Financial Help for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Are there any financial assistance programs that can help grandparents who are raising their grandkids? I'm raising two grandchildren and could use some help.

Money is often an issue for the millions of U.S. grandparents who are raising their grandchildren today. To help with day-to-day expenses, there are a variety of government programs and tax benefits that can make a big difference in stretching your budget. Here's where to look for help.

Financial Assistance Programs


For starters, find out whether your family qualifies for your state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which may include cash assistance, food stamps and free or low-cost daycare. If your household income is too high to qualify as a family, ask about the "child-only grant" for just the grandchild's support alone. You should also find out if your state offers any additional programs like guardianship subsidies, non-parent grants or kinship care.

Contact your state's TANF program (see ACF.HHS.gov/ofa for contact information) or call your county's social services office for more information about these programs.

You should also determine if your grandkids are eligible for Social Security benefits, including benefits for children, survivor benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You can find this out by visiting your local Social Security office or by calling 800-772-1213 or visit SSA.gov.

Also, check out BenefitsCheckUp.org, a comprehensive website that allows you to search for additional financial assistance programs or discounts that you may be eligible for, such as discounts on energy bills and prescription medications.

Tax Benefits


In addition to the financial assistance programs, there are also a number of tax benefits that may help. For example, the Dependency Exemption allows you to deduct $4,050 for each qualifying grandchild in 2017.

There is also the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is available in 2017 to those with moderate to low incomes. The Child Tax Credit is also available in 2017 for those who earn too much money to qualify for the EITC.

If you are employed and are incurring childcare expenses, the Child and Dependent Care Credit may save you money on your 2017 return. Also, if you choose to legally adopt your grandkids, there is an Adoption Credit that provides a federal tax credit of up to $13,570 in 2017.

There are also education-related tax credits available if your grandchildren attended college in 2017. These credits include the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

To learn more about these tax benefits, call the IRS at 800-829-1040 or visit IRS.gov. You can also call the IRS publication line at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail you the publications that further explain the aforementioned benefits for your 2017 tax return. Ask for publications 501, 503, 596, 970, 972. Also be aware that these credits and benefits could change in 2018 pending any tax law changes.

Health Insurance


If your grandchildren need health insurance, depending on your income level, you may be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance through your state's Medicaid Program and the Children's Health Insurance Program. See InsureKidsNow.gov or call 877-543-7669 for more information.

Legal Aid


You also should consider speaking to a family law attorney to discuss the pros and cons of obtaining legal guardianship, custody or adoption. Without some sort of legal custody, you may not be eligible for many of the previously listed financial assistance programs. You may also face problems with basic things like enrolling your grandchildren in school or giving a doctor permission to provide medical assistance. For help locating affordable or free legal assistance, visit www.FindLegalHelp.org or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for referrals.

For more information and resources, see the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center at GrandFamilies.org.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published December 8, 2017

Simple Home Modifications for Seniors Living at Home

What tips or recommendations do you have to help make a home safer for seniors who want to remain living at home? My 76-year-old mother wants to stay living in her own home for as long as possible but she doesn't have the money for big renovations.

There are dozens of small adjustments and simple modifications to help make your mom's home safer for little to no cost. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Eliminate Trip and Slip Hazards


Since falls are the leading cause of home injury among seniors, a good place to start is by arranging or moving your mom's furniture to create clear walking pathways throughout her home. Position any electrical and phone cords along the wall so they will not be tripping hazards. If she has throw rugs, remove them or use carpet tacks or double-sided tape to secure them. Don't forget to pick up items on the floor that could cause her to trip, like papers, shoes or clothes.

In the bathroom, buy some non-skid rugs for the floors and a rubber mat or adhesive nonslip strips for the floor of the tub or shower. Also consider hiring a carpenter to install grab bars in and around the tub/shower and near the toilet for support.

Improve Lighting


Good lighting is a very important safety consideration. As such, make sure to check the wattage ratings on your mom's lamps and light fixtures and install the brightest bulbs allowed. Purchase some nightlights for bathrooms and hallways that are used after dark. Also consider adding under-cabinet task lighting in the kitchen and motion sensor lights outside near her driveway and by the home's front and back doors.

Hand Helpers


If your mom has hand arthritis or problems gripping, install lever-style door handles or doorknob lever adapters, which are easier to use than traditional doorknobs. If her kitchen and bathroom faucets have twist knobs, consider replacing them with single lever, touch or sensor-style faucets. Also consider replacing knobs on cabinets and drawers with easier to grip D-shaped handles.

Easier Living


To help make your mom's kitchen easier to use, organize her cabinets so the things she uses most often are within reach and at eye-level so that she does not need to crouch down or use a step-stool. Also, consider installing pull-out shelves beneath the counter and Lazy Susans in corner cabinets for easier access.

For easier and safer bathing, consider purchasing a shower chair and install a hand-held shower so your mom can bathe from a seated position, if necessary.

Accessibility Solutions


If your mom uses a walker or wheelchair, you can modify her house by installing ramps on entrance steps and mini-ramps to go over high thresholds. You can also install "swing-away" or "swing-clear" hinges on her doors to add two inches of width for easier access. 

Safety Improvements


To keep your mom safe, set her hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent scalding water. If she has stairs, put handrails on both sides. Also, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of her house and place a lightweight, easy-to-use ABC-rated fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location in the kitchen.

For more tips, obtain a copy of AARP's "HomeFit Guide," which is filled with great recommendations. You can access it at AARP.org/homefit or call 888-687-2277 and request a free copy by mail.

Also note that all the previously mentioned products can be purchased either in local retail stores, home improvement stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores or online.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published December 1, 2017

WCCF to sponsor FAFSA day January 9th

Washington County Community Foundation is sponsoring the National Center for College Costs FAFSA Day on January 9th from 1-7 pm at the Community Learning Center.  The National Center for College Costs will be available to assist Washington County students and families file a Free Application for Student Aid  (FAFSA) for the 2018-2019 college academic year, then interpret the results.  This service is free to all Washington County students and families thanks to funding from the Washington County Community Foundation.

The FAFSA Day may be helpful to families who are intimidated by the process and others who had questions.  Families will know instantly which colleges are apt to work best financially and which ones may not work out so well.

For more information about the January 9th FAFSA day, please contact Judy or Lindsey at (812) 883-7334.

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

 

Free Basketball Tickets for Students of Salem Community Schools

Due to the generosity of Stanley Colglazier and Sara Colglazier to the Washington County Community Foundation, students of Salem Community Schools will receive free tickets to the January 26, 2018 JV and Varsity basketball games versus Austin High School.  Students may enter through any door accessible to the gymnasium and will need to sign-in for entrance to the game.   Salem students are strongly encouraged to wear Salem or black and gold attire.  The tickets are available for students attending Salem Community Schools in grades K-12; however, students in elementary school are required to be accompanied by an adult.  This is a great way to spend quality time together as a family while showing school spirit. This is also a great idea for a Boy Scout, Girl Scout, 4-H club, church youth group, or other group field trip.   Be sure to take advantage of these free tickets as the Lions face off against the Eagles of Austin.  For questions regarding tickets, please call the Washington County Community Foundation at 883-7334 or SHS athletic director, Hank Weedin at 883-3904. 

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

 

When Will Medicaid Pay for Nursing Home Care?

 What are the eligibility requirements to get Medicaid coverage for my mother's nursing home care?

The rules and requirements regarding Medicaid eligibility for nursing home care are complicated and will vary according to the state where your mother resides. With that said, here is a general, simplified rundown of the eligibility requirements.

Medicaid Eligibility


Medicaid, the joint federal and state program that covers health care for the poor, is the largest single payer of America's nursing home bills for seniors who do not have the resources to pay for their own care. Most people who enter nursing homes do not qualify for Medicaid right away. Instead, they pay out-of-pocket or through long-term care insurance until they deplete their savings and become eligible for Medicaid.

To qualify for Medicaid, your mother's income and assets will need to be under a certain level. This amount is determined by the state where she resides. In most states, individuals cannot have more than approximately $2,000 in countable assets, which includes cash, savings, investments and other financial resources that can be converted into cash.

Assets that are not taken into account when determining an applicant's Medicaid eligibility include personal possessions, household goods, one vehicle, prepaid funeral plans and a small amount of life insurance. Also, the applicant's principal residence is non-countable to the extent that the home's equity is less than $560,000, or in some states $840,000.

Be aware that your mother's home is not considered a countable asset to determine her eligibility so long as she intends to return home. If she cannot return home, Medicaid may be able to go after the homes sales proceeds to help reimburse her nursing home costs, unless a spouse or other dependent relative lives there or a different exception applies.

If your mother does qualify, all of her income sources, including Social Security and pension checks, must be turned over to Medicaid to pay for her care, except for a small personal needs allowance. This allowance is usually between $30 and $90 a month.

You also need to be aware that your mother cannot simply give away her assets to qualify for Medicaid faster. Medicaid officials will look at her financial records going back five years to root out suspicious asset transfers. If they find one, her Medicaid coverage will be delayed a certain length of time, according to a formula that divides the transfer amount by the average monthly cost of nursing home care in her state.

For example, if your mother lives in a state where the average monthly nursing home care cost is $5,000 and she gave away cash or other assets worth $50,000, she would be ineligible for benefits for 10 months ($50,000 divided by $5,000 = 10).

Spousal Protection


Medicaid also has special rules for married couples when one spouse enters a nursing home and the other spouse remains at home. In these cases, the spouse who is still residing at home may keep one half of the couple's assets up to $120,900 (this amount varies by state), the family home, furniture, household goods and one automobile. This spouse is also entitled to keep a portion of the couple's monthly income, which may be between $2,030 and $3,022 depending on the state. Any income above that amount goes toward the cost of the nursing home recipient's care.

What about Medicare?


Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors 65 and older and individuals with disabilities, does not pay for long-term care. It only helps pay for up to 100 days of rehabilitative nursing home care, which must occur immediately after a hospital stay.

Find Help


For more detailed information, contact your state Medicaid office (see Medicaid.gov for contact information). You can also receive help from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (see ShiptaCenter.org), which provides free counseling on all Medicare and Medicaid issues.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published November 24, 2017
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Wash. Co. Youth Foundation Awards Grants

 

Over $1,600.00 was awarded by the Washington County Youth Foundation for local nonprofits and youth directed community service this year.

$600.00 was awarded for the Happily Ever After Project which was initiated by the Youth Foundation several years ago to encourage our second and third grade students throughout the county to develop a love of reading.  The grant money will be used to purchase books for participating 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms at all three school systems.

Amanda Dixon and Violet Lumley’s shared classroom at East Washington Elementary School will receive up to $345.00 for student service projects.  Students will learn about different types of service and needs in Washington County and assist with meeting those needs.

The Youth Foundation also awarded the Washington County Food Bank and Domestic Violence Shelter $350.00 each for their ongoing needs to help the residents of our community.

The Washington County Youth Foundation is a group of students from our county committed to making Washington County a better place to live.  They have members from Eastern, Salem and West Washington and others who can be sophomores, juniors or seniors at any school or are home schooled, but live in Washington County.  They are involved in the community and wish to continue that involvement through their efforts in the Youth Foundation.

They learn about philanthropy by awarding grants to youth groups for community service projects.  They also raise money for their fund with the Foundation so this idea can go on forever, and they perform community service.  They are heavily involved in their early literacy project, the Happily Ever After Project and in between, they have a little fun!

Washington County Community Foundation is a nonprofit public charity established in 1993 to serve donors, award grants, and provide leadership to improve Washington County forever

End

Assistance Dogs Provide Help and Love

 

What can you tell me about assistance dogs for people with disabilities? My sister, who is 58 years old, has multiple sclerosis and I'm wondering if an assistance dog could help make her life a little easier.

For individuals with disabilities and medical conditions, assistance dogs can be a fantastic help. Assistance dogs also provide companionship and an invaluable sense of security. Here is what you and your sister should know.

While most people are familiar with guide dogs that help people who are blind or visually impaired, there are also other types of assistance dogs that are trained to help in a variety of ways. Assistance dogs—often Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds—can assist those who have physical disabilities, hearing loss and various medical conditions.

Unlike most pets, assistance dogs are highly trained canine specialists that know approximately 40 to 50 commands, are amazingly well-behaved and are permitted to accompany their owner anywhere the public is allowed. Here is a breakdown of the different types of assistance dogs and what they can help with.

Service dogs: These dogs are specially trained to help people with physical disabilities due to multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, chronic arthritis and many other disabling conditions. They help by performing tasks their owners cannot complete or have trouble doing, such as carrying or retrieving items, picking up dropped items, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, assisting with dressing and undressing, helping with balance and assisting with household chores.

Guide dogs: For the blind and visually impaired, guide dogs help their owners get around safely by navigating around obstacles, stopping at curbs and steps and avoiding traffic.

Hearing dogs: For those who are deaf or hearing impaired, hearing dogs can alert their owners to specific sounds such as ringing telephones, doorbells, alarm clocks, microwave or oven timers, smoke alarms, approaching sirens, crying babies or when someone calls out the owner's name.

Seizure alert/response dogs: For people with epilepsy or other seizure disorders, these dogs can recognize when their owners are about to have a seizure and provide them with advance warning so the owner can get to a safe place or take medication to prevent or lessen the severity of the seizure. These dogs are also trained to retrieve medications and use a pre-programmed phone to call for help. They can also be trained to help people with diabetes, panic attacks and various other conditions.

Finding a Dog


If your sister is interested in getting a service dog, contact some assistance dog training programs. To find them, Assistance Dogs International provides a listing of programs on their website that you can access at AssistanceDogsInternational.org.

After you locate a few programs, you'll need to either visit their website or call to find out the types of assistance dogs offered, the areas they serve, if they have a waiting list and what upfront costs will be involved. Some groups offer dogs for free, some ask for donations and others charge thousands of dollars.

To get an assistance dog, your sister will need to show proof of her disability, which her physician can provide. She will be asked to submit an application and complete an interview process. She will also need to stay at the training facility for a week or two so she can get to know her assistance dog and receive training on how to interact and communicate with her dog.

It is also important to understand that assistance dogs are not for everybody. They require time, money and care that your sister or other family members must be able and willing to provide.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published November 17, 2017

Social Security Options for Divorced Spouses

 

As a divorced woman, am I entitled to my ex-husband's Social Security benefits? I was married for 14 years and would like to know how this works.

Yes, you may be eligible for divorced spouse Social Security benefits if you meet certain criteria. Here is how it works.

As a divorced spouse, you may collect a Social Security retirement benefit on the earnings record of an ex-spouse if you are at least age 62, were married for a minimum of 10 years, are unmarried now and are not eligible for a higher benefit based on your own earnings.

In order to collect, your former spouse must also be at least 62 and eligible for Social Security benefits. Note, however, that your ex-spouse does not have to be receiving his Social Security benefits in order for you to collect your benefits, as long as you have been divorced for at least two years.

Even if your ex-spouse is married, it will not affect your right to divorcee benefits, nor will it affect your ex's retirement benefits or his current spouse's benefits.

Benefit Amount


Divorced spouses may receive up to 50% of their ex spouses' full Social Security benefits. This amount could be less than 50% if you choose to receive these benefits before reaching full retirement age, which is age 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. To find out your full retirement age and see how much your benefits will be reduced by taking them early visit SSA.gov/planners/retire/retirechart.html.

Keep in mind that if you qualify for benefits based on your own work history, you will receive the larger of the two benefits. You cannot receive benefits on both your record and your ex's work record.

To find out how much your retirement benefits will be, view your Social Security statement at SSA.gov/myaccount. To get an estimate of your ex's benefits, call Social Security at 800-772-1213. Note, in order to receive accurate information, you will be asked to provide your ex-spouse's Social Security Number.

Divorced Survivor


You also need to know, if your ex-spouse dies and you were married for 10 or more years, you become eligible for divorced survivor benefits. These benefits may be worth up to 100% of what your ex-spouse was entitled to receive.

Survivor's benefits are available to divorced spouses as early as age 60 (or age 50 if the surviving spouse is disabled). Be aware, if you remarry before age 60 then you become ineligible to receive survivor benefits unless the marriage ends. Remarrying after age 60 will not affect your eligibility.

Also, if you are receiving divorced spousal benefits when your ex-spouse dies, you will automatically be switched over to the higher paying survivor benefit.

Switching Strategies


If you are divorced and were born on or before January 1, 1954, you may be able to boost your benefits through a "switching strategy." If you worked and are eligible for Social Security benefits on your own earnings record, you can file a "restricted application" with Social Security at age 66 to collect a divorced spousal benefit. This benefit will be equal to half of what your ex receives. Then, once you reach age 70, you can elect to stop receiving the ex-spousal benefit and switch to your own benefit, which will be 32% higher than it would have been at your full retirement age.

Divorced widows (and widowers) also have switching options regardless of when they were born. If, for example, your ex-spouse passes away while you are collecting Social Security retirement benefits on your own record, you can switch to survivor's benefits if the payment is larger. Alternatively, if you are collecting survivor's benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefits if it offers a larger payment and you are eligible to start receiving retirement benefits.

For more information visit SSA.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html or call 800-772-1213.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published November 10, 2017

How to Protect Yourself from Peripheral Artery Disease

 

For the last six months or so, I have been having problems with my hips and legs cramping when I walk, although they feel better once I stop. I thought it was just because I am getting older, until my friend told me about a leg disease called Peripheral Artery Disease. I am concerned that I may have it. What can you tell me about this condition?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a health condition that affects up to 12 million Americans. It develops when the arteries that carry blood to the legs and feet become narrowed or clogged over the years with fatty deposits or plaque, causing poor circulation.

You need to be aware that PAD is a systemic disease. As such, people who have PAD are also much more likely to have clogged arteries in other areas of the body like the heart, neck or brain, which greatly increase the risks of heart attack or stroke.

Few Symptoms


Unfortunately, PAD goes undiagnosed and untreated far too often because most people who have it experience few, if any, symptoms. The most common symptom is similar to what you are experiencing, which is pain and cramping in the hip, thigh or calf muscles. The pain often intensifies when walking or exercising, but usually subsides after resting for a few minutes.

Another reason PAD is under-diagnosed is because many people assume that aches and pains go along with aging and simply live with it instead of reporting it to their doctors.

Other possible symptoms to be aware of include leg numbness or weakness, coldness or changes in skin color in the lower legs and feet and ulcers or sores on the legs or feet that do not heal.

Are You at Risk?


Like many health conditions, the risk of developing PAD increases with age. Those most vulnerable are people over the age of 50 with a history of smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. Also at risk, are those who are overweight or have a family history of PAD, heart attack or stroke. African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with PAD.

If you are experiencing any symptoms or if you are at increased risk of developing PAD, you should be tested by your doctor or vascular specialist. He or she may perform a quick and painless ankle-brachial index test, which is done by measuring the blood pressure in your ankle and your arm and comparing the two numbers.

With early detection, many cases of PAD can be treated with lifestyle modifications including an improved diet, increased physical activity and smoking cessation.

If lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor may also prescribe medicine to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and control pain and other symptoms. For severe PAD, the treatment options are angioplasty (inflating and then removing a tiny balloon in the artery to restore blood flow), the insertion of a stent to reopen the artery or a graft bypass to reroute blood around the blockage.

To learn more about PAD, visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/pad.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

 

Published November 3, 2017

Getting a Handle on Prescription Medications

 

I'm concerned that my 80-year-old mother is taking too many medications. She currently takes 10 different drugs prescribed by three different doctors. I think this may be causing some problems. She also struggles to keep up with all the drug costs. Any suggestions?

There is no doubt that older Americans are taking more prescription medications than ever before. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, around 40% of seniors, age 65 and older, take five or more medications. The more medications one takes, the higher the risk of drug-related problems and the more likely the individual is taking a medication that he or she does not need.

Brown Bag Review


To help you get a better handle on the medications your mom is taking, gather all of her pill bottles and put them in a bag to take to her primary doctor or pharmacist for a thorough drug checkup. You will want to include all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. This "brown bag review" will give you a chance to ask questions, check for duplicate meds, excessive doses and dangerous interactions.

Medicare Part B covers free yearly medication reviews with a doctor through its annual wellness visits. Additionally, many Medicare Part D plans cover medication reviews with a pharmacist, as well.

During your mom's review, you will want to make sure that you go over the basics for each medication or supplement so that you understand what the prescription is for, how long she should take it, what it costs and if there are any side effects or potential interactions. Also, ask if there are any meds that your mom can stop taking, if there are any nonprescription options that might be safer and whether she can switch to a lower dose.

To help your mom avoid future medication problems, make sure her primary doctor is aware of all the medications, over-the-counter drugs and supplements she takes. You should also keep an updated list of everything she takes and share it with every doctor she sees. Be sure that your mom fills all of her prescriptions at the same pharmacy and informs her pharmacist of any over-the counter, herbal or mail-order prescriptions she is taking so that there is complete oversight of her medications.

How To Save


To help cut your mom's medication costs, there are a number of cost-saving ideas you can consider. Find out if there are any generic alternatives. Switching to generic medications can save anywhere between 20 and 90%.

You should ask your mom's prescribing doctors if any of the pills she takes could be cut in half. Pill splitting would allow her to receive two months' worth of medicine for the price of one month. Also, for the drugs she takes long-term, ask for a three-month prescription, which is usually cheaper than buying month-to-month.

Because drug prices can vary depending on where you buy them, another way to save is by shopping around (GoodRX.com will help you compare drug prices at U.S. pharmacies). You may also want to find out if your mom's drug insurance plan offers better prices through preferred pharmacies or mail-order services.

Finally, if your mom's income is limited, she may be eligible to get help through medication assistance programs offered through pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charitable organizations. To find these types of programs use BenefitsCheckUp.org.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

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