Minnesota Seniors Online

Senior Living Options --
Tips, Articles, Information, and News

This section is dedicated to providing seniors, family members, and caregivers with news, tips, articles, and information pertaining to everyday living, housing, and other relevant issues that affect today's Seniors.  With all the options currently out there and the changing markets, choosing the best option can be difficult.  With valuable information provided here, we can help take the confusion out of the housing equation!

Past Articles

Healthy Feet by Mary T.
Guide For Overcoming Holiday Depression For Seniors and Caregivers
Who Would Speak For You If You Couldn't Speak For Yourself?

Extra Help For Medicare Part D Costs

Medicare Considers New Ruling to Eliminate Coverage of Bone Anchored Hearing Solutions
Quiz Your Doctor Before Taking Meds
Living Independently At Home
Hearing Loss Often Overlooks, Easy To Detect
A note from Jack Benke: 10 paces to your own spaces
Why Use a Certified Buyer Representative, CBR®?
Top Scams Targeting Seniors
To Sell or Not To Sell - A Question For Baby Boomers
Guidelines for Giving Wisely to Charities
Legal Alert of the Month - Reverse Mortgages - Considering a Reverse Mortgage?, Read This First
Multigenrational Living
Roadwise Rx: Your Prescription for Medication Information
Ebenezer Ridges Campus receives a $10,000 grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council
President's Award Winner Dr. Jack Churchill of Churchill Dental
What is Respite Care and Where Can I Find It?
What Should You Do If Your Property Is Damaged In A Storm?
What is a Senior Housing Cooperative?
Rehabilitation - Ask Dr. Marion
Ways That Grandparents Can Help With College Costs
No one wants to believe they need Long Term Care
Medicare Open Enrollment
Beat The Heat
Senior Helper's Alzheimer's Quiz
Advisers Reverse Thinking on Reverse Mortgages
What is a Reverse Mortgage?
Woman and Estate Planning
Moving to housing with services? 
New State Law Requires Calling Senior LinkAge
A Guide to Home Care Services
Independent Living for Seniors - Understanding your Choices
Private Pay Services - How They Can Help Seniors
Tips For Living Safe
6 Costs You Should Always Negotiate
8 People You Trust With Your Credit Card, But Shouldn't
Credit Card Had a 79.9% APR from First Premier Bank
How To Make Multigenerational Living Work
Online Dating Is Not Just for Kids, Seniors Say
Telephone Equipment Distribution Program (TED)

New FHA Reverse Mortgage Program Gives More Flexibility To Senior Homestead

Extension & Expansion of Home Buyer Tax Credit
High Medical Bills? Don’t Fret, They ARE Negotiable!
Medicare Chief Says Health Law Working
Age Is Just A Number - A Humorous Look At Ways To Stay Young
Diet Tips for Healthy Senior Living -- What You Eat Controls It All!
Health Care Overhaul - Important Medicare Changes Are Here
Health Care Reform: Considerations For Seniors
Ideas To Cut Health Care Costs In This Economy
New Laws to Protect Consumers
Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bill Reintroduced In Congress
Don't Get Taken To The Cleaners - Protect Yourself
BBB Lists Top 10 Scams and Rip-offs For 2010
Blood Clots and Stroke - Quick Info That Can Save A Life
Look-and-See Signs A Senior Needs Help
10 Tips To Help Seniors Stretch Their Dollars
Grieving & Healing: 5 Steps To Help You Through The Grieving Process How To Work Through Grieving and Begin To Enjoy Life Again
Has The  Economic Downturn Affected Your Loved Ones?


Healthy Feet by Mary T.
and Why You Should Pamper Your Feet for Good Health

There are a number of reasons to practice good foot care – especially for seniors. Feet are often ignored and have taken years of abuse. They need tender loving care! In addition to providing improved circulation and relaxation, good foot care can provide valuable information about your general health.

1.  What are the best reasons for good foot care?

  • Helps Maintain Good Circulation: Whether you lead a sedentary life or are on your feet all day, a foot massage can stimulate muscles and improve circulation to the lower extremities. This can be especially helpful for diabetics.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure: In the highly stressful environment of today, a relaxing foot massage can be an effective tool to lower blood pressure, lessen muscle tension, reduce anxiety and help improve your mood.
  • Provides a Visual Checkup: It’s an opportunity to check for injury, color, circulation, nail bed problems or poorly fitting shoes that may be damaging your feet. If problems are noted, a recommendation to see your doctor might be made.
  • Helps With Balance: By reducing pain, swelling and reducing muscle stress, feet and ankles are better able to provide needed balance and support of the entire body.
  • Helps With Healthy Maintenance: Regular foot care provides a time to get rid of calluses and dead skin, trim your nails, stretch, moisturize, cleanse, relieve pain and rejuvenate your feet. Diabetics especially benefit from a periodic foot massage for improved circulation and reduced risk of neuropathy.

 2.  Things you can do to maintain good foot health 

  • Wash your feet regularly with warm water and soap, especially between your toes
  • Clean and trim your toe nails regularly
  • Moisturize your feet every day
  • Avoid shoes that don’t fit
  • Keep your feet dry in your shoes, using foot powder if necessary
  • Get a good foot care session if you have trouble accessing your feet

3.  What a good Healthy Feet by Mary T. foot care session includes

  • A 5-minute foot soak in warm soapy water
  • A regular foot check-up including examination of the shins, ankles and feet
  • Trimming of nails & cuticles
  • A relaxing massage
  • Moisturizing with lotion on your legs and feet
  • Great conversation

Click Here for a list of Foot Care Clinics by Mary T., Inc.


General Foot Care

Diabetic Foot Care



Guide For Overcoming Holiday Depression
For The Elderly And Their Caretakers

For most of us, the holidays are a time to gather with friends and family, celebrate, reflect on the past and plan for the future. However, for some, especially older individuals, the holidays can be a difficult time. During the holidays, older adults may feel more acutely the passing of time, the absence of parents, siblings and friends who have died, and the distance of loved ones who have moved away. Traditional reunions and rituals that were observed in the past may not be possible and in their absence, the holidays may seem devoid of meaning.

Approximately 6 million people over 65 are depressed. But unfortunately, few seek treatment. Chronic health issues, feelings of loneliness, and loss of loved ones can exacerbate feelings of depression and make the holidays a very difficult time for some seniors.

Look for signs of depression. As this article from the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation explains, the holidays can be a difficult time for older adults who may be dealing with the loss of loved ones and past traditions. The article points out that while feeling blue can be normal, depression isn’t. The article notes that it is important for caretakers to be on the look out for signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, frequent tearfulness, weight changes, changes in sleep patterns, etc.

Click Here for a resource guide for the elderly, their caregivers and their family members with tips and advice on how to beat holiday depression.



Who Would Speak For You
If You Couldn't Speak For Yourself?

As you gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving, take the opportunity to have the conversation.

To help you get started, go to www.HonoringChoices.org for video stories by real people, documentaries and resources. The documentary “Honoring Choices: Giving Thanks” and six other documentaries will run continuously on tpt MN for most of Thanksgiving Day.

Click here for resources for obtaining assistance with completing your health care directive.

Contact Honoring Choices Minnesota at 612-623-2899 for presentations on Advance Care Planning and health care directives at your senior housing, congregation, club or other group.

Cindy Dubansky, MSW, LICSW
Care Management Solutions, LLC
Expert. Advocate. Helping Hand.
PH: 612-308-0166


Extra Help For Medicare Part D Costs

Did you know that "Extra Help" (Low-income subsidy) is available from the Social Security Administration to help low-income individuals pay for their Medicare Part D benefit?

If you qualify:

  • Low-Income Subsidy includes help for Medicare Part D premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

  • This "help" has more generous guidelines than most Federal/State programs

  • This "help" is not subject to lien recovery unlike most Federal/State programs.

Forms and application assistance is available through your local Senior LinkAge Line® in all 87 Counties of Minnesota. 

Call 1-800-333-2433 for assistance near you!


Medicare Considers New Ruling to
Eliminate Coverage of Bone Anchored Hearing Solutions


If the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has its way, people with certain types of hearing loss will no longer be able to benefit from proven bone anchored hearing solutions such as the Cochlear™ Baha® Implant System.

The problem stems from a proposed rule being considered by CMS that would classify bone anchored hearing solutions, otherwise known as osseointegrated hearing implants, as hearing aids, not prosthetics.

The adoption of the rule could affect the quality of hearing for thousands of people in the United States who have found traditional hearing aids to be ineffective in treating hearing problems, such as microtia and atresia or other conditions.

In contrast to traditional hearing aids, which aren’t covered under Medicare, these systems are surgically implanted and use bone conduction to replace the function of the middle ear or the cochlea, whereas hearing aids require no medical procedures and are not permanent.

“In 2006, CMS correctly classified the Baha Implant System as a prosthetic device that replaces the function of the middle ear and cochlea,” said Anthony Manna, President, Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions. “If the new proposal is accepted, the United States would be one of the very few industrialized nations not to cover this life changing technology.”

To date, the Baha Implant System has helped more than 100,000 people worldwide hear and enjoy a better quality of life. In the United States alone, thousands have enjoyed the profound change in hearing such prosthetics make possible.

Even so, CMS is still considering this change in policy, which could affect thousands of Americans, not only those who may be good candidates for this type of prosthetic, but current recipients who would be unable to upgrade their technology or even maintain their current system due to the loss of these important benefits.

The good news is that CMS is still considering the new rule. The hearing community is hoping that current and prospective users and their loved ones, in addition to advocates of prosthetic technologies, will voice their dissatisfaction with the proposed rule so these life-changing technologies can continue to be covered by Medicare.

Action Is Needed by August 29, 2014 to Prevent Passing of Legislation. There are a number of ways people can offer their support and voice their concern for the rule change. For more information, visit:  www.HelpNowHearAlways.com.

Click Here For More Information from The Hearing Review


Quiz Your Doctor Before Taking Meds
Ask The Pharmacist
Article by Suzy Cohen - Minnesota Good Age

What does it mean when a medication label says, “take on an empty stomach” or “take with food” because I never adhere to those warnings and I’m still alive. Does it really matter?

It matters in most cases, but not all.

With antibiotics, it may be that your medicine reaches a higher blood level when you take it on an empty stomach, but over the course of therapy, it doesn’t change the outcome, meaning the pathogens are killed regardless of when you take the medicine.

With other medications, such as sleeping pills, a warning to avoid alcohol is important and should be adhered to because the combination could be fatal.

It’s the same thing with certain antidepressants (MAO or monoamine oxidase inhibitors inhibitors) that can’t be combined with cheese, or death could result.

For your safety, let me give you the proper questions to ask your doctor and/or pharmacist:

1. What’s the name of the condition you’re treating me for?

2. What’s the brand name and generic name of the medication you’re prescribing?

3. Is there a less expensive, generic alternative?

4. Do I take it in the morning or at night, or divide the dose throughout the day?

5. It is better to take it with food or on an empty stomach?

6.  ....... Read Full Article Here

Suzy Cohen has been a licensed pharmacist for almost 25 years. 
Send questions to info@pharmacist.com.


Living Independently At Home
Article by Jack Benke, MMP, GRI, CEA
Senior Real Estate Consultant
Reverse Mortgage Specialist


In the past, if someone had difficulty living alone, it was a signal that now was time to move in with family or go to a nursing home. But, for most people, that no longer is the case. Today, you can live on your own for many years, even as you grow older and start needing help with everyday tasks. However, if you wish to “age in place” it requires some careful planning on your part.

When you develop a chronic health condition, like diabetes, arthritis, or Alzheimer’s disease, aging in place means more than just staying put. You need a place to live that is safe and fits with your abilities. As driving becomes more difficult, it is important to access reliable and affordable transportation. A wide range of paid services may be available in your community. You may also want extra funds for family caregivers or for home modifications (such as a ramp or lift) that can extend the time you can live at home.

Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life. Knowing your health risks and financial options can make a big difference in your ability to stay in a familiar place.

To help you plan properly, I invite you to call me.  You can contact me at 651-405-9105 and we can discuss a plan for you.  I can introduce you to other NAIPC members that can help you complete your “aging-in-place” strategy to live safe and independently for as long as you can.

Jack Benke, MMP, GRI, CEA
Senior Real Estate Consultant
Reverse Mortgage Specialist
1031 Exchange Specialist

Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.

999 Marie Avenue West

Mendota Heights, MN 55118


Direct: 651-405-9105

Cell: 651-398-3183


Member National Aging In Plac Council NAIPC

     “A Multi-Generation Realtor for Life”


Hearing Loss Often Overlooks, Easy To Detect
Article submitted by Beltone Hearing

Hearing loss affects 31 million Americans.  Still only 20% of those who need a hearing aid own one.  Hearing loss is a condition that, in most cases, develops gradually – many people do not realize they are affected.  Fortunately, modern hearing care has become more aware of the symptoms of hearing loss.  This increased awareness has helped millions hear better and enjoy life more. 

Hearing loss itself can be misunderstood.  Wax buildup in the ear canal is a common occurrence that adversely affects hearing.  Often people assume they have permanent loss, when in fact, they don’t.  A hearing screening and video otoscope inspection (a simple procedure in which a picture of a person’s ear canal is taken) provide an accurate evaluation of what you’re hearing and what you’re not. 

Click here to read the full article and the warning signs

If you’re interested in a hearing screening, or if you would like to request a free copy of The Gift of Hearing, call Beltone toll free at 1-800-485-1596.


For a Hearing Center near you,
Click Here for our full list of Approved Hearing Centers


A note from Jack Benke: 10 paces to your own spaces
Article by Jack Benke, Broker Owner of
Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.


These tips come from REALTOR® experience with all manner of home buyers: first-timers, move-ups, empty-nesters, and so on. Keep this list in mind to help you get into the home of your dreams with the assurance that your feelings have been felt countless times before.

1. There's no "right" time to buy anymore than there's a right time to sell: Conditions are currently stellar for the home buyer. Affordability is up, inventory is plentiful, interest rates are at historical lows and you have an $8,000 head start courtesy of the federal government's tax credit for first-time home buyers. But second-guessing where interest rates and home prices are going is a dubious strategy. Changes don't usually occur fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won't stay long on the market.

2. Don't ask for too many opinions from friends, coworkers and family: It's natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas will make it much harder to make a decision.

3. Accept that no house is ever perfect: Focus in on the things that are most important to you and let the minor ones go.

4. Find a REALTOR® who is agreeable and likable: Buying a home is not only a big financial commitment but also an emotional one. It's critical that the practitioner you choose is both skilled and a good fit with your personality.

5. Don't lose by being a killer negotiator: Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to "win" by getting an extra-low price may lose you the home you desire.

6. Remember that your home doesn't exist in a vacuum: Don't get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself—room size, kitchen, square footage—that you forget such issues as amenities, noise level, and proximity to work and school. Many factors should play into what it will be like to live in your new home.

7. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-purchase budget: Even if you buy a brand new home, there will be some costs. Don't leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.

8. Accept that a little buyer's remorse is inevitable and will probably pass quickly: Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big commitment, but it also yields huge long-term benefits.

9. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about price appreciation. A home's most important role is as a comfortable, safe place to live.

10. Don't wait until you've found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance availability and consider a moving schedule: Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers. With lending practices returning to standards that existed prior to the boom years, it will ultimately benefit you to have your financials ready to go and your calendar open.

Jack Benke, GRI®, CBR®, MMP®, CEA®
Broker Owner
Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.
999 Marie Avenue West
Mendota Heights, MN 55118
Direct: 651-405-9105
Cell: 651-398-3183
Jack is a licensed Broker in MN and FL


Why Use a Certified Buyer Representative, CBR®?
Article by Jack Benke, Broker Owner of
Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.


Buyer Representation is rapidly changing the face of real estate.  Propelled by knowledgeable home purchasers, legislative action, and consumer watch dog groups, home buyer representation has gained momentum in the residential market in recent years and is now available nationwide.  To find out even more visit  www.CBRSource.com

Buyer Representative is a cooperating agent who legally exclusively represents the real estate buyer.  They generally do so under an exclusive buyer representation agreement, much like a traditional real estate broker represents the seller under a listing agreement.  The buyer agent’s role is to be the advocate for the purchaser in the real estate transaction. Each agent completes three days of extensive training (22.5 class room hours) to earn the CBR® Designation.

For Exclusive Buyer Representation, call Jack Benke, CBR® at Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.                                                                   

Phone: 651-405-9104, Email: jtbenke@pro-ns.net,
Web: www.CanIAgeInPlace.com

Jack Benke, GRI®, CBR®, MMP®, CEA®
Broker Owner
Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.
999 Marie Avenue West
Mendota Heights, MN 55118
Direct: 651-405-9105
Cell: 651-398-3183
Jack is a licensed Broker in MN and FL


Top Scams Targeting Seniors
From The Office Of The Better Business Bureau
Gary Johnson, Senior Programs Manager
gjohnson@thefirstbbb.org - 612-695-2424


You receive a check and letter announcing you have won a large sum of money, or if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Publishers Clearing House Lottery.  The letter/caller tells you to deposit the check and wire funds in the same amount to cover fees, insurance and taxes.  Ultimately, the check is counterfeit and the money send is lost.   

  •  Avoid wiring money to someone who awards you with something too good to be true, and never pay money to accept a prize. 


Senior citizens are being targeted by callers claiming to be their grandchild.  The caller often claims to have gotten into a predicament in a different state, and asks you to wire money to them to post bail or pay for damages.  The money ultimately goes to a scam artist, and you are out possibly thousands of dollars.

  • Verify that you are truly speaking with your grandchild by asking questions only they could answer, and contact your grandchild’s parents to find out their whereabouts before trusting the caller.


A person comes to your door and claims to be a repair expert.  He tells you that he noticed your home, usually your roof or driveway, needs a repair and he can offer you a great deal.  In the end, you could end up a victim for a job you didn’t need at all. 

  • Trust your instincts.  If the “expert” uses high pressure sales tactics or you feel intimidated, turn them away.

  •  Never pay the cost of a job upfront.

  •  If you are unsure if your home truly needs a repair, contact an Approved Business on the Minnesota Seniors program, or a BBB Accredited contractor, for an estimate. 


Check with the BBB first.


To request materials or to have someone from the BBB speak to your group about marketplace issues, contact Gary Johnson, Senior Programs Manager, at 651-695-2424 or gjohnson@thefirstbbb.org


To Sell or Not To Sell...
A Question For Baby Boomers

Article by Jack Benke
Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.


This is the question the baby boomers (62+) are contemplating and rumor has it there is a growing trend that we want to stay in our homes aka “aging in place” as long as possible. This is not to say that new homes, designed specifically for this age group, are not in demand also.

Whether you are leaning towards purchasing a new home or modifying an existing property, “universal design” is a term you will become familiar with. This house plan accommodates the “aging in place” senior’s needs. An essential feature ideally includes single floor living; one size does not fit all though, so careful planning is needed to customize a successful plan.

The one constant in the process is the need to access funds to finance your decision. The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program is a federally insured program offering 62+ home owners the ability to access the equity in their primary residence. Funds are accessed through refinancing their existing mortgage to make the proposed modifications. A HECM loan for purchase is available for those seniors interested in selling their existing residence and using some or all of the proceeds to purchase a more suitable new home. Requirements are stay current on property taxes, hazard insurance and maintenance of the home….no monthly mortgage payments. Upon sale of the property, the loan is repaid. Any loan deficiency is federally insured. Any equity is returned to the borrower’s estate. 

If you would like to learn more contact Jack Benke of Real Estate Opportunities at 651-405-9105. 

For more resources click the links below:

Aging In Place Directory Home Modifications
Senior Housing Directory Moving Transition Services
Real Estate Organizing/Downsizing
Home Health Care Handicap Accessible



Guidelines for Giving Wisely to Charities
From The Office Of The Better Business Bureau
Gary Johnson, Senior Programs Manager
gjohnson@thefirstbbb.org - 612-695-2424


Charities are seeking contributions more than ever now due to ever-rising costs and demand for services.  With the majority of the money raised by charities in this country coming from individuals, BBB offers the following advice to help donors make wise giving decisions:

Warning Signs

  • Sound-Alike Names:  Don't be fooled by names that sound impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.

  • High-Pressure Tactics:  Be wary if an on-the-spot donation is requested.  A legitimate charity will welcome your donation as much tomorrow as they will today.

  • Emotional Appeals:  Be cautions of vague appeals that offer gifts or base their appeal on a heart-breaking story, but are short on facts describing the charity's services. 

  • Cash Payment Requested:  Always pay by check and never by cash, and be sure to make the check payable to the organization and not to the individual.

  • Unable to Provide Information:  If the organization cannot provide you with information regarding their services, walk away.  A legitimate organization will offer you a brochure detailing their services, or may direct you to their website. 

Tips for Giving Wisely

  • Confirm that the charity is an IRS 501(c)(3) entity by contacting the IRS.

  • If contacted by phone, ask for the organization's address, phone number and a contact person so that you know where your money is going.  Before sending any money, do your research to find out if they organization is legitimate.

  • Verify that the charity asking for donations is registered with Minnesota and North Dakota.  Organizations are required to register here before asking for donations.

  • Keep records of your donations so you can document your charitable giving at tax time. 

  • Check out the organization with BBB's Wise Giving Alliance at www.bbb.org/charity.  

Check with the BBB first.


To request materials or to have someone from the BBB speak to your group about marketplace issues, contact Gary Johnson, Senior Programs Manager, at 651-695-2424 or gjohnson@thefirstbbb.org


Legal Alert Of The Month - Reverse Mortgages
From The Office Of The
Attorney General
Lori Swanson
Reverse Mortgage Tips
If you are considering a Reverse Mortgage, read this first!

With the cost of everything going up—from living expenses to health care to utilities—many senior citizens find themselves financially squeezed like never before.  And with the baby boomers growing older, there are a lot more senior citizens than ever before.

Seeing these trends, some companies are marketing the “reverse mortgage” as a way for seniors to convert some of the equity in their home to cash to pay other bills. Reverse mortgages are now a $20 billion industry.

For some seniors, a reverse mortgage may be a suitable loan, but for others it is not.  If you are considering a reverse mortgage, be sure to find out the “pros” and the “cons.”  Carefully evaluate whether a reverse mortgage is suitable given your needs and circumstances and consider whether there are other alternatives that may be more suitable for you.  Steer clear of predatory lenders and scam artists who may want to steer you into a high-cost loan or sell you a reverse mortgage in order to get at your money.

Read Full Article Here with Tips For Reverse Mortgages and what to look out for!



Multigenerational Living

Article by Jack Benke
Real Estate Opportunities, Inc.

The “Empty Nest” Not So Empty Anymore

What may have been in the recent past a life style made primarily out of necessity, mutigenerational living has now become a trend partially made out of choice.

What has remained constant, and is essential to the success of the expanded living arrangement, is communication. It would be great if each generation were treated as equal partners; that is ideal, but may not be an easy concept to grasp for the “oldest” of the generations. Respect for an individual’s space and time, financial contributions to everyday living expenses and participation in daily maintenance of the property are just a few of the many considerations that should be made prior to the new living arrangements. Being sensitive to each family member’s way of life is important for success; that is, accommodating a grandparent’s health issues, and the “Boomerang Generation” (young adults ages 25-35 who find themselves moving back home) parenting styles.

*A 2012 survey by a national home builder revealed 32% of adult children expect to eventually share their house with a parent. The Universal Design is a home building/remodeling concept that accommodates the needs of aging or special needs homeowners that may come into play when multigenerational living arrangements are put into place. It is important to understand the impact of these modifications before you get started.

To the home owner opening their home to a family member, I say “open not just your home but also your heart”.

*AARP Bulletin April 2013



Roadwise Rx:
Your Prescription for Medication Information

www.roadwiserx.com        www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com

By 2020, one in six Americans will be aged 65 or older, and most will still have a driver’s license. Safer roads, safer vehicles, and a healthier, more active older population mean that seniors are driving more miles and later in life than was previously the case. And, despite what we often hear in the news, AAA Foundation analysis has shown that older drivers are, in general, a safe and responsible subset of motorists.

Aging does present its challenges, however, and among these tends to be an increased use of various medications. Whether over-the-counter or prescription drugs, these medicines may have side effects that can impact the ability to drive safely, or they may interact in ways that cause impairment. However, a recent AAA survey of older drivers found that while 82 percent take regular prescription or over-the-counter medications, only half of these drivers have talked with their doctor about possible safety issues related to driving.

We are very pleased, therefore, to announce the launch of a new product developed by the AAA Foundation. Roadwise Rx is a free online tool that provides information about medication side effects and drug interactions that may be relevant to safe vehicle operation. Visitors to www.roadwiserx.com enter the names of any medications they are taking, and instantly receive confidential, personalized results.  Click Here to Read More

Helping Senior Drivers

It is only natural for adult children to worry about the safety of their aging parents who drive.  Seniors face real challenges behind the wheel, brought on by declining vision and other effects of aging. 

Know the signs 
Adult children can drive with their parents and watch for these deteriorating skills:
     * Confusing the gas and brake pedals
     * Weaving or straddling lanes
     * Getting lost easily, even in familiar places
     * Driving too fast or slow

Families should know their state's licensing requirements.  Some states require seniors to renew their licenses for frequently than younger drivers, and some require vision tests. 

Minnesota :

For advice on talking to your senior parents about their driving, visit



Ebenezer Ridges receives $10,000 grant
from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council

BURNSVILLE, Minn. (July 2013) -- Ebenezer Ridges Campus has received a $10,000 grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council to introduce intergenerational dance to the residents of Arbors at Ridges, an assisted living community in Burnsville, Minn.  The grant will engage elders in creative movement and storytelling.  The dance program will be operated by Kairos Alive (www.KairosDance.org), the first intergenerational modern dance company in the Twin Cities.

In May 2013, Arbors at Ridges (www.fairviewebenezer.org/Ridges/) opened a new building on the Ebenezer Campus and welcomed dozens of new senior residents.  The assisted living community provides a full range of services to help seniors age in place. 

Kairos Alive’s Creating Home Program operates on the belief that “we are lifelong learners and can continue to grow, learn, and change as long as we are provided with opportunities.”  The dance program provides in-depth opportunities for artistic development, creativity, higher-level physical activity, and community connection for elders in our community. 

Kairos artists and Ebenezer staff and volunteers will teach the weekly dance program for 16 weeks.  Each 90-minute class will have up to 20 participants.  Weekly post-session evaluation and coaching sessions will be conducted with site staff.  They will assess artistic growth and the participants’ willingness and ability to initiate movement or story ideas, recreate stories and choreography, and move in new ways. The program leads to improvement in health, cognitive, social, emotional, and quality of life measures. 

“Ebenezer is honored to receive this grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council,” said Erin Hilligan, campus administrator at Ebenezer Ridges.  “We are excited to work with Kairos Alive to provide the many benefits this program with have on our residents and the entire community.”


Congratulations to Dr. Jack Churchill of Churchill Dental! 
President's Award Winner

Each year the President of the Minnesota Dental Association selects a President’s Award winner- one who has served the MDA in some outstanding capacity.  This year Dr. Jack Churchill was selected for serving for 12 years as Chairman of the Constitution, By-Laws, and Ethics Committee and for writing a column for the MDA’s Northwest Dentistry magazine.  The article was called “What’s A Dentist To Do” – a regular column on ethics in dentistry.   

For his articles and more information about Dr. Jack Churchill and his staff, Visit their website at www.churchilldental.com or call 612-333-8988.


What Is Respite Care And Where Can I Find It?
Article written by:
Adagio Manor Assisted Living
Life at Your Tempo!

Respite care is giving the care giver some time off. How much time off? That depends on the need. Respite care can be during the day, over night or for 2 weeks. Care givers that are providing daily care for a loved one sometimes need time off. Maybe they need a day to go shopping and run errands, or maybe they need to go to work, or maybe they want a weekend at the lake. Or maybe the caregiver has some medical issues themselves that may require a hospitalization or some time off to take care of themselves. Most care givers including wives, husbands, sons and daughter’s need some time away.

Adagio Manor Assisted Living can help by providing the respite care. We can bill in increments as few as 12 hours or by the week.  To prepare for respite care we go through our regular admission process to ensure that we are providing high quality respite care for your loved one. Then, just let us know when that break is needed and we will gladly schedule respite care for your loved one!

Minnesota Seniors Respite Care Directory

Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and wellbeing, avoid or delay out-of-home placements, and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect.  An outcome based evaluation pilot study showed that respite may also reduce the likelihood of divorce and help sustain marriages.[2]


What Should You Do If Your Property
Is Damaged in a Storm?

Article written by Daryl C Johnson
MN Public Insurance Adjuster
License # 40279355


I enjoy Minnesota and its four seasons. I am looking forward to the warmer temperatures of spring and its first gentle rain.

As we know, with the change of temperature and air movements, the rains and winds may not be so gentle.

In the insurance industry, storm damage is considered to be an “act of God”. The property owner did not directly cause this damage. Therefore, Insurance companies can not single out one particular homeowner and raise insurance rates for this insurance claim.

Prior to the storm season you should review your insurance policy to verify insurance coverage.

  1. Do you have a copy of your full policy with all the supplements and addendums? The full policy is not sent out each year, upon renewal.  If you do not have the full policy, call your agent and request that it be sent to you.
  2. Is the correct property owner(s) listed on the Declarations page? This is who owns the policy and will receive any proceeds from the policy.
  3. Do you have “Replacement Cost” coverage or “Actual Cash Value” coverage? Actual Cash Value is replacement cost minus depreciation.
  4. Do you have enough coverage?
  5. An excellent article by the Dept of Commerce on Homeowners Insurance is at this link: What you need to know

In the event of storm damage, what can you expect and what should you do if your property is damaged? 

  1. The first thing is the safety of you and your loved ones.
  2. Insurance policies require you to take reasonable steps protect your property from further damage. Your safety comes first.
  3. File your claim. Call your insurance agent. At this time you do not need determine exact cause or calculate the cost to repair.
  4. Most property owners will have difficulty with the following critical steps in an insurance claim. 


  • Proving your loss is your responsibility.  May things are overlooked or not considered in most insurance claims.  Adjusters working for the insurance company are busy and are not contractually obligated to determine the full extent of your loss.  This may leave a homeowner with not enough money to fully restore their property. 


  • Painting a room is a good example of "Scope of Work".  The Actual paining is the easy part.  Most of the time is spent on preparing for painting. 
  • Defining what work is going to be done and getting a fixed estimate for the work is important.
  • For example:  You may received a bid from a roofing contract with a general statement like:  "Removed old shingles and install new shingles".  Does this mean he will also install the proper ice and water membranes?  Will he replace the metal valleys?
  • Poorly defined specifications or scope of work may lead to note enough money to properly repair your home. 


  • Insurance companies are not contractually obligated to prove your loss or determine the correct amount of money to restore your home.
  • Company Adjusters are busy and mistakes will be make
  • You do not have to accept the first offer given by the Insurance Company.
  • It takes a good understanding of construction, building standards and codes to correctly determine the amount of your claim. 
  1. Do not authorize the start of construction (except for emergency protection) until a settlement has been reached with your insurance company.

a.      Expect different contractors or salesman at your door after a storm. Sometimes they will arrive within 24 hours. Most Contractors are reputable and honest but the elderly are particularly vulnerable to Contractor scams. If at all possible, have a friend or relative sit in on all meetings with Contractors.

b.      Important: Money received for an insurance claim is your money for your expenses to repair, replace or restore your damaged property. Do not sign your claim and your money over to a Contractor.

c.      Sales pressure to sign a contract. Besides temporary protection services there is no need to rush into signing a contractor. Take your time to get proper estimates with firm prices. Have the contract reviewed by a relative or trusted friend.

d.      Get actual estimates with firm prices. Contractors will try to “take over your claim”  with unspecified estimate amounts. You may see wording such as:  “The amount the insurance company will pay” or “authorization to talk with your insurance company”.

e.      MN Dept of Labor and Industry warns against these types of contracts at this web site:  “do some homework before hiring a building contractor after a storm”.

f.        Be cautious of large down payments to a contractor. Never pay more than 20% down.

g.      Use established local contractors, if possible.

h.      Check to see if the Contractor is a licensed contractor and has proper liability and workman’s compensation insurance.

Wrapping up the insurance claim and restoration. Unless the claim is small, your insurance company will not issue the final check until the restoration is complete. Notify your insurance company that the project is complete and request the final payment.

Collect a Lien waiver (a waiver from the Contractor stating that they have been paid and   waive their rights to file a lien on your property) from your contractor. You should collect a waiver for every payment made to a Contractor.

If your project required a building permit, make sure the building project has passed the final inspection prior to making the final payment to the Contractor.

Article written by Daryl C Johnson
MN Public Insurance Adjuster License # 40279355



by Realife Cooperative of Brooklyn Park
3100 85th Ave. N
Brooklyn Park, MN  55443

Senior housing cooperatives provide affordable living with a neighborly perspective for active adults 55+.  Cooperatives are not-for-profit organizations that are owned and controlled by the membership. 

A cooperative is an owner-operated development. Through the purchase of a share in the cooperative, residents have an exclusive right to occupy a particular building unit and have equal voting status in electing members to the Board of Directors which oversees the operation of the cooperative.  Members take pleasure in enjoying shared spaces and amenities like libraries, workshops, craft rooms, exercise rooms and community gardens. No more worries about upkeep such as mowing the grass or shoveling the driveway.

Members pay a monthly fee that includes their pro-rata share of the operating expenses, insurance, real estate taxes, reserves, replacement, principal, and interest on the master mortgage.

The cooperative maintains all of the appliances, flooring, window blinds, cabinets and fixtures in the units and common areas. 

Click Here for our list of Senior Housing Cooperatives on Minnesota Seniors


Ask Dr. Marion
by Dr. Marion (Marion Somers, PhD)

“My father suffered a terrible fall six months ago and has been home from the rehabilitation center for the last few weeks. It seems like he’s losing his will to stick with his exercise program. What can I do?” Cheryl in Nebraska, 66

When someone has undergone a medical or physical challenge, it can be extremely difficult for them to continue with rehab once they return home from the hospital or care facility. It’s an especially difficult transition since they no longer have the stimulation and encouragement of the nurses and professionals around them. Your father can easily lose his momentum, and this will stop him from reaching a higher level of rehabilitation and functionality. You should do all you can to keep him motivated and improving.

But to do that, you must get involved. You can’t just give him the pictures or the video and the exercises he needs to do. If at all possible, stop by and do the activities with him. If you can’t be there, suggest that he put on his favorite music while he’s exercising. Time things to a favorite television show. It can also be effective with big sports fans to have them work out while the game is on. You might want to set a specific time for the workout, and then call your dad to check on him. Most people like it when others show their interest and concern this way.

Even the most disciplined and motivated person can get discouraged, so don’t put a specific time frame for complete healing. It’s important that you start this process as soon as possible so that he doesn’t get used to a certain level of pain or discomfort or lack of function. As soon as that mindset starts to set in, you’ve lost the battle. Find the fun in it and reemphasize the image of your father as a complete, healed, and fully functioning individual. Help him visualize a goal. If there’s a family wedding coming up, dancing with the grandkids should be a real target for him. Good luck!

Dr. Marion (Marion Somers, PhD) is the author of "Elder Care Made Easier" and has over 40 years of experience as a geriatric care manager, caregiver, speaker, and expert in all things elder care. She offers practical tools, solutions, and advice to help caregivers everywhere through her book, web site, iPhone apps (Elder 411/911), cross-country speaking tours, and more. Visit www.DrMarion.com for more information.


TLC Financial, Inc.
William Lehnertz, ChFC

College is expensive. For some fortunate students, grandparents are stepping in to help. This trend is expected to accelerate as baby boomer grandparents start gifting what could be trillions of dollars over the next few decades. Helping to finance a grandchild's college education can bring great personal satisfaction and can be a way for grandparents to minimize potential gift and estate taxes. Here are some common strategies.

  • Outright cash gifts
  • Pay tuition directly to the college
  • 529 college savings plan

Under federal law, tuition payments made directly to a college aren't considered taxable gifts, no matter how large the payment. This rule is helpful considering that annual tuition at some private colleges is now surpassing the $40,000 mark.

Click Here to Read the Entire Article



No one wants to believe they’ll need Long-Term Care
Own Your Future campaign appeals to one million
Minnesotans to come up with a plan.

Debra C. Newman, CLU, ChFC, LTCP, Founder

There are three uncomfortable conversations parents should have with their children: the birds and the bees, avoiding drugs, and your plans should you ever need long-term care. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. Once you reach 65, you’ll have a 70 percent chance of needing this type of assistance.  Unfortunately the high costs aren’t covered by Medicare.

“We prefer to say that your real risk is either zero or 100 percent,” says Deb Newman, founder of Newman Long Term Care, one of the largest and most successful long-term care marketing organizations in the country. The real question — and the bigger risk — relates to the length of time for which you may need to receive care services. Your plan must prepare for the risk of needing care that could last many years.”

If you’d rather be able to relax and spend your retirement savings on fun activities rather than worrying about the “what ifs”, there is a solution. This fall, Governor Mark Dayton will send a letter to one million Minnesotans between ages 40 and 65, appealing to them to take part in the Own Your Future campaign by developing a long-term care plan.

Minnesota is aging. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of people over age 65 will grow by 107 percent while the rest of the population grows by six percent. Many boomers have not prepared and saved enough to pay for their long-term care. A 2005 University of Minnesota study estimated that 30 percent of Minnesota boomers at retirement will not have sufficient resources to pay for health and long-term care. That number is probably higher today. Individuals who make plans for their own long-term care have control over their future, the choices they want, and peace of mind.

“You need to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your family about your plan,” urges Newman. “If you leave that part of your life unplanned, your family becomes the plan and the financial, physical and emotional stress on your family is immeasurable. It’s not fair to them.”

Dispelling the top myths about long-term care:

What pops into your mind when you think about long-term care? Nursing homes? “The reality is very different,” says Newman. “More than 85 percent of long-term care is delivered outside of a nursing home setting today. Having a long-term care plan in place will allow you to dictate how you want to be cared for.” She adds that other typical misconceptions include:

  • I’ve got enough in the bank to cover long-term care. “On average, long-term care costs $7,000 a month. In 30 years, it might be four times that amount. Having a plan could make the difference between saving or losing a family business, or even whether your daughter or son will be able to afford to retire after taking time away from their careers to care for your needs.”

  • Medicare must pay for my long-term care. “There is no government plan to pay for this. Many people mistakenly believe Medicare will pay for long-term care costs. It does not. Medicare only pays for long-term care under very limited circumstances. In the old days, you used to be able to give away your money and assets, and let the state care for you. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

  • Long-term care insurance is expensive. “There are affordable choices. You might be able to get a good solution for under $100 a month.”

How to start your plan:

“It’s estimated that 10,000 people will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years. What will the state do if all these people need care and don’t have a plan?” asks Newman. “We’re hoping Minnesotans will embrace the Own Your Future Campaign so that they have personal and financial options to meet their future long-term care needs. The state even offers a tax credit to people who buy long-term care insurance.” Newman’s tips for preparing a plan include:  

  • Start planning at age 50. “The average age for new individual long-term care insurance applicants is 57; an age when many are able to qualify for good health discounts. This discount reduces costs and remains even if your health changes. You can still do it when you’re older, but it will cost you more.”

  • Make the four basic decisions. “Designing a policy is not complicated. There are just four questions to answer:

  1. What monthly benefit do you want? If care costs $7000 a month, how much of that do you want covered by insurance?

  2. What maximum benefit do you want? How big is your bucket of money going to be?

  3. Choose an inflation feature. There are myriad of inflation figures. These are what drives the premiums.

  4. What size deductible do you want? How many days of care are you willing to pay for before the policy kicks in?

  5. · If you can’t afford long-term care information, talk with your family about a plan. Who will be your caregiver(s)? Should you move closer to them now? How do you want your assets used to pay for your care?

Yes, it’s an uncomfortable conversation:

But there are great resources out there. “Insurance doesn’t just pay for care,” Newman explains. “It also provides resources and support to lean on, permission to use some of what you’ve saved up for your retirement for what you’ve always wanted to do such as hobbies and trips. You have the peace of mind to spend your money on things that make you happy.”

To create a blueprint for your long-term care plan, which you can print and bring to your insurance agent to start the conversation, visit

Media Note: For additional information, or to schedule an interview with Debra Newman, contact Media Relations, Inc. at 612-798-7220.

Biography: Debra C. Newman, CLU, ChFC, LTCP, Founder

Deb Newman is a pioneer of the long-term care insurance industry and founder of Newman Long Term Care: One of the largest and most successful long-term care marketing organizations in the country. Deb's focus is on helping people understand that planning ahead will allow them to finish life well.

Nationally recognized on long-term care issues, Deb frequently speaks to insurance, financial services and government groups as well as consumers. She can be heard regularly on Minnesota's WCCO Radio and has been recently quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Star Tribune and Money Magazine.

In 2009, Deb was acknowledged by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as one of the top 25 Women in Business. She was also named a 2009 Five Star Wealth Manager by Twin Cities Business and Minneapolis-St. Paul magazines. This award reflects client satisfaction information gathered from consumers and financial services professionals. In 2007, Deb was recognized nationally as one of the top ten on the Power List of Who's Who in Long-term Care Insurance.

Deb holds leadership positions in many insurance industry groups, including:

  • Chair for the Board of Directors, Life & Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE)

  • President Minnesota Chapter of National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors (NAIFA)

  • Past National President, Association of Health Insurance Advisors (AHIA)

  • Past President, (NAIFA) Minneapolis



Medicare Open Enrollment
Change your plan or stick with the old one?
By Teresa Ambord ~ Minnesota Good Age
The Journal of Active Life - September 2012


Coming soon - October 15 through December 7 - seniors and disabled persons on Medicare will have the opportunity to decide whether or not their current Medicare plans are meeting their needs.

If you are currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C), or a Part D prescription drug plan, this is your chance to look around and see if you can do better.  Take some time to reconsider the plan you've chosen and you may be able to improve your benefits, or lower your premiums, or both.  Or perhaps you just need to tweak your plan to suit your current medical needs. 

Also during this period, individuals who are already Medicare eligible but not yet enrolled in Medicare Advantage, can sign up in a new plan.  And those who are participating in a Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Part D plan can cancel during this period.

What if you miss your annual window of opportunity to make changes?  You will need to wait till next year.  So let this be a strong reminder:  don't miss this opportunity.  Assuming you are happy with your current plan, why should you change or consider changing?  Because other things change, including your health care needs, your prescriptions, the benefit options, your geographic location, and possibly the premiums charged by insurers.  It's natural to be leery of change, especially if you have not been unhappy with your plan as it is.  But this is an opportunity to gain control over high health costs, possibly improve what you are getting, and tweak your plan to meet your personal medical needs. 

Click Here for the full article and a list from Medicare.gov of actions you can take during Open Enrollment. 


Beat The Heat
Summer can mean high temperatures and problems for seniors who are at higher risk for heat related illness.

Extreme hot and humid weather can cause a range of serious health conditions and even death.  while everyone feels some effects of extreme heat, some people are more vulnerable than others including children less than 5 years of age, people paged 65 and older, those with pre-existing health conditions, people who are obese and people who are poor and homeless. 

When temperatures soar and humidity levels rise to uncomfortable levels, take appropriate measures to prevent ill effects caused by extreme heat:

  • Use air conditioning, or spend time in air conditioned locations such as movie theatres or shopping malls.

  • Take frequent cool baths or showers.

  • Limit direct exposure to sunlight.

  • Limit time spent outdoors and take frequent breaks in the shad and drink water every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you don't feel thirsty. If you have clear, pale urine, you are probably drinking enough fluids

  • Water is the beverage of choice in the summer. Drink water before outdoor activities an drink water at regular intervals during the day. Avoid beverages with caffeine or alcoholic beverages that can aid dehydration.

  • Try to schedule outdoor activities for cooler times of the day--before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.

  • Wear loose fitting light-colored clothing for air circulation.

  • Check on your neighbors, family and friends, especially those who are older, have health issues, or have a limited support system.

  • Do not leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle even for a few minutes or with the windows rolled down. 

  • Wear a hat or use an umbrella when outside, even if you are not in the direct sun. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater anytime you go outside.

  •  If you have a chronic medical problem, talk with your doctor about additional precautions you should take to prevent heat related illness. Some conditions and medications may place you at higher risk.

Heat Related Conditions

Heat stress occurs when a strain is placed on the body as a result of hot weather.

Heat fatigue is a feeling of weakness brought on by high outdoor temperature. Symptoms include cool, moist skin and a weakened pulse. The person may feel faint.

Heat syncope is sudden dizziness experienced after exercising in the heat. The skin appears pale and sweaty but is generally moist and cool. The pulse may be weakened, and the heart rate is usually rapid. Body temperature is normal.

Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs following strenuous activity. The skin is usually moist and cool and the pulse is normal or slightly raised. Body temperature is mostly normal. Heat cramps often are caused by a lack of salt in the body, but salt replacement should not be considered without advice from a physician.

Heat exhaustion is a warning that the body is getting too hot. The person may be thirsty, giddy, weak, uncoordinated, nauseous, and sweating profusely. The body temperature is usually normal and the pulse is normal or raised. The skin is cold and clammy. Although heat exhaustion often is caused by the body’s loss of water and salt, salt supplements should only be taken with advice from a doctor.

Heat stroke can be LIFE-THREATENING! Victims of heat stroke almost always die so immediate medical attention is essential when problems first begin. A person with heat stroke has a body temperature above 104° F. Other symptoms may include confusion, combativeness, bizarre behavior, faintness, staggering, strong rapid pulse, dry flushed skin, lack of sweating, possible delirium or coma.

If you show any signs of heat related illness try to get to a cooler place as soon as possible, sip some cool fluids and sponge yourself off with look with lukewarm tap water.


Senior Helper's Alzheimer's Quiz

Half of all Americans know (or knew) someone with Alzheimer’s, the deadly disease that affects about five million Americans — more women than men. Yet in a recent Senior Helpers National Alzheimer’s Quiz taken by more than 1,000 people over the age of 40, 67% failed, getting fewer than 60% of the questions correct! Take the quiz to see how you stack up.

Click Here to Take The Quiz


Advisers Reverse Thinking on Reverse Mortgages
Publication: Star Tribune; Date: Jun 17, 2012; Section: Business; Page: D9

Using your nest to help with your nest egg is becoming a more common way to round out a financial plan during retirement.

Even after the bursting of the housing bubble, the biggest financial asset many retirees have is their home. But because that money is tied up in the equity of the house, it’s an investment that has been difficult to count on as a source of income.

Reverse mortgages have long been an option. However, until recently, they were the Wild West of retirement planning. High upfront costs, poor disclosure and dodgy sales pitches made them an option that many advisers avoided.

Now, with the introduction of reverse mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration in late 2010, more financial planners are adding them to their tool kit.

Read Full Article Here


What is a Reverse Mortage?
by Jeff Flanery of Cambria Mortgage
952-486-6114  *  Jeff.Flanery@CambriaMortgage.com

A reverse mortgage (aka HECM, Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) is a special type of loan, insured by the federal government, which allows homeowners, age 62 and older to borrower against the equity in your home.  Instead of making monthly payments you can choose to receive them.  Currently there is no income, employment or credit qualifying restrictions on a typical refinance, however, a new financial assessment regarding a seniors’ ability to pay their taxes and insurance could be around the corner very soon.  The borrowers continue to own the home and are required to make the property tax and insurance payments on the home.  

  • All homeowners must be age 62 or older and occupy the property as their primary residence.

  • The home must be owned free and clear, or have an existing mortgage balance that can be paid off by the reverse mortgage.

  • The property must be a single family dwelling or a one to four unit owner occupied dwelling.

  • Townhomes, condominiums (HRAP/DELRAP approved), PUD’s and new construction properties are eligible.

  • The property must meet FHA minimum property standards.

Reasons for Getting a Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage can be used for many purposes, some of which are:

  • Eliminating an existing mortgage or home equity loan.

  • Meeting monthly expenses.

  • Help with healthcare costs or in- home care.

  • Reduce credit card debt.

  • Home repairs or remodeling that new kitchen with Cambria Countertops.

  • Help a grandchild with college or a home down payment.

How is the loan amount determined?

The loan amount is the lesser of the maximum lending limit (currently $625,500 nationwide lending limit) or the appraised value of the home.  The amount borrowed by the homeowner is determined by a HUD formula using the following factors.

  • The age of the youngest borrower.

  • The lesser of the appraised value of the home or the HUD maximum lending limit.

  • The current expected interest rate

The HUD formula is actuarial based; meaning the older a person is the more money they may be able to borrow.  The amount of funds available is known as the Principle Limit.

There will be costs involved in getting a reverse mortgage; they are usually broken down into three different categories:

  1. Origination Fee,

  2. Mortgage Insurance Premium (SAVER program drastically reduces this cost),

  3. Other closing costs such as an appraisal, title insurance and government recording fees.

The good thing though about reverse mortgages is that the closing costs (as a group) can be made part of your loan proceeds. With a reverse mortgage the loan is not repaid until the house is sold, refinanced or the last remaining borrower has moved out of the house.  The only out- of- pocket expense would be paying for the FHA appraisal which is $425 and up, depending on location.  

Payout Options

With a fixed- rate loan, the borrower is required to take all of the funds up front in a lump sum.  With the variable rate loan (LIBOR), the borrower has the flexibility of various options or a combination of options; the following options are available:

  • Lump sum – a specific amount of money taken immediately.  This is the only option available on the fixed rate loan;

  • Term – a fixed monthly amount is for a set period of time;

  • Tenure – funds are paid to the borrower in equal monthly payments as long as at least one borrower continues to occupy the residence as their primary place of residence, even if balance of the loan exceeds the value of the property;

  • Line of Credit – the most popular option whereby the borrower can draw amounts as needed;

  • Combination – Borrower can use a combination of the aforementioned options.

Regardless of which payment option the borrower chooses, they can make changes in their distribution option for a nominal fee, usually $20 per change.  Changing the payout option is not available for the fixed rate product, as all of the funds are taken in the initial draw.

Loan Repayment

There is no need to repay the reverse mortgage as long as one or more borrowers continue to live in the home as the primary place of residence.  Just keep current on taxes and insurance on the property and maintain the property in accordance with FHA standards.

When it is time to repay the reverse mortgage, the outstanding balance can come from the proceeds of the sale of the home, a new mortgage or any other resource to satisfy the balance.  There is no requirement that the home be sold, only that the loan be repaid.

Process in Getting a Reverse Mortgage

Education – Perhaps the most important step in getting a reverse mortgage is the process of learning how they work, getting to know the facts to see if this is a good type of financing for the borrower.  Generally the process of educating the client is done with a Reverse Mortgage Consultant (RMC) coming out to the house and finding out the needs of the client and determining the right product for them.  The RMC will present them with a proposal based on the value of the home, explain the benefits of the reverse mortgage as well as the costs associated with getting the loan, and provide them with a checklist of items they will need to provide at the application.  It is best to include members of the family or a trusted advisor to answer other questions that may arise.

Counseling – HUD mandates that an applicant for a reverse mortgage must first obtain a HECM Counseling Certificate by participating in a reverse mortgage counseling education session with an approved HUD counselor.  In addition, the state of MN requires that the counseling session be completed by a HUD approved counselor residing in MN.

Application – A RMC will help the client understand, complete and sign the application documents.  Shortly after the application is submitted (or at the time of the signing of the documents), as required by the federal Truth-In Lending Act, the borrower will receive a Good Faith disclosure that outlines the estimated closing costs.

Processing – Once the loan application is completed an appraisal will be ordered from a FHA approved appraiser to determine the HECM loan amount.  Once the appraisal is completed and reviewed to ensure the home meets FHA guidelines, the appraisal will be approved, suspended or approved subject to repairs.  A copy of the appraisal will be given to the borrower.  A processor will assist the loan officer in gathering information needed to submit to the underwriting process and help resolve the conditions the underwriter sets forth.  A copy of the home owners insurance will be requested to make sure there is adequate insurance on the property.  Title Insurance will also be requested in the processing area to protect the lender from claims against ownership of the property.

Underwriting – Once the appraisal is approved and title has been cleared, an underwriter will review the application and make sure the conditions have been met to close the loan.  If conditions need to be met to satisfy the underwriting conditions, the loan will be returned to the loan processor to gather information and satisfy the conditions.  Once the conditions are met, the underwriter will issue a clearance and move the loan to closing.

Closing – Generally there is a 4-5 week period from the application process to when the loan is ready to close.  The closing will take place in a title office or with a notary public at the borrower’s home.  All HECM loans are considered a refinance loan with the exception of a HECM Reverse for Purchase and require a 3 day right of refusal for the borrower.  There is no rescission period for a HECM for Purchase.

Paying back the loan - Once the home is no longer the borrowers’ primary residence, the loan must then be repaid.  If you default on the loan by not paying your property taxes or homeowner's insurance, or if the property conditions deteriorate and the necessary repairs are not made, the loan also becomes due and payable.

The amount owed at that time will be equal to the total amount of the cash advances you’ve received, as well as the accrued interest on those advances.  If the borrower passes away the heirs can also choose to sell the home and repay the loan. Any remaining equity in the home after the sale of the home belongs to the borrower or the heirs or the estate.

Reverse mortgages are non-recourse loans, which means if you or your heirs decide to sell the house, and the house value has dropped below the loan balance, you will never have to pay more than the home’s value.  However, if you or your heirs decide to keep the home and eliminate the HECM loan, then the full value of the mortgage needs to be paid off.

HECM for Purchase - There is a relatively new program called the HECM for purchase.  This reverse mortgage enables senior homebuyers, age 62 and older, to buy a new primary residence and obtain a Reverse Mortgage in a simultaneous transaction.  Generally the borrower uses the proceeds from the sale of their current home or they could use other assets to buy the home, thus allowing them to have no monthly mortgage payments.

HECM SAVER - One of the concerns for financial planners used to be the upfront costs associated with the standard HECM reverse mortgage.  In October of 2010, FHA designed another option to allow homeowners to borrow a smaller amount of funds than was available through the standard HECM reverse mortgage.

The HECM SAVER provides seniors with a reverse mortgage option that significantly lowers costs by almost eliminating the upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) that is required under the standard HECM option.

The HECM SAVER has an upfront premium of only .01 percent of the property's value. Under the standard HECM option, the upfront premium remains at 2 percent.

Since the amount of money available to a borrower under the HECM SAVER program is reduced by approximately 10 to 18 percent, the risk to the FHA insurance fund is substantially lowered, resulting in a significant reduction in the cost of this reverse mortgage option.  This is why financial planning experts are now considering the reverse mortgage a viable option in the planning process.

About the Author - Jeff Flanery of Cambria Mortgage:
Jeff Flanery of Cambria Mortgage is here to serve you. Jeff is a Mortgage loan officer specializing in Reverse Mortgages and is committed to quality customer service. At Cambria Mortgage you will find our experienced, professional staff to be attentive, informative, and helpful. We will ease your concerns, answer your questions, and make the loan process straight-forward and easy to understand. Give us a call today for a free, personalized consultation.
Contact him at:  952-486-6114
Or Click Here to visit his website

Advisers Reverse Thinking on Reverse Mortgages
Publication: Star Tribune; Date: Jun 17, 2012; Section: Business; Page: D9

Using your nest to help with your nest egg is becoming a more common way to round out a financial plan during retirement.

Even after the bursting of the housing bubble, the biggest financial asset many retirees have is their home. But because that money is tied up in the equity of the house, it’s an investment that has been difficult to count on as a source of income.

Reverse mortgages have long been an option. However, until recently, they were the Wild West of retirement planning. High upfront costs, poor disclosure and dodgy sales pitches made them an option that many advisers avoided.

Now, with the introduction of reverse mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration in late 2010, more financial planners are adding them to their tool kit.

Read Full Article Here


Woman and Estate Planning
Submitted by Bill Lehnertz, TLC Financial, 952-948-1105

They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but is this true when it comes to estate planning? Absolutely. And because women often find themselves in such different circumstances than men, it is even more crucial for them to educate themselves about estate planning, and consult an experienced estate planning professional.

Women tend to live longer than men

Women live an average of 4.9 years longer than men (Source: National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 59, Number 4, March 2011). That means women need their assets to last longer than men do. It also means that wives are probably going to outlive their husbands, so they will likely inherit their husbands' estates, and they will probably have the last word about the final disposition of assets going to the couple's heirs. 
Click below to read more!

Click Here to read the full article



New State Law Requires Calling Senior LinkAge Line®

Are you thinking about moving to a
Registered Housing with Services setting*?

If so, the State Legislature recently made changes that might impact you. Before you sign a lease or housing contract, first call the Senior LinkAge Line® for long-term care options counseling. It can help you find services that meet your needs.

As of  Oct. 1, 2011, all people considering moving into housing with services need to call the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433 for long-term care options counseling. Housing with services includes independent living, assisted living and enhanced assisted living. At the end of the call, you will receive a verification code that signifies the completion of the counseling. You need to give this code to the tenant coordinator or housing manager at the housing setting you choose before signing the lease. You may decline the counseling, but you still need to request a code. Click on Senior LinkAge Line to learn more about this new requirement.

To Read Full Article Click Here

*Housing with services providers are registered by the Minnesota Department of Health.


A Guide to Home Care Services

Click Here for a complete guide to Home Care Services

Home Health Care/Home Care License Information You Should Know

Class A, or professional home care agency license. Provider may provide all home care services, at least one of which is nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional services, medical social services, home health aide tasks, or the provision of medical supplies and equipment when accompanied by the provision of a home care service. These may be provided in a place of residence, including a residential center, and a housing with services establishment.

Class B. or paraprofessional agency license. Under this license, a provider may perform home care aide tasks and home management tasks in a place of residence. 

Class C. or individual paraprofessional license. Under this license, a provider may perform home health aide, home care aide, and home management tasks in a place of residence.

Class F Home Care Provider. Under this license, a provider may provide home care services solely for residents of one or more registered housing with services establishments, as provided by Minnesota Statutes 144A.4605. For purposes of this section, the term Class F home care provider means a home care provider who provides nursing services, delegated nursing services, other services performed by unlicensed personnel, or central storage of medications solely for residents of one or more housing with services establishments.

Some Class F Home Care Providers and/or the Housing with Services establishments they serve may choose to call themselves or their services “assisted living” and must then meet the requirements for the use of the term assisted living as defined in Minnesota Statute 144G.

Click Here for a complete guide to Home Care Services


Independent Living for Seniors

As we age, many of us are faced with the prospect of revising our living arrangements. While thinking about moving can be a source of anxiety and stress, planning ahead can give you more choices for the future, making a big difference in your level of independence and quality of life.  If home upkeep and maintenance has become overwhelming, if you’re starting to need help with some services, or if you’re simply looking for a community with more transportation access and opportunities to socialize, an independent living facility may be a good option. To decide if it’s right for you, learn about your choices in independent living, including common types, and find help in choosing a residence.  Read full article by clicking here



Private Pay Services - How They Can Help Seniors
submitted by Eric Pederson, CCP Self Directed Services, 651-209-3350 ext. 627


CCP Self Directed Services is certified by the State of Minnesota as a Fiscal Support Entity (FSE). The role of an FSE is to assist a person in paying for their services through payroll support, human resources support, and expense reimbursement.

Hiring Staff

Many people choose to hire support staff to help them live independently in their homes. These
staff may help in completing household tasks and chores, as well as provide for companionship. The difficulty in hiring your own staff is managing the legal employment paperwork, filing the proper taxes, and maintaining insurance such as unemployment and workers compensation.

CCP Self Directed Services will work with you to hire the staff you choose as our employee, while you manage the day-to-day supervision of the employee. As our employee, they will have all of the proper employment paperwork completed, have the proper taxes withheld and paid to the government, and be covered under our workers compensation insurance policy.

We can also assist you with human resources support, such as coaching and counseling staff, resolving conflict, or providing additional training.

If there are additional employment expenses, such as mileage reimbursement or bonuses, we can assist you with those as well.

Why Use a Fiscal Support Entity?

Using a FSE will ensure that:

1. The proper employment requirements are met

2. Taxes are properly withheld for the employee

3. Employment taxes are properly paid

4. There is a clear and accurate documentation of how money was spent

Who Are We?

Cooperating Community Programs, Inc. (CCP) has been providing services to individuals in Minnesota and Wisconsin for over 30 years. We provide services to over 1000 people; including home-based support, employment support, case management, and self directed support.

All of our services are based on a “person-centered” approach. This means that the individual, not us, should decide what services they receive and how they receive them.

For more information:
CCP Self Directed Services
1885 University Avenue/Suite 398
St. Paul, MN 55104
Eric Pederson
Phone: 651-209-3350 ext. 627
Email: epederson@theccpinc.com


Tips For Living Safe
by Brenda Darr, Minnesota Seniors Online Staff Member

I recently took my daughter to the doctor because she had an earache.  In the lobby of the clinic, there was a sign on the wall stating that you "should keep a list of your medications with you in the event of an emergency."  That was the inspiration for this article!  Much of the tips below can really be applied to everyone and should serve as a friendly reminder for all of us. The one mistake lots of people, regardless of their age, make is complacency in familiar surroundings. To be honest, throughout my life I've been guilty of that from time to time.

The following is a short list of tips I've compiled from my internet research.  Obviously this list is incomplete, but this covers some important and basic things you can do to keep safe:

Some General Safety Tips:

1. Do not display large amounts of cash when out in public.
2. Use direct deposit for your pension and/or social security checks.
3. Travel in groups. If you must travel alone, do not advertise the fact that you are by yourself.
4. Work out a "buddy system" with a friend so you can check up on each other at least once a day.

You Can Practice Street Smarts:

1. Avoid dark, deserted, and/or isolated routes.
2. Do not walk near walls, high bushes, or near parked cars.
3. Project an image of self-confidence while you are walking.
4. Cross the street to avoid people who make you feel uncomfortable.
5. Know how to get where you are going ahead of time.
6. If someone demands your money, give it up.
7. Keep your money in several pockets instead of just one.

8. Never accept a ride from someone you do not know well.

While You're At Home:

1. Never let a stranger into your home. Always examine their identification badge before you allow a service technician into your home.   If it's an unexpected service visit, call the company they claim to represent to verify that their reason to be there is legitimate.
2. Lock your home when you are there and when you are away. Keep your 1st floor windows locked.
3. Do not let people on the phone know you are alone.
4. Keep your phone by your bed at night.
5. Post all emergency numbers close to the telephone.

6. Leave a light on while you are out. Use a different light each time you are not home.
7. Leave the porch light on.
8. Know your neighbors and make sure they know you.

If You're An Apartment Dweller:

1. Know where you can get help in a hurry.
2. Make sure all community areas such as hallways, entries/exits, and community rooms have good lighting.
3. Use the laundry room in the apartment building when other tenants are present.
4. Look in the elevator before getting in to be sure no one is hiding inside. Get off the elevator if someone suspicious enters.
5. If you are uncomfortable with another person waiting for the same elevator as you, do not get on the elevator...simply pretend you forgot something in your apartment.  Then wait for the next one.

Using Public Transportation:

1. Use well-lit bus stops.
2. Sit near the bus driver.
3. Sit in the aisle seat, so you do not get blocked in at the window.
4. Do not get off the bus with someone that makes you feel uncomfortable.

While Out In Your Car:

1. Never pick up hitch-hikers.
2. Keep your car doors locked at all times. Get in the habit of locking all doors upon entering and leaving your car.
3. Check the back seat before entering your car.

4. As you are approaching your car, look under the car to make sure no one is hiding underneath.

In The Event Of An Emergency:

1. Keep a list of all your medications including dosage information in your purse or wallet.
2. If you use a cell phone, 911 will route you to State Patrol in St. Paul.  Program your county or municipality's direct emergency number in your phone.  This can save critical time in a life threatening situation.

Also, get in touch with your county or municipality's law enforcement office for what non-emergency services they can provide for you.   For example, do they offer checks on your home while you are away on vacation or in the hospital?  Some counties/municipalities do.

You can also take self-defense classes through your local Community Education, Community/Senior Center, or through a martial arts studio.  You can also check with your local law enforcement agency and ask about classes.


6 Costs You Should Always Negotiate
by Jodi Helmer

Most consumers think haggling is only appropriate when buying tchotkes at a street fair or facing off against a used-car dealer. But why not negotiate the cost of medical procedures? Or a new Sub-Zero refrigerator? If you're not paying less than sticker price for these and other goods and services, you're leaving money -- and often lots of it -- on the table. "Everything is negotiable," says Stuart Diamond, adjunct professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and author of "Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World." "All you have to do is ask."

With that philosophy in mind, follow these tips to negotiate the best possible deal on 6 common fees and expenses:  Click Here To See Full Article


8 People You Trust With Your Credit Card, But Shouldn't
by Erica Sandberg

It's amazing how often we blindly hand over our credit cards and numbers to so many people and businesses. Why? We trust them! The problem is, however, that sometimes we'd be better off holding back and taking a more discretionary approach. Certain individuals and companies should be off limits. To keep safe, guard your credit, avoid giving the following folks unlimited access to your account.  

                                            Click Here To See Full Article


Credit Card Had A 79.9% APR From First Premier Bank
by Blake Ellis

Toni Riss had a credit card with a 79.9% interest rate.

The 58-year-old woman from Texas thought she struck gold when she found the First Premier card, which is aimed specifically at consumers with poor credit.

"I had an accident on a motorcycle, went through bankruptcy to pay for medical expenses and my credit went to hell in a hand basket, so I was looking for credit cards for people with bad credit" Riss said.

They granted her a card with a $300 limit -- typical for new customers -- and a starting rate of 29.9%, which Riss said she considered decent given her credit score.

But about six months after opening the card -- at the end of 2009 -- she received an
unwelcome surprise in the mail.

                                          Click Here To See Full Article


How To Make Multigenerational Living Work
by Phillip Moeller

Putting three generations under one roof--the most common multigenerational living arrangement--has become a growth industry of the recession and an aging society. Even as the economy slowly recovers, experts expect that more seniors will find themselves in such expanded families. The mortgage crisis and collapse of home values may retard new home formations for years. Rising numbers of older Americans will require caregivers, and will either be unable to afford private care or unable to find professionals who provide it.

Before World War II, about 25 percent of Americans were in multigenerational households. After the war, rising affluence and a mobile society led to a steady decline. "In 2008, an estimated 49 million Americans, or 16 percent of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation," the Pew Research Center reported in a study last year. "In 1980, this figure was just 28 million, or 12 percent of the population." In 2008 alone, 2.6 million Americans became part of multigenerational households.

                                            Click Here To See Full Article


Online Dating Is Not Just For Kids, Seniors Say
by Kristina Cook

Jo Ann Montrose-Eichelberger, 55, never thought she would meet her second husband on an online dating site -- especially not one for seniors.

The stewardess who lives in California said she signed up "as a joke" in March 2009. She had been divorced for about 18 years and was content being single, but an ad for the site sparked her curiosity.

At first she felt uncomfortable about even putting up her photograph.

"It felt like I was marketing myself. It was all new to me. At the time, I hadn't even gone on Facebook," she said.

The number of seniors -- classified as anyone over 55 -- using the targeted dating site is growing, according to SeniorPeopleMeet.com, which says they attract 1,000 new members a day.

                                          Click Here To See Full Article



Telephone Equipment Distribution Program (TED)

This program provides assistive telephone
equipment at NO CHARGE to individuals who
have difficulty using a regular telephone due to a hearing loss, speech, or physical disability. 
Click Here For More Information.



New FHA Reverse Mortgage Program Gives
More Flexibility To Senior Homestead

Traditionally Reverse Mortgages have given Seniors age 62 and older the ability to convert a portion of their home's equity into tax-free funds.  The amount of funds they can qualify for is based on their age, the property's value, and current interest rates.

Recent changes in the FHA Reverse Mortgage Program have enabled Senior homebuyers age 62 and older to purchase a new primary residence and obtain a reverse mortgage in simultaneous transactions with no monthly mortgage payments.  It works by allowing the Senior to combine reverse mortgages with a down payment from their current home sale or other assets to purchase a new home.  It now gives the Senior an opportunity to purchase a new primary residence without taking on new mortgage payments.  They may want to downsize or "right size" for their particular needs -- single level living, move to a Senior Community, or move closer to family and friends.

Example of how the program works:

A woman, 74 years old, wants to move closer to her children.  She sells her older home for $200,000.  With the reverse mortgage for purchase, she was able to buy a $300,000 single level condo by putting $123,000 down and the reverse mortgage for purchase provided the additional funds she needed.

She was able to move to a place more suitable for her needs and closer to her children.  She will never make a mortgage payment and she also has $77,000 in cash left from the sale of her previous home to help her financially in the future. 

Contact a Reverse Mortgage Specialist or FHA for more information regarding stipulations and requirements for the program.

         Click Here To Find a Reverse Mortgage Specialist Near You


Extension & Expansion of Home Buyer Tax Credit
submitted by Mark Vedder, Tomorrow's Real Estate, Inc. - 651-433-2937

The latest tax credit that's been mentioned in the news as of late is the Home Buyer's Tax Credit which has now been extended into the Spring of 2010. 

Below are links to the guidelines and questions and answers to the latest tax credit extension that Congress has enacted.  It will allow not only first time buyers, but move up buyers to get a credit to buy homes that seniors may want to sell.

This credit can also be available to seniors who have lived in their home for at least 5 consecutive years of the past 8. This may make them eligible for a new $6,500 credit for them if they sell and buy a downsized home or townhome.

FAQ:  Home Buyer Tax Credit Changes

Home Buyer Tax Credit Changes



High Medical Bills? Don’t Fret, They ARE Negotiable!
by Brenda Darr, Minnesota Seniors Online Staff Member

So you had to go to the hospital for emergency surgery and you had no health insurance.

You just got the bill and the sticker shock got the best of you. Now you’re worried about losing everything you’ve ever worked for, your savings, your home, your possessions…well, in this economy, that’s a very valid worry. Everyone is struggling to make ends meet.

Stop! There is good news! Like everything else in this world, medical bills are negotiable!

You can negotiate the fees that the hospital, doctors, labs, radiology, etc. charge. They typically charge full price but in Minnesota there are laws in place where you can negotiate for the same fee that the insurance companies pay them. You have to be proactive and call the appropriate billing departments and negotiate the fees and work out a payment plan that works for you.

Also, many times there are billing errors. Review all of your bills when you receive them. One time, my then boyfriend had an accident and had to go to the emergency room to get his finger stitched up. They brought out a tray with all the necessary tools, but the doctor bumped it, and it all dropped on the floor. They had to bring out another one. When he got the bill, they charged him for both trays. I saw that on the bill and told him to call them to have one of the charges removed since he technically did not receive the items on that tray because it fell on the floor. (Once the tray fell on the floor these items were no longer sterile and could not be used.)  He called the billing department and told them about the dropped tray and they removed the charge for one of them. It was a $150 savings!

Medical providers will negotiate with you. They know that it’s in their best interest to do so. They would rather get something, than nothing at all.

If you find negotiating the bills yourself to be too much for you or you don’t feel you can negotiate a better deal, you can utilize the services of a Medical Bill Negotiator. What they do is they will negotiate your bills for you. How they get paid is a percentage of the savings they get for you.

For example, you have a $1000 hospital bill.  They negotiate it down to $700. They saved you $300. Their percentage is 35% of $300, which makes their fee $105. So in the grand scheme of things, you only owe $805 on a $1000 hospital bill. You saved $195!

Related Articles:
More About Negotiating Your Medical Bills
Other Tips For Coping With Your Medical Bills


Medicare Chief Says Health Law Working

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama's chief of health programs for the elderly and poor on Thursday said the year-old U.S. healthcare overhaul was helping millions of Americans and called a push by congressional Republicans to repeal the law unfortunate.

Medicare and Medicaid services administrator Donald Berwick, appearing before a congressional panel, defended the embattled healthcare overhaul, saying it was helping keep Medicare premiums and cost-sharing lower and it was helping shore up finances of the health program for the elderly. 

                                      Click Here To See Full Article


Age Is Just A Number -
A Humorous Look At Ways To Stay Young
By Brenda Darr, Minnesota Seniors Online Staff Member

I am newly divorced after being married for a little over 16 years. At age 44, this is a serious life change for me. Through this loss, I’ve felt all the emotions -- everything from grief to happiness, guilt to sadness, helplessness to depression.

I’ve looked in the mirror as I’ve gone through each of these stages. I can’t believe how my looks have changed with each stage I’ve gone through. I’ve gotten grayer, I have dark circles under my eyes, my eyes are darker, and I feel more achy and "old." Usually my 15 year old daughter is the first one to tell me about the gray hairs (gotta love their honesty!) but not this time. She’s been instrumental with helping me through all of this. She’s been right there to fill me with positive thoughts and let me know that I have something to offer. I couldn't ask for a better cheerleader!

I know I’m not the only one going through life changes. They happen to everyone at different times in their life. In my healing process, I’ve employed some tips that I’d like to share with you. These tips can actually help you FEEL young!

I’ve written these in a manner that’s firm, yet humorous. I’ve actually posted them on my wall. With the pain and depression of my current life changes, I’ve had to be firm with myself. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves the kick in the butt that we need to get on with our life. Try any of these tips and trust me, you’ll feel different…even younger!

1. Who cares how old you are, how much you weigh, or how tall or short you are? Medical professionals are the only ones who really care about those kinds of numbers anyway…let them deal with them.

2. Surround yourself with positive people. Negativity breeds negativity. Who wants negative people around anyway?

3. Try to learn something new every day. Pick a subject and find out more about it. Take a class, read a book, find online articles about it, etc.

4. Take a time out to smell the roses. You know, they smell pretty darn sweet!

5. Laugh hard and smile every chance you get. This gives your facial muscles some really positive exercise and you’ll have 6 pack abs before you know it!

6. Tears are a part of life. Shed them, mourn the loss, but don’t forget to pick yourself back up! Life is too short to spend wallowing in misery.

7. Surround yourself with what and who you love. Your spouse/partner, kids, grandkids, friends, pets, a good book, your favorite dish, plants, your favorite hobby, etc. Your home is your domain…enjoy it!

8. Pay attention to and maintain your health. Take care of yourself. Eat right, see your doctor as needed.

9. Let the guilt go. We all make mistakes in our lives. All we can do is dust ourselves off and move forward. Guilt trips aren’t any fun. Plan a trip to Florida or Hawaii instead.

10. Always tell your loved ones that you love them. Tell them every day. Cherish them. Give thanks for being blessed to have them in your life.


Diet Tips for Healthy Senior Living -- What You Eat Controls It All!
by Catherine Spencer, Yahoo! Contributor Network

Seniors need to make an effort to eat nutritiously every day. Eating a healthy senior diet will help you feel your best. What you eat controls it all! Here are some tips for eating a healthy senior diet:  Click Here For Full Article


Health Care Overhaul
Important Medicare Changes Are Here
By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post
January 1, 2011

  • New rules take effect today on premiums, "doughnut hole."

The new year will bring important changes to U.S. health-insurance rules, as new provisions related to last year's massive health-care overhaul take effect.

The new rules are designed to help those caught in Medicare's "doughnut hole," offer seniors more preventative care, and limit how much of their customers' money health-insurance companies can keep for overhead and profit.  They all go into effect on Saturday.

These provisions were not affected by a Dec. 13 federal court ruling in Virginia that declared another piece of the new health-care law - the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance - unconstitutional.  The judge allowed implementation of the overhaul to continue until a higher court rules on the issue.

The new rules include:  Click Here To Read Full Article


Health Care Reform: Considerations For Seniors
submitted by:  William Lehnertz, TLC Financial, 952-948-1105

Enactment of the new health-care reform legislation contains some provisions that directly affect our nation’s older population.  If you are a senior, you may be concerned about how these reforms may affect your access to health care and the benefits you are currently receiving.

Medicare spending cuts

Not surprisingly, the concerns of retirees and seniors generally center on potential cuts in Medicare benefits.  At the outset, the new legislation does not affect Medicare's guaranteed benefits.  However, a goal of the new health-care legislation is to slow the increasing cost of Medicare premiums paid by beneficiaries, and to ensure that Medicare will not run out of funds. To help achieve these goals, cuts in Medicare spending will occur over a ten-year period, beginning in 2011, particularly targeting Medicare Advantage programs––Medicare programs provided through private insurers but subsidized by the federal government.  These cuts could reduce or eliminate some of the extra benefits Medicare Advantage plans may offer, such as dental or vision care, and some insurers may choose to increase premiums. But Medicare Advantage plans cannot reduce primary Medicare benefits, nor can they impose deductibles and co-payments that are greater than what is allowed under the traditional Medicare program for comparable benefits. And, some of the federal funds previously earmarked for Medicare will be reallocated to doctors and surgeons as an incentive to treat Medicare patients.

Medicare Part D drug program changes

Some Medicare Part D beneficiaries are surprised to find that they have to pay for the entire cost of prescription drugs out-of-pocket after reaching a gap in their annual coverage, referred to as the "donut hole."  Currently, if you're a Medicare Part D beneficiary, you may pay up to an additional $3,610, out-of-pocket, for medicines after reaching an initial threshold of $2,830 in total prescription drug costs (including Part D payments  beneficiary co-pays, and deductibles.)  But, beginning in 2010, beneficiaries who fall in the donut hole will receive a $250 rebate, and, in 2011, they will receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs.  By 2020, a combination of federal subsidies and a reduction in co-payments will completely eliminate the donut hole.  However, individuals with annual incomes greater than $85,000, and couples with incomes exceeding $170,000, will see their Part D premiums increase as the federal subsidy offsetting some of the cost of Medicare Part D premiums is reduced.

Benefits added to Medicare

The legislation also improves some traditional Medicare benefits. For example, Medicare beneficiaries will receive free wellness and preventive care beginning in 2011.

Increased access to home-based care

Often, people with disabilities or illnesses would rather receive care at home instead of at a hospital or nursing home.  The new health-care reform law provides for programs and incentives for greater access to in-home care. The Community Living Assistance Services and Support program (CLASS) will be established sometime after 2011 (depending on when final regulations are published) as a voluntary insurance program, financed through payroll deductions and available to all working adults who choose to participate.  This national program allows participants with functional limitations to maintain their personal and financial independence and live in the community by providing a cash benefit of at least $50 per day (after a five-year vesting period) for nonmedical services, such as home-care services, family caregiver support, and adult day-care or residential-care services.  In order to qualify, a participant must need help with at least two activities of daily living, such as eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing, or continence.

Also in 2011, the Community First Choice Option will be available to states to add to their Medicaid programs.  This option will provide benefits to Medicaid-eligible individuals for community-based care instead of placement in a nursing home.  In addition, the State Balancing Incentive Program, to be established in 2011, will provide increased federal funds to qualifying states that offer Medicaid benefits to disabled individuals seeking long-term care services at home, or in the community, instead of in a nursing home.  The Independence at Home demonstration program, available in 2012, will be a test program that provides Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions the opportunity to receive primary care services at home.  That is intended to reduce costs associated with emergency room visits and hospital readmissions, and generally improve the efficiency of care.


Ideas To Cut Health Care Costs In This Economy
submitted by Peggy Davies, Mid-America Events & Expos, 612-798-7256

What's the best way to cut your healthcare costs in these scary economic times?  Don't Get Sick!

If you think a trip to the grocery store takes a big chunk out of the family budget, consider the costs of getting sick.  From co-pays that cost more than a tank of gas to deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses that can exceed a mortgage payment, even getting the flu can be expensive.  Health care costs in an already troubled economy are providing many Minnesotans with more incentive than ever to find new ways to take better care of themselves.

Each year, thousands of Minnesotans attend the original Body Mind Life Expo at the Minneapolis Convention Center for ideas about staying healthy.  This year, most will be looking for ways to do so on a budget.

As the largest health and natural products consumer event in the Midwest, this expo is the ideal place to find experts who can provide mainstream and holistic advice on nutrition, physical fitness, disease prevention, as well as emotional and spiritual well-being.  This year's expo, to be held February 27 & 28, 2010, is expected to attract even more people eager to learn tips that will help them avoid spending time in a doctor's office.

Prevention is the modern mantra.  The gloomy economy has not dimmed nutritional supplement sales.  The changing lifestyle and growing senior population is making space for the nutritional supplement industry to grow.  Americans spend more money than any other country on nutritional supplements, and are credited with having the greatest health awareness.  According to Natural Products Insider, specific demand for functional foods and beverages benefitting digestive and immune health, as well as cardiovascular health, is on an upswing.

People also are looking for new ways to cope with the stress in their lives.  Renowned spiritual teacher and author, Leonard Jacobson will present two free seminars at the expo to help people learn how to live in the present and achieve a deeper level of peace.

Over the years, the Body Mind Life Expo has become a trusted clearinghouse for health-related information.  Those watching their pennies appreciate the fact that admission always includes free back-to-back seminars on everything from proper exercise techniques, weight management, anti-aging tips, to the latest use of therapeutic essential oils and other fact-based ideas for taking control of your health.

People also spend quality time exploring local resources including holistic services, environmentally-friendly products, stress-free vacation ideas, workshops and classes, counseling and motivational centers, clinics, acupuncture/bodywork services, and more.

Benefitting underserved women and their families touched by breast cancer.  Mid-America Events & Expos, producers of the Body Mind Life Expo, is donating 50% of all ticket sales from its 2010 expos to Hope Chest For Breast Cancer, who will be given a booth at each show.

Visit www.101expos.com for more information or call 612-798-7256.  Admission is $3 with the half price coupon on the website and FREE to kids 17 and under when accompanied by an adult.   


New Laws To Protect Consumers

The Minnesota Department of Health passed several laws which you should be aware of as you shop for a hearing aid:

State law requires hearing-aid sellers to offer consumers a 45 day written money-back guarantee.  The guarantee permits the buyer to cancel the purchase for any reason during the 45 day period.  Sellers may keep a $250.00 cancellation fee.  If the aid needs to be repaired, remade, or adjusted during the 45 day period, the running of the guarantee period is suspended by one day for each 24 hour period that the hearing aid is not in the buyer's possession.

Hearing aid sellers need a state issued certification and pass an examination in order to conduct business in Minnesota.  A seller may be a hearing-aid dealer, a hearing instrument dispenser, an audiologist, a medical doctor or a person using other names or titles.  Sellers are required to place their certification number on all contracts, bills of sale, and receipts used in the sale of hearing aids.

State law prohibits sellers from obtaining money, property, or services from consumers through the use of undue influence, high pressure sales tactics, harassment, duress, and fraud.

State law prohibits sellers from presenting false or misleading advertising.

Federal law requires sellers to provide prospective hearing-aid buyers with a brochure describing the use of the aid that is being considered for purchase.  The brochure must contain a statement advising prospective hearing aid users to consult promptly with a licensed physician (preferably an ear specialist) before purchasing an aid.

Federal law requires sellers to provide a medical waiver form to adults who decide not to have a medical evaluation of their hearing before purchasing a hearing-aid.  Hearing-aid dispensers are required to advise consumers that signing such a waiver is not in the buyer's best health interest and that its use is strongly discouraged.

THE BBB ALSO PROVIDES A PAMPHLET ON HEARING AIDS THAT CAN BE MAILED OUT TO YOU AT YOUR REQUEST.  If you're in the Twin Cities and would like a pamphlet sent to you, call 651-699-1111.  If you're in outstate Minnesota, call 1-800-646-6222.


Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bill Reintroduced In Congress

The tax credit has been reintroduced in the House and will shortly be reintroduced in the Senate. With healthcare reform on the horizon, there has been no better time to make your voice heard in support of these bills. Please help us make the hearing aid tax credit a reality once and for all!

The legislation would provide a tax credit up to $1000 for two hearing aids for dependents and adults 55+; the Senate is considering a bill which would cover all age groups. One in four households in America has at least one person with a hearing loss and 2/3 cannot afford hearing healthcare.

Make your voice heard again at www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org to help make hearing aids more affordable for you, your family, and your friends. Communicate with your Representative and Senators with the click of a mouse; it only takes 3-4 minutes to send your letter to Washington.