Watch Out for Unexpected Recurring Charges on a Parent’s Credit Card

Over dinner at my parents’ house recently my mother commented that a recurring charge appeared on her Mastercard statement every month for at least a year.

Read this Seattle Times March 2012 Article

Read this Seattle Times March 2012 article.

“I have no idea what it is,” she said. She had been checking her bills and was unsure about what to do.

I looked at the bill and sure enough, on the second of the month during all of 2013 mother was charged $9.95. When I did a bit more research, I found that the company charging the fee presents as a savings club, offering discount opportunities.

I’ve listed some of them below.

  • Quarterly grocery rebates
  • 20% savings on grocery gift cards from trusted vendors
  • Pre-paid debit cards for trade-ins
  • Discounts on auto maintenance at a variety of car repair franchises
  • Up to $250 reimbursement on the deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance when an insured loss occurs.

Trouble is, the person who sold my mother this “membership” when she was buying a blouse at a well-known mid-range national department store, did so without telling my mother what she was really purchasing. My mother thought she was getting a $10 discount on the sale and on subsequent purchases at the store.                       Continue reading

Dad’s New iPad: How We Decided What to Buy – iPad for Dad #25

iPad II

This picture has the old operating system. I’ll take a screen shot of his new iPad  once it is up and running.

I finally figured out what iPad model to purchase for my 90-year-old dad as a Christmas 2013 present, and I thought I’d share my decision-making process here, just in case others are dealing with the same conundrum. My mom is under strict instructions to keep him away from this blog (he is a regular reader) until mid-day on December 25th.

Deciding what to buy as a replacement iPad took quite a bit of time and energy, mostly because a range of models are available at a range of prices. Below are some of the factors that contributed to my decision. At the end you can find out what we bought for dad’s Christmas present.

iPad Keyboard – Dad has an easy-to-use keyboard. He sets the iPad right into the 30-pin port and begins typing. His speaker system for music connects the same way. The newest iPad models come with the smaller lightning to USB connector. To change connections, he would need to change keyboards. Moreover, the newest keyboards are all bluetooth, and I really did not want my dad to have to add keeping track of bluetooth to his digital iPad tasks. We searched for keyboards that would connect the same way as his older one — just with smaller connections, but they just aren’t available.                         Continue reading

Pneumonia Vaccinaton Makes a Difference

pneumonia vaccine

Visit the CDC page on the pneumonia vaccine.

Aging parents and elders need to get a flu shot each year, and  they also need to receive a pneumonia vaccination.  And just about everyone else does, too.

Each fall I ask my parents about their flu shots (You can also read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza FAQ), and each year, by the time I get around to asking, they have already visited their doctor to receive their vaccinations. (Medicare covers an annual flu shot.) Several years ago they each also received the pneumonia vaccine, more formally known as pneumococcal vaccine. I wondered how often a person should receive the inoculation for pneumonia.

Recently as I was reading on another topic for this blog, I discovered — over at the WEB-MD site — that my parents should probably get a second pneumonia vaccine at the five-year mark. I’ve made a note to myself to ask them when we next visit so we can be sure they get the second shot at the appropriate time. Interestingly, while the flu shots are usually administered in the fall, the pneumonia shot can be given at any time of the year.

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Keeping Elders Out of Hospitals as Much as Possible

H 4 hospAnyone who has spent time with an elder parent in the hospital knows just how easy it is for one problem to be solved only to have the person discharged with different problems. This is not necessarily the fault of the medical caregivers or the hospital itself — it’s a result of a system that puts older people into beds and keeps them there. Add in bed alarms, the inability to move much, and that hospitals isolate elder patients from their routines and support communities, and you have a recipe for unsuccessful care, a result of age associated hospital complications.

So I recommend reading The Hospital is No Place for the Elderly, a November 20, 2013 article that appeared in the The Atlantic. This piece aptly illustrates the conundrum of frail elderly patients with chronic health issues admitted to hospitals where medical care focuses primarily on fixing acute health problems. The difficulty is that most of frail elders’ medical issues cannot be fixed — but the quality of their lives can improve. Author Jonathan Rauch also describes several programs in the United States — teams of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals — that collaborate to keep patients as healthy as possible and out of the hospital. The teams even save money.             Continue reading

Low Sodium Thanksgiving – Third Year

stuffing-croutonsI am reprising this post from two years ago when I cooked my first low-sodium Thanksgiving dinner — attending to sodium because of my father’s congestive heart failure diet requirements.

Most preparations are staying the same, though I am dividing the stuffing this year into two parts. The first half I will prepare in a crockpot. The other half I’ll roast inside a pumpkin. Watch for a picture.

Each year this preparation gets easier and easier, because so many people are experimenting and trying out new ideas. But another reason is my local Penzy’s spice store  — the selection of low salt and no salt spices continues to increase giving me more and more options.

Start November 2011 Thanksgiving Post

I’ve just read an article, Experts Warn: Thanksgiving Poses Hidden Sodium Dangers, describing the dangers of stealth sodium in Thanksgiving foods. The Associated Press article, which appeared in points out that people can reach and exceed the appropriate daily sodium intake just in the one holiday meal. A big thank-you to my cousin, Sandy, for sending me the link.        Continue reading

When to Start Social Security?

When we offer any kind of support to aging parents, we learn quite a bit about Social Security along the way. One thing we discover is information about the various retirement ages that qualify for benefit payments. If other adult children are anything like me, they begin to think about their retirement years ahead and just how Social Security fits into the picture.

social security payments

Visit the Social Security website to learn more about benefits.

The New York Times Your Money column published an article that addresses just these issues. In The Payoff in Waiting to Collect Social Security, columnist Tara Siegel Bernard explains how Social Security payments work and how they increase from year to year if a person is able to put off collecting retirement benefits from the program for even a few years. The November 15, 2013, column describes a typical couple considering when to apply for Social Security benefits and how they might benefit from delaying payments if they can afford to do so, quoting experts from the Boston College (BC) Center for Retirement Research, which happens also to publish The Social Security Claiming Guide, a booklet that walks readers detail-by-detail through the steps that retirees need to consider when the start thinking about when to apply for payments.

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