Services Available for Pittsburgh’s Seniors
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|The Lange Money Hour: Where Smart Money Talks
|Click to hear MP3 of this show|
- Guest Introduction: Maxine Horn
- What is AgeWell and What Services do you Offer?
- What do the AgeWell Services Cost?
- What You Can Expect from a Typical Call to AgeWell
- UCLA Memory Training
- What Services are Offered to Seniors with More Complicated Needs?
- Transportation Resources for Seniors
- Volunteer Opportunities within the Community
- Final Words: Advice and Wisdom
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Welcome to The Lange Money Hour: Where Smart Money Talks with expert advice from Jim Lange, Pittsburgh-based CPA, attorney, and retirement and estate planning expert. Jim is also the author of Retire Secure! Pay Taxes Later. To find out more about his book, his practice, Lange Financial Group, and how to secure Jim as a speaker for your next event, visit his website at paytaxeslater.com. Now get ready to talk smart money.
David Bear: Hello, and welcome to this edition of The Lange Money Hour, Where Smart Money Talks. I’m your host, David Bear, here in the KQV studio with James Lange, CPA/Attorney, and author of two best-selling books, Retire Secure! and The Roth Revolution: Pay Taxes Once and Never Again. The focus of today’s show is services available for seniors. Finding resources can be a challenging maze to navigate for both older adults and adult children concerned about their aging parents and relatives. How can older adults stay active and engaged in their community? How does an adult child know when it’s time to intervene for the safety and well being of an elderly parent or relative? To help answer these questions, we welcome Maxine Horn from the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Pittsburgh back to the show. She’s also an information and referral specialist for AgeWell Pittsburgh, a collaborative program between the JF & CS, the Jewish Association on Aging, and the Jewish Community Center. AgeWell is a network of services designed to help all older adults remain healthy and independent, regardless of their race, religion, ancestry, sexual orientation, or disability. In addition to a review of available services, Maxine will introduce three new AgeWell initiatives. And with that, I’ll say hello, Jim and welcome, Maxine.
Jim Lange: Welcome to the show, Maxine.
Maxine Horn: Thank you. Glad to be here.Jim Lange: By the way, before we get into the meat of the program, I should just mention that on two occasions, I have used AgeWell’s services, and Maxine and AgeWell just did a fabulous job for me, both in times of distress. I have referred her to, probably, roughly a hundred clients, and we have some glowing testimonials of people who have used the services of AgeWell. So, Maxine, David gave a brief introduction, but can you kind of get to the essence of what is AgeWell?
Maxine Horn: Sure. I’d like to refer to AgeWell as an umbrella term that covers the senior services of three collaborative partners. First is the Jewish Association on Aging, second is the Jewish Community Center, and the third is Jewish Family and Children’s Service. Now, you may notice that all of the agencies are Jewish by identification, but, as David mentioned, all of our services are provided strictly in a non-sectarian manner without regard to race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else. So, that being said, the services are available to everyone, and are used primarily in Allegheny County.
Now, there are about 6,000 seniors a year that participate in some way or another in one of our programs, because each of these partner agencies has a senior department that delivers particular services to their seniors. Our job in AgeWell is to make sure that all of our subscribers, shall we call them, have access to all of these services and beyond, if need be. What I mean by that is, I will tell you what each agency is proficient in, but also, when we do not have the appropriate referral for that agency, we move out into the community and look elsewhere for appropriate referrals. For example, the Jewish Association on Aging provides adult day services, and those are services for people who have probably some dementia, or are very weakened in some way and need some serious care during the day. They also provide kosher home delivered meals, which is very important to a segment of the community, the Jewish in particular. We have outpatient physical therapy, and there is skilled in-home care available through the Jewish Association on Aging.
Another aspect belongs to the Jewish Community Center, and they are the wellness and recreation services that provide socialization. There is a senior center. An Allegheny County area agency on aging senior center is housed at the JCC. And there are a number of other wellness programs. For example, Silver Sneakers has a headquarters there, and there is a wonderful program called Checkmates, a volunteer service that I would like to talk about a little later on. At Jewish Family and Children’s Service (which is where my office is, although I work for all three, obviously, for AgeWell), we do more human service kind of jobs with our seniors. For example, we have care management. We have individual counseling, family consultations, support groups, in-home caregiver services from our licensed registry, and we also provide personal emergency response systems to those who request it.
Jim Lange: So, you’ve mentioned a lot of services and things that you do. Who actually calls AgeWell? Does a spouse call? Does a child of an aging parent? Who is usually the first person to contact AgeWell, and what might be a potential typical scenario from that call?
Maxine Horn: Oh, Jimmy, that’s a loaded question! All right. So, the first question is who calls the…?
Jim Lange: By the way, Maxine is my cousin. To her, I’m still Jimmy!
Maxine Horn: Right, and you will always be Jimmy, so…
Jim Lange: And I’ll always be Jimmy!
Maxine Horn: …there you go!
David Bear: But he gets to sit at the big table now, so…
Maxine Horn: He does. He’s sat at the big table for a long time! Who calls AgeWell Pittsburgh? Well, seniors themselves call very often because they are able to identify their own needs. Not every senior is feeble and unable to do that. Some of them are wonderful advocates for themselves. So, some of them are seniors. Some of them are spouses. Lots of calls from children, either children who live in Pittsburgh, or children who live outside of Pittsburgh and have family left kind of alone here, and professionals.
David Bear: While we’re just talking about it, why don’t you give the number that they should call at this point?
Maxine Horn: I would be happy to. It is (412) 422-0400, and there is an 800 number as well, which is (877) 243-1530.
Jim Lange: Could you repeat those numbers and also give your website please?
Maxine Horn: Sure, yeah. (412) 422-0400, or (877) 243-1530, and the website is www.agewellpgh.org, all one word, agewellpgh.org.
David Bear: Perfect.
Jim Lange: And by the way, I could not stress enough that people who are in need, or even close to being in need, of Agewell’s services, take advantage of it. Everybody that I have referred to and has gotten back to me, and my own experiences have been wonderful. But Maxine, one of the issues that I find a little bit perplexing is that I have probably given your name to, I don’t know, maybe a hundred people, and you haven’t had nearly that many calls. So, apparently, there is some reluctance, even for people who are in need of services, to even get in contact with you, let alone actually use the services. Do you know what’s going on there, and is there anything that you could do to encourage somebody who is thinking they might need some help to kind of go over the line and then actually call, and then actually do something…
David Bear: To make the call.
Jim Lange: …that you recommend?
Maxine Horn: To make the call, yeah. It’s a perplexing question because there are so many people with so many simple or complex problems who do not call, and we wonder why, and I think that a good bit of the reason is because people are disappointed in themselves when they can’t think of the answer by themselves.
David Bear: Umm-hmm.
Maxine Horn: They don’t want to think that they have to call somebody else to find out what’s probably a very obvious answer. Well, number one, the answers are not necessarily obvious at all, and to share that burden, sometimes that’s another very serious step. “If I call Maxine, or that person at AgeWell, then I’m going to have to share what’s going on in my life, and this is very personal to me, and I don’t really want anybody to know about my business.” Good points, I would say. However, the first point is it’s strictly confidential information. It is a confidential call. Nobody, nobody is privy to that information. Number two, if the listeners today would just take that first step, which, admittedly, can be a hard step to take, and make that call, the relief is practically immediate. Just getting the words out is practically an immediate relief of stress, in being able to share that with somebody and know that somebody else is on your side and is going to help you make that transition to worthwhile help.
Jim Lange: One of the things that I remember one of your caregivers told me when I was caring for my mom was that she didn’t want me to have a nurse/patient relationship with my mom. She wanted me to have a mother/son relationship, and yes, I did go to every important doctor, meaning I was still, in my mind, the primary caregiver. But, for example, if she had to get her teeth cleaned, there was no particular reason for me to drive her to the dentist, walk her up, make sure that she was in. That was something that one of your associated companies would do. With any important doctor’s appointment, I wanted to do that.
Maxine Horn: Umm-hmm.
Jim Lange: But boy, just having that help just made a huge difference.
Maxine Horn: Umm-hmm.
David Bear: It might be good at this point…I mean, these are primarily free services? You know, the phone calls…
Maxine Horn: Well, let me go back…
David Bear: Okay.
Jim Lange: No, no, no!
Maxine Horn: …and say, no, no, that is not true.
David Bear: Well, then, that first call.
Maxine Horn: The first call to the information and referral line is definitely a free service. Support groups are a free service. Some of the Checkmates program is a free service. Many of the other programs do have fees connected with them, for example, in-home care. If your mother has a caregiver through our registry, then there will be an hourly fee connected with that. Now, Jim, as far as your question is concerned, that in-home caregiver could accompany your mother to an in-between doctor’s appointment or you could hire a care manager to do that. A lot of people are not familiar with the term ‘care management.’ So, what is care management? It is a means of monitoring and helping a senior who is without a lot of support. A lot of seniors these days, because the nuclear family is scattered to the winds…
David Bear: Right, right.
Maxine Horn: …have no in-town support. So, they’re left very much to their own, or maybe there’s a second cousin once removed, or a daughter, “But I live in Squirrel Hill and the daughter lives in Greensburg.” That’s not real helpful on a routine basis. So, many of our senior families will hire a care manager. In this case, a care manager is a professional, a social work professional, a licensed clinical geriatric social worker, who is able to provide that sort of guidance and monitoring that the family would like to have. That’s a process. It’s not a one-time thing. It is a process, and it begins with an assessment, an in-home assessment of the senior. It’s a very valuable service, and many people take advantage of that. I might say that there is also a way to access care management services that are free, and that is through the Department of Aging, and I do want to mention that the area agency on aging does a wonderful job for people in the community, thousands of people in the community, who maybe do not have extra dollars to spend on care management services.
Jim Lange: But, to be fair, I mean, I remember getting bills for your services, or through your affiliated company’s services, and I was pretty amazed at how low they were, particularly given the level of expertise that we were receiving. I can’t speak for all the social workers, but the one that we were using was fantastically competent. She knew all the doctors and which doctors were good at what and which doctors weren’t so good at what. She did a very good job speaking differently to different family members, understanding the personalities, and I was just pretty amazed at how small the fee was, given the talent and the abilities of the people who did the services.
Maxine Horn: Well, that’s correct, and we do keep our fee…after all, we are a non-profit agency…
David Bear: Umm-hmm.
Maxine Horn: …so, obviously, our fees are very, very reasonable. Beyond that, there is a sliding scale available for those who need it. So, nobody need hesitate to call us for services, despite the fact that there is some fee attached.
David Bear: And that number again?
Maxine Horn: Number again is (412) 422-0400, and the 800 number is (877) 243-1530.
Jim Lange: And the website is?
Maxine Horn: www.agewellpgh.org.
David Bear: All right. Well, that’s a good time to take a break, and when we come back, Jim and Maxine will continue the conversation.
David Bear: And welcome back to The Lange Money Hour, with Jim Lange and Maxine Horn from AgeWell Pittsburgh.
Jim Lange: Well, one of the most important things that I took from the first segment is that you really can’t be too early to make that call to AgeWell if you do need some help, and even if there isn’t going to be immediate services from AgeWell, making that first step, as Maxine said, could be a huge relief, and I am very glad that it is there, and, frankly, wish more of my clients would take advantage of it. So, Maxine, can you give us some examples of what…I know that there is no such thing as a typical call, but what might happen on a call and how you might proceed with that caller?
Maxine Horn: Certainly. As you say, there is no such thing as a typical call, but let’s talk about a woman that I know about, and her name is Ethel, and she’s eighty years old, and she has moved back to Pittsburgh from Florida (not uncommon by the way, that the snowbirds move back to be in Pittsburgh where their children are), where she’s lived for many years in order to be near her daughter. But she is lonely. All of her old friends are gone. She is depressed. In addition, her hearing is bad, which is causing more anxiety. So, this is not an unusual case.
Jim Lange: Are you getting this call from Ethel, or from her daughter?
Maxine Horn: This is from Ethel.
Jim Lange: From Ethel herself.
Maxine Horn: This is from Ethel herself.
Jim Lange: Okay.
Maxine Horn: Remember, I said lots of seniors can advocate quite well for themselves. So, I talked to Ethel, and I said, “You know, I hear that you’re lonely. I hear that you need to make some new contacts. So, I would like to recommend that you call the AgeWell senior adult program at the Jewish Community Center. If you do that, they will take you under their wings. They will enroll you in the senior lunch program. You will meet people through just lunch contacts, which you will have there. You can become a volunteer for Checkmates.” Remember, I said I wanted to get back to Checkmates program.
David Bear: For Checkmates, right.
Jim Lange: Is that a chess program?
Maxine Horn: No, it is not a chess program! It is what it is. This is a peer-to-peer program, a senior-to-senior program, where senior volunteers are asked to make calls to other seniors in the community who wish to be contacted on a weekly basis. Now, sometimes, that’s just a friendly call, “Hi, how are you? What’s going on with your grandchildren?” Or sometimes, it’s, “You know, Tom, we haven’t seen you at the senior center for lunch in a couple of weeks. Is everything okay?” And we find out some interesting things about that and it’s wonderful. Then, Ethel becomes involved. She’s got a mission. She’s got a place to go. She’s making friends at the senior center, and it’s a terrific thing. Now, the depression is another aspect, and we’ll talk about this in a little while too. Depression and isolation of seniors often, not always, but often go hand in hand. The more a person is isolated, the less that person can get out and around, the more likely that person is to have, oh, maybe not a clinical depression, but some serious depressive issues.
Jim Lange: And could that be worse in the winter, like right now when it’s really dangerous for a lot of seniors to be out?
Maxine Horn: Of course. Oh, absolutely, absolutely. So, we might want to…by this time, I’m hoping that we have talked to her daughter too. Maybe yes, maybe no. But we can arrange a psych consult, because we do have a geriatric psychiatrist who is on our staff who meets with our social workers weekly, and a social worker can initiate this process if it turns out to be a deeper problem than what I’m thinking to start with. And then, we talked about her being hard of hearing, and this is a serious problem. Even if she has been fitted with a hearing aid, it’s not always wonderful. Hearing aids are a blessing and a curse.
David Bear: Right.
Maxine Horn: A lot of people rip them right out of their heads when they’re not working the way that they think that they should. But it’s science. It’s technology. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse. But we might have her get an amplified phone through a very wonderful agency that’s here in Pittsburgh, Hearing and Deaf Services. There might be an amplified phone, and there are things like personal hearing devices that can help when she’s watching television that provide a sound into headphones that she will wear, or ear buds, that do such a wonderful job of amplifying the television without it blasting at top level.
David Bear: Umm-hmm.
Maxine Horn: And it’s really extremely helpful. I, myself, use such a system because I do have a hearing loss, and I find it absolutely marvelous. It’s the only way I can listen to British programs because they all speak in dialect, and it’s very hard, no matter how high you turn that, it’s very difficult to perceive those dialects. But, anyway, so that’s a very simple kind of call that we receive.
Jim Lange: And it sounds like you could really make a difference in the quality of her life…
Maxine Horn: We hope so.
Jim Lange: …because instead of being alone and isolated and depressed, she’s going to a place where there’re other people in her similar situation. She’s interacting. She’s doing something useful. She feels good about things, and she can have some…I guess you don’t even try to fight the good fight about getting her a hearing aid?
Maxine Horn: No.
Jim Lange: By the way, I fought with my mom for years on that. It took me years to have her wear one…
Maxine Horn: Umm-hmm.
Jim Lange: …then more years to wear two.
Maxine Horn: Yeah.
Jim Lange: But, so, I guess you try to fight the battles that you can win.
Maxine Horn: Well, pretty much, pretty much.
Jim Lange: All right. I understand that there are some other…so, that’s new since last time that you were here, because…
Maxine Horn: No, it’s not new. It’s just something that we haven’t talked about.
Jim Lange: Oh, oh, we just didn’t talk about it.
Maxine Horn: We didn’t have time the last time, and I’m very happy to be able to mention it.Jim Lange: All right.
Maxine Horn: But let’s use Ethel to talk about one of our other new programs, and that is called the UCLA Memory Training. Now, I might very well be able to convince Ethel that this is a very good thing for her to join. So, what is this? This is new. This is because we want to offer every opportunity for our seniors to maintain themselves well in the community. It came about…well, not this program, but our recognition of the fact that the brain is not what we used to think it was, which is static. You got what you got at birth and nothing ever happened after that. This is not true. What we’ve found out in the last many years is that there is a capacity for change in the brain. It is considered to be plastic. So, we responded to another community request by offering this UCLA memory-training program. This is four classes that a person enrolls in that offer a toolbox of techniques and strategies to seniors who want to improve their ability with daily memory-based tasks. And what do I mean by that? “I always forget where I leave my keys.” “I can never remember my shopping list.” I get names on the tip of my tongue, but I can never remember the person’s name.” These are common. These are very common things, and this is a program that is based in science. This is an evidence-based curriculum that was scientifically developed and tested by a neuropsychologist at UCLA, and it’s being taught across the country, and AgeWell Pittsburgh has the only distribution of this program in Western Pennsylvania at this time.
David Bear: Those are classes, you just go to a class, or you…?
Maxine Horn: You sign up for four classes. At this time, I don’t know about in the future, but at this time, it’s free. And if you call me at (412) 422-0400, I will put you in touch with the class organizer, and it’s wonderful.
Jim Lange: All right. So, we were talking a little bit about Ethel, which is, let’s call it, your garden variety call.
Maxine Horn: Right.
Jim Lange: I would imagine that you also have some clients or patients that perhaps have bigger needs than Ethel. Do you sometimes run into more complicated problems, and how might you proceed with some other situations?
Maxine Horn: Yeah, they can be much more complicated than that, especially when there are aspects of dementia that are involved. The family is often torn apart when a family member starts to exhibit problems with dementia. Sometimes, they cover for her. Often, the spouse will cover for the one with dementia, and it’s very difficult. It’s very touching. It takes skill to deal with these issues, and in most cases, I try very hard not to solve that problem on the surface, excepting by encouraging help with care giving, either to mobilize the family into taking over some time slots in the care of the person, or by hiring a caregiver from our caregiver connection, which is our registry of really superfine caregivers, to come in and do that, because the incidents of burnout among caregivers is very high if there is no intervention or help by another person. Then, I encourage as strongly as I can to have a social worker go in and really assess the situation and see what other supports can be put in place for this person.
Jim Lange: Well, I will mention that we used your services for my mom, and the social worker was not only terrific in all the substantive areas, but there was a little bit of a disagreement between myself and one of my brothers, and she really had the skills of a conflict mediator, and was able to very well talk to both of us in a way that made sense, and was able to, if not establish perfect harmony, at least get to a plan that made life much better for actually all of us.
Maxine Horn: Well, I’m glad that you mentioned that because that is considered to be a family consult. There’s actually a name for that. When we have family situations where the siblings are not on the same page…
Jim Lange: Which, I imagine, happens.
Maxine Horn: Oh, it happens all the time, especially when one of them is out of town, because that perspective is entirely different from the caregiver who is in town. The caregiver who is in town nearly always feels that, “I’m doing all the work! You’re sitting in Palm Beach, and what do you know about what’s going on? And, you know, I want some input too.” And also, sometimes the parent disagrees a hundred percent, and these are conflicts that need to be talked through, and we do provide that service. It is called the family consult, and we sit down…not ‘we,’ a social worker will sit down with the invested parties to talk this out.
Jim Lange: Well, I remember in my own case, my brother and I didn’t end up agreeing on everything, but we agreed on a bunch of things, and even things like railings that were installed, and a special apparatus for getting in and out of the bathtub, and the toilet, etc., which we all agreed on, which made my mother much safer, and I was just delighted to have somebody who understood where the rails go, how it should be installed, to know a contractor that could do that that made her apartment safe…
Maxine Horn: Absolutely.
Jim Lange: …and we didn’t even really think about those kinds of issues.
Maxine Horn: No, no. Why would you? You’re not the professional. That’s why it’s so important for people to call to have the professional point of view come in to see things that you don’t see, because you’re so used to seeing the same old same old same old, you don’t notice. You really don’t.
David Bear: And you probably haven’t been through it before either, which is…
Maxine Horn: Probably not. Probably not. So, it’s very important to involve this kind of professional oversight as early as possible so that you can…because the very first thing that a social worker will do is a thorough assessment, which is really a block of time, an hour and a half, two hours, sit down, talk with the family member and the child who is asked to call, and create a real time picture of the person, physically, emotionally, mentally, so that we have a record of where we begin with this client so that we can see where to go in the future as this client changes, or doesn’t change. It depends.
Jim Lange: I would imagine one of the hesitations might be the feeling of giving up control, and I know, even in my business, sometimes people who have been managing their money are just resistant to the idea of even talking to a money manager because they think the moment that they talk to somebody, that they’re going to give up control and lose their autonomy. What I try to say, at least in my business, is, “No, you’re still the boss. I’m here to make recommendations and use my expertise to try to make your life better.” Is it a little bit the same with your…?
Maxine Horn: Oh, very much the same.
Jim Lange: You’re not going to say, “Oh, no, you have to move into a nursing home.” “Oh, no, you need this.” “Oh, you have to go here.” “You have to have a hearing aid. But based on our many, many years of experience, here are some suggestions that you might consider that would improve the quality of your life.”
Maxine Horn: I couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s exactly correct. After an assessment, we present what is called a plan of care, where these things are itemized. You should have some in-home care. You should have Molly’s Meals delivered. You should have whatever. And then, you are free to do it if you want to. If you don’t want to, that’s your choice. If you want us to help you with it, then we can become the care manager and implement these things. If you want to take care of it yourself, fine. That’s part and parcel of our job.
Jim Lange: So, it sounds like…let’s say you have a situation where there is at least one child that is involved, or maybe a spouse. Although, I’ll tell you what I have seen in my own practice, is that people in their eighties or older who are married really don’t seem to want help, and what I have found, and I think that there’s probably a bunch of people listening, and yes, it is you, is people who more or less take an extreme burden, who literally devote years of their life caring for a spouse, and I’m not saying that they should not be the primary caregiver because, notwithstanding the program that you mentioned, I still think ultimately that a child or a spouse, if they can, can still be the primary quarterback, if you will. But you play such a valuable role in support, but a lot of people just will spend years as a caregiver without support, and I wish that somehow we could convince some of those people, “Yes, you guys will not give up your autonomy. You’ll be given a laundry list of suggestions, and then you could take it from there.”
David Bear: Well, before we take another break, give that number again, that phone number.
Maxine Horn: Our phone number is (412) 422-0400, and (877) 243-1530. Look us up at www.agewellpgh.org.
David Bear: And when we come back, Jim and Maxine will continue the conversation.
David Bear: Welcome back to The Lange Money Hour, with Jim Lange and Maxine Horn from AgeWell Pittsburgh.Jim Lange: The problems that my mom had was literally getting around, and my brother and I took her to a lot of places, but sometimes, there were things like a routine visit to a dentist for a dental cleaning, or something like that, where it probably wasn’t necessary for us to make that ride and probably miss work. Does AgeWell have any resources for people who need rides?
Maxine Horn: I am so glad that you asked that question because that leads me right into the AgeWell newest initiative, which is called AgeWell Rides, and what this is is a volunteer-based, free transportation program that is administered by Jewish Family and Children’s Service in cooperation with the United Way’s ‘Open Your Heart to a Senior’ program. And if you want to know, the United Way is a very magnificent supporter of AgeWell Pittsburgh, but this ‘Open Your Heart to a Senior’ program is an across the boards, across the county, initiative to encourage volunteerism with our community’s older adults. That’s been in existence for a couple of years. But AgeWell Rides is different, and because AgeWell is constantly looking for unmet needs and challenges within the aging demographic of Allegheny County and tries to assess them, we’re given suggestions, and we look at what the needs are, and we look at my database, and we find out that a tremendous number of calls have to do with transportation issues. Now, we all know that there is a wonderful service in Access and OPT rides for seniors and disabled, and there’s a good bus program. The Port Authority has good buses, but clearly, not all seniors are able to take the bus, and sometimes, Access is simply not an option. Not only that, there may be no support system for the senior in Pittsburgh to say, “Hey, I need to go to the bank next week. Could you possibly take me up? And just wait for me until I…”
David Bear: Umm-hmm, run in and do it.
Maxine Horn: “…do my banking. Yeah, just run in and do it.” So, we started to think about that, and we came up with this program that’s going to be done on a very particular organized basis, not random at all, and it is not yet in operation. I want to make sure our listeners hear that. It will be in the spring, probably in March. What we are looking for now are volunteers. We are in serious need of volunteer drivers to drive in this program, because what it will be is volunteers who have a few hours a week to give over to driving a senior who needs the transportation, to provide a social opportunity, to go to a religious service, to go to an exercise class, to go to a yoga class, to do some banking, to do some personal shopping. These are all things that are not well handled by the transportation that we have available to us now. And it addresses the issue of isolation with our seniors. We mentioned isolation before being a very serious problem with our seniors who have no ready support system in enabling them to get out and into the community. So, what will happen is a volunteer driver (who will be screened, of course) will have access to a specific database, which is an unbelievably wonderful database (it’s called Ride Scheduler), and it will enter his data and when he is available to drive. On the other hand, callers will call me at the number that I’ll repeat in a minute, and say, “I need a ride to go to the bank in Squirrel Hill on Thursday afternoon. Can you get me a driver?” And I’ll say, “I’m going to put you down,” and I will hang up. I’ll get all of her particulars, and I’ll write that into the database. Then, the drivers, in due course, in the next couple of days, will look over, and they’ll say, “Oh! Mrs. Smith, I see, wants a ride to the bank on Thursday afternoon. I’m not doing anything Thursday afternoon. Why don’t I take that ride? It’s only going to take me an hour.” So, I’ll fill in, on that database, that I can take that person for a ride. Then, an automatic reminder goes out to the driver, the driver calls the rider, and it’s a beautiful circle of help. There is no fee for this service. This is a volunteer program.
Jim Lange: That sounds like a great idea. Has this been done in other cities?
Maxine Horn: It has been done in other cities. Not many, not many because it’s quite involved to get it off the ground, but there is a booming program in Philadelphia, there is one in Kansas City, there is one in, I believe, it’s San Diego, and a couple of other places, because we’ve looked for help to these other cities to get this program up and running, and it will be up and running in…
David Bear: So, a volunteer would be someone with a car and time to drive?
Maxine Horn: Just a car and time to drive, yeah.
Jim Lange: And would there be any, let’s say, remuneration for gas, or is that…?
Maxine Horn: No. However, at the end of the year, because this ride scheduler is so terrific, it will have tracked all of his miles, or her miles, and so that if she wants to have some tax credits or tax deduction at the end of the year, she can use that as a verifiable source.
Jim Lange: Okay. And by the way, I will mention the right way to do that is to keep track of your miles, keep track of all your car expenses, and rather than using the government mileage rate, to take a percentage of your car, because the actual costs of running a car are much greater. Sorry about that! I could not resist the little tax…Maxine Horn: Oh, I didn’t know that part! See, you learn something every day, even from cousins! Okay.
Jim Lange: But so, right now, probably the thing that, let’s say, some of the listeners who could potentially be volunteers, and I think you’ve mentioned a couple opportunities: one, that they could actually start making calls…
Maxine Horn: Right.
Jim Lange: …and that is available right now.
Maxine Horn: Right now.
Jim Lange: And then, in the spring, starting this AgeWell Rides…
Maxine Horn: Correct.
Jim Lange: …which sounds like a terrific thing because I can picture particularly going to a store, going to a bank, going to somewhere, you know, having, maybe, five or ten minutes at the bank, or whatever it is, and getting a ride home…
Maxine Horn: Right.
Jim Lange: …would be very, very difficult for Access or any other type of provider.
Maxine Horn: Right, exactly.
David Bear: How broad a geographic area do you think that they’ll cover?
Maxine Horn: It’ll be a fifteen mile radius of where the person lives, which is very large when you stop to think about it. Fifteen miles.
Jim Lange: All right. And speaking of areas and radius, what areas do you mainly cover, and do you have resources for people outside those areas? Because I know that you have even…if you weren’t available yourself, that you had referring agencies outside of Pittsburgh.
Maxine Horn: Of Pittsburgh, or outside of the AgeWell umbrella?
Jim Lange: Well, I should say outside of the AgeWell umbrella.
Maxine Horn: Outside of the AgeWell umbrella, I must have five hundred referrals in my database covering every aspect that you can think of. We mentioned before the hearing, I refer a lot to hearing and deaf services. I refer to Pittsburgh blind and vision rehab services. I refer to the area agency on aging. I refer to…oh gee, think about it and I have it, places for utility help, for specific kinds of…I even have a volunteer who likes to rake lawns, and shovel…
David Bear: Snow.
Maxine Horn: …snow, yeah.
Jim Lange: And I think you said you had some financial services referrals for people who have some financial problems.
Maxine Horn: I do, and it is a free service, and it will help you to get your finances back in healthy condition.
Jim Lange: Maxine, I know a lot of the issues that aging people have have to do with the medicines that they are supposed to take, and compliance with taking medicines. Do you have any help for seniors in that area?
Maxine Horn: We do. Not directly, and not intervention-wise. However, we do have a program called Home Meds that has been underway for several months now, where we send a social worker and/or a nurse into senior buildings, places where seniors only live, and people who have requested the service have one, the social worker or the nurse, go into their apartment, and what they will do is they will bring out all their medications so they are visible to the person. “I want to see the bottle. I want to see the date on the bottle. I want to see the dosage on the bottle.” They enter that into a database, which is fed to a pharmacist, okay? And the pharmacist will look over that list of medications, and there’s a whole protocol that goes with that. I don’t mean that it’s that simple. It’s not quite that simple. But look over that and see if there are any red flags that come up. If there are red flags because of two medications being given for the same reason by two different doctors, for example, or some medication is way out of date, or there are full pill bottles that the woman brings out where there should be only two pills left in the bottle, then you know she’s not taking that medication. Things of that nature are what they look for, and when they find a red flag, then they will contact the person’s doctor or other professional.
Jim Lange: And finally, I’m afraid we’re not going to have very much time, but are there any last words of advice or wisdom that you could offer, and if you could also offer your contact information one more time?
Maxine Horn: Surely. I guess the biggest plea that I would make with your listeners is to think about what I have said about an objective look at your family’s situation. You, yourself, may not be able to see as clearly as a professional coming in. It’s not that we’re going to take away any autonomy. We’re going to offer help, whether it’s just my telephone referral, or it’s somebody to come in to take another look to see your loved one and to see what help is out there. Please take that first step. It will be a very, very gratifying step for you to take.
David Bear: Well, on that note, let’s finish this program and say, listeners, thanks for listening to this edition of The Lange Money Hour, Where Smart Money Talks. Thanks to Maxine Horn from AgeWell Pittsburgh for her excellent information and resources. Again, you can reach her at (412) 422-0400, or agewellpgh.org. Thanks to Amy, our in-studio producer, and to Lange Financial Group program coordinator, Amanda Cassady-Schweinsburg. As always, you can hear an encore broadcast of this show at 9:05 this Sunday morning, here on KQV, and you can access the audio archive of past programs, including written transcripts, on the Lange Financial Group website at www.paytaxeslater.com under ‘Radio Show.’ And you can call the Lange offices directly at (412) 521-2732. Finally, please join us on Wednesday, February 19th at 7:05 for the next edition of the Lange Money Hour, when Jim’s guest will be Anthony Infanti, associate dean and professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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James Lange, CPA
Jim is a nationally-recognized tax, retirement and estate planning CPA with a thriving registered investment advisory practice in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the President and Founder of The Roth IRA Institute™ and the bestselling author of Retire Secure! Pay Taxes Later (first and second editions) and The Roth Revolution: Pay Taxes Once and Never Again. He offers well-researched, time-tested recommendations focusing on the unique needs of individuals with appreciable assets in their IRAs and 401(k) plans. His plans include tax-savvy advice, and intricate beneficiary designations for IRAs and other retirement plans. Jim's advice and recommendations have received national attention from syndicated columnist Jane Bryant Quinn, his recommendations frequently appear in The Wall Street Journal, and his articles have been published in Financial Planning, Kiplinger's Retirement Reports and The Tax Adviser (AICPA). Both of Jim’s books have been acclaimed by over 60 industry experts including Charles Schwab, Roger Ibbotson, Natalie Choate, Ed Slott, and Bob Keebler.
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