Sun, Jul 23, 2017
Home Town Debate
Willapa Harbor Herald • Town Crier
Traveler's Companion
(360) 942-3466 • PO Box 706, Raymond, WA 98577
How to Hire a Home Helper
How to Hire a Home Helper

Dear Savvy Senior,

I would like to hire a personal assistant/home helper for my mom to assist with some simple household chores like house keeping, errand running, driving her to the doctor, and keeping her company. But mom doesn't require personal/physical caregiving nor does she require any home medical care. Any tips to help us find someone?

Looking for Mom

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Living
Living

I've noticed something. Many of the people in my area of social services appear to be aging. And sometimes when I need a new picture ID, or really look into the mirror, I realize I seem to be one such person.

On the other hand, it also appears that a lot of people are becoming involved at a much earlier age, which is encouraging.

At times, I run into folks who say they know very little about "senior" services or about related issues and concerns. And sometimes, I think "Keep on living, and you'll become very familiar with them".

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EMS
EMS

I'd like to take an opportunity to remind us of some very dedicated professionals in our community who usually go about their services without a lot of public attention. You might not even think about them very often--until you have a crisis. And then, you need them right now.

I'm talking about our EMT's and/or Paramedics, often referred to as Emergency Medical Services (EMS). I know, we tend to think about TV shows where explosions are going off among twisted metal or broken concrete, while breaking through the smoke, the ambulances with these folks comes racing through with lights flashing

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Windows on Education: When Can My Child Wash the Dishes?
Windows on Education: When Can My Child Wash the Dishes?

Over the years, some parents have asked me when the proper time is to expect their children to help with the chores and other household duties. I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that touched on this issue; it caused me to reflect on my parents' expectations, as well as my wife's and my expectations for our kids. I've included some of those ruminations, as well as others' thoughts below. I recognize each family is different, so your mileage may vary.

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Savvy Senior: Can I Inherit My Parent's Debt?
Savvy Senior: Can I Inherit My Parent's Debt?

Dear Savvy Senior,

What happens to a person's debt after they die? My mother has taken on a lot of medical and credit card over the past few years and I'm worried that my brother and I will be responsible for it when she dies. What can you tell me?

Worried Daughter

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Issues on Aging: Legal Assistance
Issues on Aging: Legal Assistance

It seems sometimes that the quest for information moves in cycles. We might get several calls in a month about anything from Assisted Living and Adult Family Homes, to Meals on Wheels.

Next there could be run of questions about Home Care agencies, and so on. One of the recent flurries has been about legal advice--where to look, what's involved, etc. Since many of us have limited contact with legal types until we need it ASAP, let's do a little information sharing.

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Happenings

Upcoming Community Events

April 29: Celebrate International Table Games Day at Raymond First Baptist Church, 913 Duryea Street on Saturday, April 29, from 1-4 p.m. Bring your favorite game or use the games there. Refreshments provided.

2nd Wednesdays: Alliance for a Better Community meetings are the second Wednesday of each month, at noon, at Liang's restaurant. Public is always welcome.

VFW Pacific Post 968 is holding regular monthly meetings every second Wednesday. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are held at 221 Duryea Street in Raymond.


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Savvy Senior: Coping with Ringing in Your Ears
Savvy Senior: Coping with Ringing in Your Ears

Dear Savvy Senior,

Are there any new treatments you know of that can help with constant ear ringing syndrome known as tinnitus? I've had it for years but it's gotten worse the older I get.

Ringing Louder at 62

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Issues on Aging: Saving Money
Issues on Aging: Saving Money

QMB. SLMB. QI. QDWI. All MSP's.

There you go--now you know all about them--whatever they are. Let's start at the end of the list.

Medicare Savings Plans (MSP) are programs designed to help qualified individuals with the costs of their Medicare plans, such as premiums, co-pays and so on.

If you like to collect acronyms and what they mean:

  • QMB=Qualified Medicare Beneficiary Program
  • SLMB=Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary Program
  • QI=Qualified Individual Program
  • QDWI=Qualified Disabled and Working Individuals Program
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Activity vs. Isolation
Activity vs. Isolation

Social media. Facebook, skype, email, texting, tweets, yadda yadda. In some ways, this has been a boon to our older population--and yes, many are very adept in computer-land. With the stroke of a few keys or buttons, you can be in touch with family, friends or organizations with like interests.
It's certainly a tool in reducing isolation to some degree. In some instances, getting out of the house is at the very least difficult, so staying in touch electronically can help. And some still prefer letter writing and the US Mail, thank you.
There are times, however, when face to face conversations in the flesh are more enjoyable--and beneficial. Hence the variously named Senior Centers, Activity Centers, Senior Activity Centers continue to be an active part of the community.

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The ABCs of Picking a Medicare Supplemental Policy
The ABCs of Picking a Medicare Supplemental Policy

Dear Savvy Senior,

Can you provide any advice on choosing a Medicare supplemental policy to help cover things outside of Medicare? I'll be 65 in a few months and could use some assistance.

Looking for Help

Dear Looking,

If you plan to enroll in original Medicare, getting a supplemental policy (also known as Medigap insurance) too is a smart idea because it will help pay for things that aren't covered by Medicare like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. Here are some tips to help you choose an appropriate plan.

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Issues on Aging: Advance Care Planning
Issues on Aging: Advance Care Planning

Advanced Care Planning. Some of you may already be aware of a survey sent out by our Advisory Council regarding advanced care. And some of you are thinking:

I have enough on my plate to just think about care planning. Do I need to think about "advanced" care planning?

Advanced Directives. Does that sound a little more familiar? It's all about issues we've visited before in this space. How to communicate what you want to happen (or not happen) with severe health issues when you can no longer make your desires known.

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Savvy Senior: How to Find Affordable High Speed Home Internet Service
Savvy Senior: How to Find Affordable High Speed Home Internet Service

Dear Savvy Senior,

Do you know of any resources that can help me find affordable high-speed home Internet services? I'm retired and live primarily on my Social Security and would like to find something cheaper than the $40 per month that I currently pay.

Searching Senior

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Happenings

Feb. 24 - 26: Chocolate Festival on the Beach: Death by Chocolate!!! Chocolate Festival on the Beach 2017 February 24th - 26th. A Decade of Decadence offers chef demos, vendors, chocolatiers, recipe contests, chocolate parties, chocolate throwdowns, kids events, and fun for the whole family. 10 miles of Chocolate from Moclips to Copalis Beach. For festival information navigate to chocolateonthebeachfestival.com. Like us on Facebook.com/ChocolateOnTheBeach

Feb. 24 - 26: FisherPoets Gathering is located in downtown Astoria on Feb. 24 to 26. The FisherPoets Gathering is an authentic, creative celebration of life in the commercial fishing industry. A hundred fisherpoets from coasts near and far share original stories, songs and poetry with each other. Enjoy storytelling, workshops, a self-guided cannery tour film and visual arts. Numberous venues throughout downtown Astoria host FisherPoet Gathering events. For more information go to www.fisherpoets.org.

Mar. 2: Pacific Co Republican Meeting - Pacific County Republicans will meet on Thursday, March 2. Items on the agenda include upcoming events, updates on the Legislative activities, Initiatives, reports from the Roanoke Conference, State Republican meeting and also the Pacific County Republican endorsement process. Local Republicans are welcome. Come and support Republican activities in Pacific County. There is a shared potluck at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting begins at 6 p.m. Location is the meeting hall of First Baptist Church, 310 Broadway Avenue in South Bend. For more information contact Chairman Aaragon Markwell - 360-942-7847, pacificgop@gmail.com or Facebook.com/pacificgop.

Mar. 4 - 5: Beachcombers Fun Fair. 29th annual event features exhibits, seminars, information booths and vendors at the Ocean Shores Convention Center. A kid's science fair is scheduled on Saturday morning plus beach walks on Sunday morning.

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Savvy Senior: Choosing the Best Assisted Living Facility
Savvy Senior: Choosing the Best Assisted Living Facility

Dear Savvy Senior,

What tips can you offer for choosing a quality assisted living facility for my mom? Her health and mental abilities have declined to the point that she can't live alone anymore but isn't ready for a nursing home either.

Looking Around

Dear Looking,

If your mom needs some assistance with daily living activities like bathing or getting dressed, managing her medications, preparing meals, housekeeping, laundry or just getting around, an assisted living facility is definitely a good option to consider.

Assisted living facilities are residential communities that offer different levels of health or personal care services for seniors who want or need help with daily living.

There are around 40,000 assisted living facilities (also called board and care, supportive-care or residential-care facilities) in the U.S. today, some of which are part of a retirement community or nursing home. Most facilities have between 25 and 125 suites, varying in size from a single room to a full apartment. And some even offer special memory care units for residents with dementia. Here are some steps you can take to help you choose a good facility.

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Issues on Aging: Communication Keys
Issues on Aging: Communication Keys

Periodically, someone will call or email me, or come-up to me at one gathering or another, and comment on this column. It usually generates other questions and before you know it we're having a conversation.

It's sometimes referred to as communication. Most of us participate in this activity on a daily basis--though it's good to remember that actual communication requires both speaking and listening.

And most of the time, it's pretty much automatic--until it isn't. Life events can sometimes impact the dynamic and new ways to make it happen need to be found.

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Savvy Senior: How Medicare Covers Preventive Health Services
Savvy Senior: How Medicare Covers Preventive Health Services

Dear Savvy Senior,

Does Medicare cover 100 percent of all preventive health care screenings? I'm due to get a colonoscopy and a few other tests, but I want to find out if I'll have to pay anything before I proceed.

New to Medicare

Dear New,

Medicare currently covers a wide array of free preventive and screening services to help you stay healthy, but not all services are completely covered.

You also need to be aware that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) - which helps financially support Medicare - may very well cause these free preventive services to be eliminated in the future. But in the meantime, here's how it works.

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Windows on Education: The Myth of Average
Windows on Education: The Myth of Average

World War I was the first time aircraft were used in our military. When the planes were built, the cockpits were designed to fit the "average" pilot. This same procedure was used throughout World War II. The planes also became stronger, faster and more reliable. However, in the late 1940s, planes began crashing with increasing frequency. In fact, on one particularly bad day, the Air Force had 17 crashes. The brass tried to figure out what was wrong, and since they knew the planes were built better than ever, they decided it had to be a pilot problem! They theorized that perhaps pilots were bigger in in the late 1940s than they had been in the early 1900s, and that therefore the cockpits were the wrong size. They then commissioned a program to measure over 4,000 pilots on 140 dimensions of size (distance between eye and ear, thumb length, leg length, etc.). They calculated the average of each of these dimensions so that they could build the cockpit to accommodate the average pilot.

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Savvy Senior: Do You Need To File a Tax Return in 2017?
Savvy Senior: Do You Need To File a Tax Return in 2017?

Dear Savvy Senior,

What are the IRS income tax filing requirements for retirees this tax season? My income dropped way down when I retired last year in 2016, so I'm wondering if I need to even file a tax return this year.

New Retiree

Dear New,
There are several factors that affect whether or not you need to file a federal income tax return this year including how much you earned last year (in 2016), and the source of that income, as well as your age and filing status.

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Issues on Aging: Tax Help
Issues on Aging: Tax Help

Two phrases that rarely go together:

It's tax time!

Yay! It's about time!

I get it. We look at getting our taxes ready as a necessity, but not necessarily a joy. And depending on how complex our taxes are, it can be daunting and/or expensive.

Of course, one option might be to take your best guess and send your tax forms into the IRS with a smiley face sticker, but the IRS isn't generally known for a sense of humor when it comes to what you owe, so...probably not a good idea.

So what do you do if you need help, but don't have your taxman on retainer? Or if you can't really afford to pay for a tax agency to complete your stuff?

Glad you asked!

Allow me to introduce to you, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program. The free program is aimed at folks 50 or older, or as noted, folks who can't afford paid tax preparation.

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