9 Free Resources to Take Control of Your Money

9 Free Resources to Take Control of Your MoneyMaking financial decisions can have long-lasting consequences, both positive and negative. To maintain your economic security as you age, it’s important to understand your finances and have a plan for the future.

NCOA’s EconomicCheckUp® is a free online tool to improve your budgeting and saving, find work, and set financial goals.

You can start with the comprehensive financial checkup. By answering 23 simple questions,you’ll get a personalized report that includes money management tips based on where you live; information on assistance programs you are likely eligible for based on your income; and a list of other helpful resources in your community and how to take advantage of them.

In addition to the online report, has a bunch of other handy resources to help you or an older adult you know make the most of your income. Here are 9 of those great resources.

Money management tools

More than one-third of senior households have no money left over or are in debt after meeting essential expenses each month. EconomicCheckUp® offers several free online calculators to help you with budgeting, financial planning, and debt management.

Financial calculator 1: A budget in 3 minutes

Visualize exactly where your income goes each month to see where to maximize your money and better live within your means. Just enter in your monthly take-home income and estimated expenses, and the tool will create a budget to show you how households with similar incomes successfully spend their money on key expenses, including:

  • Fixed monthly bills, like rent and utilities
  • Occasional expenses, like vacations and car repairs
  • Weekly spending, like gas and groceries
  • Savings

Here’s an example of a budget for a household with $3,000 in monthly income.

online financial calculator

Try it out now!

Financial calculator 2: Pay down debt

This free calculator will show you what changing a payment amount can do to pay off debt more quickly. Just enter your loan or credit card balance, the annual interest rate, how much you currently pay, and the new amount you’re committing to each month to see your personalized results.

For example, if you have a $20,000 loan that incurs interest at 6% annually, increasing your payments from $200 to $300 per month would allow you to pay off your debt 57 months faster and would save you $3,363 in interest.

Online financial calculator

Give the calculator a try now, and get tips on how to deal with high interest rates, as well as how to strategize which debts to pay down first.

Financial calculator 3: Cut spending

Use this free calculator to explore ways you can cut spending to meet your financial goals like planning for retirement, saving for a house, or paying down debt. Start by identifying your goal, including the amount you need and by what date, to see how much you need to cut your spending by each month.

For example, someone looking to build a reserve of $5,000 over the next two years would need to cut their monthly spending by $208.

Online Financial Calculator

Next, to find ways to make cuts in your expenses, use the checklist to make a savings plan. Examples include eating out two fewer times each month to save on entertainment, using coupons on food and clothing, and carpooling to save on transportation. Finally, you’ll get a personalized action plan that you can use to stay on task—set-up email reminders, check off to-do items, and print so that you can stay focused even when offline.

Give it a try now!

There are several other money management resources on EconomicCheckUp®, including coupon websites and recommendations for comprehensive budget and expense management tools.

Financial fraud and scam resources

As you get older, you’re more likely to be the target of financial scammers. EconomicCheckUp® can keep you up-to-date on the latest scams making the rounds and steps to protect yourself from financial exploitation.

  • Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors. Scammers are now so clever that it can be hard to know when you are being victimized. Use this resource to spot the most common scams, from health care and Internet fraud to telemarketing.
  • 8 Tips to Protect Yourself from Fraud. Being proactive can keep you out of situations that could make you a target. This tip sheet has easy steps you can take—such as shredding important documents—to prevent becoming a scam victim.
  • 33 Tips for Avoiding Scams and Swindles. Different types of scams require different tactics. This resource provides specific precautions to avoid health insurance, Medicare, telemarketing, loan modification, retirement, and home repair scams.

Be sure to also check out our tips for reporting suspected financial abuse.

Senior employment resources

If you or someone you know needs or wants to work, EconomicCheckUp® has several tools—including government programs and websites—to help define skills, get training, and land a job.

  • Define your skills. Define your strengths and interests and get job-hunting strategies.
  • Get training. Find and enroll in free courses to help you improve your literacy, technology, and math abilities.
  • Find a job. Use the job search tool to find senior-friendly full-time, part-time, and/or volunteer work near you.

Bonus resources!

If you are living on a fixed income, visit to see if you qualify for programs that can help you pay for everyday needs, like food, medicine, and utilities.

If you need additional help finding a job, see whether the Senior Community Service Employment Program or Senior Environmental Employment program is right for you.


Get ready for Open Enrollment!

It’s almost time once again for the annual Open Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7) during which Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Part D and Medicare Advantage coverage. They can use the OEP to enroll in a drug plan, or change how they get their Medicare benefits such as going from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, or vice versa. Any changes your clients make related to the OEP take effect on January 1, 2018.

Here’s everything you need to have to get ready to counsel clients during this year’s OEP.

Cost information for 2018

Counseling tools and checklists

Enrollment & disenrollment basics

Marketing rules

Other resources


When Is a Person Too Incapacitated to Sign a Will, Trust or POA?

When Is a Person Too Incapacitated to Sign a Will, Trust or POA?As an elder law attorney, I frequently advise adult children who suddenly realize that they must step in to help an aging parent. Perhaps Dad has fallen behind on his bills, or Mom is not making sound decisions when it comes to her medical care. Regardless of the reason, this transition of control over their very personal affairs can be challenging.

Unfortunately, the parent may be reluctant to sign a power of attorney (POA), empowering the child to make legal decisions on their behalf, because this step is frequently seen as a direct loss of independence. Combine that with the child’s reluctance to broach the subject out of fear that it may result in anger or offense, and you have a recipe for procrastination.

When families delay discussing these matters and fail to preplan, the results can be stressful and costly. In many cases, an attorney has to decide if a senior is legally incapacitated and therefore unable to sign a will, trust or power of attorney.


Many people are surprised to find out that a person with Alzheimer’s—even one currently under guardianship—may still be legally capable of signing a will. That’s because under the laws of most states, a person is competent to sign a will if they meet the following criteria at the time of signing:

  • They know the natural objects of their bounty (i.e., are aware of their spouse and children, if any).
  • They comprehend the kind and character of their property (i.e., know approximately their net worth and what kind of assets they own).
  • They understand the nature and effect of the act (i.e., realize that it is indeed a will they are signing and what that means).
  • They are able to make a disposition of their property according to a plan formed in their mind.

Thus, a lawyer must meet with the individual in question and try to discern the above. If the attorney determines that the client is incapacitated, they must refuse to prepare a will.

Power of Attorney Documents

A slightly different competency test is involved for signing a power of attorney. With POA documents, the individual must be capable of understanding and appreciating the extent and effect of the document, just as if they were signing a contract. For this reason, a person may be deemed competent to sign a power of attorney but not competent to sign a will.

If it turns out that the client is not competent to appoint a power of attorney for health care and/or finances, it may be necessary for the adult child or another family member to seek guardianship (also known as conservatorship).

Read: How to Get Guardianship of a Senior


Similarly, a trust is sometimes deemed to be more like a contract than a will, so the mental capacity required to sign a trust may be less than that needed to sign a will. In recent years, states have recognized that living trusts are often utilized as substitutes for traditional wills. Therefore, some have enacted statutes that make the competency test for creating a trust the same as that for signing a valid will.

A Note on Mental and Physical Capacity

The mental capacity to sign a legal document should not be confused with the physical ability to sign one’s name. The law will permit a person to sign an “X” (known as a “mark”) that will suffice in lieu of a signature as long as it is properly witnessed. In addition, if an individual is incapable of making a mark, they can direct someone else to sign on their behalf.

Of course, the best advice is not to wait until it may be too late to engage in proper legal planning. If possible, make a point of having these conversations with family members while they are still of sound mind and able to comprehend exactly what they’re signing and why. These discussions can be difficult, but an experienced elder law attorney can help with this process.


Considering Tapping Your Home Equity? Compare Your Options First

Considering Tapping Your Home Equity? Compare Your Options FirstRising costs and expenses coupled with a fixed income can be a significant challenge as you age.

If savings, Social Security, and modest retirement income is proving insufficient, you may be considering the role your home could play in meeting daily living expenses or planning for a secure financial future. When it comes to your home, selling to downsize is one option. You might also consider finding someone to share your home.

There are also financial products and tools that can help unlock the equity you’ve built up over the years. Each option has its pros and cons, and they vary in feature options.

Earlier this year, NCOA asked senior homeowners about their understanding of home equity release products. The homeowners told us that, despite their home equity representing a majority of their overall retirement assets (from 60-80%), few understood home equity products, and most would be reluctant to use one. The research also revealed some negative bias against a reverse mortgage line of credit, based on the product name, and preconceived notions of the product.

Here’s a comparison of the most common home equity release products:

Home Equity Product Comparisons

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) Reverse Mortgage Line of Credit (Home Equity Conversion Mortgages or HECM) Home Equity Loans
Borrowers have access to funds for a specified time period Borrowers have access to funds for no specified time period Borrowers have access to a specified lump sum up front for a specified time period
Must make minimum monthly payments No minimum payments required Must make specific set monthly payments
Lender can freeze or reduce the line of credit Lender cannot freeze or reduce the line of credit Lender cannot freeze or reduce the loan amount
Home subject to foreclosure if minimum payments, taxes, or insurance not paid, or borrower does not keep the home in good repair Home subject to foreclosure if taxes or insurance not paid, borrower does not keep the home in good repair, or does not live in the home as primary residence Home subject to foreclosure if minimum payments, taxes, or insurance not paid, or borrower does not keep the home in good repair
Loan balance must be paid back in full, even if borrower owes more than home is worth Borrowers or heirs never pay back more than the home’s fair market value when sold Loan balance must be paid in full, based on a fixed interest rate on a specific schedule
Fees and costs to obtain the HELOC can include closing costs Fees and costs to obtain the HECM can include closing costs, counseling fee, and mortgage insurance premiums Fees and costs to obtain the Home Equity Loan can include closing costs

If you’re looking for tools to unlock cash from your home to plan for the future, or to meet your current needs, here are a few tips to get started:

  • Download NCOA’s free booklet, Use Your Home to Stay at Home© (available in both English and Spanish).
  • Contact a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counselor, or other trusted financial advisor, with questions or to discuss options.
  • Shop around and compare quotes to assure the best value for the solution you’re seeking.
  • Take a free and confidential BenefitsCheckUp® to find out if you’re eligible for relevant property tax relief or other public benefit programs.

Don’t wait for an emergency. Plan now, so you don’t have to make your choice in a crisis. Getting educated about the many options available for accessing your home’s equity can help secure your future and maximize your resources for a long, healthy life!

Source: NCOA

Important Paperwork: What to Keep and For How Long

Important Paperwork: What to Keep and For How LongIf you’re like most people, you have boxes and boxes of old files cluttering your closets. You’d like to clean out but don’t know what you need to keep, and for how long. As a daily money manager and Certified Professional Coach, I often get this question from my clients.

 I’ve covered the most common documents below, but when in doubt don’t throw it out unless you are sure you can obtain the records electronically from the bank, insurance company, etc.

These recommendations apply to both caregivers and their elderly parents’ paperwork.

Tax returns and supporting documents

Anything to do with taxes should be kept for at least seven years. The IRS has three years from your filing date to audit your return if it suspects good faith errors and you have the same amount of time to file an amended return if you find a mistake. However, the IRS has six years to challenge your return if it thinks you underreported your income by 25 percent or more. If you fail to file a return or filed a fraudulent return, there is no limit on when the IRS can come after you. Specific items you should keep in addition to your tax returns themselves include documentation of income, alimony, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, and retirement plan contributions and any other tax deductions taken.

Medical bills and records

Keep all medical bills and supporting documentation such as cancelled checks or credit card statements until you are sure that the bill has been acknowledged as having been paid in full by you and/or your insurance company. If you are deducting unreimbursed medical expenses on your tax return, keep all supporting documentation as discussed above. Remember to keep all health-related bills including dental, eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, and over-the-counter medications, to name a few.

Retirement plan statements

Keep the quarterly statements until you receive the annual summary and if everything matches up, you can shred the quarterly statements. Keep the annual summaries until you close the account.

IRA contributions

If you made an after-tax contribution to an IRA, you will need to keep your records indefinitely to prove that you already paid tax on the money when it is time to make a withdrawal.

Brokerage statements

You must keep these until you sell the securities covered by them to prove whether you have capital gains or losses for your tax return. If you hold stocks or bonds for many years, you will need to keep the statements. The exception is if the cost basis and date of acquisition is listed on the statements. In this case, you only need to keep the year-end statements to support your tax return.

Bank records

Keep any checks or statements related to your taxes, business expenses, home improvements, or mortgage payments.


Keep bills until you receive the cancelled check or credit card statement showing that your payment was received. Be sure to keep bills for big purchases like jewelry, furniture, art, appliances, cars, computers, etc. so that you can prove the value of these items to your insurance company in the event they are lost, stolen, or destroyed in a covered disaster such as a fire.

House/condo records

Keep all records documenting the purchase price and the cost of all improvements, as well as records of expenses incurred in selling and buying the property for seven years after you sell it.

Credit card receipts and statements

Keep original receipts until your statements come and then match them up. You can then discard the receipts. Keep the statements for seven years if they document tax—related expenses.

Paycheck stubs

Keep until you receive your annual W-2 form from your employer(s) and make sure the information matches. If it doesn’t match, request a corrected W-2 from your employer(s).

Using the above guide, you should be able to clear out the bulk of your saved paperwork and then establish a system for keeping up with things over time. Remember, you can obtain many of these documents in electronic format, or you can scan them and archive them electronically. If the task seems overwhelming, you might want to consider the help of a daily money manager or professional organizer.


Abuse and Neglect

Abuse and neglect of a senior or vulnerable adult happens much more often than most of us have any idea.  Approximately 9.5% of the US population over the age of 65 experiences some type of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation. We like to think that it won’t happen in our families.  Unfortunately, it can and very well may.Abuse and Neglect Women

Females are abused more frequently than males, and the older the individual is, the more likely they are to be abused.   The vast majority of abusers are family members (approximately 90%); most abusers are adult children, spouses, or partners. Family members who abuse drugs or alcohol, who have a mental/emotional illness, and those who feel burdened by their caregiving responsibilities abuse at higher rates than those who do not.

Abuse comes in many forms, neglect being the most frequent, followed by physical abuse, financial exploitation, and emotional abuse.  Neglect is the refusal to provide an elderly person with life necessities such as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, and personal safety.  Physical abuse is a physical force that causes or is likely to cause injury, pain or impairment to an elder. Financial abuse or exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets.

The elder is often reluctant to acknowledge or report abuse themselves because of fear of retaliation, fear of abandonment, lack of physical and/or cognitive ability to report, or because they don’t want to get the abuser, often a family member, in trouble.

We must be willing to stand up to protect our elders.  If you have concerns, or suspect abuse, do your part – talk to someone, call Adult Protective Services (APS).  APS provides services in each state to insure the safety and well-being of elders and adults with disabilities who are in danger of being mistreated or neglected, are unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from harm, and have no one to assist them. A staff member will make contact with the elder to assess their current risk factors.  With the help of the elder, the APS worker will develop a plan to assist them. Those who have the capability to understand their circumstances have the right to refuse services, regardless of the level of risk. If you suspect abuse, call 208-334-3833.

Written by: Dee Childers, Life Changes Elder Care Consulting, LLC

How Much Do You Know About Heart Health?

The American Heart Association recently reported that the death rate from cardiovascular disease has fallen more than 30 percent over the last decade, due to better treatment for heart attack, congestive heart failure and other heart disease. But this care comes at a cost: expenditures for the care for heart disease rose to more than $315 billion during the same decade. And heart disease continues to be the number one killer in the U.S. Every 39 seconds, someone dies of cardiovascular disease.

Education is the first step to lowering the risk of heart disease. Start by taking this short quiz to see how much you know about taking care of your heart. (Answers appear below.)

True or False?

  1. The heart is a muscle.
  2. Many diseases and conditions can contribute to the risk of heart disease.
  3. A heart attack always begins with sharp chest pain.
  4. The best thing to do if you experience heart attack symptoms is to call 911 right away.
  5. Women need to worry more about breast cancer than about heart disease.
  6. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
  7. If you have a family history of heart disease, you have exactly the same risk yourself.
  8. High blood cholesterol is one of the top risk factors for heart attack.
  9. As we grow older, it’s best to rest as much as possible.
  10. Even a person who has suffered a heart attack should exercise.
  11. It’s possible to eat a “heart smart” diet even if you dine out often.
  12. Emotional stress and anxiety can worsen a heart condition.

Answers to “Test Your Heart Health IQ”:

  1. The heart is a muscle.
    TRUE—The heart is the hardest working muscle in the body, pumping enough blood in your lifetime to fill a supertanker!
  2. Many diseases and conditions can contribute to the risk of heart disease.
    TRUE—A number of conditionsincluding hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol and diabetes increase the risk of heart disease.
  3. A heart attack always begins with sharp chest pain.
    FALSE—A heart attack can begin slowly, with subtle signals. Symptoms can include:
    •    a feeling of pressure or discomfort in the chest
    •    discomfort in the arms, neck, back, jaw or stomach
    •    shortness of breath
    •    nausea, dizziness, sweating for no reason
    •    fatigue and lack of energy
  4. The best thing to do if you experience heart attack symptoms is to call 911 right away.
    TRUE—“Better safe than sorry” is very true when it comes to heart attack. Excellent treatments are now available, and the sooner treatment begins, the better the chance of saving the patient’s life and preventing disability. If you experience chest pain, especially if associated with any other of the signs listed above, call 911 right away. Acting quickly can save your life.
  5. Women need to worry more about breast cancer than about heart disease.
    FALSE—Women are far more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than from breast cancer. It is a myth that heart disease is primarily a men’s health problem. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women—and more women than men die within one year of a heart attack.
  6. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart.
    TRUE—Smoking is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smokers are up to four times more likely to develop heart disease. And even if you don’t smoke, exposure to secondhand smoke may raise your risk by up to 30%.
  7. If you have a family history of heart disease, you have exactly the same risk yourself.
    FALSE—Although your risk increases if a family member was diagnosed with heart disease, it’s not all in the genes! A healthy lifestyle can cut your risk. Obesity and inactivity are greater risk factors than genetic inheritance for most people. Here are the steps to take to lower the risk:
    •    If you smoke, quit.
    •    Take steps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol level.
    •    Increase physical activity.
    •    Maintain a healthy weight.
    •    If you are diabetic, follow your care plan.
  8. High blood cholesterol is one of the top risk factors for heart attack.
    TRUE—Lowering your cholesterol level through diet and lifestyle changes (and in some cases, medication) can cut your risk.
  9. As we grow older, it’s best to rest as much as possible.
    FALSE—The older you are, the more important regular physical exercise is to your well-being. Inactivity can lead to a downward spiral of decline. Ask your healthcare provider about an exercise program that’s right for you.
  10. Even a person who has suffered a heart attack should exercise.
    TRUE—For most patients, preventing another heart attack will include a cardiac rehabilitation program. Be sure you discuss your workout regimen with your healthcare provider and follow his or her instructions.
  11. It’s possible to eat a “heart smart” diet even if you dine out often.
    TRUE—Most menus feature at least a few low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sodium items. Avoid fried foods, instead selecting baked or broiled. (If you aren’t sure how a dish is prepared, ask your server.) Skip dessert, and order your salad with low-fat dressing served on the side.
  12. Emotional stress and anxiety can worsen a heart condition.
    TRUE—Stressful emotions can raise your blood pressure, causing your heart to work harder. Lifestyle changes and relaxation techniques help lessen the effects of stress.

This article is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have questions about heart health or heart disease.

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise, 2015


Retirement Communities Encouraged to Promote Muscle-Strengthening Activities

A University of Missouri expert encourages staff and administrators to include a well-rounded fitness program in order to keep residents healthier.

The majority of adults aged 65 and older remain inactive and fail to meet recommended physical activity guidelines, previous research has shown. However, these studies have not represented elders living in retirement communities who may have more access to recreational activities and exercise equipment. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that older adults in retirement communities who reported more exercise experienced less physical decline than their peers who reported less exercise, although many adults—even those who exercised—did not complete muscle-strengthening exercises, which are another defense against physical decline.

“Physical decline is natural in this age group, but we found that people who exercised more declined less,” said Lorraine Phillips, an associate professor in the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing. “The most popular physical activities the residents of the retirement community reported doing were light housework and walking, both of which are easily integrated into individuals’ daily lives, but these exercises are not the best choices for maintaining muscle strength.”

Phillips and her colleagues studied the physical activity of 38 residents at TigerPlace, an independent living community in Columbia, four times in one year. The researchers tested the residents’ walking speed, balance and their ability to stand up after sitting in a chair. Then, researchers compared the results of the tests to the residents’ self-reported participation in exercise. Phillips found that residents who reported doing more exercise had more success maintaining their physical abilities over time.

Phillips says the national recommendations for exercise include muscle strengthening exercises, such as knee extensions and bicep curls. Most of the study participants did not report completing these types of activities despite daily opportunities for recreational activities and access to exercise equipment. Phillips says muscle strength is important to individuals of this age group in order for them to maintain their ability to conduct everyday activities such as opening jars, standing up from chairs and supporting their own body weight.

“For older individuals, walking may represent the most familiar and comfortable type of physical activity,” Phillips said. “Muscle-strengthening exercises should be promoted more aggressively in retirement communities and made more appealing to residents.”

To combat the lack of physical activity among seniors, Phillips says health care providers should discuss exercise programs with their patients and share the possible risks associated with their lack of exercise, such as losing their ability to live independently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals 65 years of age and older that have no limiting health conditions should do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week.

Phillips’ research, “Retirement Community Residents’ Physical Activity, Depressive Symptoms, and Functional Limitations,” was published in Clinical Nursing Research

Source: University of Missouri News Bureau.


Home Care Supports Seniors Who Want to Age in Place

The U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that the percentage of seniors who are living in a nursing home dropped by 20 percent over the last decade. Are seniors just healthier today? The truth is, older adults today need as much care as did previous generations, but more of them are receiving it in assisted living communities, adult day centers and, in growing numbers, in their own homes.
This information comes as little surprise to the 65 million Americans who are already serving as family caregivers for older loved ones who need help managing health conditions and the activities of daily living. Many of these caregivers are members of the baby boom generation, who are reaching the age when they themselves might be expected to need care! From the local to the federal level, government agencies, too, are taking notice of the financial impact resulting from this population shift. The discussion about how to best and most cost-effectively care for our seniors is taking center stage.
The Census study showed that 90 percent of seniors would wish to receive care in their own homes. Is this realistic? Can they be safe and well-cared for even if they are living with age-related illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or memory loss? Several demographic changes in our society make this more of a challenge than it was in the past:
• A University of Michigan study showed that almost 40 percent of chronically ill older adults in the U.S. live alone, and the majority of those who are married have spouses who are themselves facing health challenges.
• Our lower birthrate equals fewer adult children to help out as parents’ care needs increase.
• Adult children are more likely to live at a distance, having moved to find employment.
• A higher divorce rate means more seniors live alone, and family caregivers’ financial and time resources are stretched when parents live in different households, or even in different parts of the country.
The cost of institutional care continues to grow. For some seniors with medically complex health challenges, nursing homes and other residential health facilities are the best choice. But for many other seniors, home care is a desirable and cost-effective arrangement.
Dr. Soeren Mattke of the RAND Corporation noted, “The aging of the world’s population and the fact that more diseases are treatable will create serious financial and manpower challenges for the world’s healthcare systems.” He added, “Moving more healthcare into the home setting where patients or family members can manage care could be one important solution to these challenges.”
A wide variety of care services can be provided right in a patient’s home:
Skilled healthcare services can be provided at home and are cost-effective. Visiting nurses and rehabilitation professionals provide skilled medical services in the home. Registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) perform hands-on procedures such as wound care and IV therapy. Rehabilitation professionals include physical, occupational and speech/language therapists.
Nonmedical home care provides companionship and homemaking services that support the senior’s independence, at a much lower cost than nursing care. Caregivers provide supervision, assistance with dressing grooming and other personal care, laundry and housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation, socialization, and respite for family caregivers.
Dementia support is also available. Even when adult children live close to home, dementia complicates the caregiving dynamic. Trained in-home caregivers who understand the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions can help patients remain home longer, even as the need for assistance and supervision grows.
Many experts believe that bringing more care into seniors’ own homes will allow them to take better charge of their own care—and will save seniors and the healthcare system money.
Source: IlluminAge AgeWise, 2015

Planning Ahead When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s Disease

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you need to start getting their health, legal, and financial affairs in order. You want to plan for the future, if possible, with help from your loved one while they can still make decisions. You need to review all of their health, legal, and financial information to make sure it reflects their wishes. Here is a planning checklist from the National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center:

Update health care, legal, and financial information

  • A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances gives someone called a trustee the power to make legal and financial decisions for the person with Alzheimer’s.
  • A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care gives someone called a proxy the power to make health care decisions for the person with Alzheimer’s.
  • A Living Will states the person’s wishes for health care at the end of life.
  • A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Form tells health care staff how the person wants end-of-life health care managed.
  • A Will tells how the person wants his or her property and money to be divided among those left behind.
  • A Living Trust tells the trustee how to distribute a person’s property and money.

Check for money problems

People with Alzheimer’s disease often have problems managing their money. As the disease progresses, they may try to hide financial problems to protect their independence. Or, they may not realize that they are losing the ability to handle money matters. Someone should check each month to see how your loved one is doing. This person might be a family member or the trustee.

Protect your loved one from fraud

Scams can take many forms, such as identity theft; get-rich-quick offers; phony offers of prizes or home or auto repairs; insurance scams or outright threats. Here are some signs that a loved one with Alzheimer’s is not managing money well or has become a victim of a scam:

  • Your loved one seems afraid or worried when he or she talks about money.
  • Money is missing from your loved one’s bank account.
  • Signatures on checks or other papers don’t look like your loved one’s signature.
  • Bills are not being paid, and your loved one doesn’t know why.
  • Your loved one’s will has been changed without his or her permission.
  • Your loved one’s home is sold, and he or she did not agree to sell it.
  • Things that belong to your loved one are missing from the home.
  • Your loved one has signed legal papers (such as a will, a power of attorney, or a joint deed to a house) without knowing what the papers mean.

Reporting problems: If you think your loved one may be a victim of a scam, contact your local police department. You also can contact your state consumer protection office or Area Agency on Aging office. For help finding these offices, contact Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or For a list of state consumer protection offices, see You can also look in the telephone book for a listing in the blue/Government pages.

Who would take care of your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease if something happened to you?

It is important to have a plan in case of your own illness, disability, or death.

  • Consult a lawyer about setting up a living trust, durable power of attorney for health care and finances, and other estate planning tools.
  • Consult with family and close friends to decide who would take responsibility for your loved one. You also may want to seek information about your local public guardian’s office, mental health conservator’s office, adult protective services, or other case management services. These organizations may have programs that could assist your loved one in your absence.
  • Maintain a notebook for the responsible person who would assume caregiving. Such a notebook should contain the following information:
    • emergency phone numbers
    • current problem behaviors and possible solutions
    • ways to calm the person with Alzheimer’s
    • assistance needed with toileting, feeding, or grooming
    •  favorite activities or food
  • Preview long-term care facilities in your community and select a few as possibilities. Share this information with the responsible person. If your loved one is no longer able to live at home, the responsible person will be better able to carry out your wishes for long-term care.

Contact the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center at 1-800-438-4380 or for more information on planning for health, legal, and financial matters.

Source: National Institute on Aging, adapted by AgeWise, 2014.