Sunday, April 29, 2012

"A Privilege Denied to Many"

It's A Privilege
One chilly November Friday I went to my doctor's office for an IV treatment.  As I pulled into a parking spot, I saw a very old woman sitting in the passenger seat of the car next to me; she was covered in a big quilt and reading a magazine.  She looked up as I passed by; I smiled and she smiled in return.  Meanwhile I observed her with my eldercare vision, pretty sure she had Alzheimer's/Dementia.

Inside I got settled into my seat and was hooked up the IV.  There was an elderly gentleman to the left of me.  Very likable and cheerful.  I imagined that he was probably a Navy veteran from perhaps WWII or the Korean War or both.  Perhaps, he even belonged to the lady parked in the car outside.

Right on both counts.  WWII and Korea.  His wife with Alzheimer's too.  But this is not about my insight and intuition.  This is about the man who had to put considerable effort into getting up out of the chair just to go into the bathroom --- we were both there for about an hour and a half and during that time he had to get up to go to the bathroom six times, carefully dragging his IV behind him.  He was riddled with arthritis and he was legally blind --and then some.

He joked with the nurse at the station and at one point I made a comment to him stating that At His Age he could probably get away with just about anything.  "Yes." he replied "When I do certain things they just say 'Oh there goes that Crazy Ol' Guy again!"  He went on to talk about the fact that he had been caring for his wife with Alzheimer's for nearly 10 years (she was 90).  His only child, a son, was living with them and helped them, but he was going to be moving away in a  few weeks -- he had gotten a job in another state.  The man did not look upon this with bitterness, he was simply glad he had had his son around for this long.

He talked about the war years and he talked about his resulting disabilities.  He talked and talked and talked and the beautiful thing was that everything he talked about mattered.  Everything had value.  And the bottom line when he talked about being nearly 90 (blind!  incontinent!  riddled with arthritis!)  "It's a privilege to get older.  It's an adventure."  he says  "So many never got the chance."



It may be a privilege to get older, yes, (and sometimes we DO need a reminder!)  but it was a privilege to meet this seemingly "ordinary" man in the doctor's office.   I think of him now and again and I hope he and his wife are blessed every extraordinary day.

Seniors in the Spotlight

I am happy to report that I will be speaking at the Spotlight on Seniors program at Sedona Sunrise at the Sedona United Methodist Church on May 19.  It's the first public speaking engagement I have had in quite some time and I am looking forward to it!.  And honored to be part of the great lineup.  If you are in the area and have a chance to attend, please do!!!  Not only will it be a great program, but your contribution goes to a great cause, to support the center.   Hope to see you there!


Friday, April 27, 2012

SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

Every day I hear many amazing stories in my line of work!  When you work with people and you care about them, you hear what they say with their lips --and with their hearts... and there's ultimately enough fodder for a screenplay!  I speak each one in confidence and with the utmost respect.  I decided I would start posting them here now and again so others can learn from them too:  

ELDERPLANNING STORY

Roy and Angela had been dating since high school.  Same age, same year - both were now graduating college.  On Graduation Day Roy grabbed his diploma in New England, hopped the train and got to Seattle in time to see Angela graduate with honors.  She was always such a smart girl!  And pretty too!   Roy was stalling, however.  Angela had been saying for years that she wanted them to marry as soon as they finished college.  He loved her, yes, but was he indeed ready for marriage?  Children?  Career?  


Everett, WA Depot 1900's
Two days later they boarded the train together.  He was taking her to Chicago for a family gathering.  She looked at him with such admiration.  After all, he was such a gentleman!  She felt fortunate to have such a smart, handsome and chivalrous man at her side.  As they boarded the train she carried only her purse while he carried both of their bags and her bookbag too.  He was so strong!

They settled into their seats, their tickets were punched and the train started moving. Angela ruffled through her bag for a book and some magazines for the long ride.  Roy was preparing to take a nap.  He was a contented man. 

As the train picked up speed, she nudged him on the elbow.  He turned to her as she handed him the latest issue of the Seattle Times.  "Here" she said "there might be something of interest to you."  He gladly took the paper with a nod and began to read.  

'Of Interest', sure enough!  There, on page 3: "Holstein and McFarland to Wed".  He did a double-take.  Sure enough there was a recent portrait of the two of them, Roy and Angela, taken over the holidays the year before.  The article went on to announce that the two would wed in Chicago on the upcoming Saturday.  Roy was taken completely by surprise.  

Angela had taken it upon herself to make all the arrangements. They were married that Saturday in Chicago and have been happily married for 77 years.  

"How can you argue with a woman like that?  And she's been telling me what to do ever since!"  he says with a smile-- and absolutely no regret.  


 Couple Discuss Their Plans

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Understanding Memory Loss

Learn the difference between mild forgetfulness and more serious memory problems in this 24-page booklet. Also discussed are various causes of memory problems and how to get help for serious memory loss.  Download your Free Booklet from the National Institute on Aging by clicking here.


You can also review one of our previous posts which discusses forgetfulness vs. memory loss.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Practice What You Teach...



Today I went to visit Evelyn (not her real name) at the local nursing home. She is in bed day after day after day, she has significant pain and she often questions her worth. I sat on the edge of her bed and held her hand as we caught up on the recent events of life. At one point I made the comment to her that She Is Loved, and she said with a surprising strength of voice: "I KNOW." "You do? You know?" "Yes" she said "I've learned that." "How?" I asked. "Because you have taught me."

Sometimes we make a difference in someone's life in ways we never plan or dream possible. I have had a strong sense of connection with Evelyn since day #1, so we had that in our favor. However it is important to practice love and kindness in everything we do with everyone we come into contact with. Evelyn's learning that she is loved helped ME to know that I make an important difference. My helping her to see HER worth helped me to see my own.

What's It Worth?...



Today I went to visit Evelyn (not her real name) at the local nursing home. She is in bed day after day after day, she has significant pain and she often questions her worth. I sat on the edge of her bed and held her hand as we caught up on the recent events of life. At one point I made the comment to her that She Is Loved, and she said with a surprising strength of voice: "I KNOW." "You do? You know?" "Yes" she said "I've learned that." "How?" I asked. "Because you have taught me."

Sometimes we make a difference in someone's life in ways we never plan or dream possible. I have had a strong sense of connection with Evelyn since day #1, so we had that in our favor. However it is important to practice love and kindness in everything we do with everyone we come into contact with. Evelyn's learning that she is loved helped ME to know that I make an important difference. My helping her to see HER worth helped me to see my own.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tax Day is Coming Round Again. Are You and Your Preparer Prepared?

Medical and Dental Expenses

If, for a taxable year, you itemize your deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, you may be able to deduct expenses you paid that year for medical and dental care for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. You may deduct only the amount by which your total medical care expenses for the year exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. For years beginning after December 31, 2012, you may deduct only the amount by which your total medical expenses exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. You figure the amount you are allowed to deduct on Form 1040, Schedule A.

IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, contains additional information on medical expenses including who will qualify as your dependent for purposes of the deduction and how you figure and report the deduction on your return.

Medical care expenses include payments for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or payments for treatments affecting any structure or function of the body.

Tax Time
Medical care expenses include the insurance premiums you paid for policies that cover medical care or for a qualified long-term care insurance policy covering qualified long-term care services. If you are an employee, medical expenses do not include that portion of your premiums paid by your employer under its sponsored group accident or health policy or qualified long-term care insurance policy. Further, medical expenses do not include the premiums that you paid under your employer-sponsored policy under a premium conversion policy; for example, a federal employee, participating in the premium conversion program of the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program, may not include the premiums paid for the policy as a medical expense.

Taxpayer Breakdown
If you are self-employed and have a net profit for the year, you may be able to deduct (as an adjustment to income) the premiums you paid on a health insurance policy covering medical care including a qualified long-term care insurance policy covering medical care including a qualified long-term care insurance policy for yourself and your spouse and dependents. You cannot take this deduction for any month in which you were eligible to participate in any subsidized health plan maintained by your employer, your former employer, your spouse's employer, or your former spouse's employer. If you do not claim 100% of you self-employed health insurance deduction, you can include the remaining premiums with your other medical expenses as an itemized deduction on Form 1040, Schedule A. You may not deduct insurance premiums paid by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan (cafeteria plan) unless the premiums are included in Box 1 of your Form W-2.


Taxpayer Breakdown!
LTC insurance deductions on tax qualified policies are as follows - You can claim the allowable premium deduction or the actual premium itself, whichever is less.

LTC Deductibles

Other deductible medical expenses may include but are not limited to:
  • Payments of fees to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nontraditional medical practitioners
  • Payments for in-patient hospital care or nursing home services, including the cost of meals and lodging charged by the hospital or nursing home
  • Payments for acupuncture treatments or inpatient treatment at a center for alcohol or drug addiction, for participation in a smoking-cessation program and for drugs to alleviate nicotine withdrawal that require a prescription
  • Payments to participate in a weight-loss program for a specific disease or diseases, including obesity, diagnosed by a physician but not ordinarily, payments for diet food items or the payment of health club dues
  • Payments for insulin and payments for drugs that require a prescription
  • Payments for admission and transportation to a medical conference relating to a chronic disease that you, your spouse, or your dependents have (if the costs are primarily for and essential to medical care necessitated medical care). However, you may not deduct the costs for meals and lodging while attending the medical conference
  • Payments for false teeth, reading or prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, and for guide dogs for the blind or deaf
  • Payments for transportation primarily for and essential to medical care that qualify as medical expenses, such as, payments of the actual fare for a taxi, bus, train, or ambulance or for medical transportation by personal car, the amount of your actual out-of-pocket expenses such as for gas and oil, or the amount of the standard mileage rate for medical expenses, plus the cost of tolls and parking fees
You may not deduct funeral or burial expenses, over-the-counter medicines, toothpaste, toiletries, cosmetics, a trip or program for the general improvement of your health, or most cosmetic surgery. You may not deduct amounts paid for nicotine gum and nicotine patches, which do not require a prescription.

You can only include the medical expenses you paid during the year. Your total deductible medical expenses for the year must be reduced by any reimbursement of deductible medical expenses. It makes no difference if you receive the reimbursement or if it is paid directly to the doctor, hospital, or other medical provider.

It Will Be Okay

See Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, for additional information. IRS Publications may be downloaded from the IRS.gov website, www.irs.gov, or ordered by calling 800–829–3676.

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