Branching Out: Women and Senior Living

Women and Senior Living

Women and Senior Living

by Lynne Katzmann

Perhaps because of the recent election, I have been thinking about women and leadership. Before going any farther, I will tell you outright that I am in favor of more women leaders in our industry.

Having been a business owner and CEO for almost three decades you are probably not surprised to hear me say this, but my reasoning goes deeper: 74% of the people who live in senior housing communities nationwide are women. And, according to the Advisory Board Company, 80% of our team members, the people who make our communities function, are women. But at the top, there are mostly men. In fact, Modern Healthcare’s respected list of the industry’s most influential people named 79 men out of the 100! So, the ratios are inverted when it comes to power and recognition.

I am heartened that there are more women now than when I started Juniper in 1988. Several of the large publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) are led by women. In addition, there are operating companies where the CEO is female and still others with a couple of women in the C Suite. But given we are half of the population and general workforce, and our industry consumer and workforce is so heavily gender skewed, I am dismayed that I am still one of few…

Recent research suggests that companies with gender balance do better in terms of customer satisfaction and value for money. While we may not be ready for a woman in the White House, we must continue to make sure that women have a place in leadership. The first step in making change is awareness. Perhaps Juniper can serve as a role leader. I am proud that our board is gender balanced and our leadership has strong, experienced women as leaders. With greater balance, we can assure that our mission continues to be to “do well by doing good”.

Family Letter of Thanks

A letter from a family member:

My name is Rose and my mom has been at Juniper Village at Naples for about 3 months.  She was previously at another facility, which did not sufficiently meet our needs. 

If first impressions at Juniper can begin a story, then I can’t wait to read the rest of the book!  From the first moment we walked into this facility, there was such a peaceful and pleasant feeling.  The simplicity of Juniper is its’ charm.  We met with Maria, the director, and can honestly say that -an angel has led us to her path.  Her warmth, personality and kindness made this process simple and exciting, for both mom and our family.  She carefully explained all concerns and went over everything in detail.  She is always quick and reliable to follow up and go over any issues at any time. This type of leadership is commendable, and it is reflected in the staff. 

Mom settled nicely in her new room, and is enjoying her surroundings. For someone who speaks mostly Italian, mom has become quite social and made many friends. She enjoys the food and the activities, and most of all-the freedom to be outdoors.  The staff is wonderful, always ready to assist in any way possible.  They greet everyone with a pleasant smile and positive attitude! 

Thru this journey with my mom, I watched her struggle dealing with her onset of memory loss; losing her independence; trying to fit in; and making sense of things around her.  Now when I come to visit mom, I stop and watch, and think how far she has come in this short time. I see a peace and tranquility in her that I have not seen in awhile. In my heart, I know that mom did not find just another facility.   Mom found her HOME.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Rose

Assisted Living May be a Full Medical Tax Deduction

Tax Deduction

Tax Deduction

Caution: The information and observations contained here may be subject to varied interpretations.  Seek independent advice and counsel from your own accounting, tax, and/or financial professionals.

IRS Publication 502, “Medical and Dental Expenses”, (Year 2015 version available online at www.irs.gov), states in the Nursing Home section, “You can include in medical expenses the cost of medical care in a nursing home, home for the aged, or similar institution, for yourself, your spouse, or your dependents. This includes the cost of meals and lodging in the home if a principal reason for being there is to get medical care.”

Adult Children Can Also Take Deduction

In some cases, adult children may also benefit from the tax deduction if their parent qualified as a dependent.  That means the adult children are providing at least 50 percent of the parent’s financial support, including the assisted living monthly service fee.  Check IRS Publication 502 and with your accountant for more specific details.

The 7.5 Percent Exclusion

The publication also advises the taxpayer how the deductions work.

“You can deduct only the amount of your medical and dental expenses that is more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (Form 1040, line 38).  In this publication, the term ‘7.5% limit’ is used to refer to 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.  The phrase ‘subject to the 7.5% limit’ is also used.  This phrase means that you must subtract 7.5% (0.075) of your adjusted gross income from your medical expenses to figure your medical expense deduction.”

But most income-qualified Seniors are already at that threshold deduction level due to their current medical expense deductions (prescription drugs not covered by Medicare, medical co-payments, etc.).

Note, that some medical deductions cannot be claimed if they have been reimbursed by either private insurance or the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  And, unfortunately, low-to-moderate income seniors, who currently pay little or no taxes, will realize little benefit from this provision.

8 Warning Signs to Look for in Your Parent this Holiday Season

Warning Signs

Warning Signs

by Diane Byrne

If your parent(s) live far away, will you be visiting for the first time in several months? If you live nearby, will you be spending more time with your parent(s) than usual? In either case, you may see warning signs you hadn’t noticed before or recognize warning signs you had overlooked.

This time of year, the phones at our senior living communities ring more than usual and more visits are scheduled. Even outside of my work, friends are asking questions about their aging parents. They believe my 30 years experience with the elderly can help them determine whether what they are seeing is of concern.

Although this sort of list has been done before, I think it bears repeating, particularly during this season. Here are eight key warning signs to look for in your parents, changes which might signal something is amiss.

1.  Appearance. Is there a dramatic difference? As my friend said last year, “There was never a time before when Mom didn’t get all dressed up when going out of the house.” When my friend asked about it, her mom looked confused rather than responding in her typical feisty manner.

2.  General hygiene.  Do you notice that your parent has an unpleasant body odor?  This could be a stale or even sour smell, as opposed to the body odor that we associate with sweat.  Elders tend to sweat less, so a lack of hygiene may present differently.  Is Dad’s face unshaven?  Are Mom’s clothes stained and rumpled?

3.  Unusual weight loss. Is Mom thinner or frailer than last time you saw her? If she is not eating regular meals, she is missing vital nutrition. Look in the cupboards and refrigerator. Is there limited food to eat? Expired food? Only sweets?

4.  Changes in home environment. Notice the surroundings. Are bills and mail piled up amidst lots of clutter?  Was your Dad once a stickler for neatness? If so, there could be a problem. Look for other less obvious things such as scorched pans or an overflowing hamper.

5.  Behavior changes. Is your Mom forgetting within a short time what you said to them?  Does Mom appear uncertain or confused when performing familiar tasks?  One friend of mine explained it this way, “Mom just didn’t seem like herself; where once she was confident and knew every detail of her schedule, now she was hesitant and defensive.”

6.  Mood swings or changes in mood.  This could present in an extreme manner; for instance, your naturally gregarious Dad does not leave the house for months. It also could be more subtle and present as a general lack of interest or sense of “ho hum” in doing the things he once loved. 

7.  Loss of mobility or balance. Pay close attention to how your elderly family member moves. Is Mom fearful of walking even a short distance? Having trouble getting up out of her chair? More importantly, does she appear unsteady on her feet? These are all risk factors for falling.

8.  Check Medications. Have prescription medications expired? Are there more pills in the bottle than there should be based on scheduled dose and date of refill? Ask Dad to tell you what medications he takes and when.  If he is unable to do so accurately, this could be a sign that medications are not being taken appropriately.

While this may not seem in the “holiday spirit,” the burden often falls on you and the family to recognize the warning signs that an aging parent is no longer safe to live alone. Remember, assuring your elder parent’s safety may be the best gift you can give.

Learn more about the Different Types of Care available.