What Boomers Look For In A Retirement Community

Boomers on computerMedia Post’s Engage Boomers Blog wrote a nice piece on the 5 things boomers are looking for in a retirement community and we thought we’d pass a few of these tidbits along.  There are a few obvious features, and a couple not-so-obvious.

Today’s baby boomers are looking for pet friendliness, spacious living quarters and sustainability (environmentally functional) just to name a few.  Boomers today live active lifestyles, and their not looking to get bogged down!  Lot’s of activities are a must in any modern day retirement community, and a quality food menu is an absolute essential!!!!

The article doesn’t mention it, but it goes without question – staff friendliness, attentiveness and professionalism rank extremely high among the attributes of top retirement communities.  People really do make the difference.  What are you looking for in a top rated retirement community?

Top 5 Dementia Articles for 2014

canstockphoto1476746We thought it fitting to provide you with a new top 5 list to ring in the new year.  Listed below are the top 5 articles on DEMENTIA for this, the first week of 2014.  We hope you find it both interesting and informative.  As always, if you have comments, suggestions, or additional resources to add we invite you to participate in our comments section below!

Top 5 Articles on Dementia

1.  Bringing Dementia Patients Back To Life (The Atlantic; Jan. 5, 2014):  This article focuses on the many misconceptions of a dementia diagnosis, and it focuses what dementia patients CAN DO, not what they can’t.  Money Quote: “In some cases, unresponsiveness may say less about a patient’s disability than a failure on our part to offer something worth responding to.”

2. Heart Disease Could Be Tied To Dementia For Older Women (Reuters; Jan. 2, 2014)  Reuters reacts to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association entitled Cardiovascular Disease and Cognitive Decline in Postmenopausal Women: Results From the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.  This study looked at the relationship between heart disease and cognitive decline in elderly women.  Researchers confirmed the association noting that “Women who’d had a heart attack, in particular, were twice as likely to see declines in their thinking and memory skills”.  Money Quote:  “Understanding the connection between heart disease and dementia is important because heart disease is reversible but Alzheimer’s disease is not, O’Brien said.”

3. What Is The Global Impact Of Dementia (CBS News.com; Jan. 4, 2014)  CBS News VIDEO discusses the global impact (including economic implications, human implications and potential therapies). Money Quote: “Where we’re really lacking – is drugs that can hit that inflammation response where the brain’s immune cells are turning against it.  We really have nothing that can help you.  Ibuprofen and current anti inflammatories won’t do it.”


4. A Daily Dose Of Vitamin E Slows Ravages Of Dementia (Daily Express – UK; Jan. 1, 2014)  For the first time, US researchers have found a benefit of adding Vitamin E to the diets of mild to moderate dementia sufferers.  Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital and the Veterans’ Administration Medical Centers in Minneapolis are reporting that “the annual rate of functional decline among dementia sufferers was reduced by 19 per cent thanks to a daily vitamin E supplement”.  This particularly study noted that those taking Vitamin E were able to carry out everyday tasks for longer periods of time.  Money Quote:  “Now that we have a strong clinical trial showing that vitamin E slows functional decline and reduces the burdens on care-givers, vitamin E should be offered to patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.”

5. The Younger Face Of Dementia: Ottawa Man Shares Wife’s Battle With The Disease (CTV news.ca- Jan. 6, 2014)  When people think of dementia they think of it as an older person’s disease, but as Matthew Dineen explains – his wife was just 41 when she began exhibiting signs of the disease.  Today, Lisa Dineen lives in the secure wing of a Ottawa nursing home, a stand-out among the elderly residents there.  A year ago she was diagnosed with FTD (Frontotemporal Dementia) a devastating brain disorder for which we know no cure.  Money Quote:  “We have people who get a divorce … their families leave them because some of them start acting very inappropriately. They don’t understand that it is a brain disease, they don’t understand that they are not doing it on purpose.”

When Is The Right Time To Take Social Security Benefit?

lady reading paperI read an interesting article recently written by Tom Sightings of the blog “Sightings Over Sixty“.  The blog post was titled “The Best Time to Start Social Security”, and it discussed the variables involved when considering when to take your social security benefit.  The long and short of it is that it’s a gamble either way.  Wait a little longer and your benefit amount goes up… Take it early and you receive less.  There is no easy answer!

When Should I Start Taking My Social Security Benefit?

Tom’s article does offer some good advice when it come to making the decision however.

Tom says a person should TAKE SOCIAL SECURITY EARLY IF:

  • Your income is low and you need the money right away
  • You have a spouse who will be eligible for a larger benefit down the road
  • You don’t believe you’ll live into your 80′s

Tom says person should DELAY TAKING SOCIAL SECURITY IF:

  • You are still working and generating income
  • You are healthy and have a long history of extended years ahead
  • You have large nest egg built up (at least $500K)

Do Not Delay Taking Social Security Beyond The Age of 70

One thing you need to be aware of though is that IF you can wait until 70, it’s a good idea to do so.  Your benefit will be 32% higher than at the full retirement age (which is now 65-67 depending on when you were born).  But we cannot stress this enough.  DO NOT WAIT ANY LONGER THAN 70 TO COLLECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT.  There is no incentive to do so.  You will simply be giving up those benefits that you earned over your working years.

If you’re interested in some additional information on social security benefits, see this nice PBS Posting by Larry Kotlikoff.  This article features some interesting questions and answers regarding the subject.

2013 Medical Alert Scam Targets Seniors

Here at The Senior List we’ve been tweeting about the recent Medical Alert Scams, and warning folks about robo-callers trolling for your personal information (AND your money).  Reports from all over the country indicate this practice has not only continued, but it’s growing!  Here’s the scam… An automated message rings your phone and indicates that someone has purchased a medical alert system for you.  The message further indicates that the device is free, and ready to be sent to your home.  All the consumer needs to do is press “1″ on their touch tone keypad.  If someone does indeed fall for the scam,  a slimy telemarketer comes on the line and attempts to steal your personal data and your credit card information.

This deceiving practice is so pervasive, it recently hit one of our readers.  Take a look at what Maryann has been dealing with first hand (click the comment box to see the string live)!  Special thanks to Maryann for alerting us.

medical alert system scam

Numerous news organizations are now reporting on this medical alert scam including AARP and the Medical Alert Monitoring Association.  If you receive these calls, the best thing you can do is immediately hang up (don’t press #1, and don’t wait on the line).  Anytime you receive an unsolicited call from a so-called provider, immediately hang up.  Also, anytime you hear the word “free” you should be wary and (you guessed it) hang up.  As my Papa used to tell me… “Nothing is free in this life!”

IF you’ve already made the mistake of speaking to one of the con-artists (oh I mean associates), you’ll likely receive follow-up calls because they’re now aware of a working number with a heart beat on the end of the line.  You can Ignore the follow up calls.  If you are so inclined, you can report the fraudulent activity to a number of sources including your local Better Business Bureau (local agencies usually have senior fraud prevention/reporting programs), your State Attorney General’s office, and/or the Medical Alert Monitoring Association at 1-866-388-8618.

Baby Boomers Not As Healthy

medical logoWhen we think of Baby Boomers we envision active, healthy individuals that are living life to it’s fullest!  But a new study in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) is casting some doubt on that “healthy” notion… Dr. Dana King (University of Virginia School of Medicine) and colleagues analyzed data from 2 separate National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey’s (NHANES) and compared the results with regard to health status, functional and work disability, healthy lifestyle characteristics, and presence of chronic disease.   Interestingly, today’s Boomers were found to be less healthy than the previous generation.

Obesity was more common among baby boomers and (surprisingly) today’s boomers don’t seem to be exercising as frequently.  These lifestyle related issues can lead to increases in hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and were noted to be higher in the Boomer group vs. the prior generation.  On a positive note, boomers smoking rates have fallen compared to previous generations and interestingly, boomers are in fact living longer (than previous generations).  The authors note that given the trends related to chronic conditions, baby boomers (78 million strong) could have an impact on rising health care costs in the future.  They further indicate “a clear need for policies that expand efforts at prevention and healthy lifestyle promotion in the baby boomer generation”.

“The findings from the present study documenting poorer health status and increased rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia support an increased likelihood for continued rising health care costs and a need for increased numbers of health professionals as baby boomers age.” — Dr’s King DE, Matheson E, Chirina S, Shankar A, and Broman-Fulks J. 2013. The Status of Baby Boomers’ Health in the United States: The Healthiest Generation? JAMA Internal Medicine

Time to keep a close watch on America’s gyms, vitamin/supplement manufacturers, pharma companies, and weight loss centers… They have a healthy future awaiting them!

Paying for Long Term Care- Are You Prepared?

Questions about long term care?Americans are doing little to prepare for long term care and are not very concerned.  And maybe they don’t need to be concerned— because they need to be terrified!  A recent poll released by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and reported in the national media, verified a major factor contributing to the long term care funding crisis in this country: Two out of every three people over the age of 40, according to the poll, have made no plans about long term care and it is a topic they prefer to not consider.  The irony is that seven out of ten people will need long term care services once they pass the age of 65.  The poll also showed the continuing lack of understanding about how long term care is funded.  Misconceptions continue that Medicare will pay for anything more than 100 days of skilled nursing rehabilitation care.  Health insurance plans don’t cover long term care services, long term care insurance is limited and restrictive in coverage, and Medicaid will only cover long term care (primarily nursing home) once a recipient has spent-down their assets to below the poverty level.

The growing population of Boomers retiring, and seniors requiring long term care services is creating enormous pressure on the system and an urgent drive to find new private pay solutions.  One private pay resource that is on the rise is converting life insurance policies into Long Term Care Benefits.  Millions of seniors own life insurance policies that they are in danger of abandoning without realizing they could quickly and easily convert the policy into a monthly Long Term Care Benefit Plan.  These Benefit Plans will pay for any form of long term care service including home care, assisted living, and skilled nursing care; and any type of life insurance policy will qualify for conversion.

Private Pay Solutions Emerge

The long term care industry has been quick to embrace this concept and today thousands of assisted living communities, nursing homes and home health companies accept this funding method.  Political leaders too have begun to realize the cost saving implications for their beleaguered Medicaid budgets by extending the time a person could remain private pay before becoming Medicaid eligible through the conversion of a life insurance policy as an alternative to abandoning the policy through lapse or surrender.

Medicaid is a government program designed to help cover health care costs for the indigent (poor), disabled and children and/or dependents.  The eligibility process is determined by asset and income levels that would measure an applicant as being below the poverty level.  One of the assets that will count against a Medicaid applicant is a life insurance policy.  The owner of the policy must surrender the policy for any cash value and spend it down on care, or if the policy has no cash value and the owner keeps it the estate will be subject to federally mandated asset recovery probate action against the death benefit collected by the estate to claw back all Medicaid expenditures.  Because of this reality, financial planners, elder law attorney’s and geriatric care advisers have provided seniors and their families with the default guidance that in the case of ownership of life insurance policy (not including funeral policy exemptions), a life insurance policy still owned by the senior inside the 5 year look back period should be abandoned.

Political Support Arrives Just in Time

States are now coming to the realization that there is a much higher value found through the conversion of a life policy that can be deployed to extend private-pay as a Long Term Care Benefit Plan.  Any owner of a life insurance policy has the legal right to convert it into a Long Term Care Benefit Plan.  In 2010, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) passed a national consumer protection model law that would mandate life insurance companies must disclose to policy owners about their legal right to convert their life insurance policies instead of abandoning them via lapse or surrender.  The life insurance industry opposes anything that would discourage policy owners’ from abandoning their life insurance (because life insurance companies make huge profits off of seniors that have paid premiums for years and then abandon their policies in the last years of their life).

Since passage of the NCOIL national model law; legislation has been introduced in numerous states to empower Medicaid departments to educate citizens that the conversion of their life insurance policies is their legal right and a better option than abandonment of their policies.  As of May 2013, the states of FL, TX, KY, LA, and ME have introduced this legislation and numerous other states are preparing to introduce the same bill for enactment.  Over the course of this year and next, people will continue to become more aware of their option to convert a life insurance policy to pay for long term care.  All across the country the long term care industry and political leaders are looking for private pay options that not only help people pay for long term care, but save the tax payer money by delaying Medicaid eligibility.

Three Clear Winners

The policy conversion option is a clear winner for seniors and their families; providers of long term care services; and for tax payers in every state:

1.     The policy owner and their family are able to convert a life insurance policy and use the proceeds in a Medicaid qualified spend-down to extend the time they are private pay before moving to government assistance.  This allows freedom to choose the form of care they want, as well as financial control and dignity for themselves and their families.

2.     Providers of long-term care services benefit because they are operating under extremely thin margins and private pay dollars translate into higher quality services for everyone under their care.

3.     The longer a person can remain private pay before becoming Medicaid-eligible, the more budget/tax savings for the citizens of every state in America.