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Articles Posted in Caregiving

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.

In our last post we reviewed reverse mortgages as a way to cash out of the equity in your home while allowing you to remain in your home. As long as you are 62 and older, own your home, and plan to live in it, it is possible to convert the equity in your home into a monthly income, a line of credit, or a lump sum, with some restrictions on the latter with respect to timing of the lump sum distribution. At some point, however, the loan becomes due and payable, which begs the questions of when and who pays?

Triggering events

A insured home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage loan becomes due and payable when a triggering event occurs. This means that the borrower owes the lender the total amount of money the lender has disbursed to the borrower, plus interest and fees accrued during the life of the loan. Triggering events include:

The adage, home is where the heart is, is a truism. Human beings have a need for shelter. Housing is a basic need. Much time, effort, and money are expended in our lifetime to obtain and keep a home. For many individuals entering retirement, their home is their most valuable asset. A sad truth of aging, however, is that you may not be able to care for yourself in your home as you age.

A big old house is harder to keep because it requires maintenance and repairs to maintain. Routine maintenance like mowing the lawn is impossible to perform if for example, you have a bad hip. Paying someone to do it also gets harder, because at the retirement stage in life, your income is fixed with little wiggle room to go off budget. Even more difficult is surviving a natural disaster and finding help to rebuild or repair your home. Paying for major repairs and obtaining qualified help without being ripped off is even more challenging. It’s not surprising that seniors turn to reverse mortgages to remain in their home as long as possible.

A brief overview on reverse mortgages

When bodies age they need regular check-ups to ensure systems are functioning properly. Particularly if you suffer from a chronic condition, such as high blood pressure or kidney failure, regular doctor appointments followed up by lab work are extremely important. Through preventative care, your quality of life is better. Managing the day-to-day aches and pains is simpler and when flare-ups occur you are able to bounce back to form faster.

Every month, there are a group of doctors that I must see to ensure that I can manage my own health. My general doctor, he’s my quarterback. He calls the plays and sends me to the appropriate specialist to treat my chronic conditions. While I have a great relationship with my quarterback and his staff, whenever he sends me to another doctor my immediate reaction is anxiety. It makes me anxious to call a specialist because, like your third-grade teacher, they are full of rules. How to call them, when to call them, how to leave a message with the doctor, etc. etc.

Calling a new doctor to schedule an appointment is the most unpleasant thing I do on a monthly basis. Some doctors’ offices want patients to use an online portal for example. Other doctors send a call to a voicemail box with the promise to respond within 48 hours. Recently, a doctor asked that I compete 20 pages of form, can and email at lease a dozen lab reports, and then wait one week for a call back to schedule an appointment. He did call me directly three times to tell me he can’t help me. As time goes on it seems it’s harder and harder to make an appointment.

On April 5, 2019, Kathy Lee Gifford, the co-host of the fourth hour of the Today Show retired after 25-years working in daytime television. In an interview in AARP Magazine, she reflects on loss and loneliness. She states,

“If you’re not careful, what you’ve lost in life can define you. It’s so much better to be defined by what you still have, it’s just healthier. I’m making big changes in my life because I need to, really big changes that are feeding my soul. Otherwise, despair sets in and loneliness can be crippling.” | Kathy Lee Gifford

In the article, Ms. Gifford describes being a widow, losing her mother, and becoming an empty nester, all within months of each other. From a life full of others, she now finds herself home alone. To emerge from this cocoon, she next turns her attention to acting and singing.

I recently went to the emergency room at my local hospital because I was experiencing severe flank pain. I thought it was my appendix, but instead I was diagnosed with kidney stones. That wasn’t the most unpleasant thing to occur to me on that very painful night.

I arrived at the emergency room at 9:30 PM and was discharged the next morning at 10:00 AM. During those nine-in-a-half hours I was attended by eight different doctors. I never received a status report from the same doctor twice. At first, I thought it was a shift change, but then that would be two to three doctors at most. Eight seemed like something was out of order.

Three days later, I was in the waiting room of the kidney stone specialist’s office waiting for my appointment with Dr. X, a female doctor. I am ushered into the examination room by the medical assistant who takes down my chief complaint and checks my vitals. A short while later there is a knock on the door, and in enter three people that look like doctors, but were all men.

End of life planning is very difficult. On the one hand, you must understand what your assets are and contemplate how to dispose of them after your death in a way that is meaningful to you and the people or organizations you gift. On the other hand, you must identify your standard of medical care and treatment and be able to communicate it to a responsible person so that if and when you lose mental capacities and capabilities, your actual wishes are followed.

Even the best-laid plans can leave you vulnerable and at the mercy of the people around you – spouses or partners, children, and business associates – before you die. An estate plan does not protect someone before he or she dies.

Financial mismanagement concerns

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