for. You don’t have to give your name, address, or Social Security number in order to use this service.  Be leery of any website, phone call, or other form of questioning that asks for your social security number.  You may be getting scammed.  The independent living senior can often live happily and safety for many years with help from the right home care products and services.

General Senior Services 

Some services a senior may need include providing trips to medical appointments, pharmacy pick ups or travel to the hospital.  Most of the seniors that rely on these services do not have family in the immediate area who available to help them on a regular basis.  Check with your local senior center or directories for a list of available services.  There may be non-profit organizations that offer these services as well.  Go to Guidestar to search the national database of charitable organizations.  Enter your city and state then click on “Read Reviews” and then on “Mission Objectives” enclosure, as available, to see if the desired service(s) are offered.

You might consider AARP.  While there are a large number of seniors who have joined AARP, but to my surprise are still unaware of the large number of benefits provided through their membership.  You may be interested in joining and gaining access to the many benefits at the below link.

Reverse Mortgage

While my recommendation is that a reverse mortgage should only be used as a last resort, there are some situations where it makes sense.  Keep in mind the below potential drawbacks before making a final decision.

  • The fees are often high. Since a reverse mortgage is a loan, you will have loan-related fees. Origination fees and other fees on a reverse mortgage are typically fairly high.
  • High interest rate. The interest rate on a reverse mortgage is often higher than the rate for a traditional home equity loan. Between the up-front fees on the reverse mortgage and the high interest charges, you may not get as much money back in equity as you expect.
  • Your beneficiary might not get the house. With a reverse mortgage, you do not make payments on the loan.  Instead, the loan is paid off when you sell your home. So beneficiaries can only keep the house if they, or your estate, can pay off the reverse mortgage.
  • You have to repay the loan if you move out. If you move out of your home for any reason and are gone for over a year, you must repay the loan.  So if you are in a long term care facility, or any other alternate location, but hope to leave your home to a beneficiary, the loan will have to be repaid before you die.
  • You’re still responsible for home costs. You are always responsible for your home costs such as property taxes, homeowners insurance, and general maintenance.

Contact the below highly rated company for their reverse mortgage options.

AAG has an excellent Better Business Bureau rating.  As a reminder, 1 in 10 reverse mortgages are in default.  Use this type of loan as a last resort.  Learn more about the risks at http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-04-2013/are-reverse-mortgages-helpful.3.html.

Cell Phone

Although seniors are not typically tied to their cell phone like the younger generation of today, they still rely on the convenience, safety and security of having the ability to place and receive calls anywhere and anytime.  But the usage may be very low.  In fact my father-in-law only uses approximately 4-10 min a month.  So we just made the change to a smarter prepaid cell phone that is perfect for seniors.  Find cell a phone service provider designed for users, like seniors, that have a low usage rate below.

  • Tracfone is a great no contract cell phone that suits the needs of seniors and others with a low level of use who would benefit from pay by the minute.  One available cell phone option is Tracfone – Lg 440g No-contract Cell Phone – Black.  Several tracfone varieties exist to accommodate individual interests and needs.

Identity Protection

The aging are particularly vulnerable to crime since dishonest people target those they believe are easy targets.  My grandmother was taken advantage of and was out $5,000 for a yard job that should have only cost in the hundreds.  Vulnerability extends to identify theft since trust may be violated when paying for products and services.  There are a number of things your can do for identity protection.

  • Identify protection relies on you being aware of those around you, especially when using an ATM.  Thieves may try and get close enough to see your PIN.
  • Protect your credit card receipts as they may show your account number.  Keep receipts in a secure location until your bill arrives or you comfortable disposing of them at which time dispose of them with a quality shredder.
  • A shredder is key for identity protection.  Buy a cross cut shredder for a higher level of identity protection and use it. Shred everything that has personal financial information including credit card receipts, old bank statements, medical statements, everyday bills, pre-approved credit card offers.
  • If you apply for credit, clearly fill in all credit and loan application using your full name, first, middle and last so it will be more difficult for thieves to forge your name.
  • Check your financial accounts regularly and look for unfamiliar charges, advances or transfers.  Call and close any account that is no longer used.
  • Only carry the absolute minimum number of credit cards.  Identity protection can be compromised if you carry more credit cards than are needed since they can be lost or stolen.
  • Get a credit report at least once a year and check for any information inconsistent with your records.
  • Drop off all bill payments at the post office.  Thieves check mailboxes for account information and payments.
  • If you move, submit a change of address to creditors right away so bills are not sent to a new resident or left in the mailbox.  Identity protection cannot be maintained with improper handing of financial paperwork.
  • Only give out your social security number (SSN) when absolutely necessary.  Never put your on checks!  And if you need your social security card, carry it in a separate location from your drivers license.  Loss of both to a thief could be disaster!
  • NEVER provide your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number to anyone who calls via a telephone solicitation.  You would be giving a stranger everything they need to steal your identity.
  • If you are an online shopper, check for the Trust-e symbol or Better Business Bureau online seal.  Charger should be handled through a secure site or in an encrypted mode.  Secure sites have an email address using https instead of http.  Furthermore, the website should have a privacy policy (which may be included as part of a Terms of Use or Disclosure Statement).

You can also obtain extended identity protection for yourself and family using formal services such as that available through the below AARP approved company.

  • Trusted ID – AARP members get enhanced identity and credit protection for a special price.

Medicine Reminder

tablets, pills, and medicineWe all are forgetful from time to time.  Just ask my husband about my forgetfulness!  And as we age, being sure we do not forget to take our medicine is, in many instances, critical to health and well being.  There are devices available to remind you when it is time to take your medicine.  Some retailers provide a medicine reminder app.  Check out the below retailer(s) for this service.

  • Walgreen’s offers a mobile application that may be just what you need.  Find out more at http://www.fiercemobilehealthcare.com/story/walgreens-adds-new-functionality-its-mobile-app/2012-03-15.
  • There is also an application, Dosecast that has been highly recognized.  Dosecast reminds you to take your medicine, vitamins, or birth control pills on time, and tracks your medication adherence. It has been featured in the New York Times, Real Simple magazine, Reader’s Digest, About.com, Fierce Mobile Healthcare, and iMedicalApps.com. Dosecast can help you remember to take the right medicine, the right way, at the right time, every time.

Medical Alert

It only takes a second to realize how important a medical alert system can be.  Whether you fall and cannot get to a phone or whether you experience a medical emergency, there is not always someone at your side.  And if you want to age in place, this becomes all the more important.  Medical alert services vary and may even include a fall alert.  You can find quality medical alert services at the below find provider(s).

Home Security

Some individuals are less comfortable living alone, especially as they age and may feel more vulnerable.  Use of an emergency alert system can minimize your discomfort.   Peace of mind means a lot, but there are many benefits of a home security system.

  • Deter Potential Crime- studies show that investing in a home security system is a proven way to keep burglars at bay.  In fact, according to a 2010 study partially underwritten by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation, burglars spend less than 60 seconds breaking into a home.
  • Detect Smoke and Fire – A home fire alarm system is usually part of a total security system providing burglary protection in addition to fire protection with monitoring services that will report a break in or fire to your local police or fire department.  This does not mean fire detectors are no needed.  Be sure to use fire detectors at all major doorways throughout your home and check the batteries monthly and change them annually.
  • Discount on your Home Insurance – you may reduce the cost of you home owner’s insurance premium by using a home security system.
  • Control Your Home Remotely – if you are away from your home, most security systems can notify you remotely when there is activity in your home.  Some systems even offer remote video surveillance.
  • Help Law Enforcement Respond Faster to Emergencies – Seniors can get medical attention in the event of an emergency. Even when you are unable to get to a phone, emergency responders are notified.
  • Some systems even offer wireless transmitters that trigger the home security system.  Many home security systems also include two-way intercoms so that when the alarm is triggered, you and your family member(s) can speak directly with the operators when you cannot get to a phone.
  • Find the security system that suits your particular needs.


 

Home Sitter/Care Companion

Are you afraid to leave your loved one at home.  I was scared for my mother to even work in the yard while my dad was inside for fear of what might happen.  You can have peace of mind by using a home sitter or care companion.  Be sure to verify the sitter or care companion has the proper credentials and check their references.  You may need an emotional break or have appointments or errands to run.  But it is important to consider what your loved one needs as well.  Companionship, pleasant conversation or someone to take them outside on a beautiful day for some sunshine will help improve their quality of life and give you peace of mind.  Look for someone who is  caring and compassionate.  Older people have so much wisdom and they often love to share that knowledge and those great stories.  Find someone willing to stop and listen with interest.

  • Search your area for care companions with specialized training and experience at SitterCity.

Home Maintenance and Personal Care 

Need help with housecleaning, a lawn mower, a grocery shopper assistant, or transportation to an appointment? Some grocery stores and drug stores will take your order over the phone and offer delivery of the items to your home.  Do you need a lawn mower to  groom your yard?  Have the activities of daily living, such as house cleaning, become too much to handle every day?  There are cleaning services you can hire, or maybe someone you know has a housekeeper to suggest. Some housekeepers will help with laundry and other house cleaning tasks.  Some dry-cleaners will pick up and deliver your laundry.  Service options vary by location.  Check your local directory for services in your area.mower, lawn care, lawn treatment, lawn mower

  • Grocery shopping
  • Transportation
  • A Lawn Mower
  • House Cleaning

 

Home care aids can help with bathing, washing your hair and other personal care tasks.  If you have a medical condition or recent procedure that inhibits your ability to accomplish the activities of daily living, your long term care insurance or Medicare may cover all or part of the cost.  Check your policy and get a doctor’s order, as required, to get the home care you need.  There could may also be a waiting period or limit in the amount or time of coverage.

  • Search your area for home care professionals with the specialized training and experience you need at SitterCity.

Financial Management

Accounting, bill paying, taxes and banking can become quite a burden as you age.  Daily financial management programs provide personal financial assistance to seniors who can no longer handle financial management by themselves. Whether you need comprehensive help or just a monthly reminder to pay bills, getting the help you need can mean the difference between living independently and moving into an assisted living facility.  But having someone help with your finances also creates significant risk.   Those who are providing assistance are not financial or legal professionals.  They can prepare checks for you to sign, help organize bank and financial records, prepare and deliver bank deposits, gather documents for tax returns, help interpret medical bills, and review bank statements in order to detect potential financial abuse or fraud.  These services may be available through elder assistance programs, non-profit DMM programs, or professions for-profit DMMs.  Find your local Area Agency on Aging at www.eldercare.gov that may have information regarding elder DDM assistance programs in your area.  The AARP financial management program is a non-profit organization that provides financial management services. 

Or you may prefer a professional service. Search your local directory for available services.  It is also smart to get referrals.  Financial management service options vary by location.  Don’t just pick one service, shop around.

Potential financial management services include:

  • paying bills
  • maintaining financial records
  • preparing budgets
  • balancing checkbooks
  • negotiating with creditors
  • insurance claims
  • investments (suggested for professional financial advisors only)

You can find a planner in your area on the website of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

Online Pharmacy

Save yourself a trip to the store and get regular discounted prices for medication through online pharmacies.  But be smart and informed.  A scam online pharmacy uses the Internet to market counterfeit drugs.  You could end up paying for medicine that does not even treat your condition and could even harm your health.

There are ways to help you identify legitimate online pharmacy services.

  • Pharmacies that operate in the U.S. undergo heavy scrutiny in order to be licensed by state boards of pharmacy.  So avoid foreign services.
  • The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® inspects Internet pharmacies and awards a “VIPPS” seal (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites™ Seal) to those that meet its criteria. But there are some scam sites that depict fake seals. So be sure to verify an online pharmacy at VIPPS-accredited pharmacies.
  • Any trustworthy online pharmacy will insist on a prescription from a health care provider who has seen you in person.
  • You should be able to talk with a person, including a licensed pharmacist, to answer questions about your prescription.

Go to the below two providers for online pharmacy delivery options and costs.

Mobile Home Services

Some seniors have limited access to transportation.  Yet the standard needs you may have persist.  Take advantage of the growing number of home services that are available from the comfort of your own home.   Home service vary by location.  Check the below links and your local directory for home services in your area.

  • Mobile vet care – Find mobile veterinary home services in your area at American Association of HouseCall Veterinarians.
  • Laundry and dry cleaning services
  • Computer services
    • HP offers a computer service option when you purchase a computer that provide home computer services.
    • Check your local directory for house call  repair and technical computer services available in most areas.
  • Mobile car maintenance and repair – search your local directory for on-call/house call auto mechanic home services.
  • Safeway online grocery shopping and home delivery servicesGrocery shopping – While the services areas are limited, Safeway groceries offers online ordering with home delivery.  Soon, other options may be available.  Amazon began expanding its grocery service, called AmazonFresh, in the second half of 2013 to California, while Walmart is currently running tests of its Walmart To Go service in San Francisco and Denver.
    • Verify availability in your area and register for grocery services at  Safeway.

Assistance with Organization and Hoarding 

Professional organizers can design personalized organization systems and teach general organization skills, help you take control of your surroundings, learn how to manage time, deal with piles of paper piles, and anything else taking over your home and your life.  Whether you an organizer to help with your cluttered closet or you are overwhelmed trying to plan for a move, a room-by-room plan and organization approach from a professional organizer can help.  You may even want some guidance on improving management and organization of your paperwork, financial records and computer files.  Many professional organizers offer these services as well.  The bottom line is, there are people that can help with the organization missing from your life and to get your life under control and your home functional once again.

Hoarding requires help from a professional organizer and mental health professionalIn some instances, extensive clutter is a sign of something more than lack of organization.  You or your loved one may be displaying the signs of hoarding.  The difference between extensive collecting and compulsive hoarding is in how the collection is why items are collected, how they are stored and the organization of the items. People who have collections, such as stamps or model cars, deliberately search out specific items for their collections. Collectors often categorize their items and carefully display them. Hoarders, on the other hand, will save random items they encounter in their daily life and store them haphazardly in their homes or surrounding areas.   Hoarding ranges from mild to severe. In some cases, hoarding may not have much effect on your life, while in other cases it affects you on a daily basis.

Indications that mere collecting is leading toward or has become compulsive hoarding are:

  • Items are kept that appear to have no value or use often because it makes them feel better.
  • The collection has taken over the living area and reduced the function of your home.
  • Attachment to items is extreme and beyond feasible rationalization as there is often a feeling they may need the items one day or they will lose a part of their identity.
  • Getting rid of useless items is difficult or nearly impossible.  When attempting to discard items, they are often just moved from one pile to another.
  • The collecting has led to an inability or reluctance to socialize and invite other into your home due to shame and/or embarrassment regarding the condition of the home.

A pack rat has a lot of possessions but they typically know the location of everything.  Hoarding usually leads to items stacked precariously, at random, or even tossed about the room.

Some signs of compulsive hoarding include keeping mail, catalogs, magazines, or newspapers, you cannot get rid of clothes never worn or that no longer fit, or you keep broken items with the intent of fixing them some day.  In some cases, hoarders have multiple pets that cannot be adequately cared for.

It will be difficult to help someone that is compulsively hoarding without the involvement of a professional. Hoarding is a mental illness, and people who suffer from this condition need the right kind of help to overcome it.  Sometimes both anxiety reducing medicine and counseling/therapy are needed.

The home of a compulsive hoarder is usually dirty and so cluttered that it threatens the health and safety of those living in or near the home, causing health problems, structural damage, fire, and even death.  When the property is a rental, you may face eviction that can be emotionally devastating and lead to hospitalization or even homelessness.  The bottom line is, get professional help if you or your loved one has become or appears to be heading toward compulsive hoarding.

While there is no clear cause for hoarding, many professionals believe experiencing a traumatic event or serious loss may lead to or worsen a tendency for hoarding.  Be sure you get the counseling needed to overcome a traumatic event so that you deal with it in a healthy manner.

Food Delivery

Maintaining nutritional health is one of the key activities of daily living to safely aging in place.  But sometimes you do not feel like cooking or are not physically up to the challenge.  Whether you want to stay on a full time meal plan or just occasionally want food delivery, there are meals and meal plans available!  Find some great online food delivery services from Kitchen Magic or Mom’s Meals, both of which provide home delivered delicious meals.  You can even order food delivery for special diet meals!                                

MagicKitchen.com Portion Control 260x260

For those with more limited income, a great resource for finding nutritional assistance can be found at Administration on Aging http://www.aoa.gov/AoA_programs/HCLTC/Nutrition_Services/index.aspx.

There you will find a wide variety of information on home care and nutrition.  Sometimes food is available from  a nearby senior center, church, or synagogue. Eating out may give you a chance to visit with others but you may not have access to transportation. Many communities have access to Meals on Wheels which is a non-profit organization with food delivery to those who do not have transportation and have a limited income.  The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is also a program for low-income seniors which provides coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs.  Learn more at http://www.fns.usda.gov/sfmnp/senior-farmers-market-nutrition-program-sfmnp.

For a comprehensive list of food assistance programs, go to http://www.nutrition.gov/food-assistance-programs.

Insurance

Car Insurance

Seniors need car insurance like everyone else.  But it can get expensive.  Seniors often-impaired vision, memory, and reflexes tend to lead to increased accidents and other mishaps.  But insurance premiums are often affected after age 70.  At this time, you might be able to reduce the cost of premiums due to the amount of time driving, selecting a higher deductible, and driving a high safety rating vehicle.  Many of the same discounts available to younger drivers are available for senior drivers.  Ask about bundling coverage and good driving record discounts.  You may be able to save even more.  Some provider offer a discount because of your mature age.  Others offer discounts with completion of a senior-specific driver safety course.   Ask your provider or potential provider about all of the cost saving opportunities.

Life Insurance

You have probably heard commercials about senior life insurance.  And it is hard to know what companies you can trust.  But you also know that the burden of a funeral can in fact be quite expensive.  It really does cost between 6-10 thousand depending on your selections.  So cover yourself and your loved ones and be sure you either have the assets available to pay for a funeral or get a low cost, low value life insurance policy.  You can find policies that are highly rated at the provider(s) below.

Find MSN Money 2014 consumer reviews of car insurance, life insurance, and home owners insurance.  Be sure to ask whether they offer policies specifically designed for seniors.

Long Term Care Insurance

long term care at assisted living facilitiesYou may or may not be interested in buying long term care insurance.  Your family history and personal health may be indicators.  The earlier you buy, the cheaper it will be.  My grandmother was in a nursing home for many years.  It is enormously expensive.  And when my mother-in-law had a massive stroke and needed total care, aspects of Medicare caused alarm.  With a single person or a couple, Medicare takes into account all assets, including home and all accounts, before paying anything.  In other words, my father-in-law had to loose everything in order to get coverage for my mother-in-law.  If you are interested in long term care insurance, you can find policies at the below provider(s).

Many long term care policies cover:

  • Nursing home: A facility with a full range of skilled health care, rehabilitation care, personal care and daily activities in a 24/7 setting. Check what the policy covers over room-and-board.
  • Assisted living: A residence with apartment-style units that makes personal care and other individualized services (such as meal delivery) available as needed.
  • Adult day care services: A program outside the home that provides health, social and other support services in a supervised setting for adults who need some level of help.
  • Home care: An agency or individual who performs services, such as those associated with activities of daily living.
  • Home modification: Coverage may include modifications, such as installing ramps or grab bars, to make your home safer and more accessible.
  • Care coordination: Services provided by a trained or licensed professional who assists with determining the level of need, finding local services and making arrangements for care.
  • Future service options: Some policies have the flexibility to cover new services as they arise after contract activation.

Check policy exclusions, limitations and whether it takes into account inflation.  If you get into a position where premiums cannot be paid, check with your state’s insurance department or your state’s listing at the National State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) before dropping your policy for potential premium assistance.

  • Get several quotes from different companies that are highly rated by leading ratings services, such as Fitch Ratings, Moodys, and Standard & Poor’s. Get quotes from an independent agent who works with multiple insurers. You can search for local agents at Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

Medicare

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease.  Options include Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance), Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance), Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) and Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage).

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care. Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.  If you opt for a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare, services are covered through the plan rather than through Medicare. Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.  Part D adds prescription drug coverage on top of Original Medicare.  It may also be added to some Medicare Cost Plans, Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans. These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare.

Medicare 2014 Costs

  • Medicare Part A premium – Most people don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A. If you buy Part A, you’ll pay up to $426 each month.   You are responsible for hospital inpatient deductible:
    • $1,216 deductible for each benefit period
    • Days 1-60: $0 coinsurance for each benefit period
    • Days 61-90: $304 coinsurance per day of each benefit period
    • Days 91 and beyond: $608 coinsurance per each “lifetime reserve day” after day 90 for each benefit period (up to 60 days over your lifetime)
    • Beyond lifetime reserve days: all costs covered
  • Medicare Part B premium – Most people pay $104.90 each month with a $147 deductible per year
  • Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) monthly premium varies by plan.
  •  Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) premium varies by plan and higher-income consumers may pay more.

Go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly/ to apply online

Hospice

Look for your local hospice services.  Many are non-profit.  So whether you have insurance or not, in many areas you can still get hospice services.  Do not wait if you or a loved one has a terminal illness.  Services can be available for a year or two, on a case by case basis.  Hospice care offers comfort, compassion, and dignity to those with life-limiting illness.  Specific hospice service options vary by location.  Search for local hospice services at Hospice Directory.

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