Friday, October 29, 2021

Medicare Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage Plans - What are the differences?

While chatting with a friend of mine recently, a woman who has been retired for over 15 years, she referred to her Medicare Advantage plan as a Medicare Supplement. She did not know the difference.  This might not have been a serious problem, except she told me that she was giving retirement advice to one of her daughters who plans to retire in a few years, and much of what she was telling her daughter about Medicare was incorrect.  

Signing up for Medicare is more complex than many people expect it to be.  We have so many decisions to make, and they have to be done at exactly the right time, or we can end up paying higher premiums for the rest of our lives!  Often, our personal physicians cannot answer our questions, because they do not do the Medicare billing themselves.  They hire a company to do it for them.  It is important for retirees to do their own research.  While this post cannot answer all your questions, it will clarify some basic information and help you get started on making the best decisions for yourself.

What Medicare Choices Will You Have?

You have more choices in Medicare than you realize, whether you are purchasing it on the open market, or your former employer or union will help pay for your retirement coverage. You may get a good deal through the plans they offer, or you may find just as good a deal on your own, unconnected to your former employer.  You need to evaluate as many different choices as possible, to make sure you get the best plan to meet your healthcare needs.

The age you start Medicare is NOT connected to the age you retire.  They are completely separate. You can retire anytime you are financially able and can afford to retire.  You can start receiving Social Security Retirement Benefits anytime from age 62 or older.  You can retire from some government jobs at an even younger age.  

Regardless of when you retire, you are not eligible for Medicare until you are at least age 65, unless you became eligible for Medicare Disability at a younger age.  In some cases, you can sign up for Medicare if you are older than 65, particularly if you are still working and covered by an employer plan when you turn 65. If you are not working, and you wait longer than three months after you turn 65 before you sign up, you may pay a Medicare penalty for the rest of your life.  The best time to sign up for Medicare is during a time window which consists of the month you turn 65, or the three months before, or or the three months afterwards.  This could change in the future, but currently, the eligibility age is still 65.  It is important that all retirees pay attention to any changes which may be made to Medicare coverage.

If you want to make sure you do things correctly when you sign up for Medicare, and at the lowest possible cost, you will want to read the book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make." (Ad)  It is well worth the $10 it will cost you.  

TWO Separate Options for Your Medicare Benefits

There are two different systems for obtaining your Medicare benefits.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but research has shown that medical outcomes are the same, no matter which system you choose. 

Whether you choose Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will still pay your basic Medicare premium.  The amount of the premium changes annually, and is higher for retirees with a higher income.  In 2021, the premium was $148.50 for most people, but the premium rose to $207.90 for people with an individual income of $88,000 or more, and is as much as $504.90 for retirees with an individual income of more than $500,000.  Each year, the basic Medicare premium usually rises a small amount. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, your premium will be deducted from those benefits.  If you are not receiving Social Security, you will be billed separately.  

These premiums pay for what is known as Medicare Part B.  In return, Original Medicare will pay for 80% of what is they consider normal medical expenses.  If you want coverage for the remaining 20%, which nearly everyone does, you need to decide if you want to keep your Original Medicare and add a Medigap plan and a Part D drug plan OR select a Medicare Advantage Plan which is a single payer system where you deal only with one company, similar to what you are used to doing when you had regular health insurance before you were old enough for Medicare.

What should you know about the two different options, so you can decide which one would be best for you?

Original Medicare plus a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) and a Part D Drug Plan  

What most retirees expect to do when they reach age 65 is sign up for Original Medicare, pay their monthly premium for it, and then purchase an additional Medicare supplement (Medigap) policy, plus a Part D drug plan.  There are many Medigap plans and Drug Plans to choose from, and they all have different premiums and co-pays, in addition to the monthly premium you are charged by Medicare. 

The top Medigap plans (such as Plan G or F) can cost several hundred dollars a month, and this is above and beyond your basic Medicare premium. In addition, you will usually have to sign up for a separate drug plan and, in most cases, a separate plan for certain types of specialty medical care such as dental and vision.  Altogether, depending on your plans, you can end up paying an extra $300 to $500 in monthly premiums, in addition to what you pay for your Original Medicare premiums. 

Medigap plans are available as both HMOs and PPOs.  The premiums are higher for PPOs, but you can choose your own doctor (as long as they accept Medicare).  In addition to the premiums, in most cases you will also have some co-pays and deductibles.  The more you pay in premiums, the greater your choice of doctors, and the less you will pay in co-pays and deductibles, which makes this option attractive to some people.  

Medigap billing can be complicated, because everything has to be billed first to Medicare and then to your Medigap supplement. You are sent copies of all the bills, which can be overwhelming if you are receiving frequent treatments by a number of different doctors, and this is common as you get older. It can also be confusing, if you are uncertain what part of the bill you owe, and what portion of the bill is still being reviewed by Medicare or your Medigap plan. 

This double billing after each medical appointment is different from how things were handled before you were on Medicare, when everything was just billed to your insurance carrier, and then you were billed for any co-pays and deductibles you might have.  Basically, with Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan, you are covered under TWO separate insurance plans ... Medicare and your supplement.  In addition, you may have to deal with one or two other insurance carriers for your prescription drugs and dental coverage, which means you may receive a lot of different bills.  Some people become so confused that they hire people to review their medical bills for them, to make sure they are being billed correctly.

Option 2 is an All-in-One Medicare Advantage Plan 

Approximately 42% of Medicare beneficiaries turn to Medicare Advantage plans, which are generally less expensive and less complicated to use than Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a drug plan.  The way Medicare Advantage plans work is similar to the system you were used to when you had medical insurance before you were on Medicare.  You only deal with one company for most things. 

The main difference is that Medicare pays a premium on your behalf to your insurance carrier each month, so that one company can handle all or most of your medical needs.  The Medicare Advantage companies are required to offer you everything that Original Medicare does, but most of them offer much more.  For example, they may offer gym memberships, vision, hearing and dental coverage, and other special services.  You only deal with your insurance carrier, not with Medicare directly.  Billing is much less complicated.  

Medicare Advantage plans are available to ANY retiree. Your choice depends on the state where you live.  For example, Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage (the plan I use) is available in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.  Other states have different Medicare Advantage plans available, such as Scan, United Healthcare, Humana, Blue Cross, or CVS Health.  You will have to research which plans are available in your state.  In particular, you will want to make sure that your local doctors are part of the Medicare Advantage network you want to use, since these plans require that you only use their network doctors and medical facilities in most cases. 

Of course, anyone on any plan can always choose to pay full price and see an out-of-network doctor, anytime they want.  Seeing an out-of-network doctor will cost you substantially more, however, unless it is an emergency.  It is always best to use in-network doctors, whenever possible. 

Do you worry about what will happen if you become sick or get injured when you have a Medicare Advantage plan and are away from your network? Most Medicare Advantage plans, such as Kaiser, will also cover the cost of an out-of-network doctor if you are traveling in another state or if, in an emergency, you have been taken to an out-of-network hospital in your area.  

Just in our family alone, we have had two examples of family members who were treated well, despite using an out-of-network doctor in an emergency:  

When our daughter had a medical emergency, Kaiser covered the cost of the first hospital she was taken to, until she regained consciousness and was transferred to the ICU at a Kaiser hospital.  In fact, because she had a brain aneurysm which needed to be treated quickly, she was flown by helicopter to the nearest Kaiser facility that had an available surgical team and an ICU unit.

When my husband developed bronchitis while visiting a different daughter in Delaware, we were not forced to drive to a Kaiser facility in Maryland for him to get medical care.  We were able to get him treated at an Urgent Care in Delaware, and we were charged the same as we would have been if we had gone to a Kaiser facility at home.  If you are getting a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure you understand what medical care will be available to you when you are away from home.   If you like to travel overseas, find out what care your insurance company will provide, and whether or not you need to purchase a short-term travel medical emergency policy.  Original Medicare does not cover you when you are out of the country.

Most Medicare Advantage plans, like Kaiser, usually have no additional premiums, other than your regular Basic Part B Medicare premium.  In some cases, you may have a very small premium, such as $20 to $40 a month. You may also have some low co-pays and deductibles.  In most cases, using a Medicare Advantage plan is much less expensive than using Original Medicare, plus a Medigap plan, plus a Part D drug plan.  However, some people are willing to pay extra to use Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan and drug plan, because they have a wider choice in doctors.  The decision is entirely up to you.

Billing is simpler with Medicare Advantage plans, because the Advantage plan handles everything.  Doctors do not bill Medicare first, and then your private insurance.  You are only dealing with your private insurance company. Medicare Advantage plans are generally less complicated than using Original Medicare, plus a Medigap and drug plan.  Most people are satisfied with Medicare Advantage plans, as long as they are happy using the doctors in their network. In addition, many Medicare Advantage plans include their own drug plan and dental plan.  

Research has shown that the medical outcomes are virtually identical, regardless of which type of Medicare plan you use. 

Is It Hard to Find a Good Medicare Plan?

When you turn 65, you choose whether you want Original Medicare plus separate Medigap and drug plans, OR if you want to use a Medicare Advantage plan.  All Medicare plans, including Medigap and Advantage plans, HAVE to accept all new retirees regardless of the patient's preexisting conditions.  If you change your mind later, however, Original Medicare still has to accept you, but the Medigap plans can reject you or charge you more for some health conditions.  Once you are on a Medicare Advantage plan, do not cancel it and go to Original Medicare until you are sure a Medigap plan has accepted you at a price you are willing to pay.  

Remember that the above information just covers the basics. You will still want to make sure you do things correctly, and are getting the most for your money, by reading the book "10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make." (Ad)  It was written by a Medicare insurance broker who has seen many people make the same mistakes over and over again, and the book could save you a lot of problems later in life. 

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

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Friday, October 22, 2021

Landline Spam Call Blockers Bring Peace to Your Home Phone

At 6:30 a.m. on a recent morning, our phone rang.  Since we have four adult daughters and eight grandchildren, we automatically answer phone calls, even when we receive them at a ridiculous time, because we worry that it could be emergency. Instead, it was someone calling to talk to me about changing my Medicare insurance plan, which I have absolutely no interest in doing.  My husband and I were very annoyed to be awakened by a spam caller.

Later that day, my husband called AT&T to complain about the constant barrage of spam phone calls we get all day long, every day.  We were tired of getting calls from garage door companies, travel companies, roofers, charities, politicians, surveys, Medicare and other insurance companies, and so many others.  We immediately hang up on all robocalls, but we still received plenty of calls from real people.  

During the AT&T call with a very pleasant young customer service representative, he did two things which immediately brought peace and quiet to our home!

First, he renewed our phone number listing at  We had registered our number on that service 16 years ago.  Apparently, it is important to renew the listing frequently, or your registration becomes so old that companies ignore it.  

However, I knew that being on the do not call list would not permanently end all the calls, especially those from smaller companies, and local businesses.  I casually said to the customer service representative, "I wish we could block calls on our home phone line as easily as we can on our cell phones."  He shocked me by saying, "if you get a landline call blocker, (Ad) you can stop any calls you do not want to receive."  I had never heard of such a thing!

The customer service representative told me that Amazon, Walmart and some other sites offer these call blockers.  He even went online with me to help me choose one.  (This is service above and beyond what I expect from any company!)

You can find a number of different companies which offer call blockers at: landline call blockers (Ad).  While I will not suggest a particular brand to you, the AT&T rep gave me some practical suggestions for choosing the best one for you.  He said that I should look at ones that have received at least a four star rating from a large number of customers.  He also suggested I read the product description and comments thoroughly to make sure it would work on our phone and that it sounded like something that would meet our needs.  Finally, he mentioned that we also need to have Caller ID in order for a call blocker to work.  We already have Caller ID, so that was not a problem.

The landline call blocker (Ad) that we selected had a 4.5 star rating from nearly 600 reviewers. It sounded easy to connect and, when we received it, my husband did not have a problem plugging it into our wall jack and phone.  It came with 14,000 spam numbers which it was already programmed to block, and we can add up to 2000 new phone numbers as they come in.  After setting it up, we have only had about 10 spam calls in the past several weeks, and it was easy for us to block those numbers, so the spammers cannot use those same numbers to call us again. 

Since we know that some companies have many phone numbers they use to place calls, we could get a few more calls from that same business but, hopefully, we will gradually block them all.  At worst, we now only receive one or two unwanted calls in a day, which is a huge improvement over what we experienced in the past.  Many days, we do not receive any unwanted calls.

My husband did encounter problems registering the device online with the manufacturer, but that does not seem relevant to the fact that the device is working, our phone is quiet, and we are not being interrupted every half hour to answer the phone. 

Whether you want a landline call blocker (Ad) for yourself, or for an elderly relative who keeps getting into conversations with spam callers, choosing one of these devices could be a good way to keep your sanity and prevent spam calls. 

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Cryptocurrency and Retirement Planning - Is it Right for You?

Cryptocurrency is a topic which few Baby Boomers and older retirees understand.  It is an entirely new type of money, and many working adults wonder if it is something they should include in their financial planning.  As a result, this month's guest post by attorney Lyle Solomon should answer some of the questions you may have about cryptocurrency and help you decide if it is something you want to include in your investment planning.

As always, it is important everyone understands the risks involved in making any investment. This blog suggests you do thorough research before putting money into cryptocurrency. You may also want to read a book on cryptocurrency, such as the highly rated "The Only Bitcoin Investing Book You Will Ever Need" (Ad) or one of the other books on cryptocurrency (Ad) which are available, and make sure you fully understand this new type of currency before putting money into it.  It is also important to make sure your investment accounts are fully diversified into a wide variety of investments.  

With those thoughts in mind, I am sure that most of my readers will be very interested in this topic.  It contains very informative and helpful information about how you can get started investing in cryptocurrency. The guest post by Lyle Solomon is below.

How to Invest in Cryptocurrency for Retirement

by Lyle Solomon, attorney with Oak View Law Group

The cryptocurrency market has been maturing over the past few years. This is because of its newfound reputation as a meaningful long and short-term investment. For some people, cryptocurrency is the answer to the question, ‘how to deal with credit card debt?’ Furthermore, it is also becoming a valid retirement option.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have gained incredible momentum, proving itself to be a very profitable investment. Many still have reservations about its energy consumption and lack of regulation. But these issues pale in comparison to the 164% growth that Bitcoin experienced last year. For comparison, the S&P 500 and gold rose by 13% and 21%, respectively.

With the current state of the financial world, many young investors have decided to integrate cryptocurrencies into their retirement plans. More specifically, according to Core data research, 40% of millennials will add cryptocurrency to their plans. Therefore, the question is not if you should be investing in crypto for your retirement, but how.

Different Crypto-Related Retirement Plans

While there may be future alternatives, there are only three major options for retirement plans with cryptocurrencies. These include Crypto IRAs, Crypto 401Ks, or directly investing in cryptocurrencies yourself. Both IRAs and 401Ks will deal in Bitcoin, since it is easily the biggest token on the market.

Investing In Crypto Yourself

It is worth mentioning that you do not have to create a Bitcoin retirement account. Instead, you can simply buy the cryptocurrency of your choice, which in this case could be Bitcoin, and hold it. Most wallets do not have a limit on how long you can hold onto cryptocurrencies. So it is possible for you to simply do that until you retire.

Furthermore, by setting up a personal account, you will be able to completely cut out the middleman.  Most companies can charge you fees if you intend to take out money from a retirement plan before its duration.

You can also skip on contributing specific amounts to your account. Instead, you can take out money whenever you want and contribute as little or as much as you want. So if you are wondering how to deal with credit card debt, or other financial problems, you can take some of the cryptocurrency out of your account. 

Investing in crypto yourself also means that you can use third-party software to improve your financial position. But even if it does look very good, there are drawbacks to not getting an IRA or 401K. More specifically, you will have to pay more in the form of taxes if you decide to invest yourself.

You will also have to take responsibility for your own investments. So if the price starts to crash, no one will compensate you for it. 

A Bitcoin 401K

There is still a long time until bigger institutions start offering 401K plans with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. But you can find smaller providers offering these types of plans. One of the most prominent providers is ForUsAll, which has entered a partnership with Coinbase. So customers that open a 401K account with ForUsAll will see 5% of their retirement funds go into a cryptocurrency account.

By definition, a 401K account allows employees to put aside a set percentage of their salary. The provider will usually take out the percentage before tax, and those funds then go into the retirement account. Your funds in the retirement account will be invested into mutual funds, bonds, and stocks as investments. And one of the other investments they can make on your behalf is Bitcoin.

Although they can make investments into other cryptocurrencies, no other provider offers that service. So in the meantime, a percentage of your retirement funds will go into Bitcoin alone, if you want to include a cryptocurrency in your retirement plans.

A Bitcoin IRA

Finally, the most popular option for investing in cryptocurrencies for retirement is through IRAs. IRA holders have the ability to choose where they would like to invest their retirement money. Many IRAs have already moved away from traditional forms of investments like stocks and bonds. Instead, some account holders choose to invest in precious materials as well as real estate.

Cryptocurrency IRAs work very similarly to regular ones. The major difference is that they are invested in cryptocurrencies. It is fairly similar to Roth IRAs in that you can pay the taxes upfront on the assets that you hold.

Since you will be paying the taxes upfront, you will not have to pay any taxes when you withdraw them, as they will hopefully have a higher value, then. A crypto IRA will also have a yearly contribution limit of close to $6,000, similar to other IRA plans.

There are three parts to a Bitcoin IRA. The first is the custodian. Their job is to manage funds in your account and ensure that you follow all IRS and government guidelines. The second is the exchange, which is where the account will be purchasing the cryptocurrency. Finally, the last part of an IRA is secure storage. You will need a place to store your retirement funds to protect them from hackers.

On the other hand, it might be worth mentioning the extra costs which come with a crypto-based IRA. Most providers will charge extra in terms of account management fees and setup fees. A good example to look at is Blockmint, a popular Bitcoin IRA. They will charge an annual maintenance fee of $195, along with a 1% selling fee, 2.5% purchasing fee, and 15% transaction fees.

Many of these self-directed IRAs also have more limitations compared to other plans. You might not be able to choose the asset that you want, or the exchange you want to buy it from. Moreover, unlike traditional IRAs, your provider will not offset capital gains by deducting your capital losses from a cryptocurrency.


Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are still very volatile, and that will not change anytime soon. This volatility also means that it carries significantly more risk than most other types of traditional investments. However, despite all of these very serious issues, it can still be a great investment for your future. So even if investing in cryptocurrency is not your answer to how to deal with credit card debt and other financial problems, it can still be useful during retirement.

About the Author: Lyle Solomon has considerable litigation experience as well as substantial hands-on knowledge and expertise in legal analysis and writing. Since 2003, he has been a member of the State Bar of California. In 1998, he graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, and now serves as a principal attorney for the Oak View Law Group in California.

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post.

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 for retirement, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, common medical issues as you age, and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Friday, October 8, 2021

Assisted Living - Pros and Cons of Assisted Retirement Communities

As we age, many of us are discovering that it is harder to continue to live on our own, as much as we might love our current home and neighborhood.  Eventually, it can become a challenge to take care of a house and yard, while also doing all our own cooking and personal care.  However, most of us do not want to move to a skilled nursing home, and probably do not need that level of service.  

Some people eventually move into the home of an adult child, or have one of their children come live with them.  Of course, this is not a good option for most people and, in fact, many retirees do not even have an adult child who would be capable of caring for them. 

Other people may try to postpone assisted living, by adding a variety of medical safety devices (Ad) to their current home, and sometimes that is an adequate solution, especially if they are able to have a caregiver come to their own home for a few hours a day to help them with medications, bathing, and meal preparation.  However, depending on your personal needs, this may not provide all the assistance you need.  In addition, if you develop a progressive disease, such as Parkinson's, which could eventually make it extremely difficult for you to live in your current home, you may want to arrange for a better housing solution long before it becomes medically necessary. 

What should we do?  This month we have a guest post from Jennifer Bell, who explains the pros and cons of moving into an Assisted Living retirement community.  Her information will help you decide if this is the right option for you.  

Advice for Seniors About Living In an Assisted Living Community

Nearly everyone wishes to live in their current home for as long as possible. However, as you age, it may become too challenging to stay in your current home alone, since you eventually may no longer have the ability or energy to care for yourself and your home. 

In many cases, assisted living may become the best option. Let’s discuss what retirees should know about assisted living care:

Assisted Living vs. Nursing Care

Many people often confuse assisted living communities with nursing home care. Although both services focus on keeping seniors healthy and safe, assisted living offers more space and privacy, and a more comprehensive living arrangement, for people who do not need 24-hour skilled nursing care. 

Assisted living is an option for seniors who may have difficulty performing some basic life skills for themselves, such as hygiene or grooming, and who also want to be part of a long-term social setting. In this case, an assisted living facility may be the best housing option. 

On the other hand, nursing home care primarily focuses on seniors who need regular medical assistance, thus they provide around-the-clock care by professional healthcare experts. If a senior requires constant medical attention, nursing home care may be a more practical option for them than a hospital. In addition, nursing home care may either be long-term or short-term, depending on the type of injury or illness. 

Opting For an Assisted Living Community

1.   Have a Family Meeting About the Choices Available

Many decisions are involved in choosing to live in an assisted living community. These choices mainly include assessing your needs vs. the services offered, and then evaluating the costs involved. Therefore, it is essential to involve your loved ones, particularly your adult children or spouse, when making the decision. They can offer their perspective on the types of help and services you need, and you can all make a group decision that is best for everyone.  Many couples move into assisted living together, especially if one of them is in declining health. 

2.   Take a Tour of The Community

Virtually all assisted living facilities are willing to provide a tour for interested residents. You should visit the communities you have identified as possibilities and talk to the current residents.  This will help you deal with any doubts you may have about the community. 

This is also an opportunity to learn the community rules and decide if you can conform to them. Remember, the end goal is to enjoy your stay in the community, while getting the care you need. So, please don’t force yourself into any situation you are not comfortable with.  For example, some assisted living communities include bars and happy hours, while others are alcohol free.  Some communities welcome pets, but others do not. The same is true for other preferences, such as smoking. 

In addition, various communities may offer different types of social activities, classes, exercise options, parties, entertainment and other ways for you to meet other people and stay engaged. It is important to know how you would fit into each community. 

3.   Give Yourself Time

Moving into a new environment is never easy, especially if you have left a home you loved. Even after doing everything necessary to settle into the best assisted living community for you, detaching fully from your prior home may not be easy. Staying in touch with close friends and family may help you overcome any concerns you have about leaving your old friends behind. Gradually you will make new friends in your assisted living community. 

4.   Participate in Community Events Before Moving In

One way to know if a community suits your needs and interests, and help you overcome your fears, is by participating in some of their events in advance. Finding a community which allows prospective residents to participate in their events will give you a better picture of what your life will be like, once you decide to move there. 

5.   Identify a Moving Company

Most communities are able to assist with finding moving services for their new residents. However, if you choose a community that does not provide this help for its residents, you can make the arrangements yourself. Countless professional moving companies will help you move seamlessly, and ensure that your things are well taken care of throughout the moving process. They can even help you pack and unpack.

Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Assisted Living


1.   Daily Living Support

As mentioned earlier, many seniors who move into assisted living need help to do basic things to make their lives easier. Some seniors move to an assisted living community even when they can still handle their daily activities independently. However, if they eventually reach a point where they need a little help with some of their daily activities, immediate assistance can be arranged for them. More help will be provided as it becomes necessary.

2.   Enhanced Social Support

Most seniors have a lot of free time on their hands after retirement. Therefore, it is easy for boredom and depression to creep in, especially if they spend too much time alone. Living in an assisted living community can help them make new friends and participate in different activities, which will keep their minds active and make them happier. 

3.   Enhanced Safety

In an assisted living community, many safety measures are already taken care of, even with regard to housing design, such as non-slip surfaces, grab bars in bathrooms, and handicapped accessible floorplans. Also, in case of an emergency, it is easy for caregivers to respond swiftly. Residents also benefit from the transportation services provided in the community, so they no longer need to drive their own cars in order to go shopping, or to doctors' appointments.. 

4.   Enhanced Healthy Lifestyle

Every person has unique physical needs. However, living in an assisted living community gives you more opportunities to participate in physical activities and eat the nutritious foods necessary to keep you healthy and strong. Seniors who struggle with cooking and feeding themselves can benefit significantly from this, since the staff will provide their meals.  

5.   Enhanced Medical Attention

As a resident of one of these communities, you will have access to assistance with your medical needs, including attention from specialized medically certified caregivers who can ensure that you follow your doctor's instructions, such as taking your medications on time.  The caregivers are also more likely to notice any changes to your health and address changing medical issues as early as possible. 


1.   Cost

The cost of living in an assisted living facility may be expensive compared to living in your own home in a traditional community.  All the personal care you receive can be expensive.  However, these communities may also be less expensive than living in a private home with around-the-clock private caregivers.  You and your family will need to decide which is the more affordable option for you.

2.   Difficulty Adapting to The New Environment

Do you remember when your parents moved you to a new neighborhood during your childhood, or when you moved to a new school? Making new friends and adapting to a new environment took time. The same feelings may be experienced when seniors move into an assisted living community.  It will take time to adjust, and you have to be prepared for that.

3.   Breach of Privacy

It can be hard to secure your private space when living in an assisted living retirement community. You have no choice but to welcome caregivers into your home to check on you or handle the daily chores they are expected to perform.  However, you will have more privacy in an assisted living apartment than in a skilled nursing home or a hospital.

4.   Insufficient Medical Care

Many assisted living facilities only offer basic medical care, compared to what someone might receive in a skilled nursing home. Therefore, if you or your loved one needs critical medical attention, an assisted living facility may not be the best place for them. 

For most seniors, the advantages of being in an assisted living facility outweigh the disadvantages. It is a worthy investment to ensure that your loved ones are well cared for, if you or your family can afford it. It will give families peace-of-mind to know that their loved one is well taken care of, especially when they cannot be there to personally check on them all of the time  

Author: Jennifer Bell
About the Author

Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. 

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

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Friday, October 1, 2021

Handling Money and Bills in Retirement - How to Find Help

Within a decade, the oldest Baby Boomers will be turning 85, and approximately half of them can expect to be living alone.  In fact, many of them are already living alone because, over the years, they became divorced, widowed, or they never married or found a life partner.  While some Boomers have adult children or other family members who can help with their finances in a crisis, many people have no one in their family they can comfortably trust to handle their money for them, and do it responsibly, during an emergency.  Some people may only need temporary assistance, such as while they are recovering from a major illness, accident, or surgery.  Others may need the help permanently, especially if they begin to develop cognitive problems. 

Even before the Boomers hit their 80s, many of them may have occasions when they need someone to pay their bills or handle their finances for them. Perhaps they are taking an extended trip and want to make sure their bills are paid while they are gone.  They may also need help if they are getting surgery or going through chemotherapy and expect a lengthy rehabilitation process.  In fact, there are times when almost anyone may need a little help, and for people living alone without close relatives they can trust, this can present a dilemma.  Who can handle their finances when they cannot?

Protect Yourself from Elder Financial Abuse

Your first concern when allowing someone else to help you financially should be to protect yourself from the risk of elder financial abuse.  You do not want to put yourself in a situation which allows someone else to tap into your savings accounts, retirement accounts, or other sources of income and "help themselves" to some of your assets.  If you have been diagnosed with cognitive decline, this is an especially big risk.  It is very important that any relatives you trust with your money are reliable and responsible and, when possible, that you have a lawyer, accountant, or other professional who can periodically check to make sure no money is being taken from your accounts unnecessarily.  Your lawyer can also advise you on how to set up your accounts in a way which provides maximum financial protection, before you begin to rely on someone else to handle your finances. 

I also strongly urge everyone to read "The Family Guide to Preventing Elder Abuse."  (Ad) It is available in both paperback and Kindle versions and could help save you and your family a lot of heartache.  There are many types of elder abuse ... physical, mental, and financial.  While you want to protect yourself from all three types of abuse, right now we are focusing on the potential for financial abuse, which is more common than many people realize.

Auto Pay Your Bills During Temporary Absences

One way to handle the issue of getting your bills paid when you are just going to be temporarily out-of-town or recovering from an illness, is to set up all your bills on auto pay.  If your Social Security checks, pensions, and other sources of income are also set up to be automatically deposited in the same checking account, this system requires very little supervision on your part, other than occasionally verifying that everything is being paid, and the amount being deposited is adequate to cover all your expenses.  Your income goes into the account, and your bills are paid out of the account.  

Personally, I set up all my bills on auto pay a few years ago, when we needed to move out of our home for six months after extensive water damage.  Our mail service was also disrupted, so it was much easier for me to have our bills paid automatically by our bank.   Among our bills which are automatically paid are our insurance premiums, car payment, utilities, and credit card balances.  My bills are now all emailed to me, so I know how much they are, and the bank also emails me when they pay the bills.  I write these amounts in a ledger, so I can keep track of my monthly expenses and make sure that everything has been paid, so I do not overlook something.  Other than that, there is very little for me to do to handle our bills.  If you think you may need help paying your bills temporarily, and you want to be able to handle things yourself from virtually anyplace in the world, this is a good solution, and is actually much safer than mailing checks.

Get Help from a Family Member to Set Up Auto Pay

If you are nervous about setting up auto payments for your bills, see if you have a trusted friend or family member who can help you get everything set up.  Once the system is working correctly, you should be able to just check your accounts a couple of times a month to reassure yourself that everything is being paid.  When you get someone to help you, it is probably wise NOT to give them your passwords and account log-in information, or you should change your passwords once they have everything set up for you.  In this way, you are removing the temptation for them to dip into your accounts when they think you might not notice.  While you may generally trust this person, it is better to be safe than sorry!

Hire a Bill Payer and a Watchdog

If you believe you really will not be able to pay your bills in the future, even using autopay through your bank, another solution is to hire a bill payer to do the work, and a watchdog to make sure it is being done correctly.  For example, you could hire a bill paying service and then also hire an accountant or lawyer who is willing to make major financial decisions for you, and supervise the bill payer.  In choosing a bill payer service, make sure it is bonded or insured.  You can find a service through the American Association of Daily Money Managers at You also may want to check out SilverBills, a company which will review your bills and authorize payments for a fee of about $100 a month.  Just remember that you, a lawyer, an accountant, or a relative should also supervise the bill paying service to make sure they are doing things correctly. 

Put Your Assets in a Living Trust with an Institutional Trustee

If you have a lot of assets and no relatives you trust to handle them for you, your best choice may be to set up a living (or revocable) trust and put your assets into it while you are in full control of your mental faculties.  There are trust companies and other financial institutions such as Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard which can handle your investments for you and pay your bills.  This is an ideal arrangement for someone who is vulnerable, isolated and wealthy.  However, this can cost $4,500 a year or more, in addition to your normal investment costs and fees.  Consequently, this will not work for everyone, and should only be used by those who truly need this level of assistance.

You can find gifts for retirees and others at my Etsy Store, DeborahDianGifts:

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us.  You will receive a weekly email with the most current post.
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 for retirement, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, common medical issues as you age, 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 article:

Photo credit: Pixabay images