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GAO Reviewing VA’s Nursing Home Rating System

Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana), along with Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren (both Democrats from Massachusetts) are requesting a formal review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the rating system of Community Living Centers (CLC) operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The letter prompting this review request alleges “reports indicating poor quality ratings as well as disturbing anecdotal stories of substandard treatment and conditions at some” nursing homes throughout the years. The GAO response letter agrees to accept the request and work within its scope of authority to address concerns.

VA Community Living Centers currently use a star rating system. Survey stars, staffing stars, and quality stars are independent categories, as is the category of improvement quality measures. All of these categories combine for the overall star rating. This rating system is an adaptation of the version that Medicare uses. However, the Senators’ letter indicates a lack of public transparency about the detailed and specific methodology employed by the VA for developing the star ratings. GAO’s task is to examine how the star evaluation method and data extraction came to be. Responsibilities of a VA CLC are not solely intended for a veteran’s end of life care. It also is a residence where veterans can recover from a mental health crisis like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or post-surgery recovery, and even respite care. The VA operates over 100 CLC’s across the country, serving thousands of veterans.

Recently some facilities have experienced bug outbreaks. In Atlanta veteran residents at a VA CLC were subjected to an ant infestation. Eagle’s Nest CLC officials confirm that ants bit as many as three veterans and that these ants were considered an outbreak in the facilities rooms. Sadly, a veteran and dying cancer patient was recorded to have more than 100 ant bites in the days before he died. While disciplinary and corrective action was taken at the CLC, the bug problem is not unusual. According to an internal email from the system’s director Barbara Oemcke, a Prescott, Arizona VA CLC reported an issue with bedbugs. A spokeswoman for the Prescott VA Mary Dillinger “reported the incident to pest control officials, who followed protocol by conducting preventive measures throughout the hospital and resolving the issue. No patients were found with bedbugs on their person, and this incident did not negatively affect patient care in any way.” While the bedbug infestation was quite limited, it is not unusual. According to the National Pest Management Association, about 60 percent of exterminators claim they encounter bedbugs in nursing homes. However, bug infestations are only one part of the overall problems facing CLCs.

The VA first released data using star ratings in 2018. According to the Senators’ information release, at that time, almost half of these centers received the lowest one-star rating. Current data is showing improvement, but vast improvements need to continue in support of our veterans. The VA countered the information put forth by the Senators’ showing data reflects 11 communities with one-star ratings at that time and that most facilities had scores of 4 or 5 stars. Somewhere there is a disconnect in the data.

VA spokeswoman Susan Carter has said the VA welcomes the GAO oversight. In defense of VA facilities, Carter writes, “Like any health-care provider — including those in the private sector — VA nursing homes sometimes encounter isolated problems, and when we find them, we fix them,” she said. “But overall, VA’s nursing home system compares closely with private-sector nursing homes, though the department on average cares for sicker and more complex patients than do private facilities. Many of our patients carry the wounds of war.”

All three Senators admit to appreciating the VA’s CLC disproportionately complex resident population who suffer from challenging medical conditions that tend to be multiple and chronic. The GAO review is tasked to identify what tools, resources, and staff training need to be in place to improve the quality of veteran care. They also must unravel the current star rating system to make its data-gathering methodology more transparent and assure accuracy in reporting. This GAO review can establish CLC national trends and find common problematic areas where fixes can be implemented on a large scale.

Advances in medical technology are allowing our veterans to survive injury and live longer lives with complex medical conditions. Excellence in facility standards, coordination of care, favorable outcomes, and transparency in the process of facility ratings are achievable with the proper oversight. The GAO review, prompted by Tester, Markey, and Warren, will provide much-needed information to assess the best way forward to support our veterans in CLC facilities.

If you are a veteran in need of help with your earned benefits, please don’t hesitate to contact our Reno, Nevada office by clicking here to send us a message or by calling us at (775) 853-5700.

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Identifying and Preventing Financial Elder Abuse

Elder financial abuse has been a growing problem in the past decade. The financial exploitation of older or vulnerable adults can take many different forms. This portion of the population can be exploited by strangers of professionals who deal with their assets and even trusted family members and friends. It is a problem to which a solution has been difficult to find because many exploited people are ashamed that they were able to be taken advantage of and therein do not report the crimes. Unfortunately, this type of abuse not only affects the finances of the victim but also their mental and physical well-being. Let’s take a look at the types of financial elder abuse and some measures that can be and are being taken to prevent this type of abuse.

Types of Financial Elder Abuse

The first type of financial elder abuse is committed by strangers. This often includes phone scams. The grandparent scam is one tactic stranger use for the financial exploitation of seniors. In this scam, the senior is called and told his or her grandson is in jail and needs money immediately. Many seniors fall prey to this scam because they want to help their grandchild.

Charity scams are another common phone scam. The scammer calls and asks for money for what seems to be a very good cause in order to get money from the senior. Disasters are often used in this type of scam.

Home repair con artists are another way vulnerable adults succumb to financial abuse. They promise to provide a service and ask for payment upfront. Then they never return to provide the service.

Financial elder abuse can also be committed by “professionals”. These predators often use lending schemes to pressure elders into taking inappropriate loans or reverse mortgages that do not benefit the senior. Email scams concerning false bank accounts are used to siphon money from vulnerable adults. Investment schemes are also used to manipulate seniors into believing they will get unrealistic returns on certain investments. Identity theft is another way that these so-called professionals take advantage of senior adults. They use the identity of the senior to fraudulently open credit card accounts. Medicare scams are some of the costliest scams by professionals.

Finally, financial elder abuse is commonly committed by family members and close friends. These scams can take many forms. Some caretakers will begin small, keeping the change from running errands. Often the Power of Attorney will use the power given by the individual to control the finances as an opportunity to steal the elder’s money and use it for his or her own purposes. Family or close friends also commit financial elder abuse when they use ATM cards or steal checks to gain access to money from the vulnerable adult. There are many variations on these types of abuse.

Protecting Our Elders

One way to help stop financial elder abuse is to let our elderly loved ones know that there is no reason to be ashamed to report possible financial abuse. These thieves and scammers are smart and know how to play the game to take advantage of people. Another way is to stay on top of accounts and work with law enforcement and banking officials to keep track of accounts and to report anything that looks suspicious. It is important for family members and friends to have checks and balances when taking control of someone else’s money and assets. Have more than one person who looks at account information and possibly shares control. Recently the Senior Safe Act was signed into law. This is a step by the federal government to help protect elders from financial abuse. Under the Act, banks, credit unions, investment advisers, broker-dealers, insurance companies, and insurance agencies are protected from being sued for reporting suspected fraud, but their employees must be trained to understand the warning signs. It empowers financial service representatives to identify warning signs and help keep vulnerable adults from becoming victims of financial abuse. There is no easy answer, but it is hopeful that awareness will help financial elder abuse to decline.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact our Reno office by clicking here to send us a message or by dialing (775) 853-5700.

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Technology Empowering Seniors and Caregivers

Technology is changing so fast today that it can seem overwhelming for even the most tech-savvy to keep pace. For many seniors, these changes can be so daunting that they tend to avoid technology altogether.

While seniors have increasingly embraced technology in recent years, data from Pew Research shows that as many as one-third of those over the age of 65 do not use the Internet, and nearly half do not have home broadband services.

Still, technology can be a key aspect of keeping seniors — who tend to spend more time alone than their younger counterparts — engaged and connected. It can also help caregivers to stay connected to their patients or loved ones.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of tech apps for the aging population.

Staying connected. Social connections are healthy for people of all ages, and this can be especially true for seniors. While there is no substitute for human interaction, technology can help to fill the gap for seniors who are away from family members or friends. Whether in person or online via video or messaging technology, social interaction can potentially lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s, according to medical professionals. Apps such as Facebook and Instagram can help seniors connect with loved ones and caregivers.

Keeping active. There is no shortage of apps to help people stay active these days and seniors can certainly benefit from this technology. For those who can no longer drive or who do not have a neighborhood rec center with fitness classes, technologies such as those provided by the Nintendo Wii can help to get seniors moving wherever they are. Whether it’s tennis or yoga, these apps also offer fun activities for seniors and their loved ones or caregivers to do together.

Staying mentally sharp. Mental exercise is just as important as physical for the elderly. We’ve all heard how crossword and Sudoku puzzles can help thwart memory problems, but today there are countless other online games and mobile apps seniors can use to help stay mentally sharp. Not only can seniors do a crossword puzzle on the computer or mobile device, they can also play solitaire, trivia, and memory games.

Managing medical records and medication. Today just about every doctor’s office offers records and correspondence online. This makes it easier for seniors to keep track of appointments and health records. There are also plenty of apps available — such as Medisafe — to help seniors keep track of medication dosing, schedules, and pharmacy refills. These types of apps help seniors make sure they don’t miss a dosage or inadvertently double up on medication if they’re having trouble keeping track due to memory problems or illness.

Keeping seniors safe at home. Most seniors want to retain their independence for as long as possible. That means remaining in their own homes as they age. By using technology they can better ensure their safety and their loved ones’ peace of mind while remaining independent.  Seniors living alone should always have some type of a personal emergency response system or PERS. These are devices that help a person call for help by pushing a button, and connected mobile apps can alert family members or caregivers in the event of an emergency. These technologies activate the appropriate emergency response, helping seniors to avoid the frightening situation of trying to handle a medical or other emergency on their own and giving their loved ones’ peace of mind.

Managing finances and bills. Seniors are often reluctant to hand over the reins when it comes to managing their budget and finances. Maintaining that control helps instill a stronger sense of independence. Apps like Mint can help seniors manage these tasks and help ensure due dates aren’t missed or payments aren’t overlooked altogether. These apps can also help caregivers maintain a repository of their loved ones’ budget and financial obligations.

While tech apps can seem daunting for seniors (48 percent of those over 65 say that they need assistance using new technologies and devices), with the proper support and training they can be a powerful tool for helping seniors maintain their health and independence.

If you’d like to learn more about empowering yourself and your loved ones with proper care and planning, our firm can help. Contact our Reno offices today by clicking here to send us a message or by dialing us at (775) 853-5700.

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Veterans’ Unique Health Challenges

The United States veteran population is some 20 million strong, many of whom face health challenges separate from non-Veterans. Due to their military training, Veterans have a well-defined culture that is strong on values, codes of conduct, respect of superiors, and customs to name a few. Due to this culture, Veterans face different health challenges that family, friends, and health professionals need to be aware of. Advances in medicine have allowed many more Veterans to survive once-fatal injuries. However, this often comes at the cost of mental health. A successful transition from the battlefield to civilian life rests on being able to spot the many health issues Veterans face and assisting them in getting the help they need.

A study titled “US Veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awareness” published in the US National Library of Medicine and available here, identifies several health issues specific to United States Veterans:

Mental Health Disorders

33% of Veterans are diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder. According to the US Government Accountability Office, 2.1 million Veterans received mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2006 to 2010. Only about one-third of those diagnosed with a mental health issue actually seek treatment. Often, Veterans will feel embarrassed or shame about needing mental help. It is important for family and friends to help change this stigma and ensure Veterans get the help they need.

Substance Use Disorders

The extreme stress of military service causes Veterans to often seek out a vice, which may take the form of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. A 2013 study titled, “Enhancing veteran-centered care: a guide for nurses in a non-VA setting” found that both cigarette and alcohol consumption is higher among Veterans than the general population. Treatment of an underlying condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has been found to reduce tobacco and alcohol consumption in some Veterans. Sometimes, long term care is required.

PTSD

PTSD results from directly or indirectly experiencing a traumatic event. Military personnel are nearly four times as likely to be diagnosed with PTSD. The American Psychiatric Association diagnoses PTSD with the presence of four symptoms: intrusive symptoms (flashbacks), avoidance of reminders (isolation), negative thoughts and feelings, and exaggerated reactivity symptoms. Social support is a large facet of the treatment plan for Veterans with PTSD.

Depression

Depression is among the most treatable mental health disorders that Veterans face. Although likely underdiagnosed, the National Alliance on Mental Illness states that the depression rate for Veterans is 14%, but the treatment success rate is between 80-90%. If you know a Veteran who you believe is suffering from depression, it is vital that you assure them there is nothing “weak” or embarrassing about seeking help, and that depression is often treatable.

Veterans often have a challenging time acclimating to civilian life after being at war for any length of time. However, providing them with a strong support system, along with all of the help available to them through private care and the Department of Veterans Affairs, a smooth transition to civilian life can be achieved. If you would like to learn more or would like help with your current situation, please do not hesitate to contact our office in Reno, Nevada by clicking here to send us a message or by calling us directly at (775) 853-5700.

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The 2020 Social Security Increase Will Be Smaller than 2019’s

The Social Security Administration has announced a 1.6 percent increase in benefits in 2020, nearly half of last year’s change. The small rise has advocates questioning whether the government is using the proper method to calculate the cost of living for older Americans and those with disabilities.

Cost-of-living increases are tied to the consumer price index, and a modest upturn in inflation rates and gas prices means Social Security recipients will get only a small boost in 2020. The 1.6 percent increase is lower than last year’s 2.8 percent rise and the 2 percent increase in 2018. The average monthly benefit of $1,479 in 2019 will go up by $24 a month to $1,503 a month for an individual beneficiary, or $288 yearly. 

The cost-of-living change also affects the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, which will grow from $132,900 to $137,700. 

For 2020, the monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment standard will be $783 for an individual and $1,175 for a couple.

The smaller increase may mean that additional income will be entirely eaten up by higher Medicare Part B premiums. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees is forecast to rise $8.80 a month to $144.30. According to USA Today, advocates are questioning the method used to calculate cost-of-living increases. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers to set the inflation rate. This method looks at prices for gasoline, electronics, and other items that younger workers rely on. The advocates suggest using a different index (the Consumer Price Index for Elderly) that puts greater emphasis on medical and housing expenses. 

Most beneficiaries will be able to find out their cost-of-living adjustment online by logging on to my Social Security in December 2019. While you will still receive your increase notice by mail, in the future you will be able to choose whether to receive your notice online instead of on paper.

For more on the 2020 Social Security benefit levels, click here.

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Older Adults Are Re-Entering the Workforce

Many of the 50-year-old and older workers are raising children and helping aging parents, and it is putting a strain on budgets. There are over 3 million seniors or near-seniors looking for full-time employment and millions more looking for part-time work. Seniors are finding that to make ends meet and have a financially secure retirement they need additional income especially now that people are living longer than ever before. The good news is jobs are available, companies are hiring “seasoned” workers, and there are programs to help those aged 50 and older find the type of work that is right for them.

If you are age 50 or more, the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) runs a program called BACK TO WORK 50+ that targets workers who previously worked at moderate-income level jobs but who may lack the education level and computer skill sets that presents a barrier to employment in situations that lead to better economic security. There is also SCSEP, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which is the only federal program targeted to help older workers. AARP works in conjunction with SCSEP and provides employers with qualified candidates who are pre-screened for placement. These programs support the employer in finding a skilled worker at a low cost and allow the senior to bypass the interview process. Both of these programs will train seniors to give them the skills and confidence they need to find a job so that they can provide for themselves financially. According to AARP, senior employment is becoming so prevalent that by the year 2022, workers aged 50 or more will comprise thirty-five percent of the workforce.

If you are a senior with a college degree and solid computer skills, AARP can also help place you in a meaningful work environment. More than 500 companies nationwide have signed the AARP Employer Pledge “We believe in equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age, and that 50+ workers should have a level playing field in their ability to compete for and obtain jobs. Recognizing the value of experienced workers, we pledge to recruit across diverse age groups and to consider all applicants on an equal basis as we hire for positions within our organization.” This pledge affirms the value of an experienced senior worker and many companies are on board. The belief is that a workforce that leverages talent from all age groups is a stronger workforce. Jobs AARP and other employer resources connect 50+ job seekers with employers who recognize the value of experience that comes with a more senior and seasoned worker. These companies who have signed the pledge are on the AARP job boards, in the job search tools, and even participate in online recruiting fairs.

As more seniors are becoming computer savvy, remote work opportunities are becoming more popular and mainstream. Companies do not have to provide a physical workspace and employees have no commute and no need to spend money on proper work attire; overhead is lower for the employer and the employee. Seniors can use AARP tools to find legitimate online job prospects. If a senior prefers to work with people for socialization purposes as well as earned income, the senior living industry has excellent opportunities and needs workers. Senior living facilities management acknowledges the expertise, dependability, and worth ethic that is common in the mature workforce. Currently, there are high rates of staff turnover in senior living environments, and a senior employee can make a positive difference in the rate of employee retention.

There is an undeniable benefit to remaining active as you age and work is a significant component of that activity. Old notions of ageism are changing at precisely the right moment to help you create a better retirement living situation for yourself through additionally earned income. If you are 50+ and looking for work, take advantage of these national programs to identify the right job for you.  There is no better time than now to look forward to your own retirement needs and have the peace of mind that additional income brings.

It is essential to meet with an attorney to ensure that you are increasing income without reducing the benefits available to you. You don’t want to cross a threshold that would deny you a government benefit unless it would be financially beneficial.  Many components need to be considered to plan a successful retirement.

Contact our Reno office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning by clicking here to send us a message or by dialing (775) 853-5700.

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You’ve Been Appointed Guardian of Property…Now What?

Your grandfather Martin can no longer make decisions on his own. A court appoints you to be Martin’s guardian of property, to help Martin manage his money. You become Martin’s “fiduciary.” The law now requires you to act to a high standard of good faith and honesty.

There’s a lot of work involved with guardianship, and the high standard could be daunting. To assist you, the Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) has issued a guide: “Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help for Court-Appointed Guardians of Property and Conservators.” Download your free copy here.

The guide details property-guardianship duties. These include keeping careful records, taking care to keep Martin’s money separate from yours, and making sure to spend Martin’s money for Martin’s benefit, only. The court order signed by the judge may provide a list of your duties, or, if not, you can follow the list provided in the CFPB guide. You may be paying Martin’s bills and taxes, overseeing bank accounts, making investments, obtaining insurance, and any other duties contained in the court order appointing you.

The guide recommends that as a first step, you must carefully read the court order. Speak to a lawyer about it if you can, and of course especially if the law in your state requires you to. The guide warns that you may be required to buy a bond, but, if you do not have good credit, you may not be able to get it. If so, the guide directs, inform the judge of this point before you are appointed.

The guide further details the guardian’s duties. These include creating an inventory of Martin’s property, keeping Martin’s goods and home safe, creating a budget for spending on Martin’s behalf and how to document that spending, how to sign checks on Martin’s behalf, and how to create an accounting to submit to the court as often as the court requires.

Also included is valuable advice to consult Martin as much as his condition permits; to resist pressure from others who may not have Martin’s best interests at heart; and, if in doubt, to consult the judge first before acting. You may also be required to consult and work together with other people whom Martin has designated for health-care and other personal matters.

A guardian appointment is a big responsibility, as you must care for the person conscientiously and attentively. Be reassured, though, that help in discharging your duties is available to you from the court and from the CFPB guide.

If we can help you or a loved one understand when a guardianship may be necessary, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Schulze Law Group in Reno, Nevada by clicking here to send us a message or by dialing (775) 853-5700.

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How to Plan Your Funeral

Thinking about your funeral may not be fun, but planning ahead can be exceedingly helpful for your family. It both lets them know your wishes and assists them during a stressful time. The following are steps you can take to plan ahead:

Name who is in charge. The first step is to designate someone to make funeral arrangements for you. State law dictates how that appointment is made. In some states, an informal note is enough. Other states require you to designate someone in a formal document, such as a health care power of attorney. If you do not designate someone, your spouse or children are usually given the task. 

Put your preferences in writing. Write out detailed funeral preferences as well as the requested disposition of your remains. Would you rather be buried or cremated? Do you want a funeral or a memorial service? Where should the funeral or memorial be held? The document can also include information about who should be invited, what you want to wear, who should speak, what music should be played, and who should be pallbearers, among other information. The writing can be a separate document or part of a health care directive. It should not be included in your will because the will may not be opened until long after the funeral. 

Shop around. It is possible to make arrangements with a funeral home ahead of time, so your family does not have to scramble to set things up while they are grieving. Prices among funeral homes can vary greatly, so it is a good idea to check with a few different ones before settling on the one you want. The Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires all funeral homes to supply customers with a general price list that details prices for all possible goods or services. The rule also stipulates what kinds of misrepresentations are prohibited and explains what items consumers cannot be required to purchase, among other things. 

Inform your family members. Make sure you tell your family members about your wishes and let them know where you have written them down. 

Figure out how to pay for it. Funerals are expensive, so you need to think about how to pay for the one you want. You can pre-pay, but this is risky because the funds can be mismanaged or the funeral home could go out of business. Instead of paying ahead, you can set up a payable-on-death account with your bank. Make the person who will be handling your funeral arrangements the beneficiary (and make sure they know your plans). You will maintain control of your money while you are alive, but when you die it is available immediately, without having to go through probate. Another option is to purchase a life insurance policy that is specifically for funeral arrangements. 

Taking the time to plan ahead will be a big help to your family and give you peace of mind. 

For more information on planning your funeral from Kiplinger, click here

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5 Things That Can Prolong Your Life

It is no secret that a healthy lifestyle has a significant impact on your well-being and the earlier you implement a healthy lifestyle strategy, the greater the potential benefit regarding your longevity. Your lifespan can be increased by as much as 14 years for a woman and 12.2 years for a man according to the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation study. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but according to the World Health Organization, it ranks about 53rd in life expectancy from birth compared to other developed nations, according to 2015 data.

What are these five lifestyle habits? The first is leading a non-smoking life and the second is not subjecting yourself to other people’s second-hand smoke. If you have ever been a smoker, find a way to quit. Try hypnotherapy, patches, gum – whatever it takes – but figure out a way to stop smoking. Breath is life, and without a healthy respiratory system, you are shortening your lifespan. If you do not smoke now or never have, that is great! Stay on that path and do not subject yourself to other people’s smoking.

Exercising for 30 minutes each day is imperative for longevity and coincides with the third thing you can do to extend your lifespan.  Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). The best and easiest daily exercise is to walk. If you are currently out of shape and 30 minutes a day seems unachievable, then begin with 10 minutes. Make a plan and increase your time to 20 minutes as you become more physically able to do so. By the time you are ready for 30 minutes of daily exercising, be sure that your pace is moderate to vigorous. Walk every day in the morning at a set time and make it your routine. Walking will help you lose weight, gain muscle, and reduce your body mass index.

The fourth and fifth things to do are eat a healthy diet and consume only moderate amounts of alcohol. Healthier foods are generally found on the outskirts of your supermarket and include fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and eggs, as well as lean meats. The inside aisles of a supermarket are packed with food products, not real food. Much of this food is so over-processed and chemical-laden that it is not healthy to eat. Consuming moderate levels of alcohol is defined as one drink a day for women and two for men. Adopting a new healthier lifestyle can include days where you choose not to have an alcoholic beverage. If you have fallen into excessive drinking patterns, make changes today. The liver is a restorative organ and can heal itself if excessive damage has not been done.

If these five healthy life choices are something you already do or are willing to implement in your lifestyle and you do add 12 or 14 years to your life expectancy, what if you don’t have the money to survive those additional years? The Social Security Administration says that about one in four Americans 65 or older today will live past age 90 and one out of ten will live past 95. Where will the money come from if you live another decade or longer? Health care costs are skyrocketing and assisted living facilities are expensive. Unless you are already financially independent, 60 is the new 50 and retirement may not come as soon to you. You can make adjustments to your life today that will help you to become more financially fit just as you can make changes to become more physically fit and extend your lifespan.

Saving money aggressively and developing the habit of spending less is possibly the single best way to stretch your retirement assets. Learn to live below your means. Beyond being thrifty, change your trajectory regarding your investment strategy. Talk to a trusted financial advisor to see if you need to shift any investment strategies.

While longevity can only be estimated and everyone will have their own life expectancy experience, increased awareness of healthy lifestyle choices are changing the way seniors are approaching aging. Your longer lifespan will require adequate funding which can be achieved by frugal spending habits, possibly delaying your retirement, and thinking differently about conventional investment strategies in senior years. Getting sound and trusted advice about longevity and your financial aging strategy can bring you peace of mind as well as financial security.

Contact Schulze Law Group in Reno, Nevada today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your planning. You can reach us by dialing (775) 853-5700.

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How to Choose the Right Nursing Home

Choosing a nursing home for a loved one is an important decision and should be carefully considered. It is important for families to take the time to explore nursing home options and to carefully assess the nursing home facilities in order to choose the best care for the loved one.  Below are some steps designed to assist families in choosing a nursing home.

Identify Nursing Homes in the Area

The first step in choosing the right nursing home is to identify all the possible nursing home options in the area. Asking friends, family, and other people you trust is an excellent way to begin the search for possible options, especially if have had personal contact with the nursing home. Doctors and hospitals can also help identify nursing home options that provide the type of care a loved one may require.

Another option is using the internet to locate nursing home facilities. The Medicare website has a locator for nursing homes and even provides some comparisons of nursing homes – an important benefit highlighted in the next step below.

Research the Quality of Care Provided by the Nursing Home

Using comparisons like those found on the Medicare and Medicaid websites can be a very helpful starting place for gathering information on nursing homes and the quality of care provided. This information along with information from other sources like the long-term care ombudsman. Many facilities may provide survey results that can give insight into the facility’s care.

Other sites that allow consumers to post reviews, like Yelp.com, can also be an important way to compare nursing homes. While best known for its restaurant reviews, Yelp also includes reviews of skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers.

Visit the Nursing Homes in Person

After doing ample research, it is time to visit the nursing home. Nursing homes will schedule tours for prospective residents.  While there, pay close attention to the cleanliness of the facility, and the appearance of the residents. Make note of what the residents are doing and how they look. Are they engaged in activities, is there evidence of neglect, is there enough staff to attend to the patients? Ask about patient to caregiver ratios so you can compare it with other nursing homes.

Other things to consider include how the facility provides for social, religious, recreational, or cultural needs, and the types of meals they prepare.  You may have the opportunity to have a meal during your visit, which will allow you to sample a meal, but also observe how the residents are treated during meal times.

Before leaving, find out who you can call if you have additional questions.  Then, make a second unplanned visit at a different time or on a different day. An unplanned visit will allow you to observe the nursing home and its residents on a “normal” day.

Choose a Nursing Home

Making notes during the first three steps can help families go back and carefully look at the information gathered to make a decision. If more than one facility fits the needs of the loved one, then it is important to consider cost and what is most important to the family.

Once a nursing home is chosen, an agreement will need to be signed. It is important to have an elder law attorney review this agreement to make sure there are no hidden provisions, like holding a child responsible for non-payment, or a minimum number of months before a resident can apply for Medicaid.

These steps will allow families to make the best nursing home choice possible. Although many families find themselves in sudden need of a nursing home facility after hospitalization, most have time to make preparations. If time is not a factor, following these steps can help to avoid making a decision that is not best for the loved one in need of care. Any long-term care decision is made best when families are armed with as much information as possible.

If you have any questions about something you have read or would like additional information, please feel free to contact the Schulze Law Group in Reno, Nevada by sending us a message here or by calling us at (775) 853-5700.