Category Archives: Retirement

Baby Boomers Remodeling to Age in Place Will be the Trend: Harvard Study

With a national housing recovery under way, a distinct trend has emerged among baby

boomers in the wake of the housing crisis: remodeling to age in place. The finding is

according to a new report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard

University.

“As baby boomers move into retirement, they are increasing demand for aging-in-place

retrofits,” says Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint

Center. “A decade ago, homeowners over 55 accounted for less than one third of all

home improvement spending. By 2011, this share had already grown to over 45

percent. And generations behind the baby boomers will help fuel future spending growth

since echo boomers are projected to outnumber baby boomers by more than twelve

million as they begin to enter their peak remodeling years over the next decade.”

Further bolstering remodeling potential is the buildup of distressed properties that will

come back to the market as home values climb back toward their pre-crisis levels.

“With about three million more foreclosures and short sales in the pipeline, there is

even more such spending ahead of us,” says Eric S. Belsky, managing director of the

Joint Center.

The implications are “immense,” the Joint Center for Housing Studies notes, with the

trend by older homeowners toward remodeling being followed only by the next

population surge in the echo boom generation.

HomeFree Home Modification can assist you with your desire to “age in place” at home. By offering a FREE home assessment, we can help you determine the things that need to be done to your home that will allow you to have more safety & independence. You can reach us at 770-939-0747, or info@homefreemods.com .

 

10 Things You Should Know About Medicare Insurance

A Guide to Out of Pocket Medical Costs

Did you know that about 51 million Americans are covered under Medicare today? That number is set to explode, however, as the baby boomers turn 65. By 2020, another 13 million will have signed up. If you’re one of them (or even if you already have Medicare), here’s what you need to know about Medicare insurance.

  1. There are four parts to Medicare Insurance (Parts A-D).
  • Part A covers inpatient hospitalization, hospice care, blood products, and short-term care in a skilled nursing facility, and some home health services.
  • Part B covers all outpatient services, such as doctor visits, ambulatory surgery, durable medical equipment, and home health services.
  • Part C, or Medicare Advantage, is the managed care form of Medicare run by private insurance companies. It covers the same services as Parts A and B, except for hospice care and participation in certain clinical research studies.
  • Part D covers prescription drugs.
  1. “Original” Medicare is one type of Medicare Insurance coverage.

Under original Medicare, you can see any provider who accepts Medicare. You pay premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance or co-payments for most services. If you want drug coverage, you have to purchase a plan separately. There is no limit on your annual out-of-pocket costs.

  1. Medicare Advantage is the other type of Medicare Insurance coverage.

Medicare Advantage is run by private insurance companies and includes all benefits covered under Parts A and B. These plans may have limited provider networks and may require specialist referrals. They may also have premiums, deductibles, and co-payments or coinsurance, although annual out-of-pocket costs are capped. Most plans cover prescription drugs and benefits not covered by Medicare, such as vision, dental, and hearing services.

  1. You have deadlines to meet.

You’re automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B when you turn 65 if you’re getting Social Security and paid Medicare payroll taxes while employed. If you’re not getting Social Security, you have to sign up for Medicare. To avoid paying a penalty, sign up during the seven-month period that begins three months before you turn 65. You can enroll between January 1 and March 31 each year, with coverage beginning July 1.

  1. Your monthly premiums depend on your income.

Most people don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A (sometimes called “premium-free Part A”). If you buy Part A, you’ll pay up to $413 each month. If you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $413. If you paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters, the standard Part A premium is $227.

The standard Part B premium amount is $134 (or higher depending on your income). However, most people who get Social Security benefits will pay less than this amount ($109 on average).

The Part C monthly premium varies by plan. Compare costs for specific Part C plans.

The Part D monthly premium varies by plan (higher-income consumers may pay more). Compare costs for specific Part D plans.

  1. Some Medicare Advantage plans are better than others.

Medicare Advantage plans are evaluated based on criteria such as customer satisfaction and quality of care. Plans receive between one and five stars, depending on their scores. Five-star plans have the highest scores, and you can switch into a five-star plan most of the year—not just during open enrollment. Learn how the plans in your area rank here .

  1. You will probably need Medigap insurance.

You can rack up some hefty out-of-pocket costs with the deductibles and co-payments required under original Medicare. For instance, a 10-day hospital stay could cost you more than $12,000. A supplemental insurance policy, called Medigap, helps pay for the unpaid balance of Medicare charges. These secondary insurance policies only reimburses for charges that Medicare (the primary coverage) approved, including deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance. However, you can’t use a Medigap plan to pay for Medicare Advantage plan costs.

  1. You should check to see whether your drugs are covered.

All prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans have drug formularies, which list the medications they cover. The drugs are sorted into tiers based on their cost and effectiveness. The higher the tier, the higher your co-payment. To learn whether your medication is covered—and how much it will cost—contact your prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage company. Many plans post their formularies online.

  1.  You have protections and rights under Medicare Insurance.

These include the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, to be protected from discrimination, and to have your personal and health information kept private. You can also get emergency care when and where you need it, appeal payment or coverage decisions, and file complaints if you’re unhappy with the care you receive.

  1. Medicare Insurance doesn’t cover long-term care.

70% of us will need long-term care at some point. This includes help with daily activities, like bathing and cooking, as well as some medical care. Neither Medicare nor most health insurance plans, including Medigap, cover this type of care. If you’re worried about costs, check into long-term care insurance. Most people who can’t afford long-term care eventually qualify for Medicaid, government health insurance for the poor.

Although we are not experts on Medicare, we are experts on home modification, allowing you to remain in your home with more independence and safety. Please call us at 770-939-0747, or email at info@homefreemods.com to receive a FREE in home assessment. We will respond within 24 hours.

 

 

Baby Boomers Lead by Example in Knowing What’s Important

Steve Charnes works out at a senior center in Columbia, S.C., in 2014. Experts say that baby boomers want to stay in their own homes as long as possible. A way to do that is with the “village concept,” which is catching on in South Carolina. Virtual villages are member-run associations set up to help members with transportation, home repairs, and social connections. (Bruce Smith/AP).

What is in the hearts and souls of baby boomers in 2017?

Many boomers are looking for the path forward; it’s a generation with a rich history; most of them today are looking for health and happiness — in the here and now.

There are three things at play for those born between 1946 and 1964:

  1. The way we were
  2. The events of our time
  3. The vision, mission, goals, and objectives of our future

As part of their fund raising efforts, PBS recently aired a documentary on The Mamas and the Papas. The music was rich, the songs still wonderful, and the memories of the times were pronounced.

Baby boomers viewing this documentary must have felt as if they had been temporarily transported back to a different time.

The schedule of daily life as a typical baby boomer today may begin with getting up early to exercise, followed by calling one’s elderly mother to see how she is doing. This is just part of the care giving mode of operation for many boomers today.

Yet, something is missing from this snapshot of modern day life for baby boomers; where the main focus is on the present with an occasional glance back to the past.

What is missing are the hopes and dreams of baby boomers’ ever elusive bucket list.

Once upon a time, boomers got up, went to work, and thought to themselves, “When I retire or work less, or maybe even after a second career, I will be outlining all the places I want to go. I will then travel and see the world.”

You realized that maybe it won’t be in a Chevrolet, as the advertising slogan once recited, but you thought that you’d find a way to see all the places that were in your dreams.

However, a new culprit in the lineup for baby boomers seems to be interfering with the fulfillment of these dreams, it’s . . . being overwhelmed.

The inability to relax and the continued measures of responsibility are making life less about “Trivago,” and more about “A Place for Mom.”

Of course, baby boomers are not defined by one size fit all.

As an example, there is the woman from Ohio — who is not just the typical grandmother — she is actually raising her 3 year old granddaughter as if she were the mother.

And then there is the molecular biologist from California who is no longer doing ground breaking research or trying to plan out a dream trip to Patagonia, because she is now caregiver in chief.

This brilliant scientist is a wonderful researcher, and her hiking passion remains fierce, but her love for her elderly mother makes this boomer’s life about one key priority: the well-being of her mother, the woman who is responsible for making this baby boomer the woman she is today.

As baby boomer couples look at the map of life (or perhaps more accurately, life with GPS), they wonder, “Will I be able to go on that special fall trip this year?” “Will we be able to stay in our home?” These questions do not result from financial difficulty, but from the need to move in with and take care of that elderly parent.

Many between the ages of 53 and 71 are in the battle for the heart and soul of their generation. It is a battle for the way they want to live versus what they simply feel they need to do.

Baby boomers dispel rumors that they are selfish. In fact, many baby boomers are more accurately defined as selfless.

Baby boomers clearly show that they don’t run away from responsibility.

They are focused on the need to do the right thing for elderly parents, for their children, for their grandchildren — and for all of their loved ones.

Somehow baby boomers will find the fabric of their generation.

Once upon a time, it was about the Mama’s and the Papa’s “California Dreaming.”

These days, “Monday, Monday” is in play. Whether it is the song, or simply getting up every Monday for the greater good.

As baby boomers read this column, they know that whatever issue they are facing; whatever responsibility they are involved with — they are not alone.

Baby boomers have heart and a soul. And they fully know what’s important in life!

By Rick Bava ,Thursday, 06 Apr 2017. Bava founded and was CEO of the Bava Group, which became the premier communications consulting firm serving the Fortune 500 community. Bava became known for his popular blog columns “Rick Bava on the Baby Boomer Generation.” He is the author of “In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation.”

HomeFree Home Modification has been helping “baby boomers” to remain at home with more safety and independence since 2010. We will come out to your home and provide a FREE home assessment to determine how to tailor your home with modifications to suit your specific needs. Please call us at 770-939-0747, or email at info@homefreemods.com .

 

Tips for Retiring

It’s not recommended to rely solely on social security benefits in retirement, but it can be done.

Social Security was designed to supplement only pensions and retirement savings. But for many, that’s no longer the case. Among beneficiaries 65 and older, 1 out of 5 married couples — and 2 out of 5 singles — receive at least 90 percent of their income from the program, according to the Social Security Administration.

Living mostly on Social Security alone can be difficult. But here are tips for those near or in retirement who may find themselves in that situation.

Delay Social Security

Of course, if you’re ailing and not likely to live many years in retirement, you’re better off taking Social Security benefits early. But if you’re healthy and have other resources to live off, it pays to wait. Your monthly payment will be 76 percent higher if you wait to start benefits at 70 rather than 62, the earliest possible age.

More on Social Security

By staying in your job longer or finding part-time work in retirement, you can earn a paycheck that can help you postpone drawing on Social Security benefits early.

Do a Social Security do-over

What if you took Social Security early and now regret it? It may not be too late.

If you only recently filed for Social Security, you have up to 12 months to withdraw your application for a do-over. You must repay — without interest — all the benefits you received up to that point. But from then on, your benefit can grow until you’re ready to file again.

If the 12-month deadline has passed, you have another chance to boost your benefit. Once you reach your full retirement age — currently 66 — you can suspend your monthly payments without having to repay the money you already received. Thereafter, each year your payments are in suspension — until 70 — you will earn extra retirement credits that will enlarge your benefit by up to 8 percent annually.

Maximize Social Security survivor benefits

When planning with your spouse about when to take Social Security, don’t overlook survivor benefits. Once one of you dies, your two monthly Social Security checks will go down to one — and the survivor will receive whichever amount is larger. One common strategy is for the higher earner to delay taking Social Security as long as possible to maximize the benefit for the survivor. To explore your options for making the most out of benefits, set up an appointment at your local Social Security office.

Eliminate debt

If you are going to live mostly on Social Security, getting rid of high-interest-rate consumer debt, such as with credit cards, is something you should do before quitting your job. (For those already retired with credit card debt, at least make sure you’re not adding to it.)

Ideally, your mortgage also will be paid off before you quit working.

“Mortgages are often the biggest payment that people make on a monthly basis,” says Steven Thalheimer, a principal at Thalheimer Financial Planning in Silver Spring, Md. “If you don’t have one, you have greater flexibility with your cash flow should something unexpected crop up.” That said, if you still carry a mortgage but it’s manageable on your retirement income, don’t deplete what modest savings you have to pay off the house, says Robert Schmansky, founder of Clear Financial Advisors in Livonia, MI.

Move to a less expensive locale

Downsizing to a smaller place can lower your expenses, but it may not be a significant savings if you still reside in an area with a high cost of living. Consider moving to a place where you can live on much less without any impact on your standard of living. “Especially if you can move to an area that’s warmer so you can save on heating costs,” Thalheimer says. After all, experts say, it costs more to heat a home than to cool it.

Bankrate, a financial website, offers an online tool to compare living expenses from one place to another. For example, if your income is $50,000 a year in Boston, you would need only $30,942 — or 38 percent less — to achieve the same standard of living in Augusta, Ga.

Schmansky says a client of his wanted to move from Detroit to Florida for the warmer weather. Despite Florida not having an income tax, the client discovered that the overall cost of living in Florida — including utilities and property taxes — was too high for him. Instead, he settled in less expensive Knoxville, Tenn., where the weather is still milder than in the upper Midwest.

Don’t forget taxes

As you plot your move, make sure taxes are included in your equation. Fortunately, most states — and the District of Columbia — don’t tax Social Security benefits. Some are even tax friendlier. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington state and Wyoming don’t tax any income at all. And on top of not taxing Social Security benefits, Oregon and Delaware have no sales tax.

Buddy up

Get a roommate or housemate. This is a common way for retirees to slash living expenses, financial planners say. “Keep in mind the way you lived when you were in college,” Thalheimer says. “What did you do? You shared living quarters.” Having a roommate also prevents isolation that can harm a retiree’s health and well-being, Schmansky says. “Just having that other human contact is absolutely important,” he says.

Take advantage of benefit programs

Those with modest means may qualify for state or federal programs to help make ends meet. For example, Extra Help is designed to assist Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources to pay for prescription drugs. This assistance is estimated to be worth $4,000 a year for those enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program. Find out more information on Extra Help, as well as other state and federal programs, at BenefitsCheckUp, a free service of the National Council on Aging.

Utilize freebies

Libraries, parks and local museums offer a variety of free entertainment. Many continuing living communities, which provide housing for different stages of life, often open their programs and activities to the public, too, says Joan Cox, a financial planner with Personal Financial Advisors in Covington, La.

And if you’re fortunate enough to live in or near a university town, check the school for free lectures and other cultural programs, Cox says.

Additionally, most U.S. colleges and universities allow older students to attend classes for free or at a significantly reduced rate. No college near you? You can still take online courses at top universities offered through portals such as edX and Coursera.

Lastly, ask tech-savvy children or grandchildren to be your “tech consultants” and set up free phone or communication service for you, such as Google Voice, Schmansky says.

Although we are not experts on stretching your Social Security Benefits, we are on home modification, allowing you to remain at home with more independence and safety. Please call us at 770-939-0747, or email at info@homefreemods.com We will respond within 24 hours.

 

Baby Boomers are Choosing to Stay in Their Home as They Retire and Age

Ten Major Reasons to Plan Ahead

Retirement for baby boomers is very different from other generations. Boomers are working later in life, starting second careers and even going back to school. The aging boomer is also doing more volunteering in their communities than ever before. Living well, living comfortably, and wanting to remain in their home and community are goals for many baby boomers.

Here are the ten major reasons that planning for aging home health care can allow you to be successful and in charge of your life for as long as possible:

Freedom
We boomers grew up coming and going as we please. We can be found exercising, surfing the web, and volunteering. Aging boomers are a generation of active individuals that will continue to be active seniors. Remaining at home as we age, will allow us to enjoy the freedom we have become accustomed. It also allows us to maintain our daily routine as our health permits, receive the care we want and in the manner in which we want it.

Safety
As boomers age, our expectations change of what we want and how we want it. Aging Boomers do not want to compromise health and safety. The demands of the baby boomer generation are being heard. A new industry of home modifications has evolved and will change as we age in place. The home environment not only needs to be modified to meet the changing boomers physical needs, but it must be appealing to the eye.

Being able to return home after an illness or sickness from the hospital will decrease risks from hospital acquired infections.

The number one independence robber for aging boomers is falls. A home assessment to address simple home modifications could be made to prevent falls in the future.

Healing
Boomers are better educated health care consumers than past generations. We are more inclined to take a holistic approach to aging. There is no better place to be than in our own home, in our own community and surrounded by friends and family. Being in familiar surroundings promotes wellness of the body, mind and spirit and can extend life. As we age, change increases confusion . Aging in place allows for consistency.

Control
Boomers expect options and choices and want to be an active participant in our own care. Planning ahead to age in place allows the boomers to be able to explore the options, make the choices best suited to our needs. Aging boomers want and expect an individualized plan of care. Aging in place promotes independence and the ability of the boomer to have control over our needs and care.

Personalized service
Aging in place allows one to one interaction with caregivers and providers. As we age and our needs change, aging boomers who age in place will have the ability to receive an individualized approach to specific needs.

Comfort
Boomers are all about being comfortable. Studies show the baby boomer generation wants to stay in their own home and never leave. Aging boomers want quality of life. Aging in place in your own home, surrounded by familiar things and the support of loved ones is the quality of life boomers want and expect.

Healthier, safer and happier life
As we live longer and remain active, boomers are enjoying and demanding a better quality of life. Demands of the baby boomer generation have led to the development of an entire industry to assist us to successfully age in place. Universal Design is changing how homes are built. Technology is making advancements to allow the aging boomer to stay at home. Home is where the heart is. Aging in place allows you to lead a healthier, happier life in a safe environment.

Community
Boomers are aging and active. We are involved in our communities. As boomers age we volunteer, act as mentors and are positive role models for future generations. Communities have a lot to gain having boomers age in place. Active aging boomers support the community by buying locally and contributing to community causes through financial support.

Advanced technology
Advanced technologies are developing new products to enhance the quality of life at home as we age in place. We can now utilize a Wii for exercise and entertainment. Hospitals are using the Wii for rehabilitation purposes. This can increase strength and endurance and flexibility. This activity can also promote balance to decrease chances of falls. Robot vacuums can replace our sweepers and allow the house to be swept without physical strain. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the products and services available to ensure safety and quality of life as baby boomers age in place.

Independence
Studies show that aging boomers fear moving into a nursing home and losing independence more than they fear death. Aging boomers are now dealing with their parents and aging. We are concerned about the emotional and physical well being of our loved ones and are now realizing the impact going into a nursing home has on the entire family.

Successfully aging in place can be accomplished with advanced planning It is time to start thinking about your future needs now.

We at HomeFree Home Modification are not experts on “retirement”, but we are on helping you to remain at home through home modification. Call us at 770-939-0747, or email us at info@homefreemods.com , and we will come out to your home and provide a NO COST home evaluation to determine what steps can be taken to create a safer environment and more independence for you.