Archive for July, 2013

Will Your Passwords Leave With You?

July 30, 2013

We live in a digital age.  I am reminded of all the passwords & user codes needed for me to write this article.  Not to mention everything else locked behind a password: Client & friend email address lists.  Tax return preparation information.  Commission accounts with multiple insurance companies.  All kinds of personal & financial information.

What about you? If you are a business owner, how will your family or business partners retrieve employee payroll information?  Supplier & customer accounts?  Business taxes?  Do you own real estate?  Rights to Denver Broncos season tickets?  Pre-paid travel?  Bank accounts?  Think about it: How will anyone access your important information when you are no longer alive to unlock the electronic doors?

My suggestion: Get a password manager like LastPass (works on all platforms), KeePass (all platforms), RoboForm (all platforms), 1Password (Mac OS x), or PasswordSafe (Windows).  These programs answer the question: “How can I possibly remember all the different strong* passwords that protect my many important files & on-line account information?”  They work by “hiding” all of your other passwords under one strong, rememberable password.

*Strong password:  A password that is difficult for a bad guy to figure out.  Here are a few best practices with regard to passwords:

1. The more characters in your password, the better.  A minimum of nine is recommended.

2. Each password should consist of a variety of types of characters: upper & lower case letters, numbers, & special keyboard characters (@, #, $, %, &, *).

3. A word that can be found in any dictionary should never be used as a password.  Hackers use programs that search dictionaries.

4. Never use the obvious passwords like “123”, “abc”, “password”, your date of birth, your address, your pet’s name & others that will be easy for someone to guess.

There is both a danger & an opportunity to using a password manager.  The danger: If a bad guy figures out your master password, then he/she will have access to all your protected data.  The opportunity: With only one password to remember, you can make it extraordinarily strong…& you should!  You obviously need to protect that master password, yet make it available to those who will need it to untangle your affairs when you are no longer around to help.  I will leave this last piece for you to figure out.

Disclaimer:  This eNewsletter and all links to other sources should not be construed as tax or legal advice because it is not either.   Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, is not a computer expert.  This article merely shares some things he has learned over the years & believes to be true.

 

© Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, 2013

I Want To Keep Mom, or Dad, or My Spouse, or Myself At Home But…

July 30, 2013

…I worry about safety issues.  How can I keep them from falling?  How can Mom possibly lift Dad?  Multiple times per day? 

Much can be done to make a home safer & more comfortable for someone dealing with limitations.  Grab bars are easily installed in the bathroom, bedroom & throughout the home.  Wheelchair-accessible showers are available as are walk-in tubs.  Ramps can be built to almost any specification.  Elevated seats can make it easier ( & safer) to get on and off the toilet.  Seats, portable or permanently installed, can be placed in a shower

Lift chairs can make it easier for someone to get up again after sitting for a while in a comfortable, deeply cushioned chair.  My Mom had one during her illness and it made a big difference.

What else can make life easier?  The list is almost endless:  Doorways can be widened.  Stair lifts and elevators (yes elevators!) for moving between levels.  Better lighting.  Lever handles to replace door knobs.  “Reachers” can allow a patient to “reach” an item on a higher shelf.  Wearable alert pendants that can automatically dial the phone for help when someone has fallen & cannot get up.

The caregiver cannot safely lift the patient?  Installed overhead lifts…you really need to see these to understand how useful they can be.  Free-standing overhead lifts.  Stand poles (Like a pole lamp, but sturdier) can be held onto for assistance in standing up.  Lifts that can be moved from room to room.

Some of the things I have mentioned may be difficult to visualize.  Accessible Systems, Inc has a showhome with these devices and many more on display.  The address is 3025 W. Jefferson Ave., Englewood, CO (near Hampden Ave. & Federal Blvd.).  Call Amy Dee at 720-358-8011 to let her know when you will be there.  You will leave with some good ideas on how to better allow your loved one to stay at home.  My own visit last week became the inspiration for this article.  Full disclosure: I am not connected with Accessible Systems in any way, financially or otherwise.  They are one of a number of care-related providers that I have come to know & be able to confidently recommend over the years.

Now that I have told you about some of the wonderful things that can allow a person to remain in his or her own home, how do you pay for them? 

1. Long term care insurance: Most (but not all) modern policies pay for home care.  Having the cost of a home care aide covered by insurance can free up dollars for equipment.  Many long term care insurance policies have “alternative plan of care” provisions.  This benefit may let the insurance company to pay for equipment & home modifications in lieu of more expensive assisted living or nursing home care.  Other policies have a built-in dollar amount that can be used for these items.  Still other policies provide a cash benefit (instead of reimbursement) that can be used for any purpose.

2. Medicare: Some things may be fully or partially covered…although Medicare does not pay for items deemed to be “safety equipment”. 

3. Your own pocket: How much is keeping your loved one, or yourself, at home worth to you?

An amazing number of devices & home modifications have been developed that can help keep someone at home who needs long term care…home is where most people want to be.  You owe it to yourself to check this out before deciding that a nursing home or assisted living facility is the only answer.

Disclaimer:  This eNewsletter and all links to other sources should not be construed as tax or legal advice because it is not either.   Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, does not give legal or tax advice.  Consult your tax advisor or attorney for these matters.

 

© Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, 2013