Saturday, April 4, 2020

Join the Peace Corps - You Can Start Late in Life!

Many older American remember the Peace Corp as an activity which may have been popular with some of their friends after they graduated from college in the 1960s and 1970s.  What they may not realize is that people can actually join the Peace Corp at almost any age, including after they retire.  In fact, with a lifetime of experience behind you, you may have more to offer the Peace Corp than you realize.  This month our guest poster is someone who is sharing the experience he and his wife had when they joined the Peace Corp later in life.  Their book was just released and it is well worth reading.

David and Champa Jarmul (pictured above) served in Moldova, a small former Soviet state that is Europe’s poorest nation.  Enjoy reading about their experiences in their guest post, an excerpt from his book, below:

Life in the Peace Corp - The Story of One Couple

by David Jarmul

Hundreds of older Americans volunteer every year to serve overseas with the Peace Corps. David Jarmul and his wife, Champa, were among them.  Recently, the Peace Corps evacuated its volunteers worldwide because of the coronavirus, but expects to restore operations after the pandemic ends.
In a new book, Not Exactly Retired: A Life-Changing Journey on the Road and in the Peace Corps, (Ad) David describes how they traveled across the United States and Nepal and then served as Peace Corps Volunteers in the Republic of Moldova, a small former Soviet state that is the poorest nation in Europe.

In this adapted excerpt from the book. David describes the complicated process of disengaging from their conventional American lives to prepare for their big adventure. He says the transition would end up changing their lives — for the better.

Most of the volunteers in their Peace Corps group were younger than their own two sons.
When I first served as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1977 at the age of twenty-four, I completed the application, packed a suitcase and backpack, ate a farewell dinner with my family, and headed off for Nepal. This time, the process was a lot more complicated.

The application itself was straightforward, but the subsequent clearances took months. Champa and I submitted resumes with details about everywhere we’d ever lived and worked. We provided references. We went to a courthouse to be fingerprinted. Most important, even though we were in good shape for people our age, we spent months working our way through the medical process. We received thorough exams from our physicians and dentist, updated our vaccinations, and filled out more than 40 forms, some of them several pages long. I scanned and uploaded everything to the Peace Corps along with electronic copies of our dental X-rays, eyeglass prescriptions, and the like.

The medical office ended up approving us but restricting where we could serve. Only a few countries matched both our medical and job needs. Several of them were in Eastern Europe, where the Peace Corps had expanded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We ended up designating Macedonia and Moldova as our top choices, although we also said we were willing to serve anywhere. When the Peace Corps eventually sent us invitations to serve in Moldova, we said yes, even though we knew almost nothing about the country.

They lived with a Moldovan host family, including their beloved Bunica, or grandmother.
We did so only after speaking with both of our sons and daughters-in-law, making sure we had their support to leave for more than two years. Like many Americans in their thirties, they were all busy with their careers, small children, and other demands. Now their kids would be losing two of their grandparents for an extended period. Our younger son and his family lived near us in Durham, so they would feel the impact the most. No longer would Champa and I be cheering at soccer games, making dinners, or taking care of the boys when they were sick. Nor would we see our older son’s four daughters in Philadelphia.

Once in Moldova, we would talk with all of them online, but we knew that would be a poor substitute for giving them real hugs. Indeed, throughout our service, we kept telling ourselves we were doing something they might appreciate when they got older, but the truth was we missed them and talked about them every day. For both of us, it would be the hardest thing about being away.

Champa and I debated what to do with our home in Durham. We’d paid off our mortgage a year earlier after accelerating our monthly payments for several years. With our two sons gone, the house was now too big for us. I wanted to sell it and be done with it before we left. Champa wanted to keep it to return home to after our service even if we ended up selling it later. That’s what we ended up doing, hoping to earn some rental income and perhaps see the house appreciate in value while we were away.

Neither of us thought much about what turned out to be another benefit of keeping it, which was that we were able to store possessions in a small upstairs room and in the attic instead of having to rent an expensive storage facility. We also stayed in the house, which was temporarily empty until a new tenant moved in, when we came home for a vacation after our first year as volunteers. Best of all, we had a place waiting for us when we completed our service two years later.

Champa turned out to be right (hardly the first time).

During the weeks before our departure, we worked our way through a long “to do” list. I canceled our gym memberships, forwarded our mail, and arranged to shut off our electricity, gas, water, and cable service. I notified our bank and credit card companies about our travel plans and ordered an additional card from a company that offered free foreign ATM withdrawals. I added my sister to our checking account and notarized a form giving her our power of attorney. I reviewed our wills and made electronic copies of recent tax returns, so I would have them with me when I filed future returns from Moldova. I suspended our medical insurance, canceled the EZ-Pass for my car, and ended our subscription to Netflix. I scoured our credit card bills to make sure I wasn’t overlooking any other recurring charges. Since North Carolina was likely to be a battleground state in the 2016 election, we also made sure to order absentee ballots.

We hired a small Durham company to manage our home for two years. With their assistance, we hired painters and a handyman to spruce up the house before the first tenants moved in. Parents of a friend offered to take care of our dog, Bailey, for which we were grateful. We bought Champa her own laptop.

We used a Peace Corps discount to buy suitcases and a solar-powered flashlight. We bought shoes to walk on Moldova’s muddy roads, boots to survive its winters, and a winter coat for me, overlooking that we would first confront a hot Moldovan summer. I bought spare cables for our electronic gear, converter plugs to charge everything from Moldovan outlets, and a Kindle to load with books. Slowly but surely, we worked our way through the “suggested packing list” from the Peace Corps, wondering how we would fit everything into the two 50-pound suitcases and one carry-on bag we were each allowed to bring.

Simultaneously, we downsized and purged 36 years of possessions from our house. We donated most of our furniture to Habitat for Humanity, hundreds of books to the Durham library, and dozens of bags of clothing and household goods to local charities. I visited the local Goodwill donation center so often that I felt like asking for a personal parking space. We sold Champa’s aging Toyota Corolla to a friend and gave my newer Ford Fusion to my son and daughter-in-law, whose car was dying.

On our last night home, Champa and I slept on an inflatable mattress in our empty house, deflating it in the morning and placing it with our coffee cups and two plates in one of the few empty spaces remaining in the storage room. As we locked the door, we knew we were saying farewell to life as we’d known it, perhaps forever.

Book Cover (Ad)

About the author:

"Not Exactly Retired: A Life-Changing Journey on the Road and in the Peace Corps" is available as both a paperback and an e-book through the book website, (Ad) on Amazon, and elsewhere. Author David Jarmul is a writer, blogger and traveler who was previously the head of news and communications at Duke University.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credits:  Photos were provided by David Jarmul and are used with his permission


Photo 1: David and Champa served in Moldova, a small former Soviet state that is Europe’s poorest nation.

Photo 2: Most of the volunteers in their Peace Corps group were younger than their own two sons.

Photo 3: They lived with a Moldovan host family, including their beloved Bunica, or grandmother.

Photo 4: Book cover

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Why Scammers Use Gift Cards to Steal Your Money

We have all received a wide variety of scam phone calls, and most of them end with demands for immediate payment, often using what may seem to most of us as strange ways to send money. With so many of us spending our days at home right now, we are likely to receive even more of these calls.  If we are lonely and bored, we may even be tempted to engage in a conversation with the strangers who call our home.  This is a terribly bad idea!

Some of these callers will claim you owe money to the IRS, or you missed your jury duty and if you do not pay a fine, you will be arrested.  Other callers pretend to be your grandchild or another relative, crying hysterically that they are in a desperate situation and need you to send money for bail or some other need. They may even claim to have been kidnapped.

The call may come from a salesperson who offers to sell you a home coronavirus test kit or, even worse, a fake cure for the disease.

The request for money may seem polite or even humble, and come from someone you have met on a dating site or somewhere else on the internet, pleading that they have had an unexpected emergency and need to "borrow" some money until they get things straightened out. 

What all of these callers may have in common is they often suggest that the fastest way to send them money is for you to purchase a gift card at a local convenience store and read them the numbers from the back of the card.  They usually do not want you to mail them a personal check.  They want gift cards.

If you ever get a request from anyone asking for gift cards they can use to cover their bail or to pay a bill, hang up and report the phone number to the police.  No legitimate government agency, salesman, friend or relative will insist the only way you can pay a bill or help them financially is by reading them the numbers off the back of gift cards. 

You need to know that gift card numbers are the preferred method of payment for scammers, and too many senior citizens fall for these smooth talking criminals every day.

How Scammers use Gift Cards

What the scammers do with gift cards is actually quite ingenious.  They will ask you to go to a convenience store or a business such as Target or WalMart and purchase a large denomination gift card or two.  After you purchase the cards, they want you to call them back and read them the code numbers or PINs on the back of the cards.  They nearly always try to rush you to get this done, by threatening that you will be arrested, or something awful will happen to a loved one, if you do not meet a specific deadline.

Why gift cards?  Scammers ask for them because they are nearly as untraceable as cash and are easily transferred over the phone, which makes it very easy for them to cash, take the money, and disappear.

How Scammers "Launder" the Money on the Gift Card

Within minutes of giving the numbers to a scammer, they will pass the number to a "washer" who uses the gift card number to purchase other gift cards, with smaller denominations, in a store.  For example, if you have been told to purchase two $500 WalMart gift cards, and you read the numbers on the back to the scammers, they will pass the numbers to someone who will immediately use those numbers in a WalMart to purchase several gift cards for other stores, such as Best Buy, ranging in value from $50 to $250.  In less than an hour, your original gift cards have been used.  The "washer" gets to keep two to five percent of the value of the cards. 

Then, the codes for the new gift cards are resold online at a discount.  For example, there are sites where you can purchase a $100 Best Buy gift card for $90 or less.  By the time the scammers have destroyed the gift cards they purchased with the numbers you gave them, and resold those new gift card codes online, the money is completely untraceable.  There is almost no chance you will ever be able to get your money back.

The scammer may even skip the washer and specify that you purchase gift cards for iTunes, Google Play, Best Buy or other stores.  Then, as soon as you give them the numbers, they will immediately list them for sale at a discount.  The cards didn't cost them anything, so they do not mind selling them for far less than face value.  Before you know it, the scammer, the cards and your money are all gone.

How to Prevent This Type of Crime

The good news is that stores are starting to become aware of these types of crimes and they are questioning people who come into their stores and purchase large denomination gift cards.  Some stores will no longer let people use gift card codes to purchase other gift cards.  Businesses and police departments are working together to reduce these crimes, but they need the public to stop making things easy for the scammers.

Consumers can help prevent these crimes in several ways:

First, educate yourself about these scams and how they work.  You need to know that gift cards cannot legally be used to pay for bail, taxes or court fees.  There is no reason you should ever need to rush to a store to get gift cards, especially if you have been financially threatened by a stranger on the phone, or because you believe you are "rescuing" someone.

You may want to learn more about this and other scams by reading the AARP book, "Outsmarting the Scam Artists: How to Protect Yourself from the Most Clever Cons."

Second, think twice about purchasing discount gift cards on the internet.  While many of them are being sold by legitimate people who have been given gift cards they really do not want, when you purchase cards from these sites you could also be inadvertently helping someone who is in the process of committing a crime.

This is unlikely to be the last way scammers will try to get money from you.  When gift cards stop working as a payment method for their scams, they will try other things.  Scammers used to ask people to wire money into foreign bank accounts, but when banks began to train their tellers to question their customers who were making a large transfer to a foreign bank account, we began to see less of this.  That is when the gift card scams became more popular.

Whenever a stranger calls, be skeptical and do not hesitate to hang up.  Legitimate government agencies will contact you by mail, if they need to. They will rarely call you and, when they do, they will never ask for immediate payment over the phone.  In particular, they will not ask you to pay them with gift cards.  If you are unsure if a grandchild or relative really needs your help, always try calling them or other family members directly to confirm what is going on.  Finally, if someone you meet online asks for money, regardless of how nice and polite they seem to be, ignore the request.  This is especially true of dating sites on which one person may be scamming multiple lonely people at the same time.  Keep reminding yourself that people who are asking you for money may be lying to you, and you should either turn them down or seek legal advice.

If you would like more helpful information for retirees on financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, common medical issues as we age, or where to retire, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Photo credit: flickr

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Social Distancing Tips for Retirees - How to Stay Safe

As the novel coronavirus Covid-19 continues to spread across our country and around the world, it is becoming more and more important for senior citizens and others to practice social distancing. Everyone is encouraged to stay at home and, when they must leave their house, to maintain a distance of six feet or more from anyone they encounter. This is especially important for senior citizens, since they may be more at risk of dying from the disease, especially if they have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or cancer.

To make the issue more complicated, seniors are normally encouraged to stay in touch with friends and family, both for their mental health and so someone always knows they are alive and well. This can be difficult to achieve when so many seniors live alone or with only a spouse, especially when they are intentionally trying to self-isolate or practice social distancing. How can you stay safe and isolated while, at the same time, trying to keep in touch with others?

What is Social Distancing?

Good social distancing means staying home as much as possible, and avoiding all contact with anyone outside your home.  It means you should not visit anyone and you should not allow visitors to your home.  You have to act as though every other person may have a highly contagious disease, whether it is Covid-19 or something else.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is recommending that people avoid being in groups of more than 10, and you should only be in a group of that size if everyone can maintain a separation of six feet or more.  In addition, everyone should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon arrival and frequently during the gathering, since people tend to touch various surfaces and then their faces several times a minute, which allows viruses easy access to their bodies.  These types of gatherings should be reserved for important public meetings, and only when necessary, not for socializing in a private home or playing a game of bridge.

Ideally, people should spend most of their time alone, or only with their spouse or other people they live with.  Everyone should stay home as much as possible and avoid going anywhere not absolutely necessary.

Work from home, if you can. If you or someone in your family must work outside the home, take extra precautions around them, especially if they work in the medical field or with the public.  In some cases, it may be smart for them to isolate themselves in a separate room or section of the house, away from everyone else, whenever they are home.

While you are social distancing, enjoy things such as online classes, whether it is to finish a degree or just to enrich your mind.

Postpone visits to doctors and dentists, if they are not immediately necessary.  Use the telephone, email or a video chat service to communicate with your doctor.

Do not go to restaurants, bars, country clubs, places of worship, sports arenas, theaters, museums,and other spots where people tend to congregate.

Postpone visits to hairdressers, barbers, massage parlors, and nail salons ... anywhere you will be in close physical contact with another person.

Avoid visits with friends and family.  You may miss the grandkids, but they do not want to carry a disease to you, and you do not want them to feel guilty if you get sick, even if they did not give it to you.

Do not visit friends or relatives in nursing homes, rehab centers, or assisted living. They may be lonely, but you do not want to give them a virus which could shorten their lives.

How to Get Food and Supplies

If you are spending time alone, or only with a spouse, it can become a serious concern to figure out how you can get the supplies you need.  Here are some suggestions:

Order your groceries and other necessities online from sites like Amazon Fresh and Walmart.  They are also a good place to get cleaning supplies such as Lysol or Clorox.  (Ad)

Your local grocer may also have a delivery service. Call them and ask if they use Instacart or a similar service.

Use a curbside pickup grocery service, which is available at some Walmarts and, possibly, other stores.  You place your order online and then pull up to a designated spot in the Walmart parking lot when the order is ready. Someone puts your groceries in the trunk of your car for you. Two of our daughters regularly use this service and love it.

Are you hungry for a meal from your favorite restaurant or fast food place? Use a meal delivery service such as GrubHub or Postmates.  Throw away the outer wrappings and containers as soon as the food arrives, and then wash your hands.  You may even heat the food up again for a few seconds in the microwave.

Patronize local restaurants by getting take-out or going through the drive-in window. 

Have prescriptions mailed to you.  Request a three month supply, if possible.

If you have to go into a store yourself, cover as much of your skin as possible and go during non-peak hours, when the store is not crowded and you can maintain space between yourself and other shoppers. Wipe down the cart handle and anything else you must touch with disinfecting wipes. Wear gloves and a face mask or bandana, or wrap a scarf around your lower face, so you do not touch items on the store shelves and then touch your face.  Your goal is to protect your face from being contaminated by your own hands!  Try to limit your trips to the grocery store or pharmacy to no more than once a week.

Once I leave a store, I lay my gloves palm side up on the dashboard of my car so the sun will hit them.  Direct sunlight is believed to kill the virus on fabric. After removing my scarf and gloves, I use hand sanitizer on my hands and around my nostrils. Finally, when I arrive home, I remove my shoes and jacket and leave them in direct sunlight on an enclosed patio with large windows.  Afterwards, I wash my face and hands.  You may also want to use a disinfecting wipe to clean the packages you brought home and your reusable grocery bags.

According to Professor Greg Polan at the Mayo Clinic, "You cannot get infected if your hands are clean before you touch your face, and if you don't breathe in air from somebody who's sick and coughing."  The steps above should protect you from those possibilities.

How to Stay in Touch with Others

Even though you are social distancing, it is very important for your safety and mental health that you regularly communicate with other people.

Call and chat with family and friends regularly, especially if you live alone.  It is important to have real conversations and use your voice.  Conversations are an essential part of postponing dementia. Just because you are social distancing yourself from other people, you do not want to let yourself mentally deteriorate.

Use FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp to have video chats with family members.  It is a great way to stay in touch with grandchildren and other members of the family.

If you have no one who can check on you regularly, you may want to try an automated daily phone call check-in service such as iamfine.  They will place a daily call to you to make sure you are OK.  It is an invaluable service for people who live alone.  During the months of March and April 2020, they have offered to waive their monthly fee temporarily, since so many people are feeling isolated.  To get the free temporary service, people should enter the Code APRIL2020 when they sign up. 

In addition, you may want to send out personal notes and emails to friends, as well as stay active on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  My daughters text me nearly every day and they call me periodically.  I also chat weekly with my sister and father, and occasionally have phone conversations with friends.  Since I have a husband, I live with someone I talk with daily. I have also read reports of people who moved in with friends or relatives before the virus became widespread, just so they would have companionship.  They call them "quarantine friends" or their "quarantine squad."

How to Safely Get Fresh Air and Exercise

Social Distancing does not mean you cannot go outside.  If you have a yard, balcony or patio, enjoy some time outside whenever possible.  Open your windows in good weather and let in some fresh air. Enjoy a little sunshine.

Take a walk or a hike, keeping a six foot space between you and other people.

A friend of mine and I often walk around a small neighborhood golf course. We drive to our favorite meeting place in separate cars and we stay five or six feet apart as we walk.  We both have seriously ill husbands, so we are extra careful. We wear gloves and, sometimes, I wear a scarf wrapped over my lower face, to keep myself from touching my mouth or nose.  Just as I do when I go to the grocery store, after the walk I lay my gloves on the dashboard of my car, remove my scarf and use hand sanitizer on my hands and around the edges of my nostril and mouth.

Another way to get exercise is to use free weights or exercise videos, following along at home.

Be sure to wipe down any home exercise equipment you use, before and after you handle it, especially if anyone else may use it after you, even someone in your household.   (Ad)

How to Quarantine Someone in Your Family

The time may come when one person in your family is ill with the coronavirus or another contagious disease, but everyone else is healthy. How can you care for them, while keeping yourself and other family members safe?  Here are some suggestions:

The ill person should stay in a separate room, and not share a bed or anything else with other people.

If possible, have a designated bathroom that only they use.

Everyone should be especially careful about hand-washing and using hand sanitizer. Everything possible should be wiped down with sanitizing wipes several times a day, including doorknobs, counters, bathroom fixtures, etc.

Food should be left for the sick person by the door to their room, or placed on a table just inside the door, while the caregiver maintains a distance of six feet or more from the sick person.  They should have their own dishes, which are washed separately as soon as they are finished eating, or placed in the dishwasher to be sterilized.  The caregiver should wear rubber gloves while handling the dishes, and then the gloves should be washed off. Whenever the caregiver must approach the sick person, they should wear gloves and a mask.  However, they should maintain a safe distance unless it is absolutely necessary they get closer.

If the person is seriously ill, has a high fever, is becoming dehydrated or having trouble breathing, call your doctor and follow their directions to take the patient to a hospital, where they can get the care they need.  This will also protect the rest of the family. 

How to Get Medical Care While Maintaining Social Distancing

If you or someone in your family needs to go to a hospital or to see a physician, do NOT show up at your doctor's office or the local urgent care facility or hospital unless you CALL AHEAD.  Some facilities have special, separate locations or entrances for suspected cases of coronavirus and people with other highly contagious diseases.  This is to keep contagious patients separate from people who may be having a baby, a heart attack, stroke, broken bone, or other routine medical event. 

Even if you are seeing the doctor for a common health condition, you want to be sure you are using the correct location and entrance.  You do not want to walk into a lobby full of highly contagious people if you are not sick, and you do not want to contaminate a room full of healthy people, if you are sick.

Do Your Research

Stay up-to-date on information about the coronavirus or any other contagious disease which may be going around.  Watch for news stories on major news networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and the BBC.  Cable stations may also carry stories about Covid-19 and other contagious diseases, but they are more likely to have a political bias, which can affect what they report and even cause a delay in getting life-saving information.  It is better to get an excessive amount of accurate information, than miss an important report because of the political bias of your news source.  In particular, you may want to watch your local news stations for any special instructions or information which could pertain specifically to your state or community.

You may also want to read my related article:

Coronavirus Quarantine: Seniors Should Prepare for Covid-19

To learn more about common medical problems as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading form the blog:

Photo credit:

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Dying at Home - What is Best for You and Your Family?

More Americans are deciding to die at home, rather than in the hospital, for the first time in over 100 years.  Many people believe they would rather spend the last few weeks or months of their life in their own home, being cared for by their loved ones.  It is true that they are likely to feel less lonely and depressed when they are surrounded by their family in their final days. There are also financial incentives for hospitals when they encourage people to leave the hospital and go home to die.  However, is this really the best thing for either the dying person or for their family?

Dr. Nathan Gray wrote an op-ed which appeared as a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers on February 16, 2020.  He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Palliative Care at Duke University School of Medicine, as well as an artist who draws informative comics on medical topics.  His editorial made some serious points which people need to consider before making the final decision about where they want to die.

Are We Truly Living Longer or Taking Longer to Die?

While experts often tout how they have extended the lives of senior citizens by a few months, they rarely describe what those additional months are like for people who are dying.  Often, the dying are nauseous, exhausted and in pain.  In many cases, I have observed that people in the final months of their lives are not truly enjoying themselves, feeling alert, and chatting with adoring loved ones.  They often spend those last months suffering through an extended, unpleasant death.  During this period of time, they are can be miserable and unhappy. They may be barely aware of what is going on.  

Who Will Care for You If You Die at Home?

If your spouse or an adult child is going to be your sole caregiver, other than a few short visits from a hospice team each week, are you expecting too much of your loved one when you ask to go home to die?  Are they going to be able to help you get up during the night to use the bathroom, manage your medications, bathe you, and feed you, while still meeting their own basic needs?  Studies show that 30 percent or more of caregivers end up dying before the patient under their care.  Are you willing to take the risk that someone you love could die while caring for you?  Is this the burden you want to place on your beloved spouse or other family member?

Can Your Family Afford for You to Die at Home?

Another point made by Dr. Gray is the high financial burden of having a loved one die in your home.  The caregiver may have to give up their current job, or they may have to hire a paid caregiver to assist them. In some cases, they may have to do both ... quit their job and hire extra help to do the things they cannot manage on their own. As a result, dying at home can create a financial burden for your spouse or adult child, making it more difficult for them to pay the bills.  You may be so "out of it" from pain medication and your loss of awareness, you may not even realize how hard life has become for your spouse or adult child, and how much stress they are under.

Will Home Hospice Help?

Fortunately, home hospice will provide some assistance to your family if you choose to die at home.  Hospice agencies are reimbursed about $200 a day to provide you with necessary medical equipment, pain medication, and a few visits from nurses each week. This compares to the approximately $2000 in reimbursements which hospitals receive to provide you with 24 hour-a-day care as long as you stay there.  Obviously, as much as they try to provide all the help they can, home hospice providers cannot do everything a hospital can do during the last few months of your life.

It is important for people to know that Medicare will pay for a few weeks in a skilled nursing facility, if you go directly there after having stayed in a hospital as an admitted patient (not just under observation) for at least three nights. If you have a low income and few assets other than a house and/or car, Medicaid will pay for an extended stay in a skilled nursing facility, but you or your family should apply for Medicaid as soon as the patient moves into the facility.  You may need to get an expert to help you with the application process. Ask the nursing home to help you or get a referral to a service which is able to help. 

Have You Planned Ahead?

If you have made arrangements in advance for long-term care insurance, or you have moved into a Continuing Care Retirement Community prior to developing a terminal illness, then you may be better prepared to die in your home or at the retirement community where you are living.  Your long-term care insurance or the CCRC where you live will help your spouse or other family members manage your care during the end of your life.  Caring for you during this emotional time will be much less of a burden on your family if you have planned ahead.

It could be helpful to read "Long-Term Care: How to Plan and Pay for it." (Ad) The information in this book will make your decision to die at home much easier for everyone.  

However, if you do not make arrangements in advance, you may wish to rethink your decision to die at home.  Spending those last few weeks in a hospital or skilled nursing facility may be the last, considerate action you can take to help your family be under less stress at the time of your death.  It's something to think about.

If you are interested in additional Social Security and Medicare information, retirement planning, where to retire, or wish find out about common medical issues as you age, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you


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Photo credit:  Pixabay