Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend any businesses or services that specialize in helping seniors downsize and relocate? I need to find some help moving my mother from her four-bedroom home – where she’s lived for nearly 50 years – to an apartment near me.
- Overwhelmed Daughter
The process of downsizing and moving to a new home is a big job for anyone, but it can be especially overwhelming for seniors who are moving from a long-time residence filled with decade’s worth of stuff and a lifetime of memories. Fortunately, there’s a specialized service available today that can help make your mom’s move a lot easier for her, and for you.
Senior Move Manager
To help your mom get packed up and moved into her new home, you should consider hiring a “senior move manager.” These are trained organizers (they are not moving companies) who assist older people with the challenges of relocating and can minimize the stress of this major transition by doing most of the work for you.
A senior move manager can help your mom pare down her belongings, decide what to take and what to dispose of, recommend charities for donations and help sell her unwanted items. They can even create a customized floor plan of her new home so your mom can visualize where her belongings will fit.
Senior move managers can also get estimates from moving companies, oversee the movers, arrange the move date, supervise the packing and unpacking and help set up her new home, have the house cleaned and just about anything you need related to her move.
If you want to do some of the work yourself, you can pick and choose only the services you want. For example, you may only want a move manager’s help with downsizing and selling excess furniture and unwanted belongings but plan on doing the actual packing and moving yourself.
The cost of working with a senior move manager will vary depending on where you live, the services you want and size of the move, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $60 and $125 per hour or more, not including the cost of movers.
How to Find One
To locate a senior move manager in your area, visit the National Association of Senior Move Managers website at NASMM.org or call 877-606-2766. The NASMM is a trade association with an accreditation program that requires its members to abide by a strict code of ethics that ensures integrity. They currently have around 1,000 members across the U.S.
You can also search at Caring Transitions (CaringTransitions.com), which is the largest senior relocation and transition services franchised company in the U.S. They currently have nearly 200 franchises throughout the country.
But, before you hire one, be sure you ask for references from previous clients and check them, and check with the Better Business Bureau too. Also find out how many moves they have actually managed and get a written list of services and fees. And make sure they’re insured and bonded.
If you can’t find a senior move manager in your area, another option is to hire a certified professional organizer who specializes in downsizing and relocating. To find one, check the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, which has a searchable database on its website at NAPO.net.
How Medicare Covers Alzheimer’s Disease
Dear Savvy Senior,
What exactly does Medicare cover when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease? My husband was recently diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s, and we would like to find out what’s covered and what isn’t.
- Planning Ahead
I’m very sorry to hear about your husband’s diagnosis, but you’ll be happy to know that most medical costs to treat beneficiaries with Alzheimer’s disease are covered by Medicare. Unfortunately, long-term custodial care costs that most patients eventually need are not. Here’s a breakdown of what Medicare does and doesn’t cover when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, along with some tips that can help you plan ahead.
Medical care: For the most part, ongoing medical care to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease is covered by Medicare Part B, including visits to primary care doctors and specialists, lab tests, speech and occupational therapy, home health care and outpatient counseling services. Medicare pays 80 percent of these costs, and you will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent after you’ve met your annual $233 Part B deductible.
Sixty days of inpatient hospital care is also covered under Medicare Part A after you pay a $1,556 deductible. Beyond 60 days, a daily coinsurance fee is added.
Medications: Most Alzheimer’s medications are covered under Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plans, but coverage varies so check his plan’s formulary. The only exception is Aduhelm, the controversial new drug that is estimated to cost $28,200 per year. Medicare Part B will only cover this drug if your husband is enrolled in a clinical trial.
Long-term custodial care: It’s important to understand that original Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care. This includes nursing home care, the costs of assisted living facilities and adult day care. Medicare does, however, pay for some shorter-term nursing home care, but only up to 100 days following a three-day inpatient hospital stay.
Hiring home help for bathing, toileting and dressing (this is known as custodial care) is not covered by Medicare either unless your husband is also receiving skilled-nursing care or physical or occupational therapy.
To help with these costs, you may want to look into getting a long-term care insurance policy or short-term care plan (see aaltci.org/stc) if possible, or if your income and assets are very limited, you may qualify for Medicaid. To investigate your financial options for long-term care, go to PayingForSeniorCare.com.
Hospice: In the final stages of the disease, Medicare Part A covers nearly all aspects of hospice care, including doctor services, nursing care, drugs, medical equipment and supplies, physical and occupational therapy, homemaker services, counseling and respite care. To qualify, a doctor must certify that a patient has six months or less to live.
Other Insurance and Assistance
If your husband is enrolled in original Medicare and he doesn’t have a supplemental insurance (Medigap) policy, you should consider getting him one. A Medigap plan will help pay for things that aren’t covered by Medicare like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. To search for plans in your area, go to Medicare.gov/plan-compare and click on “Medigap policy only.”
Or, if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO), his plan must provide him at least the same coverage as original Medicare does. Some advantage plans may also offer additional coverage for home care services.
If you can’t afford your Medicare out-of-pocket costs or need help with medication expenses, there are Medicare Savings Programs and the Extra Help program that provide financial assistance for medications. To learn more, see Medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/get-help-paying-costs.
You can also get help through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see ShipHelp.org or call 877-839-2675), which provides free Medicare and long-term care counseling.
Best Senior Travel Discounts in 2022
Dear Savvy Senior,
What are some of the best travel discounts available to seniors? My husband and are about to retire and are interested in traveling more but live on a tight budget.
- Frugal Travelers
There are literally hundreds of different travel-related discounts available to older travelers that can add up to save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip. To qualify, you’ll need to meet the age requirement, which varies by business. Some discounts may be available as soon as you turn 50, but most don’t kick in until you turn 55, 60, 62 or 65. Here’s a rundown of top travel discounts, along with some extra tips to help you save.
Ways to Save
The first thing to know is that most businesses don’t advertise them, but many give senior discounts just for the asking, so don’t be shy.
You also need to be aware that when it comes to senior travel bargains, the “senior discount,” if available, may not always be the best deal. Hotels, resorts, airlines and cruise lines, for example, offer advanced bookings along with special deals and promotions from time to time that may be a lower rate than what the senior discount is. Before you book, always ask about the lowest possible rate and the best deal available.
Another way you can save is to be flexible when you travel. Last minute travel deals can offer huge savings, as does traveling during off-season or off-peak times, and avoiding holidays.
Club memberships can also garner you a wide variety of travel bargains. AARP, for example has dozens of travel discounts available on hotels, rental cars, cruises, vacation packages and more – see AARP.org/benefits-discounts. The American Automobile Association (AAA.com) is another membership club that provides some great travel discounts to members at any age.
Types of Discounts
Here are of some of the best senior travel discounts available in 2022.
Airline: British Airways offers AARP members $65 off economy travel and $200 off business club travel. American, Delta and United also offer senior fares to passengers 65 and older in certain markets but are extremely limited. And JetBlue offers 5 percent discounts for retired military and veterans that are enrolled in Veterans Advantage.
Train: Amtrak provides a 10 percent discount to travelers 65-plus, and a 10 percent discount to passengers over age 60 on cross-border services operated jointly by Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada.
Rental Car: Avis and Budget provide AARP members up to 30 percent off at participating locations. Hertz offers up to 20 off to 50-plus travelers. And Thrifty and Sixt provides 5 percent off to those 50 and older.
Hotels: Certain hotel chains offer discounted rates for seniors usually ranging between 10 and 15 percent off but may vary by location. Some popular hotels that offer these discounts include Best Western, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, IHG Hotels, Marriott, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Red Roof and Wyndham Hotels.
Restaurants: Many restaurant chains offer senior discounts ranging from free drinks, to senior menus, to discounts off your total order, but they may only be available on certain days of the week or at certain locations. Some popular options include Applebee’s, Denny’s, IHOP, Chili’s, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery and McDonalds.
Cruises: Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise lines offer discount rates to cruisers 55 and over on select cruises. And Grand European Travel offers AARP members up to $100 savings per person on river cruises. Call before booking to inquire.
Entertainment and Attractions: Most museums, zoos, aquariums, movie theaters, public golf courses and even ski slopes provide reduced admission to seniors over 60 or 65. And for those 62 or older, one of the best deals available is the America the Beautiful Senior Pass ($20 for an annual senior pass, or $80 for a lifetime pass) which provides admittance to more than 2,000 national parks and recreation sites.
How to Start a Walking Program and Stay Motivated
Dear Savvy Senior,
My doctor recently suggested I start a walking program to help get my weight and blood pressure under control, but I’ve never exercised much and am 66. Can you recommend some tips?
- Hate to Exercise
You should follow your doctor’s orders. Years of research have shown that walking may be the single best exercise you can do to improve your health as you age. It burns calories, which will help you lose weight, builds endurance, enhances muscle tone and it doesn’t pound your joints.
It also helps improve or prevent many age-related health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, dementia and even depression.
But walking is not only good for what ails you. It’s also one of the easiest and most convenient exercises you can do and is completely free. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes that fit well and a little desire. Here are some things you should know to help get you started and stay motivated.
Start out slow if you need to. For many people this means head out the door, walk for 10 minutes, and walk back. Do it every day for a week. If that seems easy, add five minutes to your walks the next week and keep adding five minutes until you are walking as long as you desire. It’s also a smart idea to start and finish your walk with a few simple warm up and cool down stretches. Stretching will make you feel better and help prevent injury.
Most fitness professionals recommend walking about 30 minutes, five or more days a week. Or, for optimal health benefits aim for 10,000 steps per day, which is the equivalent of about five miles.
Your walking pace is also important. While strolling around the park or neighborhood at an easy pace is good for you, a brisker pace that has you breathing heavily, but you are still able to carry on a conversation, provides better health, fitness and weight loss benefits.
While starting a walking program takes initiative, sticking with it takes commitment. Here are some tips to help you stay motivated:
Find a walking buddy: Having a friend to walk with can provide motivation and support along with companionship.
Wear a fitness tracker or pedometer: These devices measure how far you’ve walked in steps and miles, providing motivation by spurring you to meet a particular goal and showing you if you’ve met it. Or, if you use a smartphone there are free pedometer apps you can download like MyPacer.com, Google.com/fit or Accupedo.com.
Join a walking club: To find one in your community, call your nearby medical center, mall, health club, senior center, running shoe stores or Area Agency on Aging to see if they sponsor or know of any clubs or groups. Or try MeetUp.com or the American Volkssport Association (AVA.org), to search for non-competitive walking clubs in your area, or start one.
Keep a journal: Use it to keep track of your walking minutes, steps, or mileage and total it up at the end of each week to see how you’re progressing. There are also free apps like MapMyWalk.com and Walkmeter.com that use GPS to map your walk and measure your distance and time, which is fun and motivating.
Have a backup plan: If bad weather, allergies or other factors limit your outdoor walking have a backup plan like walking at your local mall, buying a home treadmill or joining a health club.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.