Articles Posted in Caregiving

This is the second post in a two-part series on the opioid crisis at home. Addiction, the subject of our first post, is not the only opioid-related impact on older adults. The following post will examine the rise in elder abuse tied to the opioid epidemic.

I assisted a client with the purchase of commercial real estate property and had the opportunity to talk to the sellers at the property closing. I was surprised to learn that the building had been a family restaurant, in business for nearly eighty years. I asked the sellers why they were selling their business. They told me that they could no longer keep running it. They continued to share that they have two adult children battling opioid addiction.

The dad confided further that their children used to break into their restaurant and steal steaks and seafood to fund their drug habit. They were tired of hiding their valuables around their children and were having a difficult time anticipating what they would raid next. When the kids started breaking into the business, they knew they could not keep it going. In addition, they have grandchildren that they are raising as the primary caregivers because their children and their partners were not able to care for the young ones.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a group of bills intended to increase consumer homeowner protections. By press release, the Governor’s office announced three important improvements in an effort to strengthen homeowner safeguards and close loopholes to prevent deed fraud and mortgage scams.

 
Unbeknownst to the homeowner, deed fraud occurs when someone steals your identity, forges your name on a deed, and takes title to your home. The homeowner only becomes aware of the fraud when a third-party tries to collect on a mortgage or debt. Seniors are often targeted as unknowing participants in mortgage scams, especially surrounding reverse mortgage products. The purpose of the scam is to steal the equity from your home. Beware of any offer for a free home, investment opportunity or foreclosure or refinance assistance. No reputable company will be calling you cold or knocking on your door with offers that sound too good to be true.

 
The new laws passed in New York to protect homeowners are as follows:

Debt no matter the age of the debtor is a difficult load to carry. The opportunity to pay back debts diminishes with age because one’s income potential is decreased due to unemployment and any physical limitation to working. The fixed income that Social Security, pension, and retirement savings provide ideally should cover living expenses – such as housing, clothing, food, and medical care and expenses. Households that must stretch those dollars out to pay back debt are very vulnerable.

 
Senior above 60 hold $2.16 trillion in debt

 
Senior household debt is on the rise, contributing to a spike in senior bankruptcy filings throughout the country. According to the Federal Reserve, during the first quarter of 2019, Americans in their 60s held $2.16 trillion in debt. During the economic downturn of 2008, seniors in their 60s held $1.47 trillion in debt. For individuals in households with seniors who are 70 and older, the household debt is double what it was in 2008.

Millions of people find themselves in a middle class bind as they enter the midpoint of their retirement period. A good eight (8) to ten (10) years into retirement, many individuals are able to physically continue to live in their home and afford the upkeep and maintenance of their home with their retirement savings

 
Especially if the individual’s home is single-story, as health problems mature, many individuals will be physically able to maneuver their way around their home with little assistance. Multi-story homes become more difficult because climbing stairs may be a problem. Individuals in the midpoint of their retirement are generally still able to care for themselves. Many of them even hold permanent part-time jobs.

 
The sources of income for individuals in retirement are the fixed income they receive from a pension, an individual retirement account (IRA), Social Security, and 401K savings. Variable income is received through part-time job wages and other financial instruments like an annuity and cash savings.

Beginning in 2020, Medicare supplement insurance policies, known as Medigap plans, will offer fewer choices to individuals who reach age 65 after January 1, 2020. Individuals who turn age 65 before 2020 will not be affected by these changes.

 
The ABCs of Medigap plains

Medigap plans, which are sold by private insurance companies, help cover cost-sharing aspects of Medicare Parts A and B, including copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. Some Medigap plans cover services such as hospitalization and medical care when you travel outside of the United States. Medigap policies generally don’t cover long-term care, vision or dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, or private-duty nursing. Source: Medicare.

The present-day court structure was established in 1691, when the New York Assembly established the New York Supreme Court of Judicature with the same common law jurisdiction as the King’s Bench, Common Pleas and Exchequer of England. The court was granted jurisdiction in equity in 1846 by statute, taking over equity matters from the Court of Chancery, and became a court of general common law and equity jurisdiction.

 
The current court structure — made up of 11 separate trial courts with varying jurisdictions — is complex and costly. For example, the Surrogate’s Court, established in 1787, has jurisdiction in probate and administration of estates matters. There is a Surrogate’s Court in each of the sixty-two (62) counties in New York. The Surrogate’s Courts also have concurrent jurisdiction with the Family Courts, over guardianships of the person and property of infants and adoption proceedings. Each county has a separate Family Court. So, there are sixty-two (62) of the courts as well. It is easy to see why any legal proceeding is expensive and the challenge of understanding which court can help you solve a problem.

 
Like any government agency, the New York State court system has a top executive, the Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. In her February state of the judiciary address, she announced an objective to “modernize” the state’s court system. Since then, many organizations and groups from a wide range of New York life – government groups, advocates against domestic violence, legal service providers, bar associations, community groups, and even private citizens – have banded together to lobby for court simplification.

My doctors always advise me that medications are meant to help me live better not longer. I always walk away from the experience scratching my head a bit because most of my medications have made me live longer but worse than before. The worst part of taking medication daily is remembering to take medication daily. It seems like such a simple task, but part of my brain still fights that I even have to take medications in the first place.

 
The second worst part of taking daily medications to live better are the side effects, especially interactions with other drugs. Some of the news is easy to ignore, and to a certain extent makes me laugh. For every story I read about the harmful effects of drinking coffee daily, there is another one saying daily coffee consumption would kill me. What kills me, however, is skipping a cup, the headache is the worst.

 
There is news you should pay attention to and at least discuss with your doctor if it raises any concern with the management of any of your health conditions.

Single, childless seniors do not have the same support as those with a spouse, life partner, or adult children who can step in when needed to provide care and financial support as they age and require assistance to care for themselves or a serious medical condition.

  •   Close to nine percent (9%) of adults 50 or older have never married.
  •   About one third (1/3) of baby boomers don’t have any children.

By all accounts drug prices continue to soar. According to a RX Savings Solutions Study, a heavily prescribed antidepressant, fluoxetine marketed as Prozac, has increased in price 879%.  More than 3,400 drugs have increased their price in the first six months of 2019, representing a 17% increase from the year before. The Trump administration is trying to rein in the prescription drug prices, but at every turn prescriptions cost continues to rise.

 
In addition to fluoxetine, other commonly used drugs with big price increases so far in 2019 include:

  •         Mometasone 0.1% Topical Cream. This topical steroid has increased 381% this year, Rx Savings Solutions found. Mometasone treats skin conditions like eczema, hay fever, and asthma.

One of the most important decisions when contemplating retirement is deciding when to start claiming Social Security benefits. A major study found that almost all Americans take Social Security at the wrong time. This timing problem has cost retirees about $111,000 per household. Retirees typically claim Social Security benefits at 63, the earliest age a person may claim Social Security benefits is 62. Every year they wait to start drawing benefits means a larger Social Security payout. Their recommendation: start drawing Social Security benefits later in your retirement.

 
Among the Report’s main findings are:

 

  •         Only 4% of retirees claim Social Security at the most financially optimal time.
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