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sophistication for mom cost upfront
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Fifty Plus Advocate ■ Boston Metro Edition ■ October 1, 2011 ■ Vol. 37 / No. 10 ■ 20 pp. ■ Published monthly
Inside This Month
‘Supercommittee’ tackles entitlements 6
Fed’s long-term plan at risk 6
Social Security direct deposit a hit 6
The future of 401k disclosures 7
Fewer Medicare enrollees hit coverage gap 13
DEPARTMENTS decisions 6
Feeling Healthy 17
Hearing Health 18
Home Improvement 16
Just My Opinion 5
Legal Briefs 15
Money Matters 14
Resource for Caregivers 13 Legacy Quaint
Travel 10 at risk 6 Maine 10
Viewpoint 8 ABOUT THE COVER
John and Debbie Valentino found love online. page 4
■ INDEX OF SERVICES IN THIS ISSUE ■
ADVOCACY HOSPICE Golden LivingCenter – Lexington
Asera Care Hospice ......................... p. 11 Golden LivingCenter – Dexter House
AARP ................................................. p. 5
Golden LivingCenter – Melrose
ASSISTED LIVING HOME CARE SERVICES Golden LivingCenter – The Elmhurst
Cefalo Memorial Complex .............. p. 16 AAAAA Private Home Care .............. p. 9 Golden LivingCenter – Chetwynde
Golden LivingCenter – West Newton
Oosterman Rest Home ..................... p. 2 ABC Home Healthcare .................... p. 12
Able Home Care .............................. p. 11 Life Care Center of Northshore ....... p. 11
ATTORNEYS, ELDER LAW
Elder Law Solutions .......................... p. 2 HOME IMPROVEMENTS Newton Health Care Center ............. p. 11
Estate Preservation Law Offices....... p. 15 SecurityBath .................................... p. 19 Oosterman Rest Home ..................... p. 2
CREMATION SERVICES Shelf Genie ....................................... p. 12
Sherrill House ................................... p. 9
Casper Cremations........................... p. 14 MEDICAL RESEARCH STUDIES .............. p. 7
Muscle Pain Stone Institute ~ McLellan Rehabilitation
DIABETICS / FOOT CARE Nursing Center ................................ p. 10
~ Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Ctr.
Canney Medical Supply ................. p. 9
Research on Aging NURSING AND REHAB CENTERS
HEALTH PLANS FOR SENIORS ~ Brandeis University Brookline Health Care Center ......... p. 12
Elder Service Plan NURSING HOMES
for the North Shore .......................... p. 17 SUBSIDIZED HOUSING
Golden LivingCenters .................... p. 20
HEARING SERVICES Golden LivingCenter – Heathwood Congregrational
Mario Hearing & Tinnitus Clinics ..... p. 12 Golden LivingCenter – Gloucester Retirement Home ........................... p. 16
If you use any services listed above, please mention you saw their ad in the Fifty Plus Advocate.
Online dating for 50+ singles has rewards and hazards
By Brian Goslow they say they are. was under a different name.”
Andy Scott, principal partner of Scott- Debbie Valentino had been divorced 11
J o Ann Eichelberger did not join
SeniorPeopleMeet.com looking to find
a new partner or even a date. Divorced
for 18 years, she had been busy raising her
Roberts and Associates, LLC, formed years before joining the online dating field.
MyMatchChecker.com with fellow retired “I’d have a couple of dates and then stop,”
law officer Robert Buchholz to fill the hole she said. “I was raising my daughter. When
of what they saw as the inability of daters I saw SeniorPeopleMeet, I said, I guess that’s
son, helping her mother enjoy her final to do background checks on people they me. I liked that it was my own age group.”
years of life and, apart from a few dates met online prior to meeting them in person. She had tried other online dating sites,
at the encouragement of friends or with “I’ve heard from many women, ‘He sent which weren’t age specific, and found most of
friendly acquaintances, she was “done with a picture and when we met, he was 10 the men weren’t as advertised. “Guys would
the male species,” she said. years older and 50 pounds heavier,’ ” Scott ask if I was athletic and then I’d meet them
“I did it as a joke to show my friend said. “The Internet makes you think you’re (expecting them to be muscular and fit) and
who couldn’t find a date — even though having a person-to-person conversation I’d end up saying to them, ‘What do you do,
she was on every dating site (that she but you’re dialoguing. People are creating play darts?’ Eventually you’re going to meet
must have been doing something wrong),” their image. You might think he’s humor- the person so why play games?”
Eichelberger said. “I saw SeniorPeopleMeet John and Debbie Valentino ous but the guy could be in an apartment Her own profile stated she had been in
and said, ‘This would work.’ Then she spend his life with Jo Ann, 56. She plans to you wouldn’t think of going to, wearing a the U.S. Marine Corps. “A lot of guys were
said she wouldn’t go on a site with the word continue working as an airline flight attendant t-shirt and in his underpants, drinking a beer.” intimidated by that,” Debbie Valentino said. “I
senior on it. So I went on as a joke and the until she reaches 60; her love of traveling has Scott said 99 percent of people of ques- was shocked.” Not John Valentino, who had
joke was on me.” introduced a whole new world to her husband, tionable character online are men: Some are been divorced three times and tried various
A year later, Eichelberger was happily who hadn’t taken a vacation in eight years. He sexual predators; others are looking to take online dating sites until a 48-year-old woman
married. was into motor sports and classic cars. advantage of women. “You’re creating a mental on PlentyOfFish.com told him he was too
Soon after Eichelberger joined, They honeymooned in Hawaii and have image — he’s funny, he’s witty and seems intel- old for her at 55. “I wanted to tell her I was
SeniorPeopleMeet realized many potential subsequently vacationed in Boston, New York, ligent,” he said. “Online, people don’t let their in better shape than guys 30 years younger
customers might not want to be associated the Caribbean and most recently, Alaska, intelligence do what it normally does — use than me,” he said.
with the word senior and became OurTime. where they both ziplined. “We got as high as their vision, hearing and intuition the way Realizing he’d best stick to his own
com. Members must be 50 or older. 90 feet and as fast as 45 miles an hour,” Brian they do when meeting someone face to face. age group, soon after signing up for
In the past two years, OurTime.com has said. “It was a blast.” Ninety-eight percent of that is shut down SeniorPeopleMeet.com, John Valentino was
seen its membership increase 400 percent. OurTime.com’s Orbuch said most single because the meeting is on the Internet. “You attracted to the smile of a woman in a notifica-
Its relationship expert, Dr. Terri Orbuch, said people over 50 have experienced a divorce, become enamored with this fictitious person tion the company sent to him stating she was
the website provides a targeted experience in the loss of a loved one or the end of a long- you’ve never met,” said Scott. “You develop someone in his area he might be interested
finding a companion, someone to spend life term relationship. They place a higher value a crush on them and find yourself willing to in. “I sent her an e-mail right away that said,
with or share experiences with. on relationships and companionship than they throw your whole world at them.” ‘You look so kissable,’ ” John recalled. “She
“A lot of the concern for those 50 and older did when they were younger. “You’re more He said twice he’s had to talk a client out wrote right back and asked, ‘In what way
about online dating is everyone is younger and confident and a better judge of character,” of sending $60,000 to a bank account, sup- am I kissable?’ ”
everyone is going to want someone younger she said. posedly of a foreign country Simple things had attract-
than them,” Orbuch said. “On OurTime, The online process encourages people to holding a man who said he ed them to each other. “His
they’re in a safe, successful area where every- really think about what they’re looking for in was from the United States profile said he had six cats
one’s the same age with the same attitudes, a partner — and about what attributes they’re and had been arrested in a and I love cats,” Debbie said.
religious beliefs and interests.” bringing to a prospective relationship. “Unlike bad business deal and needed “He liked a lot of the same
That’s why Brian Eichelberger joined. At traditional dating, with online dating, you to settle the case so he could music I did; we both like
the time, he had been divorced for four years might talk and work out things you want to be free to come marry her. blues, blues rock.” He lived
after an 18-year marriage and nearing retire- say beforehand with a friend or a relative,” “The biggest question we in the southern part of New
ment as a prison correctional officer. “I was Orbuch said. “You can have them look at what get is how do I know that Jersey, she in the central part.
on another dating site for a short time and you write before you send it. They might say, the person I’m talking to is They met after two weeks of
not getting any results,” he said. “There were ‘Sell yourself more.’ It’s a confidence booster giving me their real name,” talking online.
too many younger people and people play- to have them involved.” said Scott, noting that online, “As soon as we saw each
ing games. I came across this site and said it Stonehill College sociology professor and people tend to reveal much other, we gave each other a
Jo Ann and Brian Eichelberger
might work for me.” relationship expert Patricia Leavy, author of more about themselves than hug and we haven’t stopped
Brian and Jo Ann found each other through Low-Fat Love (Sense Publishers), said folks they would if that person was sitting with hugging since,” John Valentino said. “Five
an OurTime.com notification that their profile in their 50s and older may have insecurities them. “The first couple of times you chat, you minutes after we met, as soon as we touched
suggested they had common interests. “I was about dating either because they haven’t been talk about family, where you work, where you each other, I knew.” Debbie Valentino, now
only on it for a few days when I heard from Jo terribly successful at it — and therefore are went to college and high school — those are 54, said it took her a few days to realize she
Ann with a nice compliment on my writing single — or they are divorced and “starting all investigable clues.” had strong feelings for John, now 57. “Then I
style,” Brian said. Since she wasn’t planning again.” She sees the initial process of online MyMatchChecker.com offers its clients was in love,” she said. Nine months later, they
on dating, she wrote Brian and told him he’d dating as a way of “dipping a toe into a cold a comprehensive background check of any were engaged. They got married the following
find someone. pool instead of diving in head first.” questionable elements in a person’s past, year. “We didn’t tell anyone,” John Valentino
That might have disappointed weaker “Online dating is appealing because you researching criminal histories, checking sex said. “We had a family wedding on the beach
hearts, but not Brian’s. “It was nice,” he said. can do as much or little of it as you choose,” offender registries or the FBI Terror Watch List the following year.”
“She was the only one who wrote and com- Leavy said. “It can be ‘fit in’ to your life as and whether there are any pending criminal Fed up with New Jersey winters, the two
plimented me on my profile. I told her, ’You you see fit and it allows a lot of screening out cases. If nothing comes up, MyMatchChecker. have since moved to Pensacola, Fla. “On our
sound like a nice gal and I’d like to meet you of inappropriate matches based on politics, com will check online sites such as Google third date, she said she’d like to live by the
anyways.’ ” religious values, interests and other factors and Yahoo! to help confirm that a person is shore,” John Valentino explained. “She asked
One date led to another and less than five that may become increasingly important as who they say they are. me my travel plans and I said, ‘Baby, I’ll go
months later, they were engaged. Their wed- we mature.” “Not every search is going to be perfect,” anywhere you want to go even if it’s South
ding invitations read, “We clicked!” in tribute Just as love can be blind in face-to-face Scott said. “Just because you don’t find any- Dakota with four feet of snow.’”
to their online-inspired romance. Now retired, relationships, it can be even more so online thing doesn’t mean they don’t have a record;
Brian, 58, moved to Agoura Hills, Calif. to when the person on the other end is not who it could be it hasn’t been recorded yet or it ONLINE page 8
Fifty Plus Advocate is published monthly, 12
Publisher: Philip Davis Research Study Advertising: Donna Davis: ext. 130 times annually by Mar-Len Publications, Inc. 131
Executive Editor / Boston Metro / Boston South Sales Manager: Lincoln St., Worcester, MA 01605.
Assistant Publisher: Sondra Shapiro: ext. 136 Reva Capellari: ext. 5 Fifty Plus Advocate accepts no responsibility for
unsolicited manuscripts or materials and does not
Staff Reporter: Brian Goslow: ext. 135 Sales: return them to sender. Retractions for any inaccuracies
Travel Writer: Victor Block Cara Kassab: ext. 125 will be printed when necessary. Unsolicited letters to
Eastern Massachusetts Edition Steven M. Persichetti
131 Lincoln Street, Worcester, MA 01605 Art Director: Susan J. Clapham: ext. 142 the editor become the property of this newspaper and
can be reprinted in part or in whole unless otherwise
Serving the Fifty Plus Community since 1975 Bookkeeper: Stacy Lemay: ext. 6 stated. Fifty Plus Advocate columnists writing under a
(508) 752-2512 • FAX: (508) 752-9057 byline are expressing their personal opinions and not
Bookkeeping: ext. 6, Circulation: ext. 7, Sales Manager: ext. 5 Members of the Associated Press. necessarily those of the newspaper.
Read more at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com
We can learn from our elders
how to find happiness in life
By Sondra L. Shapiro disease and obesity and suffer from depres-
A new Gallup-Healthways index con-
firms there is such a thing as a mid-
life crisis, but don’t worry because
once we turn 65, it’s all laughter and con-
Perhaps we middle-agers have the deck
stacked against us — financial woes from
the weak economy have families struggling
to save for retirement, pay college tuitions
and make mortgage payments. For many,
The Index is an average of six sub- there’s the added responsibility of caring
indices: Life Evaluation, Physical Health, for a sick parent. Time management at this
Emotional Health, Healthy Behavior, Work stage of life is very challenging.
Environment and Basic Access. These constraints leave little inclination
The information, gathered from more to fulfill the wellness quotient — to eat
than 1 million surveys since 2008, shows better, exercise or find moments to relax or
that even while falling a bit behind when it engage in leisure activities.
comes to health issues, older people are less Complicating the facing of and dealing
likely to be sad or depressed than any other with these many issues is the inevitable
age group. In fact, although the difference realization of personal mortality: At least
is small, they’re actually somewhat happier. half our life is spent. Am I where I want
The conclusions show that Americans to be? Am I doing what I want to do? Is
over 65 scored 69 (out of 100), beating my life what I dreamed it would be in my
out every age group. youth?
Even with good intensions, just the
quest to eat better or find time to exercise
Just My may add to the stress. And when we look
Opinion for happiness through material things, we
only end up frustrated that we still feel
Those ages 45-64 scored No wonder the word commonly associ-
65, putting them at the ated with midlife is “crisis,” not “wellbeing.”
bottom end of the wellbeing spectrum. “Sometimes in the West we make hap-
“Today’s older Americans show remarkable piness much more complicated than it is,”
resilience as they age and navigate longev- Natasha Mitchell, of ABC Radio National’s
ity’s challenges,” said Joseph Coughlin, All in the Mind, told a reporter from theage.
PhD, director of the Massachusetts Institute com.au. “Shouldn’t it be straightforward
of Technology’s AgeLab in a statement. “For that if we reach out to other people, which
tomorrow’s older adults to do as well, if not is part of our biological imperative, that
better, we need to take a lifespan approach we’ll feel good?”
to address multiple dimensions of wellbe- Mitchell was a presenter at the
ing, from managing physical problems such Happiness and its Causes conference in
as obesity, to instilling lifelong behaviors Brisbane, Australia, where many of the
that will support a future generation of speakers agreed that scientifically proven
Americans that could begin approaching a ways to boost wellbeing comes down to
new normal of 100 years of life.” common sense: being kind, working on
Surprisingly, there is a steady increase in relationships, exercising and eating health-
healthy behaviors as we age. Work environ- ier food, according to an article in theage.
ment satisfaction and basic access to neces- com.au.
sities peak with those over 65. So, the question is, how do we acquire
The Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing a sense of wellbeing? An article in the
Index, which provides an in-depth, real- Cleveland Banner may hold some answers:
time view of Americans’ wellbeing, is •Achieve self-acceptance: Be realistic
actually designed to provide governments, about yourself, accepting that you aren’t
communities, employers and health plans perfect. Don’t look for approval from oth-
insight into the health of their populations. ers.
As an example, a daily index as of May •Maintain positive relations with others:
reports the average amount of happiness Surround yourself with good friends who
and enjoyment all respondents experienced allow you to be yourself, and with whom
without a lot of stress or worry was typical- you can share your thoughts and concerns.
ly in the 40 percent range on weekdays and •Demand personal freedom: As I have
the high-50 percent range on weekends. learned, time is becoming more precious so
Massachusetts ranks 11 (with a 51.4 I don’t want to waste so much time doing
percent: the national overall score was things I don’t enjoy.
66.5) on the wellness scale among 50 •Be confident: Life’s experiences should
states. give a sense of confidence that you can suc-
A state of wellbeing is equated with cessfully solve most of the problems that
better health, which translates into lower come up.
health care costs. “Improve wellbeing, and •Adjust your purpose: In middle age,
productivity goes up and health care costs we should free ourselves of those goals that
come down,” said Ben Leedle, president once defined us: What we did for a living,
and CEO of Healthways upon the release of how much money we made or where we
the research. went to college. It’s more important to find
The question is how do we achieve a purpose through meaningful relationships.
state of wellness? If you ask the folks at •And, lastly, my favorite: Keep grow-
Healthways, it’s such things as smiling, ing: As my dear friend Norma used to say,
laughter, access to learning, eating well and we should learn something new every day.
getting plenty of exercise. And, naturally, She lived that motto until the end of her
not smoking. While the over 65 set is prac- life. Well into her 80s, she took courses in
ticing these behaviors, middle age folks
are smoking, have higher levels of chronic LEARN page 10
(Zone 3) www.fiftyplusadvocate.com 5
Long-term care insurance plan at risk
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar CLASS was intended as voluntary long-term care U.S. workforce — to be financially feasible.
insurance plan, supported by premiums, not taxpayer But work on CLASS continued, bolstered by a report
E ven as leading Democrats offered assurances to the
contrary, government experts repeatedly warned
that a new long-term care insurance plan could go
belly up, saddling taxpayers with another underfunded
benefit program, according to emails disclosed by con-
dollars. Workers would pay an affordable sum of around
$100 a month or less. In exchange, they would receive
a modest daily cash benefit averaging no less than $50
if they become disabled later in life. Beneficiaries could
for AARP that laid out scenarios for implementing the
plan. The AARP study also raised financial concerns,
although it supports CLASS.
In July, Foster tried again. After reviewing the latest
use the money for services to help them stay at home, or information from Kennedy’s office, he wrote HHS officials,
gressional investigators. to help with nursing home bills. The Health “Thirty-six years of (professional) experience lead me to
Part of President Barack Obama’s health and Human Services Department (HHS) believe that this program would collapse in short order
care law, the program is in limbo as a congres- is supposed to set the final premiums and and require significant federal subsidies to continue.”
sional debt panel searches for budget savings benefit levels in the coming months. Too late. The Obama administration had decided to
and behind the scenes, administration officials But the program is on a collision course support CLASS. Documents and emails indicate that
scramble to find a viable financing formula. with powerful demographic and economic Foster was edged out of deliberations. Officials relied on
A longstanding priority of the late Sen. forces. How to pay the exorbitant cost of a more favorable analysis from the Congressional Budget
Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the Community long-term care remains a major unmet need Office. In November, Foster went public with his con-
Living Assistance Services and Supports pro- for an aging society. On the other hand, many cerns. Congress was well aware, the administration says.
gram, or CLASS, was spliced into the health Kennedy economic experts believe the government By that time, Marton, the HHS aging policy official,
care law despite nagging budget worries. has already promised seniors more than it was also raising questions internally. Emails he sent
Administration emails and documents reveal that alarms can deliver, and now is not the time to launch another other administration officials relayed studies that raised
were sounded earlier and more widely than previously program likely to need a taxpayer bailout or new man- concerns about such issues as premiums and the role of
thought. Congressional Republicans seeking repeal of the dates. Obama’s own bipartisan debt commission last year employers, while also recommending fixes.
program provided the materials to The Associated Press. recommended major reforms or repeal of CLASS, as did Publicly, the administration maintained it would all
“Seems like a recipe for disaster to me,” William another independent advisory group. Nursing homes work out. A December 2009 presentation for senior
Marton, a senior aging policy official in the administra- and long-term care providers support the program, while officials stressed the end result would be a financially
tion, wrote in an October 2009 email. Marton explained private long-term care insurance companies oppose it. robust program.
his concern that large numbers of healthy people would CLASS poses a dilemma for the new congressional In private, administration insiders were still spelling
not willingly sign up for CLASS, creating a predicament supercommittee, since it initially reduces the federal deficit out concerns. In January 2010, amid the final drive to pass
in which soaring premiums for a smaller group of frail until payouts overwhelm premiums collected. the health care law through a divided Congress, officials
beneficiaries would destabilize the program. The emails show that the first warning about CLASS circulated a 10-page list of “technical corrections.” One
That central design flaw has dogged CLASS from the came in May 2009, from Richard Foster, head of long item questioned whether the law gave HHS sufficient
drawing board, and it may turn out to be insurmount- range economic forecasts for Medicare. “At first glance authority to redesign the program to keep it afloat, and
able without making the program mandatory for most this proposal doesn’t look workable,” Foster wrote in an recommended a “fail-safe” clause spelling that out.
workers. CLASS remains vulnerable to repeal. email to other HHS officials, some of whom were work- HHS spokesman Sorian said Secretary Kathleen
“There has been no decision made,” Health and Human ing with Congress to get CLASS into the health care law. Sebelius will not go forward with the program unless it
Services spokesman Richard Sorian said. “We are continu- Foster said a rough outline of the program would have is financially sustainable, and the law explicitly gives her
ing our analysis. to enroll more than 230 million people — more than the that power. — AP
‘Supercommittee’ tackles sensitive issue of entitlements
D igging in for a bruising struggle,
Republicans on Congress’ powerful
targeted Social Security and government
health care spending in mid-September
reduce it later in the decade.”
The committee has until Nov. 23 to
recommend legislation, but Elmendorf said
the essential decisions must be made as
much as three weeks earlier than that to
ing to consider spending cuts this time
around, and John A. Boehner, R-Ohio,
has said he put additional revenues on the
table in negotiations with the president
Hensarling also quoted Obama as
saying, “The major driver of our long-
term liabilities, everybody here knows,
last summer that ultimately collapsed. is Medicare and Medicaid and our health
while Democrats pressed for higher tax make sure they are drafted into a bill and At the time, the two men were con- care spending. Nothing comes close.”
revenue as part of any deal to their impact on the federal budget sidering tax reform that would generate Asked if he agreed, Elmendorf said he
reduce red ink by at least $1.2 tril- calculated carefully. growth — and about $800 billion in addi- did.
lion over the next decade. The panel was created as part tional tax revenue over a decade — while Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, asked Elmen-
There were no ultimatums from of a compromise that avoided a lowering rates and closing loopholes. dorf if he agreed that inappropriate pay-
either side, and there was even a threatened government default Much of the first hearing consisted ments in federal programs account for a
fleeting suggestion that tax reform and cut nearly $1 trillion from of committee members posing questions significant amount of spending.
might eventually clear the way for some federal programs. to Elmendorf designed to elicit answers “I do agree,” the CBO director said,
the bipartisan agreement that both In addition to the original that might enhance their own bargaining although he quickly added that there was
sides say they want. goal of cutting long-term deficits, positions for negotiations with lawmakers a difference between fraud and improper
Yet with the Census Bureau report- Democrats want much or all of Obama’s of the other party. payments, some of which might be the
ing national poverty at a 28-year high $447 billion jobs proposal put on the Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, a result of individuals who were mistaken
and partisan struggles flaring elsewhere agenda, significantly increasing the amount co-chairman of the panel, pointed to in how they filled out forms.
in Congress, the events underscored the of savings that must be found. statistics showing that Social Security, Among Democrats, Sen. John Kerry
challenge the 12-member panel faces as it “My question to Congress is: What on Medicare and Medicaid are growing fast- got Elmendorf’s agreement when he said
gropes for a deal that can clear Congress earth are we waiting for?” the president er in relation to the overall economy than federal revenues have been relatively high
and win President Barack Obama’s signa- asked rhetorically as he visited Columbus, they have in the past. “Not quite double, as a proportion of the overall economy
ture by year’s end. Ohio, to campaign for the enactment of but certainly that can be described as in years since World War II in which the
With the nation’s debt high and surging his program of Social Security payroll tax explosive growth, could it not?” he budget was balanced — an attempt to
and the population aging, “Citizens will cuts and spending increases for highway asked. counter Republican arguments that taxes
either have to pay more for their govern- projects and other domestic programs. “Very rapid, Congressman, yes,” are already too high. — AP
ment, accept less in government services Republicans are likely to accept some
and benefits, or both,” Doug Elmendorf,
the head of the nonpartisan Congressional
or all of the tax cuts Obama wants, but
the spending increases shape up as a
More Social Security recipients get direct deposit
Budget Office (CBO), told the supercom- tougher sell. GOP leaders point out that OMAHA, Neb. — now being made electronically. That’s up
Though the choices are difficult, he
said, the problem “need not be viewed as
Yet the challenge is complicated, he
the administration’s call for higher taxes
on the wealthy has faced opposition from
some Democrats as well as Republicans in
Past efforts to reach compromise on
M ore recipients of government pay-
ments in the Midwest are signing
up for direct deposit, but officials
say 1.8 million people are still counting on
from 85 percent seven months ago.
Officials hope the number of people
using direct deposit will continue to grow.
So reminders will be sent to benefit recipi-
ents in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,
said, if the lawmakers’ are hoping to revive major debt-reducing proposals have run That could be a problem because the Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,
the economy in the short term and to aground over mutually exclusive demands federal government plans to end paper Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio,
cut federal deficits in later years. In that — Republicans opposed to raising taxes checks for Social Security and other benefits South Dakota and Wisconsin.
case, “a combination of policies would and Democrats against cutting benefit pro- in March 2013. Anyone needing help with the change
be required: changes in taxes and spend- grams. The Treasury Department says 88 percent can call 1-800-333-1795 or visit www.
ing that would widen the deficit now but But Obama has made clear he is will- of the benefit payments in the Midwest are GoDirect.org. —AP
6 Fifty Plus Advocate (Zone 3) October 1, 2011
Government: 401k fee disclosures may be electronic
W orkers with 401(k) retirement
accounts will receive improved
disclosures about the fees they’re
paying. The Department of Labor mandated
such disclosure beginning next year and said
to some 72 million workers enrolled in work-
place retirement accounts prompted active
lobbying by the industry.
Mailing out newly required annual book-
lets and quarterly fee statements on paper
will stand until Labor Department officials
have time to review the issue more thoroughly.
By the end of May, workers will get a
booklet that will detail the funds they have in
their 401(k) accounts, the investment returns,
ments will accompany regular account bal-
ance statements and explain all the fees paid
including administrative and record keeping
costs and the fees charged by various funds
in the account. These new fee disclosures
the information may be delivered electroni- would have been expensive, a cost that expense ratios and other details. These book- must be distributed no later than mid-August.
cally by email, through a secure website or would likely have been passed on to workers lets must include charts that compare the Companies offering 401(k) plans are also
on paper. through higher fees, said Marcia Wagner, a performance of the workers’ chosen funds due to receive greater details about the fees
Electronic delivery has been a big issue for Boston-based attorney specializing in retire- with benchmarks. The information must be they’re being charged by plan providers.
many of the companies that provide 401(k) ment issues. sent out once a year. Although workers pay most of these fees,
plans. The cost of sending paper documents The rules allowing electronic disclosure In addition, quarterly disclosure state- many don’t know it. — AP
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Why Medicaid matters for people with Medicare
By Ron Pollack tain services. With nursing homes averaging over $70,000 ity, especially in light of the ongoing deficit debate. The
a year and home health aides costing $19 an hour, you U.S. House of Representatives already passed a proposal to
Y ou’ve worked hard, saved what you can, and you
think you’re pretty well set for retirement. However,
as recent stock market fluctuations make clear, a lot
can happen to derail your good planning.
For example, you might end up needing more long-
may soon find that you’ve used up most of your life sav-
Luckily, the Medicaid safety net can help you get the
care you need. Over 60 percent of nursing home residents
make drastic cuts to the Medicaid safety net. Although this
legislation did not pass the Senate, the threats continue.
The latest debt compromise includes the formation of a
12 member “supercommittee,” and in order to meet their
rely on Medicaid, but Medicaid isn’t just about nursing Thanksgiving Day deadline for a plan to reduce the deficit
term care than you expected. If that happens, the good home care. Medicaid also pays for services that help people by $1.5 trillion, Medicaid will likely face the chopping
news is that there’s already a safety net out there for you stay in their homes longer, such as home health aides or block.
and your family. It’s called Medicaid and it’s the state and transportation to doctors’ appointments. Medicaid pays for Medicaid cuts would inevitably mean less help for seni-
federally funded health insurance program that serves mil- some home care in every state, but the coverage of specific ors who need long-term care. There’s a better way to tackle
lions of seniors, children and people with services varies. our deficit than placing the burden on aging Americans
disabilities. In fact, more than one in six Medicaid doesn’t just help you; it also helps your family. and their families. That’s by getting rid of tax cuts for the
Americans over 65 rely on it. If you’re married, Medicaid includes financial protections wealthy and closing tax loopholes for corporations — in
for your spouse. That means that if you’re in a nursing short, taking a balanced approach to deficit reduction that
Families USA home, your spouse can keep some money without affect-
ing your Medicaid eligibility. Thanks to health care reform,
makes everyone pay a fair share. Dismantling Medicaid
and leaving seniors on their own to pay for long-term care
after 2014, that same financial protection will apply if you would be the wrong way to go. We need to make sure that
Unfortunately, there is a big misper- need home care, so the cost of your care won’t impoverish the Medicaid safety net is there to help you and your fam-
ception among many people that Medicare your spouse. Furthermore, because Medicaid covers the ily with the high costs of long-term care.
pays for nursing homes or home care, but that’s simply not cost of your long-term care, your family won’t have to. By
the case for most people. Medicare only pays for long-term providing care at home, Medicaid gives your family mem- Ron Pollack is the executive director of Families USA, a
care in very limited circumstances. In most cases, you’ll bers more time for their jobs and families, lessening the national organization for health care consumers. It is nonprofit
have to pay yourself unless you have a long-term care stress for everyone. and nonpartisan, and its mission is to secure high-quality,
insurance policy. Even if you have that kind of insurance, Millions of seniors and their families rely on Medicaid. affordable health coverage and care for all Americans. Online:
many policies only cover costs for a limited time or for cer- Unfortunately, severe program cutbacks are a real possibil- www.familiesusa.org.
Super John: Kerry has big items on agenda
By Al Norman Obama will be recommending that the Social Medicare. Most beneficiaries on Medicare live of the burden of meeting our obligations to
Security retirement age be raised to 67. As on modest incomes. More than half have a the vulnerable in our communities. Closing
John Kerry has some big decisions to baby boomers already know, the retirement household income of less than $20,000 per tax loopholes and exemptions, or means
make. age for them is already on the rise. Social year. Any plan to raise the eligibility age for testing deductions and exemptions, is also
The senior senator from Security has not contributed to the federal Medicare to 67 or increase copayments would an approach worth considering.
Massachusetts, as a member deficit — it has alleviated it. Its trust funds hurt many of Kerry’s constituents who get Reducing the federal budget deficit is
of the so-called supercom- have been used their health care from an employer. important, but spending cuts should not be
mittee in Congress, has to
come up with $1.5 tril-
Push for borrowing in
the past to lower
Finally, 1.2 million people in the
Commonwealth depend on Medicaid as
made at the expense of economically disad-
vantaged seniors and younger Americans.
lion in cuts to the federal Back the perceived def- their health plan. If they need long term care Due to the recent economic downturn, more
budget. There are those icit. The system is or nursing home care — it is the Medicaid seniors than ever need assistance and support
in Congress who see this solvent in the near-term, and can be fixed program that must address that need — not to make ends meet. Any plan that relies only
is a super opportunity to cut without breaking the intergenerational bond Medicare. Already the Medicaid program is on budget cuts, with no expanded revenues,
programs like Social Security, Medicare and between today’s workers and the retirees who full of holes, like vision, hearing and dental is unfairly targeted at the poor and middle
Medicaid. I am hoping that John Kerry is not paid into the system for decades. care. It’s a safety net program, because if class, who have contributed the least to our
one of them. More worrisome is the fear the Congress people fall through the net here, they fall into current economic crises.
The supercommittee has only until Nov. will cut the Cost of Living Adjustment the no care zone. So, make a call to Kerry’s Boston office
23 to make its recommendations, which will (COLA) for Social Security. The COLA already The supercommittee needs to find ways to at 617-565-8519. Tell him to stand firmly
be fast-tracked for an up-or-down vote in doesn’t reflect the real cost of living facing protect income support and social insurance against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and
Congress a couple of day before Christmas. older people due to higher than average use programs for low-income Americans. A bal- Medicaid. After all, he is now our “senior”
Lawmakers will not be able to make changes of medical services and medications. anced strategy must include revenue raisers senator.
to the supercommittee’s recommendations. Then there is Medicare. More that 1 and, where necessary, spending cuts.
It has already been leaked that President million people in Massachusetts depend on Raising the tax rate on upper income Al Norman is the executive director of Mass
earners (including unearned income), and Home Care. He can be reached at 413-773-
on corporate revenues, is a reasonable sharing 5555, or at email@example.com
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Travel and Entertainment
By Victor Block The Bethel Inn course, which later to Montreal, timber
includes seven holes that remain cutting, manufacturing and
hen visitors to Bethel, Maine, from the 1915 layout, offers tourism developed.
describe what makes the town what Northeast Golf Magazine The town center
special, many responses have has called “mountain golf at its would be at home in a
a common theme expressed in different best.” Sunday River is included Norman Rockwell draw-
words. on Golf Magazine’s list of the ing of a quintessentially
leading public courses in the New England town. Old
country. trees that shade well-
Come winter, Sunday preserved historic homes
River offers skiers 132 trails that were built over a span
and glades spread across eight of 125 years line the broad
interconnected peaks. Nearby Common and adjoining
Mt. Abram Resort is known as streets.
family-friendly. The Dr. Moses Mason
Bethel is a good starting House (1813) and the
point for drives through some adjacent O’Neil Robinson
of New England’s most spec- House (1821), are home
tacular fall foliage. Roads follow to the Bethel Historical
rushing rivers and deep valleys, Society. They contain
climb hills and skirt mountains exhibit galleries and nine
— with a kaleidoscope of bril- Albert Stiles House fully furnished period
liant color around every twist historically were used to mark property rooms that, among other
Bethel Historical Society period room and turn. lines, and saw lines of holes that a bear things, demonstrate how hard people
While we visited Bethel before the left when it climbed a large birch tree. worked during the first half of the 19th
Stanley Howe, a native who serves as onset of Mother Nature’s autumn display, A hike along Wright Brook leads to century on chores that today are done by
associate director of the Bethel Historical my wife Fyllis and I experienced the Step Falls, a series of lovely descending labor-saving utensils.
Society, refers to “outside influences” that beauty of the area by hiking on several cascades that drop a total of more than A personal favorite was the Albert
have added to the fabric of the commu- of dozens of trails that offer something- 250 feet, making it one of the highest falls Stiles House (1852), a cozy cottage
nity. for-everyone variety. They range in Maine. Near the top of the rock- adorned by gingerbread trim. In contrast
Those influences lend a veneer of from an easy amble along a strewn stream are deep pools is the rambling Bethel Inn, which has
sophistication — unusual in towns of path in town beside the where those hardy enough been providing room and board to guests
comparable size, with about 2,400 perma- Androscoggin River to to brave the cold water since 1913. In addition to its golf course,
nent residents. a challenging climb can take a dip. this four-season resort boasts an excellent
That doesn’t become evident immedi- to the summit of Along with dining room, spa and a menu of available
ately. The first impression is of the mag- 4,180-foot Old introductions activities ranging from fly fishing schools
nificent scenery and setting. The town lies Speck Mountain, to the natural and moose tours to snowmobiling and
in a fertile valley nestled among rolling, the third highest beauty that sur- dog sledding.
tree-clad hills and some of the highest peak in Maine. rounds Bethel, Those less inclined to such outdoor
mountains in Maine. Small lakes, ponds On the Gray Fyllis and I activities have inviting alternatives to
and meandering rivers dot the landscape. Memorial Trail immersed our- check out at an eclectic choice of shops
The stretch of the Androscoggin that runs we soon left selves in the his- and studios. At a number of them, local
past Bethel offers good angling for brown behind the noise tory and charms artists and craft people produce and sell
and rainbow trout. of what some of the town itself. their wares, which adds an air of unex-
Fishing is one of a long list of activities call civilization Farming was the pected chic to the small town setting.
that attracts lovers of the outdoors. Spring and passed through principal occupation Whether you’re a shopper, history buff
to fall means hiking, road and mountain forest where the only of the first European or lover of the outdoors, Bethel offers
biking, canoeing, kayaking, river raft and sounds were birds chirp- settlers who arrived in much to attract and keep you there for
float trips and mountain climbing, among ing and our footsteps. We 1774. When the village was a while. For more information, call the
other pursuits. spotted old cut and paint- Hiking trails offer something for connected by railroad to Bethel Chamber of Commerce at 207-
Golfers have a choice of two courses. ed blazes on trees that everyone. (photo by fyllis hockman) Portland in the 1851, and 824-2282 or log onto bethelmaine.com.
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Resource for Caregivers
Builders cite rise in ‘mother-in-law suites’
By Monica Rhor “The transition will go over a lot better if you bring the Garage Apartments to do their garage conversion, the cost
parent into the conversation,” said Jackson. “Ask them: was much lower.
B etsy McCann and her husband, Jim Forbes, often wor-
ried that his mother was growing isolated in her Los
Angeles-area home. At 90, Lois Brokus had stopped
driving and was sometimes afraid to be alone in her house.
Jane and William Merrill also decided that they
‘What do you need?’ ‘What color do you want?’ ”
That’s what McCann and her husband did when they
decided to build an addition in 2008. Brokus, now 93, was
part of the planning.
The Indianapolis-based company remodels two-car
garages into complete apartments within 10 days for
$35,000. (The Merrills, who converted their garage 11
years ago, paid $25,000).
The company’s owner, Susan Jennings, came
didn’t want his mother living on her own any more. up with the idea when she was managing a trust
Then 81, Jane Merrill, who shares her daughter-in-law’s department at a bank and often worked with
name, was still active but in need of companionship. widows yearning to live with their adult children.
Both families considered nursing homes, assisted Jennings worked with a designer to come up with
living and retirement communities. In the end, they a dwelling attractive to both the adult children and
came to the same conclusion: Their homes were the best the older parent. For privacy and independence,
place for their mothers. But they needed more home. the apartment has a separate entrance, full kitchen
So McCann and Forbes added a 400-square-foot and wheelchair-accessible features.
bedroom and bathroom to their Escondido, Calif., “The biggest advantage is that my husband can
home; the Merrills converted a two-car garage at their sit down with her every evening. Because of that
8-acre spread in Carmel, a suburb of Indianapolis. constant contact, he has learned much more about
Now, both older women live with their adult chil- his parents and their lives,” said the younger Jane
dren, with a large degree of independence and privacy. Merrill. “He would not have had that if she was in
Although it isn’t for everyone, it is a choice many assisted living.”
families are making. Homebuilders across the country However, both Betsy McCann and Jane Merrill
say they are getting an increasing number of requests caution that this may not work for every family. For
for such additions, known as mother-in-law suites, one thing, their mothers-in-law are self-sufficient
granny flats or accessory dwellings. Jane Merrill (l) as she spends time with her son, William Merrill, in her and do not need daily medical care. In both fami-
According to the National Association of Home apartment in William’s home in Carmel, Ind. (ap photo/darron cummings) lies, they got along well before moving in together.
Builders, 62 percent of builders surveyed were working “If you can’t stand one week or one weekend
on a home modification related to aging in 2010. About “We didn’t want her to feel like a guest intruding on our together, this won’t work,” said McCann. “You need to
one in five builders added an entry-level bedroom. house,” said McCann. “She kept telling all her friends about have realistic expectations about the impact on your life.”
About 3.5 million American households last year includ- how she was involved in the design process, and that the Nancy Thompson, of AARP, offered other tips for
ed adult children and their parents — a number expected paint colors were her choice.” families considering building a mother-in-law suite for an
to rise as the country ages and baby boomers move into Brokus now proudly calls the addition, which includes a aging parent:
retirement, said Nancy Thompson, an AARP spokesperson. bedroom, wet bar and wheelchair-accessible doorways and •Decide what your expectations are well in advance
To accommodate the growing demand, AARP teamed up bathroom, “her apartment,” said McCann. Every month, and make sure everyone agrees. Involve the elderly parent
with the homebuilders’ association to create a designation she writes a rent check covering the cost of utilities — an in the process.
for Certified Aging in Place Specialists, who are trained in act that adds to her sense of independence. •Make sure the addition is built following universal
designing and modifying buildings for the elderly. About The arrangement has given the family more time together design guidelines. Are counters, bathrooms and doorways
3,000 builders, contractors, remodelers and architects have and greater peace of mind, and may have averted a tragedy wheelchair accessible? Is there a walk-in shower with grab
been certified. in July when Brokus suffered a heart attack. Had she been bars? Opt for entry-level additions to eliminate stairs. Look
One is Todd Jackson, CEO of San Diego’s Jackson Design alone, McCann said, she might not have called 911. As it for a contractor or builder with experience in universal
and Remodeling, which handled the room addition at was, she just had to walk a few feet for help. design or aging in place.
McCann’s home. The addition, which was part of a major renovation •Check municipal building codes to make sure that
“There’s both a physical component and a sensitivity to other parts of the house, cost the McCanns $250,000. accessory dwellings are allowed. — AP
side to these projects. The family needs to take that into The average price for a bedroom addition can run from
account,” said Jackson, who noted that aging parents may $100,000 to $400,000, depending on size and amenities, Online: The National Association of Home Builders,
be reluctant to move into their children’s homes, and may according to builders. tips and guidelines at www.nahb.org/reference_list.aspx?
worry about losing their independence. For the Merrills, who used a company called Next Door sectionID=717
Bathtub designs remain the same, but there are differences
By Jim Doherty years. The earliest known bathtub dates and trying to clean ourselves while holding your muscles and improve your circulation.
back to the Minoan dynasty in 1700 BC, onto a hot water faucet and leaning against These tubs come in many sizes and
1. What is the most dangerous room and its form is almost identical to those in a slippery wall or a glass door. Even with a shapes to suit most any space available and
in the house? use today. Bathtubs are still similar to the plastic seat in the tub, many people stand options are customized to an individual’s
The bathroom — especially for the Minoan tub: The only difference is they up to soap their underside knowing full needs.
elderly, who are restricted with limited are made of manmade materials and have well that they have a balance problem.
reach and poor grip strength. The bathroom flowing hot and cold water. Now you can walk in a doorway and Jim Doherty worked for three of the major
is the primary location for falls, resulting in 4. Why risk it? sit in a normal height moulded seat. Then tub companies before starting his own busi-
fractures and death. The greatest danger in We need to bath regularly. Physiologically, take a shower, hand shower or fill the tub ness distributing tubs through SecurityBath.
the bathroom is slipping and falling when bathing cleanses the skin and removes for- and soak in total comfort and security. Push Call him at 781-438-5216 or email at Jim@
entering and exiting the bathtub or shower. eign matters such as deodorants, powders, a button for airjet hydrotherapy to relax SecurityBath.com. Visit www.SecurityBath.com.
The confined spaces, wet slippery flooring, pollutants and dead skin. This prevents
unforgiving hard surfaces and protruding irritations and rashes that would otherwise Fewer Medicare Part D enrollees hit coverage gap
fixtures all add to the resulting injuries.
2. How dangerous is it?
Thirty percent of hospital admissions of
people over 65 are from falls in the home
— mostly in the bathroom — resulting in
promote infections. We need to keep our
skin clean and healthy. Not to mention
there are social standards pertaining to
cleanliness, psychological benefits of feel-
F ewer Medicare prescription drug
plan enrollees are falling into a cov-
erage gap known as the doughnut
hole in which they bear the full cost of
their prescriptions, according to a study
That compares to 26 percent in 2007.
People who receive low-income subsidies
do not have to make payments in the
Kaiser said the increased availability of
ing clean and improved self esteem in our
250,000 hip fractures or worse. Such falls appearance. from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family cheaper generic drugs for some chronic
are the leading cause of drowning at home 5. Is there something better? Foundation. conditions may be behind the drop in
among seniors. Yes. Finally, walk-in bathtubs are avail- A total of 19 percent of Medicare Part people hitting that coverage gap.
3. How long for improvement to devel- able for the residential market. D beneficiaries who did not receive low- About 29 million people are enrolled
op? No more fear of attempting to climb income subsidies hit that gap in 2009, the
In the case of bathtubs — about 3,700 into a traditional tub. No more standing latest year for which figures are available. GAP page 15
(Zone 5) www.fiftyplusadvocate.com 13
Don’t expect 401(k) fee reports until later in ’12
By David Pitt A survey by AARP last December revealed fee documents to be sent each quarter to plan or assessed as a percentage of the total
that 71 percent of 401(k) accountholders 401(k) accountholders. These will help you assets held in the account.
F ew things come without a price tag.
But sometimes it’s hard to tell what
they truly cost. And that’s definitely an
issue when it comes to understanding the
fees associated with a 401(k) plan.
did not believe they paid any fees. About 23
percent knew they paid fees and the remain-
ing 6 percent didn’t know
whether they did or not.
get a handle on precisely how much you’re
paying and are to become available starting
The reports will
The impact of even slightly higher
expenses can be dramatic.
AARP calculated that an employee con-
tributing $5,000 per year to a 401(k) plan,
Yet even if you’re aware include tables that will earning an annual return of 7 percent and
The implementation of new regulations of the fees and want to disclose: paying no fees, could save $469,000 over
calling for improved disclosure of the gather the information, it •Performance of the a 35-year working career. Annual fees of
expenses you’re paying has been delayed can be tough to find. It investments in given 1.5 percent of the account balance cuts the
until sometime later next year. typically requires sifting 401(k) account. Average savings 26 percent to $345,000.
The Department of Labor has decided through various documents annual returns and com- Although companies usually pay some
to give 401(k) plan administrators, fund from different sources. parisons to an index or of the costs of providing a 401(k) plan, it’s
companies and plan providers more time As a first step, the other benchmark will be the workers themselves who pay most of
to prepare for the changes. Department of Labor last included. the cost.
That means you likely won’t begin seeing year came up with a set of •Fees for the mutual In smaller plans of under $10 million in
these new fee reports until sometime after rules requiring providers funds in the account, assets, workers pay around 66 percent of the
June 1. That’s about three months later of 401(k) plans such as expressed as a percent- costs while their employer pays the remain-
than previously planned, said Assistant Fidelity, Charles Schwab age of assets and the dol- ing third, according to The Investment
Secretary of Labor Phyllis Borzi, who over- and The Vanguard Group lar amount per $1,000 Company Institute (ICI), a trade group for
sees employee benefits, in an interview with to reveal details of the fees invested. A detailed listing U.S. investment companies. In large plans
The Associated Press. they charge employers in a of shareholder fees for with more than $100 million in assets, work-
“We wanted to give the industry plenty clear and easily understood functions like manage- ers pay as much as 90 percent of the costs.
of time to retool their systems, and we really format. ment and recordkeeping What’s more, there are some signs that
did want it to be meaningful information for These reports must be offered beginning will be included. shedding light on the fees may be driving
401(k) plan participants, so we thought this April 1, 2012, which is delayed from the •Details on annuity options in the plan them lower.
made the most sense,” she said. initial Jan. 1 implementation date. including the goals of the annuities, pricing The ICI says costs paid by 401(k) inves-
About 72 million workers are enrolled in This disclosure is designed to make it factors and fees. An annuity is an insurance tors on their stock funds dropped to 0.71
employer provided 401(k) plans. All told, easier for companies to shop around for a contract which takes a lump sum of cash and percent last year from 0.74 percent in 2009.
they have roughly $3.2 trillion invested in 401(k) plan. Clearer apples-to-apples fee turns it into a guaranteed revenue stream. Bond fund fees were at 0.56 percent in 2010
the accounts. comparisons will enable them to get a full Fees are charged in many different ways. and 2009. They were 0.53 percent in 2008.
Yet despite what’s at stake, most accoun- picture of total fees charged. They can be charged directly to the plan as
tholders know little about the fees they pay. The second step requires new detailed a whole, charged to each participant in the 401(k) page 15
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14 Fifty Plus Advocate (Zone 3) October 1, 2011
Long-term care or nursing home?
By Linda T. Cammuso Planning without considering Medicaid rules
can result in inadvertent Medicaid disquali-
P eople generally recognize the impor-
tance of long-term care and nursing
home planning — just not always
when it comes to themselves or their loved
fication if nursing home care is ever needed.
•Making annual gifts to children and not
realizing the implications of the Medicaid five
year look back period. The idea of making
“What happens if
ones. Many people live in denial that they
would ever face that situation. As an estate
annual gifts — $10,000.00, $12,000.00,
etc. — is a gift tax rule, not a Medicaid rule.
I don’t have a will
planner, I often meet people from the “it- These gifts will incur Medicaid penalties.
can-never-happen-to-me group,” who have
fallen into crisis mode and wonder why it
took a crisis for them to finally face reality.
•Doing the MassHealth (Medicaid) appli-
cation yourself. The process is more compli-
cated — and filled with landmines — than
or an estate plan?”
The first step to avoid- the application would lead you to believe.
ing crisis mode is simple Working with a professional can greatly
increase your chances of approval.
•Being so focused on nursing home and
Legal Briefs long-term care planning issues that you
ignore other important aspects of estate
awareness of the follow- planning such as taxes, asset protection, etc. A lot and it’s not good.
ing common long-term Much like the old Rubik’s Cube game, you If you don’t have a will or an estate plan:
care planning and nursing don’t win unless the colors (or in this case,
home planning mistakes: the legal issues) match on all sides.
•Assuming that you (or your loved one)
• A court could appoint a third party to make medical
•Making direct gifts to children or other
will never need nursing home care: The num- family members instead of using a trust. and financial decisions for you…instead of someone
ber of people needing nursing home care Putting your home or money into someone you love and trust
continues to increase as the older population else’s name, while you’re still living and
increases. However, younger generations are relying on those assets, poses a great risk to • You could lose your home and life savings to pay for
also not exempt — people aged 31 to 64 your financial security. A trust can protect long-term or nursing home care
now make up the fastest growing proportion assets from long-term care expenses without • The government could take a huge chunk of the
of individuals needing nursing home care. exposing them to other people’s creditors
And it is estimated that within 15 years, 3.9 and liabilities during your life. inheritance that you planned to leave behind for loved
million nursing home beds will be needed. Now that you’ve glimpsed the bigger ones – is that what you really want to happen?
•Assuming that your estate is either too picture, there is no excuse for waiting until
large or too small — to worry about plan- you, or a loved one, are in a crisis mode.
ning. Anyone with concerns about long-term Contact an attorney who specializes in long- No matter what your net worth is…
care affordability should consider proactive term care planning today.
planning. you need a will and an estate plan!
•Assuming that Medicare will cover long- Linda T. Cammuso, a founding partner
term nursing home care. It does not. at Estate Preservation Law Offices and an Don’t wait! Let Estate Preservation Law Offices help protect
•Not understanding the MassHealth / estate planning professional, has extensive
Medicaid financial eligibility rules, or ignor- experience in estate planning, elder law and you and your loved ones. Our consultations are free; and,
ing them. You’ve probably heard the expres- long-term care planning. She may be reached if you cannot come to us – we’ll come to you.
sion on a legal TV show, “ignorance of the at www.estatepreservationlaw.com or by call-
law is no defense” — the same is true for ing 508-751-5010. Archives of articles from
Medicaid. You will be subject to their rules previous issues may be read at www.fiftyplus Contact Attorney Linda T. Cammuso or Attorney Brendan
whether you know about them or not. advocate.com. J. King at Estate Preservation Law Offices today.
➤ 401(k) account providers to try new ideas.
Schwab is launching a 401(k) that doesn’t
Cont. from page 14 include traditional mutual funds, but only
offers only index funds or exchange-traded Estate Preservation Law Offices
The regulations might not be the direct funds.
reason for lowering fees, but there’s little Index funds and ETFs are lower-cost Protecting assets during your lifetime.
doubt the companies charging higher fees options, typically with fees of around 0.20 Preserving them for the next generation.
will have to do some explaining, and likely percent. They’re less expensive because they
change their practices, once consumers can do not rely on the expertise of highly-paid www.estatepreservationlaw.com
see how much they’re paying. fund managers to actively pick stocks.
“The higher fee companies will have to Some providers, The Vanguard Group for 508.751.5010
adapt,” said James McCool, who heads the example, have provided index funds as an
institutional services practice for Schwab. option in their 401(k) plans for years, but With offices in Worcester, Braintree,
There’s an unintended benefit. A focus with more focus on fees, such lower cost Cambridge and Hyannis, MA
on fees also may be pushing some 401(k) funds have been gaining popularity. — AP
➤ Gap Congress created this gap essentially to
keep prescription drug spending within
Cont. from page 13 a budget and offer both upfront coverage
and protection against big expenses.
in Medicare prescription drug plans. The health care overhaul aims to For our FREE brochures, Long-Term
Enrollees and their drug plans share costs gradually fill the gap. This year, those who Care Planning, The Medicaid/MassHealth
up to a certain amount each year. Then reach it will receive 50 percent discounts
enrollees pay the full cost for prescriptions on brand-name drugs. Plans that offer Application Process, and Estate Plan:
before becoming eligible for catastrophic Part D coverage also will pick up 7 per-
coverage, where the plan resumes paying cent of the cost for generics. Without one you are living on the edge,
and covers 95 percent of the bill. Beneficiaries who hit the doughnut
This year, for example, customers hole usually take medication for chronic
please call 508.751.5010.
and their drug plans must spend $2,840 conditions like cancer, diabetes or
before they reach the coverage gap. Then Alzheimer’s disease, and they frequently
beneficiaries pick up the next $3,608 cut back on their prescriptions due to the
before they become eligible for cata- financial crunch the gap causes, according
strophic coverage. to Kaiser. — AP
(Zone 5) www.fiftyplusadvocate.com 15
Not too early to start preparing home for winter
By Carole Feldman Air leaks Emergency kits Heating
“Checking for any kind of air leaks is It’s good to have an emergency kit Regardless of what type of heating
T he early fall is a perfect time to
start preparing for winter. Many
must-do projects, such as caulk-
ing, cleaning gutters, adding insulation
or preparing emergency kits, will make
a prime project for this time of year,” said
Kit Selzer, senior remodeling and projects
editor at Better Homes and Gardens.
Caulk can be used to seal leaks around
throughout the year, but it can be espe-
cially important in the middle of a snow-
storm when the power goes out.
“When preparing for emergency situ-
system you use, it’s a good idea to have it
checked before the start of each winter to
make sure it is working correctly.
If you have oil heat, make sure your
doors or windows, or around pipes or ations, it’s best to think first about the tank is full before the cold weather arrives.
your home more energy-efficient, help ductwork. basics of survival: fresh water, Insulation
prevent weather damage and make “Install foam gaskets behind food, clean air and warmth,” the The Energy Department estimates that
things easier should the power go out. outlet and switch plates on Federal Emergency Management you can save up to 20 percent on heating
“It is never too early to save energy walls,” the Energy Department Agency says. and air conditioning bills by adding insu-
and save money at home,” said Joelle advises. The agency also recom- lation to attics, under floors and in other
Terry, spokesperson for the Energy Weather-stripping can be mends that emergency kits areas where air can leak. A department
Department. “Whether it’s choosing placed at the bottom of a door contain a battery-powered website, Energysavers.gov, has a map that
energy efficient products, sealing air or in a window sash to help radio and flashlight, extra bat- shows how much insulation is needed in
and duct leaks or adding insulation, produce a seal. There are many teries, first aid items, moist different areas of the country. An energy
American households could save over different types, from felt to vinyl towelettes and a whistle, audit will be able to tell you if you have
20 percent on their household energy and metal. A professional can among other items. enough.
bills by making energy upgrades to their advise what is best in each case. You also might want to have Selzer said that adding insulation is
homes.” Chimneys some ice melt on hand to treat icy generally considered a do-it-yourself job.
To start, the department advises peo- Chimneys should be inspected and sidewalks and driveways. Sandor also recommended putting an
ple to get an energy audit of their home, cleaned on a regular basis. “You want to Gutters insulation jacket on your water heater.
or do one themselves “to find out where make sure there’s nothing built up in the “It’s a common thing for clogged gut- Outside faucets
you are losing energy — and money.” chimney or any debris that’s worked its ters to freeze if they don’t drain properly,” Don’t forget to turn off water to the out-
Check with your utility company; way in,” Selzer said. said Pat Sandor, a “How To” expert at side faucet and allow the faucet to drip dry
some offer free or low-cost energy audits. Dirty chimneys can be a fire hazard. Home Depot. “Those can back up and before the below-freezing temperatures hit.
An energy audit can help determine if, Creosote, a residue from wood burning, cause damage to the home.” Windows
for example, you have enough insulation, builds up over time and is combustible. So before winter, clean all debris from Winter is the time to pull down those
or whether there are leaks around win- Make sure the damper is closed, except gutters and downspouts. storm windows. If you don’t have any, put
dows or elsewhere that should be sealed. when using the fireplace. Selzer also advises looking for gaps in plastic sheeting over the window to try to
Here’s a look, alphabetically, at some Also, check to make sure a chimney the gutter where water can drip through, block drafts. Another easy way to make
things experts recommend doing to pre- cap is in place so birds or other wildlife freeze and cause icy patches. windows feel less drafty is insulated cur-
pare for winter: don’t make the chimney their home. tains. — AP
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16 Fifty Plus Advocate (Zone 5) October 1, 2011
Obesity hits more boomers
than others in U.S.
By Lauran Neergaard
and weight, roughly a third of the baby
boomers polled are obese, compared with
about a quarter of both older and younger
C ancer and memory loss are baby
boomers’ biggest health fears. Given
responders. Only half of the obese boomers
say they are regularly exercising.
their weight, maybe heart disease
and diabetes should be too.
Boomers are more obese than other
generations, a new poll
finds, setting them up
for unhealthy senior
An additional 36 percent of boomers
are overweight, though not obese.
The nation has been bracing for a surge
in Medicare costs as
the 77 million baby
boomers, the post-war
years. generation born from Ginny lives in her own apartment and enjoys
And for all the talk 1946 to 1964, begin
of “60 is the new 50” turning 65. Obesity — going out to dinner often with friends. A true
and active aging, even with its extra risk of
those who aren’t obese heart disease, diabe- social butterfly, her wheelchair doesn’t hold her
need to do more to
stay fit, according to
tes, high blood pressure
and arthritis — will back, she is an active member of the Red Hat
the Associated Press-
further fuel those bills.
“They’re going to be
Society, Handicapped Commission and the
Most baby boomers
expensive if they don’t
get their act together,”
Multiple Sclerosis Society.
say they get some aero- said Jeff Levi of the
bic exercise, the kind nonprofit Trust for
that revs up your heart America’s Health. He Ginny has been attending a PACE day center
rate, at least once a
week. But most adults
points to a study that
found Medicare pays for five years. Knowing the PACE team is there
are supposed to get 2
1/2 hours a week of
34 percent more on an
obese senior than one
to support her as her needs change, she says
obic activity — things like a brisk walk, a
who’s a healthy weight.
About 60 percent of boomers polled say
“I am able to focus on enjoying and living my
dance class, pushing a lawn mower. Only
about a quarter of boomers polled report
they’re dieting to lose weight, and slightly life.”
more are eating more fruits and vegetables
working up a sweat four or five times a or cutting cholesterol and salt.
week, what the average person needs to But it takes physical activity, not just
reach that goal. dieting, to shed pounds. That’s especially
Worse, 37 percent never do any of the important as people start to age and dieting
strength training so crucial to fighting the
muscle loss that comes with aging.
Walking is their most frequent form of
alone could cost them precious muscle in
addition to fat, said Jack Rejeski of Wake Call Information & Referral
Forest University, a specialist in exercise
exercise. The good news: Walk enough
and the benefits add up.
“I have more energy, and my knees don’t
Whether you’re overweight or just the at Elder Service Plan
right size, physical activity can help stave
hurt anymore,” said Maggie Sanders, 61,
of Abbeville, S.C. She has lost 15 pounds
over the past few months by walking four
off the mobility problems that too often
sneak up on the sedentary as they age. of the North Shore
Muscles gradually become flabbier until
miles, three times a week, and eating better. people can find themselves on the verge
More boomers need to heed that feel- of disability and loss of independence, like
good benefit. Based on calculation of
body mass index from self-reported height OBESITY page 18
Tips for getting enough physical activity
I t may sound daunting: The government
says most adults should get 2 1/2 hours
a week of physical activity that revs their
But if you can’t do that much, don’t give
•Just doing 10 minutes at a time counts.
A few 10-minute activities each day add
•If you’ve been sedentary, build up
Beverly Lynnfield Salem
up — every little bit helps, especially as •If you prefer more vigorous activity — Danvers Manchester Saugus
people age. like jogging or singles tennis or a fast bike
“The message should always be to take ride — the Centers for Disease Control Essex Marblehead Swampscott
it slow by setting realistic but challeng-
ing goals,” said Jack Rejeski, Wake Forest
and Prevention (CDC) says 75 minutes a
week is sufficient. One minute of vigorous
Gloucester Middleton Topsfield
University professor of health and exercise activity counts for two minutes of moderate Hamilton Nahant Wakefield
science. He recommends a walk with activity.
friends “and before you know it, you’re •The CDC says moderate-intensity Ipswich Peabody Wenham
through.” means you’re not breathing too hard to talk
Some tips: but you couldn’t sing. Lynn Rockport
•The recommendation is for moderate- •In addition to the aerobic activity, the
intensity physical activity, things like a CDC urges muscle-strengthening activities Upon enrollment participants must receive all health care, primary care and
brisk walk, water aerobics, cutting grass at least two days a week. That can range specialist physician services--other than emergency services--as authorized by PACE,
with a push mower, taking a dance class, from digging in the garden and yoga to or be fully and personally liable for costs of unauthorized services. H-2222_2011_24
doubles tennis. push-ups or lifting weights. — AP
(Zone 5) www.fiftyplusadvocate.com 17
Helping deaf people to enjoy music again
R esearchers from the University of Southampton are
investigating how to help deaf people who have
received a cochlear implant to get more enjoyment
the complexities of music.
“Hearing people speak again changes lives but many
of our patients tell us they still can’t enjoy music,” said
Dr van Besouw. “They say they can hear rhythm but have
problems distinguishing notes. We want to investigate ways
cochlear implant users. The two-year project will conclude
with a public seminar and performance at the University
“We want to build a computer tool kit of listening
exercises that people can listen to at home, which will help
we can help them.” Professor Nicholls said, “I have always them to distinguish, recognize and appreciate different
Hearing Tips been interested in how music can be used in a research musical sounds,” said Nicholls. A research assistant, Dr
environment to support people. It can encourage develop- Ben Oliver, has been recruited to develop the program and
Music professor David Nicholls and Dr Rachel van ment and self-belief and boost self-confidence. I am sure work with colleagues across the university. “I am delighted
Besouw from the university’s Institute of Sound and our interdisciplinary approach to the challenge will make to be working as the composer and workshop leader for
Vibration Research (ISVR) have secured a grant from the a real difference to our patients.” this unique collaborative project,” said Oliver.
Arts and Humanities Research Council to work with patients Through a series of innovative music workshops, in
from the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre, based conjunction with Southampton Community Music Project, Courtesy of Dr. Robert Mario, PhD, BC-HIS, the direc-
at the university. this project will explore aspects of music that can be tor of Mario Hearing and Tinnitus Clinics, with locations in
Cochlear implants allow people with severe- to- profound appreciated by cochlear implant users through a variety of West Roxbury, Cambridge, Mansfield and Melrose. He can be
hearing loss, who do not substantially benefit from con- listening, computer-based and practical activities. This reached at 781-979-0800 or visit their website, www.mario-
ventional hearing aids, to perceive and understand speech. knowledge will be used to guide the development of music hearingclinics.com. Archives of articles from previous issues
However, the current technology often cannot cope with rehabilitation materials and compositions specifically for can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com
➤ Obesity in favor of walking, and gets in 30 miles
a week. “If you allow your mobility to
Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
In fact, more than half of boomers
I like it or not,” she said. “And I refuse to
admit I am my age, and keep going as if
Cont. from page 17 decline, you pay for it in terms of the polled say they regularly do mental exer- I weren’t.”
quality of your own life.” cises such as crossword puzzles. The AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll was
a canoe that floats peacefully until it gets When it comes to diseases, nearly After Harding retires, he plans to take conducted from June 3-12 by Knowledge
too near a waterfall to pull back, Rejeski half of boomers polled worry most about classes to keep mentally active. For now, Networks of Menlo Park, Calif., and
said. cancer. The second-leading killer, cancer he’s doing the physical exercise that’s involved online interviews with 1,416
He led a study that found a modest does become more common with aging. important for brain health, too. He also adults, including 1,078 baby boomers
weight loss plus walking 2 1/2 hours a “It’s the unknown nature, that it can takes fish oil, a type of fatty acid that born between 1946 and 1964. The margin
week helped people 60 and older signifi- come up without warning,” said Harry some studies suggest might help prevent of sampling error for results from the full
cantly improve their mobility. Even those Forsha, 64, of Clearwater, Fla., and Mill mental decline. sample is plus or minus 4.4 percentage
who didn’t walk that much got some Spring, N.C. In Warren, Pa., Colleen Witmer said she points; for the boomers, it is plus or minus
benefit. Try walking 10 minutes at a time Heart disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer, works hard to maintain her weight and her 3.3 percentage points.
two or three times a day, he suggests, and but it’s third in line on the boomers’ worry health: The 52-year-old walks or rides her Knowledge Networks used traditional
don’t wait to start. list. Memory loss is a bigger concern. bike daily, plus does a more formal exercise telephone and mail sampling methods
“I don’t think there’s any question the “On a scale of one to 10, seven or eight,” program three or four times a week. to randomly recruit respondents. People
earlier you get started, the better,” said is how Barry Harding, 61, of Glen Burnie, “I maintain my annual visits to the doc- selected who had no Internet access were
Rejeski, who at 63 has given up running Md., puts it. “It’s more talked about now, tor’s office and follow his advice whether given it free. — AP
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18 Fifty Plus Advocate (Zone 3) October 1, 2011
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20 Fifty Plus Advocate (Zone 5) October 1, 2011