We all age differently so, there is no way to set one age when everyone should stop driving. Trouble seeing, trouble hearing, slower reaction time and certain medications can all effect a person’s ability to drive safely.
As you age it may become harder to see people, and movement outside your direct line of sight. At night, you may have trouble seeing things clearly. Glare from oncoming headlights or street lights can be a problem. Eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration, can also cause interfere with your ability to drive confidently. Aging may affect your hearing as well, making it harder to notice horns, sirens, or even noises coming from your own car. This can be a problem because these sounds warn you when you may need to pull over or get out of the way. Many medications have side effects that can make driving unsafe. Some may even come with warnings about driving while taking them. Pay attention to how these drugs may affect your driving and never drive if you feel drowsy or lightheaded.
Safe driving tips for seniors:
Sometimes, it can be hard for an older person to realize that he or she is no longer a safe driver. If possible, try to observe the person’s driving in person. If it’s not possible to observe the older person driving, look for these signs:
Talking with a senior about their driving.
For many people, driving represents independence, so giving up that freedom can be extremely difficult. Avoid a confrontation or an intervention with the entire family. You may want to be the one who has the conversation with your aging parent or elderly relative about their driving, however, consider that your loved one may be more open to listening to someone else. When choosing who will initiate the conversation with your older family member about his or her driving, consider the relationships and personalities involved. Try to keep the conversation one-on-one and pick a time of day when you believe your loved one will be most relaxed. Let your loved one know that your goal is to make sure they’re safe and that you wish for them to remain independent and will do all you can to help. Avoid saying they are a dangerous driver and starting out the conversation by demanding they need to stop driving. Focus on the facts available to you, such as their medical condition or your first-hand experience of their unsafe driving. If your aging relative wishes to remain independent, then an alternative means of transportation will be necessary.
Safe Driving Self Assessment Questions:
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time to talk with your doctor about driving or have a driving assessment.
Everyone feels tired now and then. But, If you continue to feel tired for weeks in a row, it's time to see your doctor. They may be able to help you find out what's causing your fatigue. In fact, your doctor may even suggest you become more active, as exercise may reduce fatigue and improve quality of life.
Sometimes, fatigue can be the first sign that something is wrong in your body. For example, people with COPD, often complain of fatigue. People with cancer may feel fatigued from the disease, the treatments, or both. Fatigue can be attributed to many medical conditions including:
Emotional stresses can take a toll on your energy. Fatigue can be linked to many conditions, including:
Some lifestyle habits can add to fatigue:
How can I feel less fatigued?
Some changes to your lifestyle can make you feel less tired:
When should I see a doctor for fatigue?
If you've been tired for several weeks with no relief, it may be time to call your healthcare provider. He or she will ask questions about your sleep, daily activities, appetite, and exercise and will likely give you a physical exam and order lab tests. Your treatment will be based on your history and the results of your exam. Your doctor may prescribe medications to target underlying health problems.
Medicare Supplement Insurance, often referred to as Medigap, is insurance that helps fill "gaps” in Original Medicare insurance and is sold by private companies. Original Medicare pays a significant portion of the cost for covered health care services and supplies but not the full cost. A Medicare Supplement Insurance policy (Medigap) can help pay some of the remaining health care costs such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
There are significant overlaps between many of the plans so you may find the chart below helpful to compare and contrast your options.
* Plans F and G also offer a high-deductible plan in some states. With this option, you must pay for Medicare-covered costs (coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles) up to the deductible amount of $2,340 in 2020 ($2,370 in 2021) before your policy pays anything. (Plans C and F aren't available to people who were newly eligible for Medicare on or after January 1, 2020.)
** For Plans K and L, after you meet your out-of-pocket yearly limit and your yearly Part B deductible, the Medigap plan pays 100% of covered services for the rest of the calendar year.
*** Plan N pays 100% of the Part B coinsurance, except for a copayment of up to $20 for some office visits and up to a $50 copayment for emergency room visits that don't result in inpatient admission.
Medicare Supplement Plan A: Medicare Supplement insurance Plan A is different from Medicare Part A, although their similar names may be confusingly similar. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care and is one half of Medicare (Part A and Part B). Medicare Supplement insurance Plan A provides coverage that helps pay for out-of-pocket costs from Medicare Part A and Part B.
Medicare Supplement Plan B: Medicare Supplemental insurance Plan B is different from Medicare Part B, although their similar names may be confusingly similar. Medicare Supplemental Plan B covers
Medicare Supplement Plan C covers:
Medicare Supplement Plan D Covers:
Medicare Supplement Plan F covers:
Medicare Supplement Plan G covers:
Medicare Supplement Plan K covers:
Medicare Supplement Plan L covers:
100% of the cost of:
Medicare Supplement Plan M covers:
Medicare Supplement Plan N covers:
When someone you love dies, the job of handling the personal and legal details may feel overwhelming during a time of grief. It is a big responsibility that can take a year or more to complete. It is unlikely you will be able to do it alone. Settling a deceased family member's affairs is not a one-person task. You may need the help of others, ranging from lawyers and CPA’s to funeral directors and movers. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help from trusted friends and relatives. Making a list details that need to be addressed will help keep you organized and prevent things from slipping through the cracks. This guide will get you started.
1. Get a legal pronouncement of death
As soon as possible, the death must be officially pronounced by someone in authority like a doctor in a hospital or nursing facility or a hospice nurse. This person also fills out the forms certifying the cause, time, and place of death. These steps will make it possible for an official death certificate to be prepared. This legal form is necessary for many reasons, including life insurance and property issues.
2. Arrange for transportation of the body
Arrangements should be made to pick up the body as soon as the family is ready and according to local laws. This can be done by a funeral home or by the family themselves in most states. If the death takes place in a hospital or nursing facility, they may help with these arrangements. If at home, you will need to contact a funeral home directly.
3. Notify family and friends
How to notify friends and family is a personal choice. You may choose to send out a group text or mass email or make individual phone calls to let people know their loved one has died. Ask the recipients to spread the word by notifying others connected to the deceased.
4. Locate Important Papers
Find the deceased’s important papers and documents as soon as possible. If necessary, ask close family, friends, or the deceased's doctor or lawyer if they know where these important papers can be found, and the location of a bank safety deposit box, if any. You will want to seek out the Will, insurance policies, titles, deeds, trusts, bank accounts, power of attorney etc.
5. Arrange for care of dependents
If the deceased has dependent children or perhaps is the primary care giver for a spouse or other family member it will be necessary to make arrangements for the care of the dependent. This care can look very different depending on the age, health and mental capacity of the dependent. Initially it may be easiest for a family member to fill the role while a long-term plan is developed. If plans are not made in advance and you need to research options, the Department of Social and Health Services may be a good place to start.
6. Arrange for care of pets
When selecting a caregiver for pets, consider partners, adult children, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends who have met your pet and have successfully cared for pets themselves. Remember, the new owner will have full discretion over the animal’s care including veterinary treatment and euthanasia. If there is no one available to take the pet it may be necessary to contact a local animal shelter.
7. Contact person’s employer
Contact the deceased’s employer and ask about any possible death benefits, retirement annuity or pension plans, and life and health insurance coverage. Unions and other professional organizations may provide benefits also. Sometimes you may need to return the deceased’s final monthly pension payment to the pension company before they send a new, adjusted payment.
8. Arrange for funeral
Planning a funeral or memorial service is a highly personal process. Your decisions will be shaped by your life experiences, relationship to the deceased, what the deceased wanted, religious beliefs, and myriad other factors.
9. Arrange to look after persons home and collect mail
To forward the persons mail to yourself at a different address you will need to file a request at your local post office. Bring proof that you are the executor or administrator authorized to manage the deceased’s mail then fill out a forwarding change of address form.
10. Make sure important bills continue to be paid
Unpaid debt becomes the responsibility of the deceased person’s estate. The trustee responsible for overseeing the estate first will use any assets in the estate to pay creditors before dividing the assets among the heirs according to the deceased’s will, if there is one. This process is called probate. Making sure property taxes, mortgage payments and certain utilities remain current will help you avoid complications down the road. Also be sure to cancel services that may no longer be needed such as phone and television.
11. Get multiple copies of death certificate
In order to close many accounts, the companies involved will likely want a copy of the death certificate, especially when financial assets are involved. To order copies of a death certificate, contact the county or state vital records office in the place where the death occurred. They will tell you exactly what you need to do. In Washington state you can find the Information on the Department of Health website.
12. Additional contacts you may want to make:
People with Alzheimer’s and related dementias experience changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning that affects nearly every aspect of daily life. Eventually people with Alzheimer’s will need assistance completing everyday tasks including dressing, bathing, and grooming. Often times It can be upsetting to the person to need help with such personal activities. Here are a few tips to consider as a caregiver to best help your loved one as the disease progresses:
Communication Tips to Help Care for People with Alzheimer’s
Communication can become difficult for people with Alzheimer’s because they have trouble remembering things. This can lead to agitation or even anger. It is common for a person with Alzheimer’s to have trouble finding the right words. As a caregiver it is easy to feel frustrated or impatient, but it is important to understand that the disease is causing the change in communication skills.
Maintaining a Healthy and Active Lifestyle for People with Alzheimer’s
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone. As the disease progresses, maintaining a healthy diet and staying active may be increasingly challenging.
Home Safety Tips for People With Alzheimer's
As a caregiver or family member of a person with Alzheimer’s there are many things to consider that can make the home a safer place. Removing hazards and adding safety features around the home can help give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely.
You can download a Free Alzheimer’s home safety checklist here.
If you are caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease it may be necessary to make changes to the home in order to help keep them safe. This room-by-room checklist will help you identify potential hazards so you can keep your loved one safe.
Keep in mind that it may not be necessary to make all of the suggested changes. This list covers a wide range of safety concerns that may arise, and some of the modifications suggested may never be needed. Remember to re-evaluate home safety periodically as the persons condition may change over time. Download a FREE printable version of the Alzheimer's Home Safety Checklist here.
Throughout the Home
Outside the House
Download a FREE printable version of the Alzheimer's Home Safety Checklist here.
In 2019 Washington state enacted the first public long-term care insurance benefit for residents of the state. Known as the Long Term Services and Support Trust Act, this coverage is funded by a worker payroll tax of $0.58 per $100 of income, beginning in January 2022. Benefits will start in January of 2025 for workers who have vested in the trust. Individuals who qualify will have access to a lifetime benefit of $36,500 that will be adjusted annually for inflation.
The goal of this trust is to protect workers against the economic impact of needing long-term care as they age and to better position the state to cope with fiscal impact of the coming age wave and long-term care challenge. These benefits can be used for a range of services and supports, including:
To qualify for benefits from the Trust, you must have worked and contributed to the Trust for:
In order to receive benefits, you must be a current Washington resident and need assistance with at least three activities of daily living such as:
It is possible to opt-out of this program if you have your own long-term care insurance policy in place before November 1st 2021. You must submit an attestation that you purchased your long term care policy to the Washington State Employment Security Department between October 1, 2021, and December 31, 2022. If your request is approved, you will receive a letter from the Employment Security Department and your exemption will take effect the following calendar quarter. You will need to provide a copy to your current employer and all future employers. If you fail to inform your employer that you are exempt from the payroll tax deduction, you are not entitled to a refund of any tax paid into the program.
WashingtonLTCtrust.org has an online calculator that will hep you determine how much the tax will cost you and if you may be better off buying an individual Long Term Care insurance plan. It is important that you carefully consider the ramifications of requesting an exemption as you may not be able to opt in at a later date. Always consult a trusted expert to discuss your options before making a final decision.
Property taxes can create a unique problem for retirees. As property values go up, property taxes increase as well, but incomes may not keep up with the pace of tax increases. Washington state has responded to this issue by enacting tax relief policies for certain homeowners, including senior citizens. Unfortunately, the county assessor will not automatically let you know if you qualify for an exemption. It is up to you to review the eligibility requirements and then submit an application.
Under the senior citizen property tax exemption program the value of your residence is frozen for property tax purposes and you are exempt from all excess property taxes, Part 2 of the state school levy, and the portion of the voter approved regular levy if the exemption is identified in the ordinance. Depending on your income, you may also be exempt from a portion of the regular levies.
To qualify for the exemption, you must meet the following criteria:
A home owned jointly by a married couple, a registered domestic partnership, or by co-tenants is considered to be owned by each person therefore only one person must meet the age or disability requirement. The property must be your primary residence and you must live in the home for more than six months each year. Property used as a vacation home is not eligible for the exemption program.
The maximum amount of annual disposable income you may receive and qualify for the exemption is $40,000 or 65% of the county median household income. You can find the Washington state county income thresholds here. The disposable income you receive during the application year determines your eligibility. Disposable income includes all income regardless of whether the income is taxable for federal income tax purposes. Common sources of income may include social security, military pay, pension payments, rental income, retirement account distributions and annuity payments.
Certain deductions may help reduce your disposable income calculation such as non-reimbursed amounts paid to live in a nursing home, boarding home, or adult family home, non-reimbursed amounts paid for prescription drugs, non-reimbursed amounts paid for in-home care and insurance premiums for Medicare parts A, B, C and D for you, your spouse, or your domestic partner. For additional information on calculating disposable income, it is helpful to review the requirements provided by the Washington State Department of Revenue.
You may also be eligible for a refund for up to three years of past property taxes if you failed to request an exemption due to oversight, or a lack of knowledge about this program. You must meet all the qualifications for the exemption as if you had applied at the time the application was due and separate applications must be submitted for each of the tax years in which you qualified up to a maximum of three years. Refunds are not available beyond the three years.
Ultimately your county assessor administers this program and is responsible for determining if you meet the qualifications. For those of you here in Spokane county you can find the 2021 application form here. Applications are due by December 31st of the assessment year. If the county assessor approves your application, you will need to submit a renewal every three years and the assessor will notify you when you are due for renewal. If your application is denied the assessor will notify you in writing and you will have an opportunity for appeal.
No one enjoys paying more than required when it comes to property taxes. It can pay to get in touch with your county assessor in order to find out if you qualify for a discount on your property taxes.
As you age, being physically active can help you stay strong and healthy enough to continue doing the things you enjoy. Often, inactivity is more to blame than age when older people lose the ability to do things on their own. That’s why experts say older adults should engage in physical activities throughout the week to maintain their health. Regular physical activities can improve your mood, reduce depression, reduce stress, increase energy and improve sleep. Regular exercise and physical activity can also reduce the risk of developing some diseases and disabilities such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, balance problems and difficulty walking. Regardless of health and physical abilities, older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active.
Many physical activities can be done for free and do not require any special equipment. A brisk walk, basic stretches or yard work can all be beneficial when done regularly. You could also try a workout video on YouTube or try contacting your local senior center, or parks and recreation department about facilities and programs in your area.
According to Harvard Medical School the 4 most important types of exercise are aerobics, stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises. Each type of exercise has different benefits and the variety helps reduce boredom and risk of injury.
Aerobic exercise or “cardio” is a type of workout where your heart rate and breathing increase, but not so much that you feel like you need to stop and rest. These activities help keep you healthy, improve overall fitness, and help you perform the tasks you need to do every day. Aerobic exercises improve the health of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Some examples include brisk walking, yard work, dancing, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis and basketball.
Stretching will improve your flexibility. Moving more freely will make it easier for you to reach down to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back up your car. Improved flexibility will also reduce your risk of injury while participating in other exercises or everyday physical activities. Most stretches can be done without any equipment and with minimal space. Perform each stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds and repeat three times. As you stretch, breathe deeply, and go slowly. Never force a movement that causes pain. It’s okay if you can’t bend very far initially, use good form and with regular stretching, your flexibility will improve.
Strength training is one of the best ways to keep muscles healthy and strong. Regular strength training builds bone and muscle and helps to reduce weakness and frailty that can come with age. Your muscular strength can make a big difference for tasks such as getting up from a chair by yourself, lifting your grandchildren, and walking through a park. Keeping your muscles strong can also help with your balance and prevent falls. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong. Body weight exercises are often the best exercises to start with to ensure proper form and safety. Weights or resistance bands can be added to any routine for more advanced users.
Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults that can have serious consequences. Many factors that aid us in maintaining balance such as vision, sensory organs in the inner ear, leg muscles and joints can deteriorate as we age however, balance exercises can counteract these issues. Many senior centers and gyms offer balance-focused exercise classes, such as tai chi or yoga. Balance exercises are especially important if you've had a fall. Typical balance exercises include standing on one foot or walking heel to toe. Working on joint flexibility and strengthening leg muscles will aid considerably with balance as well.
Always be sure to get the proper training before attempting any of these exercises at home and remember to consult your doctor before embarking on any exercise regimen.
If you find yourself caring for an aging parent you may find yourself in a position where important legal, medical or financial matters will need your attention. In order to carry out the wishes of your loved one you will need a power of attorney. A power of attorney allows a person to name an agent who will make important decisions on your behalf.
The person who gives the authority is called the principal, and the person who has the authority to act for the principal is called the agent. You can designate both a financial power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. A medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney are typically created in separate legal documents.
A power of attorney can take effect immediately, or upon a defined future event such as incapacitation due to an accident. If the power of attorney is effective immediately, it can be used even if you are not incapacitated. If its powers are limited to certain events they don't go into effect until a such an event has occurred. The most common event is the incapacity of the principal. Incapacity only occurs when the principal is certified by one or more physicians unable to make decisions. Incapacity can be due to mental illness, Alzheimer’s disease, being in a coma, or being otherwise unable to communicate. If it never becomes necessary, your agent may never use a power of attorney.
A general power of attorney ends the moment you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney allows an agent’s authority to continue in the event you become incapacitated. There is no automatic deadline by which these powers expire. A durable power of attorney stays in effect until the principle dies or until they act to revoke the power they’ve granted to their agent. In most instances when preparing advance directives a durable power of attorney is advisable so that the agent can act in the event the principal is incapacitated.
Who should you choose to act as your power of attorney?
Most people choose their spouse, a relative, or a trusted friend to act as their power of attorney however you can designate anyone you want. Choosing a power of attorney is not about choosing the person you feel closest with. The person you choose should be someone who will represent your wishes as you have defined them. While your power of attorney may not agree with everything you want, it is critical that they are willing to follow through with your wishes even though they disagree with those choices. If you feel pressured to change your opinions, this is a sign that the person may not be the best representative for you. Finding someone who is willing to respect your wishes above their own is of the upmost importance and will provide peace of mind knowing your affairs will be handled in the way you choose.
Ty Strahl is the Spokane areas leading Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.