Choosing a Continuing-Care Retirement Community

an you give me some tips on picking an all-inclusive residential retirement community that offers independent housing, along with assisted living and nursing care? My husband and I are looking to downsize and simplify, but we want our next move to be our last.

If you want your next move to be your final one, an all-inclusive retirement community — also known as a continuing-care retirement community (CCRC) — is a great option to consider.

CCRCs are different from other types of senior housing because they provide all levels of housing, services and care in one convenient location. While they vary greatly in appearance and services, most CCRCs offer apartments or single-family homes for active independent seniors. They also offer onsite assisted living for seniors who require help with basic living tasks like bathing, dressing or going to the bathroom and nursing home care for residents who are in declining health.

CCRCs also provide a bevy of resort-style amenities and services that include community dining halls, exercise facilities, housekeeping and transportation, as well as many social and recreational activities. Be aware that these services often come at a hefty price. Most communities have entry fees that range from the low to mid-six figures plus ongoing monthly fees that can range from around $2,000 to over $4,000 depending on the facility, services and the contract option you choose.

With more than 2,000 CCRCs in operation throughout the U.S., finding a facility that fits your lifestyle, needs and budget will require some legwork. Here are some steps to help you proceed.

Make a list: Start by calling the Area Agency on Aging (call 800-677-1116 for contact information) in the area you want to live for a list of CCRCs.

Call the facilities: Once you have located a few local facilities, call them to find out if they have any vacancies, what they charge and if they provide the types of services you want or need.

Take a tour: Many CCRCs encourage potential residents to stay overnight and have a few meals in their dining hall. During your visit, notice the upkeep of the facility and talk to the current residents to see how they like living there. Also, check out the assisted living and nursing facilities and find out how decisions are made to move residents from one level of care to another.

To learn more about a particular facility, call the state long-term care ombudsman (see who can tell you whether the assisted living and nursing care services within the CCRC have had any complaints or other problems. You can also use Medicare's nursing home compare tool at

Review contracts and fees: Most CCRCs offer three types of contracts: Type A, or life-care contracts, which have the highest entry fee but cover all levels of long-term care as needed; Type B, or modified contracts, which have lower entry fees but limit long-term care services in the initial fee; and Type C, or fee-for-service contracts, which offer the lowest entrance fees but require you to pay extra for long-term care if you need it.

You also need to find out what yearly price increases you can expect. You should also inquire as to how much of your entry fee is refundable if you move or die and what happens if you outlive your financial resources.

Research the CCRC: Find out who owns the facility, get a copy of their most recently audited financial statement and a copy of their contract and review these with your lawyer or financial advisor. You should also request information regarding their occupancy rate. Unless it is a newer community filling up, occupancy below 85% could be a red flag that the facility is having financial or management problems.

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.

Travel to Nashville for a Gaylord Country Christmas with WCCF

Washington County Community Foundation is sponsoring a trip to Music City, USA, Nashville, Tennessee, December 12-14, 2018. The trip will depart from the Learning Center/YMCA parking lot the morning of December 12th for a short trip to Nashville, TN. You will stay at the famed Gaylord Opryland Hotel, always an exquisite stay. The Country Christmas Package includes tickets to Fantasy in Ice – an exhibit of carvings, sculptures, and holiday theme displays – all made of ice. Later that evening, you will enjoy a Christmas Dinner Show featuring Trace Adkins.

Day 2 of the trip includes tickets to ride on the Delta River Flatboat and the evening will be spent attending a live holiday performance at the Grand Ole Opry.

The last day of the trip will start at Opry Mills to finish up some last minute Christmas shopping. Following lunch, you will depart Nashville to head home to Salem. The bus will arrive in the evening.

The trip not only includes hotel and transportation, but it also includes tickets for the attractions listed above. The cost for the trip is $649.00 per person for double occupancy, $819.00 per person for single occupancy, and $579.00 per person for triple occupancy.  There is a $200.00 deposit due at time of sign-up and the balance is due by October 11th.

For more information about the trip or to make a reservation, please contact WCCF at 812-883-7334. Join Washington County Community Foundation in getting to know your neighbors and your community in a fun, adventurous way.

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

Could You Have COPD?

I have struggled with some shortness of breath for the past five years or so. I just thought I was getting older and out of shape, but a friend recently mentioned I may have COPD. What can you tell me about this?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a serious lung disease that, over time, makes it hard to breathe. COPD is used to describe a variety of lung diseases, including, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. An estimated 24 million people have COPD today, but about half do not realize it.

Many people mistake shortness of breath as a normal part of aging or a result of being out of shape, but that is not necessarily the case. COPD develops slowly, so symptoms may not be obvious until damage has occurred. Common symptoms include an ongoing cough, a cough that produces a lot of mucus, shortness of breath (especially during physical activity), wheezing and chest tightness.

Those most at risk are smokers, former smokers over the age of 40 and people who have had long-term exposure to other lung irritants like secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and dust. Additionally, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic condition known as AAT deficiency, can increase the risk of developing COPD.

If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, you need to get tested by your doctor. Spirometry is a simple breathing test that your doctor can use to tell if you have COPD and, if so, how severe it is. Early screening can also identify COPD before major loss of lung function occurs.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD. However, if you do indeed have COPD, you need to know that there are things you can do to help manage symptoms and protect your lungs from further damage, including:

Quit smoking: If you smoke, the best thing you can do to prevent more damage to your lungs is to quit. To get help, the National Cancer Institute offers a number of smoking cessation resources at or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can also ask your doctor about prescription anti-smoking drugs that can help reduce nicotine cravings.

Avoid air pollutants: Stay away from things that could irritate your lungs like dust, allergens and strong fumes. Also, to help improve your air quality at home, you can remove dust-collecting clutter, keep carpets clean, run an exhaust fan when using smelly cleaning products, bug sprays or paint, ban smoking indoors and keep windows closed when outdoor air pollution is high (see for daily air-quality reports).

Guard against flu: The flu can cause serious problems for people who have COPD, so you should get a flu shot every fall and wash and sanitize your hands frequently to avoid getting sick. You can also ask your doctor about getting the pneumococcal immunizations for protection against pneumonia.

Take prescribed medications: Bronchodilators (taken with an inhaler) are commonly used for COPD. They help relax the airway muscles to make breathing easier. Depending on how severe your condition, you may need a short-acting version to use only when symptoms occur or a long-acting prescription for daily use. Inhaled steroids may also help decrease inflammation, reduce mucus and prevent flare-ups.

For more information, visit the COPD Foundation at or call the COPD information line at 866-316-2673.

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 August 17, 2018

How People Can Find Clinical Trials

What can you tell me about clinical trials and how to go about finding one?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans participate in clinical trials in hopes of gaining access to the latest, and possibly greatest (but not yet on the market) treatments for various types of illnesses. Clinical trials can vary greatly in what they are designed to do, so be careful to choose one that actually benefits you. Here is what you should know along with some tips for locating a clinical trial near you.

Clinical Trials

A clinical trial is a test or research study of a drug, device or medical procedure using people as the trial subjects. These trials — sponsored by drug companies, doctors, hospitals or the federal government — are conducted to learn whether a new treatment is safe and effective. These new treatments are also unproven, so there may be some risk involved.

All clinical trials have certain eligibility criteria (age, gender, health status, etc.) that you must meet in order to be accepted. Before taking part in a trial, you will be asked to sign an informed consent agreement. You can also leave a study at any time.

Find a Trial

Every year, there are more than 100,000 clinical trials conducted in the U.S. You can find them by asking your doctor, who may be monitoring trials in his or her specialty. You can also look for them on your own at This website, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, contains a comprehensive database of federally and privately supported clinical studies in the U.S. and abroad on a wide range of diseases and conditions. The website includes information about each trial's purpose, who may participate, locations and phone numbers.

If you want some help finding the right trial, try ResearchMatch, a web-based resource created by Vanderbilt University that connects willing patients with researchers of clinical trials. Alternatively, check out the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation. This organization will conduct a thorough clinical trials search for you and mail or email you the results within a week or two. Call 877-633-4376 for assistance. Those with dementia and their caregivers can also locate clinical trials at the Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch.

Things to Know

Before deciding to participate in a trial, you need to first discuss it with your doctor to make sure it is appropriate for you. Then, schedule an appointment with the study's medical team and ask a variety of questions, such as:
  • What is the purpose of the study and can it improve my condition?
  • What are the risks?
  • What kinds of tests and treatments does the study involve, and how often and where are they performed?
  • Is the experimental treatment in the study being compared with a standard treatment or a placebo?
  • Who is paying for the study? Will I have any costs, and if so, will my insurance plan or Medicare cover the rest?
  • What if something goes wrong during or after the trial and I need extra medical care? Who will cover those costs?
For more information on clinical trials for older adults visit the National Institute on Aging at This website has many informative articles including one titled "Questions to Ask Before Participating in a Clinical Trial."

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 August 10, 2018

The Consequences of Dying Without a Will

What will happen to my money and possessions if I die without a will?

If you pass away without a will, what happens to your assets will be determined by the laws of your state of residence. Every state has intestacy laws in place to distribute property and assets to a deceased person's closest relatives when there is no will or trust. These laws vary from state-to-state.

Here is a general (not state-specific) breakdown of what can happen to a person's assets, depending on whom they leave behind.

Married with children : When a married person with children passes away without a will, property, investments and financial accounts that are "jointly owned" with a right of survivorship automatically go to the surviving co-owner (typically a spouse or child) without going through probate, which is the legal process that distributes a deceased person's assets.

For all other property or individual financial accounts, the laws of most states award one-third or one-half to the surviving spouse, while the rest goes to the children.

Married with no children or grandchildren : Some states award the entire estate to the surviving spouse, or everything up to a certain amount (for example, the first $100,000). Some states award only one-third to one-half of the decedent's separately owned assets to the surviving spouse, with the remainder generally going to the deceased person's parents, or if the parents are dead, to brothers and sisters.

Jointly owned property, investments, financial accounts, or community property automatically goes to the surviving co-owner.

Single with children : State laws provide that the entire estate goes to the children, in equal shares. If an adult child of the decedent has died, then that child's children (the decedent's grandchildren) will receive a distribution from the decedent's estate.

Single with no children or grandchildren : In this situation, most state laws favor the deceased person's parents. If both parents are deceased, many states divide the property among the brothers and sisters, or if they are not living, their children (i.e., the deceased's nieces and nephews). If there are no nieces and nephews, it goes to the next of kin. If there are no family members living, then the state takes the property.

Make a Will

To ensure your assets go to those you want to receive them, you need to create a will. If you have a simple estate and an uncomplicated family situation, there are several good, low-cost, do-it-yourself resources that can help.

If you need assistance or if you have a complicated financial situation, blended family or have considerable assets, you should hire an attorney. An experienced attorney can make sure you cover all your bases, which can help avoid family confusion and squabbles after you are gone. Costs will vary depending on where you reside, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $1,000 for a will.

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorney and the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils are good resources that have online directories to help you find someone in your area. If money is tight, check with your state's bar association to find low-cost legal help in your area. Or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 for a referral.

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 August 3, 2018

How Medicare Covers Diabetes

How well does Medicare cover diabetes? I am 66 years old and was recently told by my doctor that I have pre-diabetes. If it progresses to full-fledged diabetes what can I expect from Medicare?

Medicare provides a wide range of coverage to help beneficiaries who have diabetes, as well as those who are at risk of getting it — but they do not cover everything. Here is a breakdown of what Medicare covers when it comes to diabetes services and supplies along with some other tips that can help you save money.

Screenings: If you have pre-diabetes or some other health conditions that put you at risk of getting diabetes — such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, being overweight, or having a family history of diabetes — Medicare Part B (medical insurance) will pay 100% of the cost of up to two diabetes screenings every year. 

Doctor's services: If you are a Medicare beneficiary, Medicare will pay 80% of the cost of all doctor's office visits that are related to diabetes after you have met this year's $183 (for 2018) Part B deductible. 

Prevention program: Just launched in April, the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program provides lifestyle change programs offered by health professionals to help you prevent diabetes. This is available for free to all Part B beneficiaries who have pre-diabetes. 

Self-management: If you have diabetes, Medicare covers 80% of the cost of self-management training to teach you how to successfully manage your diabetes. 

Supplies and medications: After you have met your deductible, Medicare Part B covers 80% of the cost of glucose monitors, test strips (100 per month if you use insulin, or 33 per month if you do not), lancets, external insulin pumps and insulin (if you use a pump). 

If, however, you inject insulin with a syringe, Medicare's Part D prescription drug benefit will help pay your insulin costs and the supplies needed to inject it — if you have a plan. Part D plans also cover most other diabetes medications too. You will need to check your plan for specific coverage details. 

Nutrition therapy: Medicare will pick up the entire tab for medical nutrition therapy, which teaches you how to adjust your diet so you can better manage your condition. You will need a doctor's referral to get this service. 

Foot care: Foot problems are common among diabetics. Medicare covers 80% of foot exams every six months for individuals with diabetes-related nerve damage. They will also help pay for therapeutic shoes or inserts prescribed by a podiatrist. 

Eye exams: Because diabetes increases the risks of getting glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, 80% of dilated medical eye exams are covered each year, but eye refractions for glasses are not. 

For more information, see "Medicare's Coverage of Diabetes Supplies & Services" online booklet at

Other Insurance

If you have a Medicare supplemental (Medigap) policy, it may pay some of the costs that Medicare does not cover. Call your plan's benefits administrator for more information. 

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO), your plan must give you at least the same diabetes coverage as original Medicare does, but it may have different rules. You should check your policy for details. 

Financial Assistance

If your income is low and you cannot afford your Medicare out-of-pocket costs, you may be able to get help through Medicare Savings Programs. To find out if you qualify or to apply, contact your state Medicaid program. 

Also, find out if you are eligible for "Extra Help" which helps Medicare Part D beneficiaries with their medication expenses. Visit or call Social Security (800-772-1213) to learn more.

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 July 27, 2018

WCCF offering $40,000.00 in Fall Grant Cycle

Grants for the WCCF Fall Grant Cycle are issued from the Washington County Community Foundation’s Touch Tomorrow funds and are made possible by the generous donors of the Foundation.  The total amount available for this grant cycle is $40,000.00.

Grant applications for the fall grant cycle are available at the WCCF office located on Shelby Street in the Learning Center complex or by emailing The Washington County Community Foundation is currently accepting applications. The application deadline will be 3:30pm, September 13, 2018. For more information, you may call Judy Johnson or Lindsey Wade-Swift at the Foundation office. The number is 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


WCCF is Offering Scholarships to Non-Traditional Students

The Washington County Community Foundation is now offering scholarships to non-traditional students through its Education Matters initiative.  The deadline for applications is October 4, 2018 by 3:30 PM.

Education Matters is a regional undertaking organized by the community foundations that serve Washington, Scott, Harrison, Clark and Floyd counties to try to increase the number of working adults in our region who started but never completed some form of post-secondary education – education that extends beyond high school.

You might be surprised to learn that in Southeast Indiana, only 25% of our workforce has an associate’s, bachelors or professional degree, compared to 38% nationally. Yet one in four of our community’s adult workers has earned some college credits! That’s over 3,100 people in Washington County!  For whatever reason, they started but never completed their post-secondary education. This represents a tremendous amount of untapped potential in our community.

The following criteria have been established for scholarships:  

  1. Annual awards will not exceed $3,000 the first twelve months and $5,000 per person in any subsequent twelve month period.
  2. Scholarship applicants must be a minimum of 28 years old as of the date of application.
  3. Only individuals who can demonstrate continuing legal residence in Washington County for at least the past five years are eligible. Documentation such as tax forms, housing receipts, or utility bills will be used to verify residency and/or household income.
  4. Scholarship awards may be used for tuition, course-related fees, or books only. Checks will only be written to an educational institution or certified training provider.
  5. The application deadline is October 4, 2018. No exceptions.
  6. Adult scholarship awards may not be used to pay for college debt.
  7. Subsequent awards will only be considered for students maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA.

Call the Washington County Community Foundation office at 883-7334 or email to request an application or for more information.

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community. 

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor's Visit

I manage a large health clinic that treats thousands of seniors each year. We have found that the patients who come in prepared are much more satisfied with the care they receive. Can you write a column educating patients on how to prepare for doctor's appointments?

Studies have shown that patients who help their doctors by providing important health information and preparing themselves for appointments tend to receive better care than patients who do not. Here are some simple things we can all do to help maximize the benefits of our next visit to the doctor.

Before Appointments

Gathering your health information and getting organized before your appointment are key to ensuring a productive meeting with your doctor. This is especially important if you are seeing multiple doctors or are meeting with a new physician. Here is what you need to do before your next appointment:
  1. Get your test results: If you are seeing a new doctor for the first time, make sure he or she has copies of your latest X-ray, MRI or any other test or recent lab results, including reports from other doctors. In most cases, you will need to do the leg work yourself. This may be as simple as a phone call to your previous doctor or you may need to go pick it up yourself.
  2. List your medications: Make a list of all the medications you are taking, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements, along with the dosages. Alternatively, put all your pill bottles in a bag and take them with you to your appointment.
  3. Know your health history: Being able to talk to your doctor about any previous medical problems and procedures, even if they are not the reason you are going to the doctor this time, can make an office visit much more efficient. Write it down if it is complicated. Genetics matter too, so knowing your family's health history may also be helpful.
  4. Prepare a list of questions: Make a written list of the top three or four issues you want to discuss with your doctor. Since most appointments last around 15 to 20 minutes, this can help you stay on track and ensure you address your most pressing concerns first. If you are in for a diagnostic visit, you should prepare a detailed description of your symptoms.

During Appointments

When you meet with your doctor, it is important to speak up and get to the point. Right away, concisely explain why you are there. Do not wait to be asked. Be direct, honest and specific when recounting your symptoms or expressing your concerns. Many patients are reluctant or embarrassed to talk about their symptoms, which makes the doctor's job much more difficult. It is also a good idea to bring along a family member or friend to your appointment. They can help you ask questions, listen to what the doctor is telling you and give you support.

Consider taking notes or asking the doctor if you can record the session for later review. If you do not understand what the doctor is telling you, ask him or her to explain it in simple terms so you can understand. If you run out of time and do not get your questions answered, ask if you can follow up by phone or email, make another appointment or seek help from a nurse.

For more information, the National Institute on Aging offers an excellent booklet called "Talking With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People" that can help you prepare for an appointment and become a more informed patient. To get a free copy mailed to you, call 800-222-2225 or visit

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.

Can a Debt Collector Take My Social Security Benefits?

Can my Social Security benefits be garnished if I have outstanding debts? I just turned 62 and would like to start collecting my retirement benefits, but I want to find this out before I apply.

Whether your Social Security benefits are garnishable depends on who you owe. Banks and other financial creditors, for example, cannot touch your Social Security checks. But if Uncle Sam is collecting on a debt, some of your benefits are fair game. Here is what you should know.

Creditor Protections

If you have credit card debts, medical bills, unpaid personal loans or pay day loans, you will be happy to know that your Social Security benefits are safe from your creditors. Section 207 of the Social Security Act prohibits debt collectors or a bankruptcy court from dipping into your bank account to take Social Security money for purposes of paying off what you owe.

In addition, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), veterans benefits, federal employee and civil service retirement benefits and benefits administered by the Railroad Retirement Board Administration cannot be touched either.

Do be aware, however, that creditors can still take legal action against you to recover what you owe. Depending on your state's laws, creditors may be able to garnish your wages and tap into other allowable assets, if you have any.

Government Garnishment

If, however, you owe money to Uncle Sam, it is a very different story. The federal government can garnish a portion of your Social Security benefits to repay several types of debts, including federal income taxes, federal student loans, state-ordered child support and alimony, nontax debt owed to other federal agencies, defaulted federal home loans and certain civil penalties. Note that, if you receive SSI, those benefits cannot be garnished under any circumstance.

The amount that can actually be taken depends on the type of debt. In most situations, the government can claim 15% of your benefits to cover your debt, but under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, it must leave you at least $750 each month, unless the levy is for federal income taxes. In that case, the government is not required to leave $750 behind.

The outcome is different if the debt is for child support or alimony payments. Depending on your state laws, the court may be able to take half of your benefits or more to pay your obligations to your children or ex-spouse.

If you think your Social Security benefits might be claimed to pay overdue government debts, you need to address the problem rather than ignore it. Most government agencies are happy to work with you, so long as you are willing to work with them.

The government typically sends several letters before it takes action to collect a debt. The final letter will inform you of the intent to levy Social Security payments and, after that, you typically will have 30 days to contact the agency and work out a payment plan.

Get Help

To get a handle on your debt problems, consider contacting a financial counseling agency that offers free or low-cost services to help you manage your financial problems. To locate a credible agency in your area, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling by visiting its website or calling 800-388-2227.

You should also make sure you are not missing out on any financial assistance programs. The National Council on Aging's website contains a database of more than 2,500 federal, state and local programs that can help seniors with prescription drug costs, health care, food, utilities and other basic needs. The site will help you locate programs that you may be eligible for and will show you how to apply.

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Salem, Indiana 47167
Phone: 812-883-7334

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