Archive for April, 2009

Golf and Alzheimer’s, another good reason for putting all the bad shots behind you.

Monday, April 27th, 2009

It's All About Aging  golfers silhouetted If you’re a golfer, you know all the frustrations inherent with the game. That awful tee shot, the rimmed putt, and then, the shot that brings you back every time (mine was on 13 yesterday), but would you ever think it was therapeutic? And for Alzheimer’s patients? Hardly likely!

Well, a group in California found that Alzheimer’s patients who had previously played the game, retained the muscle memory, and were able to find pleasure, once again,  chasing after a dimpled white ball. The article in the Wall Street Journal focused on the pleasure derived from doing “an activity that once brought about true pleasure” and found “the agitation can dissipate, their minds can clear, and memories related to that activity can return.”

So the next time you find yourself cursing over that chunked shot, know that it truly is history, and when your memory fades, it will always be the good shots that bring you back.

Before you take care of aging parents, take care of yourself.

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

contractHow do you want to be taken care of?


If you think it’s selfish to take care of yourself first, remember there’s a reason the airlines always tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then help others. Or weren’t you paying attention?

Unless you’re in an emergency situation, before you start working on getting your parents, or aging family members lives in order, what about your own?

Do you have the following?

  • Will
  • Health Care Proxies
  • Living Wills
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Funeral Directives
  • Cyber: User names and passwords
  • Safe Deposit Box

Who knows where these papers and/or the safe deposit box are? Are there copies with lawyers, etc? Do you have a lawyer? Where is their contact information?


Other documents you might want to keep in a central and safe location in case of a different kind of emergency (think Hurricane Katrina) are:

  • Insurance Policies (include photos of all valuables with your homeowner’s policy)
  • Copies of utility bills (to establish residency)
  • Medical Records
  • Family Health Profile
  • List of Professionals with contact information
    • Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Insurance Brokers, Financial Advisers, etc.
  • Personal: Copies of Drivers Licenses, Passports etc.
  • Excel sheet listing your possessions and their distribution

What have we forgotten? Please add anything you think might be missing.

Tax Deductions & Alzheimer’s: are you taking all the medical deductions allowed?

Monday, April 13th, 2009


According to Martin Petroff, the principal of elder law firm Martin Petroff & Associates, most people don’t realize that many caregiving related expenses paid for and  by the taxpayer, taxpayer’s spouse, and dependents, can be tax deductible. In a recent article he wrote for the Alzheimer’s Association, and quoted here, Martin lists some of the possibly overlooked deductions. Be sure to check with your accountant to see if they are applicable in your situation.

Some tax deductible expenses that might be incurred by someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, stroke, congestive heart failure, etc. are:

  • Home care, attendant care, home-based respite care.
  • Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, group homes, and adult day-care
  • Home improvements: Reasonable costs to make home improvements are considered medical expenses if the expense is directly related to medical care
  • Psychiatric care
  • Health insurance premiums including qualified long term care insurance
  • Nursing services not preformed by a nurse such as giving medications, as well as bathing and grooming the patient
  • Personal care services including protection from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment
  • Durable medical equipment, supplies, diapers

This is just a partial list, and you should always check with your accountant. Are there other overlooked expenses we should know about?

Living and dealing with Alzheimer’s: Ann’s story and life lessons learned, part 2

Monday, April 6th, 2009

It's All About Aging Ann Mehl's mom, SallyAccording to the Center for Disease Control, the numbers surrounding dementia are staggering. Worldwide, there are now an estimated 24 million people living with some form of dementia. Sooner or later, we all will deal with parents and loved ones whose health and memories are failing them. As my siblings and I learn to care for my mom who has dementia, here are some of the lessons I have found to be important.

Get the paperwork in order. Now!
My mom used to keep meticulous records. But as her forgetfulness grows, her efficiency diminishes. In order to establish personal management over finances, our family consulted an adviser and reviewed my mom’s budget, assets, insurance policy and pension benefits. This often takes time on the ground with the bank, over the phone with agents or in meetings with accountants, lawyers, etc. It requires patience, but you will be pleased with yourself later should your parent get to a stage where you need to be in more control of matters.

Here some things to keep in mind:

Consider establishing Power of Attorney as well as Medical Power of Attorney.
If you need to register a joint checking account in order to pay bills, begin the process now.
Consolidate any outstanding debt or credit card balances into one payment plan.
Carve out a living will and trust if they are not already in place.
Keep an active list of all the medications and physician records in the case of an emergency.

Ann Mehl, Certified Life and Career Coach,