Funeral Directors May Not Tell You This

Source: 10 Facts Funeral Directors May Not Tell You | Fox Business

Funeral Directors might not tell you this

Terry Sheridan over at Fox Business wrote an excellent article about making funeral arrangements, and the money you can save by being a better informed consumer.  As with many things, caring for aging parents is infinitely more difficult when a crisis hits.  One of the most difficult issues occurs when we lose the ones we love.  It’s usually at this point when certain things have to be done… and what we really want (and need) to do is grieve.

The average cost of a traditional funeral, including embalming and a metal casket, is almost $6,600, according to the most recent data from the National Funeral Directors Association. Cemetery services, including the gravesite and vault or liner, can cost an additional $3,000, says Joshua Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance. — Terry Sheridan/Fox Business

Nobody wants to think about the death of a loved one.  But planning ahead (as hard as it is) can alleviate a lot of heartache down the road.  Identifying a funeral director that you want to work with before a crisis hits, can really pay off in the end.

Funeral directors are business people, not ministers. But people often think they are quasi-clergy, Slocum says. Make that mistake, and you’ll tend to believe everything they say, he says.”Remember, funeral homes are in business to make money,”– Fox Business

Here are a few tips from the article, but we recommend that you visit Fox Business to get the list in it’s entirety:

Planning For A Funeral

  1. Shopping around can save you thousands (do this ahead of time, before a crisis hits)
  2. You must be given clear prices up front (there is an FTC mandate to do so)
  3. Funeral directors aren’t clergy (they’re business people)
  4. Some “required” services are not required (like embalming or expensive caskets)
  5. Cremation services can save you some money (You can even buy your urn at Costco)
  6. You can buy a casket anywhere (you don’t have to buy one from the funeral director)

The bottom line is to accept the cold hard facts.  We’re all aging, and as hard as it is, we can help prepare for the inevitable.  We can help make preparations for our own funeral if we’re of sound mind and body.  We can also make preparations for the funerals or memorials of our loved ones.  Make yourself an informed consumer on this topic in your local area.  Talk to a few funeral directors, and get a feel for whether you’d like to work with them down the road.  Understanding your loved one’s wishes is important too.  If they want a small service with family only… Or their ashes scattered on their favorite beach… I believe those wishes should be honored.

Do you have experience planning memorial services?  Any tips for our readers?  Let us know in the comments below!

Retirement Living In Mexico

retirement living in MexicoSource: Why Is Mexico Such A Popular Retirement Destination? | Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher

Retirement Living in Mexico

I thought you’d appreciate a very interesting article appearing on HuffPost.com today.  The post takes a look at why Mexico is such a popular retirement destination for US and Canadian citizens.  Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher from InternationalLiving.com report on why Mexico is so enticing for folks that are planning their retirement.

Today, more U.S. and Canadian expats live in Mexico than anyplace else in the world — as many as a million of them, it’s said. There are many reasons for that, including the vibrant culture, an affordable cost of living and excellent healthcare. –Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher

A few of the most popular Mexican cities include Puerto Peñasco, Baja Norte, and Baja Sur.  Mexico offers a great climate, friendly communities, beaches, and plenty of food options for snow birds or full-time retirees.  After spending a week down in Cabo last year, we’re looking forward to returning and doing some more exploring!

If you’re looking for an overseas retirement destination that’s conveniently close to home, and that offers a high quality of life, a rich culture, and a relaxed atmosphere … put Mexico on your list.  –Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher from InternationalLiving.com

If you’ve been exploring retirement destinations south of the border, give us the scoop in the comments section below!

Product Review: Lively Safety Watch

Lively Safety WatchesActivity trackers are all the rage these days.  Initially marketed to active young adults, we are seeing this trend work its way into products marketed to the boomer and senior demographic.  Enter Lively.  This functional and modern safety watch provides the standard step counting you find with other smart watches, but so much more!  Lively can provide medication reminders, step counting, family alerts, activity monitoring, and an alert button.  Oh, and it’s waterproof and tells time too (analog or digital).

Lively is Functional and Stylish

Readers often ask if we can recommend an alert system that comes in a more stylish form, like a watch or piece of jewelry. Lively’s safety watch is simple, modern, and has watchband color choices (coming soon).  The watch can also be used with a user’s favorite standard watch band.  It’s simple interface is easy to navigate and customize (customizing can be done remotely by a family member or caregiver) and the simple white-on-black lettering makes it easy to read.

Lively can Call for Help

When the help button is depressed on the Lively safety watch, the call center will try to reach the user by phone.  If the call center is unable to make contact with the user, they will attempt to reach emergency contacts and dispatch emergency services if needed.  In addition to the push button feature, Lively will offer a fall detection feature (Fall 2015) that will be an optional add-on.

Top Rated Medical Alert Systems

Activity Sensors

The Lively Safety Watch is accompanied by a Lively Hub and four Lively Sensors.  The hub simply plugs into an electrical outlet in the user’s home and the sensors are then placed on movable objects around the home.  Common placement of the sensors are pill boxes, refrigerator doors, shower doors, and other objects that the user would move, open, or close on a daily basis. When the sensors are in place, no interaction with them is required.  Once the sensors establish patterns of activity, alerts can be sent to designated family or caregivers if there are abnormalities in the daily routine.  For example, if the door of the refrigerator does not open in the morning, it could be an indication of a missed meal.  Notifications can be sent to anyone who is designated at setup by email, text, or the mobile app.

Brass Tax

Lively is priced right when you compare it to similar products.  The initial cost for equipment is $49.95 for the Lively Safety Watch, Hub, and four Lively Sensors.  The monthly subscription ranges from $27.95-$34.95 depending on if you pay monthly, annually, or every two years. Lively currently offers the first month free.

The Bottom Line

We would recommend Lively to anyone who is looking for 1) a stylish non-pendant medical alert system 2) a medical alert solution that doesn’t require a phone line or in-home internet 3) anyone looking for non-invasive activity monitoring in the home.  We also like the low monthly cost of Lively that is very comparable to other medical alert systems.

We will be adding Lively to our “Favorites List”, if you have used Lively and have any feedback about your experience, we would love to hear about it below!

These decisions aren’t easy and we’re here to help you find the best deal from the best providers.  Some of the providers on our list have an affiliate relationship with The Senior List, and we’re proud of those relationships. We only work with providers that pass our own stringent criteria, and these are the same providers that we refer our friends and family to.

 

Senior Care: Pre-Planning is Key

Planning for Retirement and Senior CareAs I remain closely connected to my local senior care community, I am frequently reminded of how important pre-planning is when it comes to senior care.  I see families caught off guard and overwhelmed when a crises occurs with no pre-planning in place.  Having legal documents, financial preparations and senior care options explored  can mean a world of difference in the journey of senior care.

Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. – My father

Legal Pre-Planning

Legal pre-planning is one of the most important to any senior care plan.  No matter how this journey goes for you or a loved one, at some point, legal issues will arise.  Doctor and hospital visits can become complicated if the proper power of attorney documentation is not in place. Banks and financial institutions will not work with anyone who does not have the legal authority to represent the account holder.  The following are important documents to research and have in place.  Pre-planning is not just for older adults, but adults at any age.  I HIGHLY recommend working with an attorney, and if you can, an Elder Law Attorney in your area to ensure that these documents are correctly administered, signed and notarized if needed.  Consider the money spent an investment in you and your family’s future.

  • Power of Attorney– Health Care and Financial- This document(s) allows you to appoint another person to make decisions on your behalf and/or in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  Also called a Durable Power of Attorney in some states.  A person who is incapacitated or cognitively impaired cannot assign a power of attorney (this is where I have personally seen a lack of pre-planning have serious repercussions).
  • Living Will– This document helps spell out healthcare wishes to physicians and family.   This ensures that no one else decides for you how your medical care will be administered, or not.  Remember Terri Schiavo?
  • Will– A legal document that declares how you want your estate and possessions distributed after your death.  Even for those with very few assets, a Will can be an important document to spell out how to distribute personal possessions.

Financial Pre-Planning

Preparing for retirement is one thing, planning to pay for senior care is another subject itself.  As reported by Genworth, the annual cost of home care in 2015 is $44,616 (based on 44 hours/week), assisted living $43,200, and nursing home care is $80,300.  If those numbers are giving you heart palpitations, you aren’t alone.  Take the time to understand the following government programs that may be able to help pay for the cost of senior care.  Remember, qualifying for programs like Medicaid and VA benefits do not happen quickly in many cases.  Research these programs before a crises.

  • Medicare:  Medicare does not pay for any long-term care.  It does pay for short term rehabilitation if specific criteria are met.  Many clients I have worked with in the past were very misinformed or misunderstood the limits of Medicare benefits when it came to paying for senior care.  Medicare.gov does a great job of explaining what is covered under Medicare benefits.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a federal program, but benefits are administered by each state and vary widely in criteria to qualify.  Generally speaking, Medicaid will cover the cost of long term care in certain settings if specific health and financial conditions are met.
  • VA: The VA offers a variety of long term benefits to veterans and their spouses, again if certain criteria are met.  You can find specific information on the VA website about the programs, benefits, and pension options available.  My experience with a family member was that it took 9 months for her application to be approved, so plan ahead.

There are a variety of other ways to pay for long term care (reverse mortgages, long term care insurance, annuities, trusts, etc…).  We will leave those topics to the industry experts and post when they are available.

Senior Care Pre-Planning

I had the pleasure of working as a referral and placement advisor for 12 years and served thousands of clients. During that time, I can count on both hands the number of clients who worked with me in an effort to plan ahead for their senior care options.  Everyone else was in crises mode- they came from a hospital or rehab setting and had anywhere from a few hours to a few days to decide where to place their loved one.  It was stressful and overwhelming and I’m glad I was there to help.  I can’t stress this enough- If you or a loved one has a chronic health condition it doesn’t hurt a thing to start researching what care options are in your area.

  • Work with a referral or placement agency:  I recommend working with a local company and not an online resource.  You want someone who knows the communities and homes they are representing to you well and who aren’t selling your information online.  How long have they been in business?  What is their background?  Are they plugged into the local senior service industry?  What professional associations do they belong to?  How are they paid for their services (typically reimbursed by the senior care communities they refer)?
  • View a variety of different options (if they exist) in your area:  There are different names for senior care and they may be licensed depending on what they offer (retirement living, assisted living, adult care homes, residential care, board and care to name a few).
  • Understand pricing: Do they charge a flat fee, levels, or points?  Will there be cost of living increases?  Is there a Medicaid contract available in the event that the money runs out?
  • Have a plan:  Just because you have done the research, does not mean you need to take action right away.  You will be prepared with the knowledge and understanding of what can be provided at what cost and will be able to move quickly in the event of a crises.


That all being said, sometimes the best laid plans may not work out the way they were intended, but knowing that plans are in place should a crises arise is worth the time and energy of planning for the future.

 

The Senior List is here for you! We provide news you can use, and our opinion on the best products and services for Boomers/Seniors.  Some of the providers mentioned in this post may have an affiliate relationship with The Senior List, and we’re proud of those relationships. We only work with providers that pass our own stringent criteria, and these are the providers that we refer to friends and family.

Hillary Clinton Announcement “I’m Running For President”

Hillary Clinton AnnouncesHillary Clinton announcement: “I’m running for president”

In a (not so) surprising declaration today, Hillary Clinton posted a new video on YouTube.  In her video, Clinton says “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor for those at the top”.  No doubt this will be one of the major cornerstones of her candidacy.  View the official Hillary Clinton announcement in the video below.

Everyday Americans need a champion… And I want to be that champion. – Hillary Clinton

Hillary: “I’m Running For President”

All Of Tom Hanks Movies In 7 Minutes

Tom Hanks MoviesWe’ve been posting a lot of heavy caregiving articles lately, so we thought we’d lighten it up a little this Sunday with a great (improv) video done by the one and only Tom Hanks and James Corden. Tom and James give us a 7 minute montage of all of Tom Hanks’ Movies LIVE AND IN A SINGLE TAKE!  The 58 year old Tom Hanks is a Senior List favorite for a variety of reasons, but his comedic talent is incomparable. We hope this brings as big a smile to you, as it did to us. Enjoy!

Lessons In Caregiving

Lessons in CaregivingMany of us will be family caregivers in the coming years.  The baby boomer generation is experiencing this with their own parents right now… So one day the rest of us will be facing the same issue.  The video I’m sharing below is one of the best short videos I’ve seen depicting the realities of family caregiving.  It really touched me, and I hope it does you too.

Evelyn Corsini and her family allowed photographer Francine Orr to document the final months of her life, to observe caregiving. Orr’s interest was journalistic but also personal: As the caregiver for her father, she had been living the story herself for more than a decade. – Los Angeles Times

Caregiving for a family member isn’t easy, it’s tough work.  We do it because we LOVE our mothers and our fathers, our brothers and our sisters.  Caring for a family member requires modifications to the home, changes to our lifestyle, and a knowledge of ADL’s (activities of daily living) and how to manage them.  If you’re not familiar with the various ADL’s, here’s a list of the 6 basic ADL’s:

  1. Eating
  2. Bathing
  3. Dressing
  4. Toileting
  5. Transferring (walking)
  6. Continence

The video “Lessons In Caregiving” was posted by the Los Angeles Times in December of last year, and it gives us a glimpse at one family’s story during the final stages of life. Special thanks to Evelyn Corsini’s family members for allowing us to learn from their experience. It may help us prepare for our own journey down this road.

Are you a family caregiver?  We’d love to hear your story.  Tell us about your caregiving journey in the comments below.

Gently Showering Your Aging Parent

showering your aging parentWe love to pass along caregiving tips that might help our readers with aging parents.  One of the realities of caregiving that many new family caregivers don’t fully understand when faced with these responsibilities is showering and bathing a loved one.  This is a delicate subject for both the family caregiver as well as the aging parent.  This is a vulnerable (and scary) time for both, but it doesn’t have to be if you understand some of the basic techniques associated with this exercise.

Caregivers for Caregivers put this great educational video together on showering your aging parent.  They offer a wide variety of information that provides help to Caregivers of all types. One of Caregivers for Caregivers mantras reads; “We help you look at the world to see it as the new normal”.  Today we’d like to share a video that provides great tips on showering your aging parent.  We’ve included a clip below.

Tips: Showering Your Aging Parent

  • The caregiver should over communicate.  Letting your aging parent know exactly what’s going on at all times (and why) is important and will set everyone at ease.
  • The caregiver should plan the shower routine.  Notice that he has the proper equipment (chair, towel, shower temperature, etc.) all ready for his resident.
  • Keep your loved one covered so their not cold when out of the water.

Planning For Retirement? Don’t Make These Mistakes

Planning for RetirementAnn Brenoff at HuffPost50 wrote a great article entitled The 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Planning For Retirement.  Her article cites some of the pitfalls people fall into when planning for retirement.  We thought there was value in passing along some of Ann’s tips, along with a few of our own.  Planning for retirement is serious business, even for those lucky few who have the “retirement trifecta” in hand; A pension, proceeds from a 401K/IRA, and social security!

There is a whole host of strategies one should consider while planning for retirement.  Some of the conventional strategies involve downsizing from the big suburban home and moving into the city.  Examining where you live is another important consideration; is this the optimal location for your retirement?  What about retiring overseas?  How is your health and what are your healthcare needs?  These are just a few of the many considerations one must make before retiring.

Ann Brenoff says you should avoid the following mistakes when planning for retirement:

  1. “You don’t save”.  Did you know BankRate.com says that less than 1 in 5 people save (anything) on a monthly basis? It’s unfortunate to say the least.  If you’re someone who isn’t a saver, and you spend all of your monthly income on a regular basis, this may be a sign that either your burn rate is too high, or your paycheck is too low (or both).  If you’ve fallen behind, you need to catch up.  This means some hard choices.
  2. “You still don’t fully fund your 401K”.  This is a mistake many people fall into.  Ann cites an alarming statistic; “According to the 2014 “How America Saves” report, 33 percent of employees don’t participate in a 401k program even though 95 percent of them would receive a match.”  For most people this is leaving money on the table, and irresponsible on a number of levels. If you don’t understand your own 401K program, and you’ve neglected to fully fund it, make sure you speak to one of your benefits advisors to get back on track!
  3. “You still play the stock market like a roulette table”.  Nearing retirement means taking less risk with your assets.  The last thing you need is to risk your hard earned retirement savings on risky bets.  Do some research online, or speak to a financial planner for good advice on dialing back your investment risk profile as you near retirement age.

There’s more to Ann’s list, and you can read more by following her over at HuffPost50.  Remember, retirement takes significant planning over a period of time.  If you’re serious about retirement – do your homework, avoid the all-to-common mistakes, and plan ahead!

Product Review: Seniors Wireless

Seniors wireless telemed and mobile phone providerWhen was the last time you went to the doctor?  How long did it take to get an appointment?  Once you arrived, how long until you were seen?  If medication was prescribed, then you also took time to go to the pharmacy.  What if you could save yourself (or a loved one) all that time and energy in one phone call?

Seniors Wireless is a game changer, and we like game changers.  At it’s core, Seniors Wireless is the first combined mobile and telemedicine service in the U.S. specifically designed for those 55 and older.   The affordable teleMED Assist service provides direct access to board-certified physicians in your home state via phone or video for any reason, anytime, anywhere.  Yes, you read that right- with teleMED Assist, you can call and talk to a doctor about any issue, day or night, anywhere in the U.S.  The best part is that it doesn’t matter how much or how little you use the monthly service, it’s only $1/day.  TeleMED can be accessed from any cell phone, smartphone, or land-line.  Members simply call the toll-free teleMED number or use a video link for unlimited, direct access to a physician.  The physician can then evaluate, refer, and prescribe from the convenience of the member’s phone.
Seniors wireless telemed and mobile phone provider

Low Cost Mobile Phone Plans with Seniors Wireless

In addition to teleMED Assist, Seniors Wireless also has some great mobile phone plans starting at $10 per month. For those who like the convenience of a wireless service, but do not use a phone regularly, “top up” plans are easy to add additional or fewer minutes each month.  Most mobile phones these days are tied to lengthy contracts and confusing additional charges.  Seniors Wireless phone plans are month-to-month and require no contract.  They offer three different pay as you need prepaid plans based on how much of a talker you are.

  • Small: $10
  • Medium: $20
  • Large: $30
  • Extra Large: $90
  • Unlimited: $30-$169 depending on bundle

TeleMED Assist can be bundled with any of the above plans or as a stand-alone service.

  • $30 singles plan
  • $40 couples plan

We are giving away the first month of teleMED Assist for 5 lucky readers.  Fill in the form below to enter!

Seniors Wireless Giveaway

Enter to win a free month of teleMED Assist- a $30 value!
  • Only Seniors Wireless will receive your email for purposes of randomly choosing winners.