Social Security Beneficiaries Will Receive a 2 Percent Increase in 2018

In 2018, Social Security recipients will get their largest cost of living increase in benefits since 2012, but the additional income will likely be largely eaten up by higher Medicare Part B premiums.

Cost of living increases are tied to the consumer price index, and an upturn in inflation rates and gas prices means recipients get a small boost in 2018, amounting to $27 a month for the typical retiree. The 2 percent increase is higher than last year’s .3 percent rise and the lack of any increase at all in 2016. The cost of living change also affects the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, which will grow from $127,200 to $128,700.

The increase in benefits will likely be consumed by higher Medicare premiums, however. Most elderly and disabled people have their Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security checks. For these individuals, if Social Security benefits don't rise, Medicare premiums can't either. This “hold harmless” provision does not apply to about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries: those enrolled in Medicare but who are not yet receiving Social Security, new Medicare beneficiaries, seniors earning more than $85,000 a year, and “dual eligibles” who get both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. In the past few years, Medicare beneficiaries not subject to the hold harmless provision have been paying higher Medicare premiums while Medicare premiums for those in the hold harmless group remained more or less the same. Now that seniors will be getting an increase in Social Security payments, Medicare will likely hike premiums for the seniors in the hold harmless group. And that increase may eat up the entire raise, at least for some beneficiaries.

For 2018, the monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment standard will be $750 for an individual and $1,125 for a couple.

For more on the 2018 Social Security benefit levels, click here.

Elder Care Choices

The October issue of Consumer Reports has its cover story entitled “Who Will Care for You?” The article focuses on elder care decisions at the assisted-living level. See

It is generally an instructive and helpful article. I am going to add my own comments and information to go along with this article.

The first obvious answer to the question posed by the article is missed by Consumer Reports. Many people would answer this question by saying that a family member will take care of them. That is not necessarily the best option but is often the plan for many people. More importantly, it is an important issue to be addressed in this context. It is very difficult to care for a family member 24/7 year after year. This may work out for some period of time if the person’s needs are not that demanding. However, at some point in time it simply becomes too much and a person does need to move to a nursing facility. I never discourage any of my clients to at least not try to care for a family member at home but the practical realities and the difficulty of doing so need to be addressed.

The article very accurately points out that the dividing line between an assisted living facility and a skilled nursing facility is not clear. This is true as a matter of the legal definitions and in practice. The first step in determining what type of care a person needs is to obtain a level of care assessment. This is usually done by a social worker, nurse or other personnel from a nursing facility. Is not usually done by doctor although it certainly could be.

As the article points out, some persons are in an assisted living facility longer than they should be. Conversely, some persons are told to leave and go to a skilled nursing facility when they really are not ready for that level of care yet. In these situations is very important for the resident to have a family member or other person monitoring their care and making sure they are not involuntarily transferred out of the assisted-living facility.

The article refers to use of an aging life care expert. This is the new terminology for what used to be referred to as a geriatric care manager. This person is usually a social worker or nurse by training. They can provide invaluable advice and advocacy for families and residents of nursing facilities. Our office had a geriatric care manager for over eight years. Our experience was that not too many clients saw the need for this service. Many people naively assume that the nursing home will take care of their loved one and that you should not need any additional help. In an ideal world this would be true. However, nursing facilities just do not have sufficient staff to be on top of every possible need or request of every resident. A geriatric care manager can make up for this shortfall and also provide valuable advice and training for the family members in dealing with the nursing facility. Our clients we helped with their loved ones greatly appreciated our assistance and expertise. However, most people just didn’t seem to see the need for this service which is why I no longer offer it. You can find an aging life care expert in your area at I also refer my clients to a local aging care life expert.

The article also wisely points out the empty promise made by many marketing representatives that “We will take care of your mother for the rest of her life.” “We will never kick her out.” This is pure sales talk and is probably not supported by any of the legal clauses in the resident’s contract. The resident will be kicked out if they run out of money and don’t pay their bill. The resident will also be kicked out if their medical condition worsens such that the facility is not capable of taking care of them. The marketing person perhaps doesn’t fully understand this or chooses to ignore that reality. Promises are also often made that there is some type of fund that can be used for residents who run out of money. Do not believe this. What this really means is that if the person runs out of money they will be able to apply for Medicaid which will pay the nursing home bill.

The article also gives good advice by saying you should never agree to a mandatory arbitration clause. However, simply crossing off a clause on the standard form may not be sufficient. Most nursing facilities will not allow you to do so but is worth a try.

I think the underlying theme and general point of the article is that you should get professional advice and as much reliable information as possible before making these elder care choices.


New Protections for Nursing Home Residents

New Obama-era rules designed to give nursing home residents more control of their care are gradually going into effect. The rules give residents more options regarding meals and visitation as well as make changes to discharge and grievance procedures.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid finalized the rules — the first comprehensive update to nursing home regulations since 1991 — in November 2016. The first group of new rules took effect in November; the rest will be phased in over the next two years.
Here are some of the new rules now in effect:

Visitors. The new rules allow residents to have visitors of the resident’s choosing and at the time the resident wants, meaning the facility cannot impose visiting hours. There are also rules about who must have immediate access to a resident, including a resident’s representative.

Meals. Nursing homes must make meals and snacks available when residents want to eat, not just at designated meal times.

Roommates. Residents can choose their roommate as long as both parties agree.

Grievances. Each nursing home must designate a grievance official whose job it is to make sure grievances are properly resolved. In addition, residents must be free from the fear of discrimination for filing a grievance. The nursing home also has to put grievance decisions in writing.

Transfer and Discharge. The new rules require more documentation from a resident’s physician before the nursing home can transfer or discharge a resident based on an inability to meet the resident’s needs. The nursing home also cannot discharge a patient for nonpayment if Medicaid is considering a payment claim.

CMS also enacted a rule forbidding nursing homes from entering into binding arbitration agreements with residents or their representatives before a dispute arises. However,a nursing home association sued to block the new rule and a U.S. district court has granted an injunction temporarily preventing CMS from implementing it. The Trump Administration is reportedly planning to lift this ban on nursing home arbitration clauses.

In November 2017, rules regarding facility assessment, psychotropic drugs and medication review, and care plans, among others, will go into effect. The final set of regulations covering infection control and ethics programs will take effect in November 2019.

Importance of a Funeral


Every person deserves some sort of funeral service no matter how brief or inexpensive. A person has lived a life with some friends and family and their life should be acknowledged in some manner. It is certainly difficult to organize and participate in a funeral after the death of a loved one. Talking with many friends and relatives can be exhausting and emotionally difficult. However, it is an important part of the grieving process. It allows everyone to express their feelings and provide emotional support to each other. It is also important simply to say goodbye to your loved one. If you avoid having a funeral or memorial service, you will just prolong the grieving process. If your concern is about the expense of a funeral, there are ways to have an inexpensive service. Remember that the funeral is for the benefit of the family and friends not for the deceased. Even if the deceased had stated they did not want you to have a funeral, you should still have one for the reasons stated here. Please also realize that the deceased had other family and friends that are also grieving. You should reconsider your decision to not have a funeral in consideration of the feelings and needs of others. If you have some reasons for not having a funeral, I strongly advise you to overcome all your objections and issues and plan a short, simple and inexpensive memorial service.

My webpage on funerals has suggestions and ideas on how to plan for a funeral and do so at a low cost. See

Simple acts of kindness towards the lonely seniors in your community

Ways To Help Out Seniors In Your Community

When it comes to seniors, every helping hand counts. Not every senior has a caring family, and not every family can afford a professional caregiver. If you’re not a caregiver yourself or don’t have anyone in your close family who needs your assistance but you’d still like to help, you can get involved with helping the elderly in your street or town. I’ve put together a few elder care volunteering ideas for you. Let’s get inspired and change a few lives for the better.

Computer learning & Internet Safety

You don’t need a degree to be able to teach the elderly how to handle a smartphone or a computer, or introduce them to the basics of Internet safety. Every year, hundreds of seniors become victims of shameless frauds and scams, many of which happen online.

Bring a couple of your senior neighbors together and give them a few examples of how to handle technology and information. Adding contacts, answering texts, or googling, dismissing spam and searching for news — it’s a routine for us, but many elderly people struggle with what we consider to be the simplest tasks. And just a short and friendly informational gathering at the local community center can make a world of difference.

Holiday season events

A bit more planning but much more joy — that’s the result of organizing a holiday season event for your lonely senior neighbors or the people in your local nursing home. Become a Santa to people with no family, or create a birthday calendar, sending a small gift and a greeting card to the birthday boy or girl. Make a Facebook group for people in your commu, maybe even ask the local media for a bit of promotion. You will be surprised how many kind strangers are there in your community. Plus, the happiness of the people receiving those little, thoughtful gifts will make up for all the efforts.

Raise funds

Medical insurance is often not enough to cover all the expenses related to illnesses and injuries, and since seniors are especially at risk of these, a little bit of financial help will go a long way. Medication and treatment costs, tools for improving movement ability, even helping out with nursing home costs — there are more underprivileged seniors with no family than we like to admit, so making sure that their lives are not only better is a very noble deed, and anyone with a few dollars to spare can chip in.

Share a meal

I know many people who love to cook, especially for others. But love for cooking often goes hand in hand with excessive portions — and leftovers that don’t always get used. If this ever happens to you, the next time you cook way too much lasagna, try offering a portion to that lovely lady living next door. It’s not something that you must do every day, but making it a once-per-week event will not only give you a chance to check on your neighbor’s well-being, it will also be an excellent chance for some socialization and friendly talk.

Be a good neighbor

Have you heard Chris Salvatore’s story? It’s very intense, and absolutely beautiful. In reality, hardly anyone can afford moving their ill neighbor in, but everyone can be a good neighbor. It all comes down to this simple rule: offer to help, at least every now and then. Offer help with cleaning, taking out the trash, helping with bills and correspondence, or grocery shopping . Come over for a friendly chat over a cup of tea, or join them for an afternoon walk with their pet. Even the smallest acts of kindness can make a lonely life much happier.

The Prime of Robotic Caregivers

Robots as Caregivers

Robotics is one of the branches of science that is undergoing the fastest advancements, and we can see its fruits in almost every industry: computing, construction, agriculture, military, entertainment, and even health care. Although people who are familiar with Daniel H. Wilson’s Robocalypse, or with Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot may be a little more than sceptical about allowing robots to take over our daily tasks, considering their invaluable role in many aspects of our lives we have to give them at least some credit. Oftentimes, the robots really do make our lives easier.

Why am I talking about this? I’ve just recently read a thought-provoking opinion in The New York Times that got stuck in my mind and led me to do some serious thinking and research on the topic, which concerned implementing robots as caregivers for children, the ill, people with autism, and possibly even the elderly.

Let’s face it: the aging population together with the continual decrease in birthrate is a problem in all parts of the world. Take Japan, for example: “In 2025, 1 in 5 people will be aged over 75, and 1 in 5 seniors aged over 65 will have dementia, according to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry estimates. … Japan will need 2.53 million care workers in fiscal 2025, but the number will fall short of demand by 377,000.” –

The U.S., Canada, Europe, and other developed Asian countries are following pretty much the same pattern.

But it’s not just the fact that there will be fewer young people available. Another problem is the unpopularity of the job, because it’s very physically and mentally demanding with disproportionate compensation, which, in all honesty, doesn’t really make it a great career opportunity for the challenge-seeking millennial.

But the attention is much needed. I’ll quote a part of the NYT article that inspired me to write about this issue in the first place, so that you can draw your own picture.

“I can, and do, write prescriptions for her many medical problems, but I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability. She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line.

It’s not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn’t want to be ‘locked up in one of those homes.’ What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile.”

Many countries — with Japan being the flagship — are investing in healthcare robotics development, in order to come up with a solution for loneliness and various movement and independence restrictions. In some cases, the caregiving robots are being implemented as we speak, such as the Japanese Robear, the Swedish GiraffPlus, or the German Care-O-Bot. Caregiving and nursing robots may be even closer than we realize, simply because the need is so urgent.

As much as I love the idea of robotic household helpers for people with various disabilities, I can’t help but wonder about the ethics of having regular, possibly even emotional interactions with a humanoid robot in your home. How will the software work with personal information? What will the policies be on the possible accidents and injuries related to the machine? Will robotic caregivers be covered by medical insurance?

The questions are many, and so far we have very few answers. That said, I personally can’t wait for the further development of mechanical caregivers.

What is your opinion?

Turning no into yes: what to do when you're elderly loved one doesn't want care

Dealing With A Relative Who Doesn’t Want Care

How to care for someone who doesn’t want care (but needs it)?

One of the many sides of aging that we often fail to see in advance is the need of care and assistance in the later stages of life. Nobody likes to think about becoming dependent on other people’s help, and people sometimes fail to spot the first signs of their loved one needing a caregiver, or being in need of assistance themselves. This development can lead to a very deep frustration and sometimes even anger, resulting in resistance and denial towards accepting a caregiver.

The question rises: how to take care of someone who refuses to be taken care of? I’ll try to give you an answer to that, and hopefully help you deal with your loved one’s resentment for good.

Stage one: Planning

When it comes to sensitive subjects regarding aging (such as finances, health issues or  the possibility of reduced independence), it’s very important to open this topic up in the family before it becomes imminent. Try to choose the right moment when everyone is relaxed and talk about the measures that may need to be taken in the future, and how everyone would want them to go down. Stay realistic during the planning process and consider all the options, such as

  • What to do in the sudden case of an illness?
  • Will someone from the family be able to take care of the senior relative?
  • Would your relative be okay with a live-in caregiver?
  • How about a nursing home?

It’s not an easy subject, but avoiding it doesn’t make the possible complications disappear. Being ready for all the eventualities will be easier for your loved one as well as for the whole family.

Stage two: Understanding

If planning didn’t work out, help or take place at all, and your loved one is taking a negative stance towards being cared for by someone, you need to understand the motivations of their resentment. Resistance can be exhausting and irritating for both you and the patient, that’s why you need to stay calm and try to find your way to the core of the issue rather than using brute force.

The reasons for negative stance towards caregiving can vary, from cognitive issues, to fear and grief, to physical pain that you haven’t been previously aware of. Our elderly parents may also have stubborn personalities or haven’t been used to asking for help all their lives, that’s why such a sudden change may be more than they can take.

Try putting yourself in your parents’ and grandparents’ shoes. Try talking to them reasonably, without pushing them emotionally or forcing them into anything. Stay calm, and show them you’re on their side.

Stage three: Involvement

You need to involve your senior loved ones into deciding who will be their caregiver as much as their health condition allows. No matter if it’s a family member, a private caregiver or a professional from a caregiving agency, your relative should have the right to veto before a decision is made. Sit down together and make an assessment of all the services that need to be taken care of. That will help you decide what type of care will be needed. Then ask for your relative’s preference, and take them into consideration. It’s their life, so it should also be their right of choice. Having a say in the decision-making could help reduce the anxiety from the new, vulnerable situation they’ve found themselves in.

Stage four: Humanity

This is definitely not the “next step to take”, but more of a general rule to keep in your mind when going through this difficult time.

We’re all just people. We have our moods, our fears, our hopes and our feelings, and that needs to be taken into consideration constantly. Whenever you’re having difficulties explaining your family member why it’s important for them to get help and they refuse to listen, don’t forget that they’re grown men and women who have suddenly found themselves between a rock and a hard place, and need to start relying on someone else in order to keep on living their lives. That’s not an easy fact to accept, and also not easy to imagine yourself. Be patient. Be human.

Another important point to keep in mind is that people are social beings, but it doesn’t always click. You don’t need to love spending time with your caregiver, but life’s much more fun if you do. Make sure that you take the time to find someone who’ll be The One for your senior loved one.


Resistance and denial are difficult obstacles, but not impossible to overcome. With a little bit of understanding and patience, you’ll always be able to find a way.

Hiring a caregiver

Hiring a professional caregiver

Caring for an aging relative is a natural thing to do for some, but an impossible task for others. It doesn’t matter if you can’t become a full-time caregiver because of your family, your career, your own health issues or any other reason. The burden and responsibility of caring for a senior can become so great, that there’s no shame of leaving it to a professional if you’re not feeling up to the task. After all, a certified caregiver will have much more experience and will make sure that our beloved relative will be looked after 24/7.

Once you decide to hire a caregiver, there are several things you should keep in mind before sealing the deal. You want to make sure you’ve made the right choice, so take your time to go through the whole process. You don’t want an incompetent stranger in your home, after all. You want a friend, a guardian and a reliable support whenever needed.

Finding “the one”

First off, you need to decide whether you prefer hiring someone from a caregiving agency, or a private contractor. If possible, engage your elderly relative in the decision making process as much as you can.

References and recommendations should be your first place to go; ask around the family, among your friends, at work, and try to collect as many tips as possible.

The pros of agency services are guaranteed professionality and backup coverage in case your favorite caregiver isn’t available. The cons could be the limited access to all the information around the caregiver, the higher costs, and the long-term risk that a corporation starts valuing profits over service.

Hiring a private caregiver, on the other hand, offers significantly greater control for you regarding the hiring, payment or caregiving itself. It does bring more work to you because finding and choosing the right candidate won’t be easy, and once you have someone, finding a back-up will be your responsibility as well.

Choose wisely, consider your time and financial possibilities, and discuss every step with your senior relative.

The legal matters

The certification (CPR, first-aid, nursing) is the first thing to ask for when choosing a candidate. Different states have different requirements for family caregivers, so make sure you’re up to date with those that apply to your region. In the state of Ohio no training is required, but for instance in Vermont caregivers must pass a state test as well as a background check and drug test.

You can run your own background check on the caregiver via, google them, or look through their social media profiles to get an idea about who they are. It’s a common practice with companies’ HR departments, so why not use this opportunity as well?

Finally, if you’re hiring someone of a foreign origin, you may want to check their immigration status in order to avoid complications on both sides.

The contract

Also a legal matter, the contract deserves its own paragraph because the importance of every detail is great. If a contract is articulated clearly and contains everything it should, many unpleasant complications can be avoided beforehand. Here are a few areas on which you should focus:

  • Duties and responsibilities: Hours, schedule, duties, privileges, meals, etc.
  • Compensation and benefits: Rate, frequency, benefits including days off, vacation, benefits, performance review, etc.
  • Transportation: Guidelines for using the family car and public transportation safely.
  • Discretion and confidentiality: Your expectations about personal information.
  • Notice and severance: What each party will be required to do if the job comes to an end.

Of course, I’m happy to assist with this aspect of things.

The human factor

Once you’ve found the experienced caregiver, meet up with them (ideally also with your senior relative), just to see whether the proverbial spark is there or not. Don’t forget to listen to your gut, not just certificates and reviews. If you or your relative for any reason don’t like the person’s demeanor, don’t sign the contract. There are many fish in the sea, and causing unnecessary distress to your elderly loved one by making them stay with someone who makes them feel uncomfortable is the last thing you want to do.

Gift Giving and Caregiving

Holiday Gift Tips: Gifts for Caregivers

I don’t know about you, but it’s often hard for me to think of gifts for everyone. So, I’ve decided to make it at least a little easier for you this year, and give you a few gift ideas for your caregiving friends and relatives. Original and helpful gifts are “in” during every season, and here are some less-commercial gifts that may be just what the doctor ordered.

Gift ideas for caregivers

Motto: “A little me time is the best gift for giving.”

Takeovers and coffee breaks

Being able to take a regular rest is absolutely vital in order for a caregiver to stay energized and sane. Their job is very physically and mentally demanding, and sometimes they just want to get out for a bit to recharge. You can help them out by one of the following ways:

  • Make them a takeover coupon – offer to fill in when they need a few hours or a day off.
  • Make a book of coupons, offering several ways you can help out occasionally.
  • Make them a coffee break schedule with a Starbucks coupon attached.
  • Offer a regular weekly meeting over a coffee or some good wine and food.

Tickets and subscriptions

It’s in a caregiver’s nature not to put themselves first. Try to remind them of the importance of it. Entertainment is a great cure for dark-mindedness, sadness and exhaustion. Whether it’s at home or outside of it. Surprise a caregiver with a ticket or a subscription to:

  • A night at the movies
  • Dinner for two in their favorite restaurant
  • Theater or a concert of their choice
  • A weekend in the spa
  • A monthly subscription for a yoga or a gym class
  • A book or a movie club subscription

Just remember that when a caregiver goes out, they need someone to look after their senior loved one for them. Offering them a fill-in from above along with a night-out gift is a perfect combo.

Home services

Doing all the chores, thinking and caring for their loved one, a caregiver often doesn’t get to give proper thought to their own home conditions. However, maintaining a comfortable home is very important for the caregiver’s well-being. Here are some tips on how you can help:

  • Pay for a cleaning service
  • Hire a contractor for small home repairs
  • Offer to help with chores such as lawn mowing or cleaning up, yourself
  • Pay for or offer to prepare a home-cooked meal regularly

Just say thank you

Sometimes, a heartfelt word of gratitude, support, and appreciation is all it takes to make someone happy. Caregivers are selflessly spending their time on others, without ever really expecting gratitude, simply because that’s not what caregiving is about. However, that doesn’t mean that a thank you every now and then isn’t welcome and appreciated.

  • Write a greeting card where you write how much you value their work
  • Make them a gift basket with their holiday treats, gift card attached
  • Buy them a caregiver book of support and encouragement

These little gestures will mean the world to all the people out there, living their lives serving and caring for their loved ones. Knowing that someone appreciates their efforts and cares about them too is one of the best gifts out there. So whether you’re still shopping in advance or are looking for a last-minute solution, I’m sure many of the above tips can help you out. Happy holidays!

fall prevention tips for your elderly loved ones

Winter 2016: Senior Fall Prevention Tips

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has previously issued research that brought to light some alarming numbers related to falls of the elderly and their consequences. According to the research, more than one in four seniors fall at least once each year, and less than a half of them inform their doctor about it. To top it all off, one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bone or head injury, that could result in further health complications or even become fatal. Of course, not all falls cause injuries, but even the psychological consequences thereof can be a burden (insecurity, leaving out certain activities, etc…).

There are many factors that impose a potential fall risk, especially on people with limited mobility such as seniors. One of the biggest and most uncontrollable factors is weather, especially in the wintertime. As much as we have no control over the conditions, we can prepare ourselves for them and significantly lower the danger of a fall. We want to make sure nothing will happen to our loved ones this winter, so that we’ll all be able to enjoy the holiday season no matter the weather.

High Quality Winter Footwear

Good shoes are considered to be one of the best investments we can make in our whole life. Especially when we’re talking winter footwear for seniors. No smooth soles, no heels, no plastic or leather-made soles. Skid- and slip-free rubber-soled boots that provide traction on snow are a must this season.

My personal pro tip are the L.L.Bean Boots ( They’re famous for a reason.

Ice- and Snow-Free Walkways and Stairs

It is dangerous to deal with snow and ice on one’s own after a certain age, so make sure to offer help to your elderly loved ones when winter strikes. Keeping snow off the pathways and driveways around the house and salting the frozen ground surfaces will help to avoid slippery icing. The same goes for stairs. Speaking of which, the paths and stairs outside the house should be fixed, if needed, before the first snow falls.

Handrails Wherever Possible

Make sure that there are handrails installed in places where a senior is the most at risk of falling, such as stairs or paths with nothing to hold on to. Handrails can become the last resort for help if a senior loses his balance unexpectedly.

Layer Up

The more layers of clothing your loved one wears, the better. Thick warm clothing does not only lower the risk of hypothermia or frostbite, but it can also noticeably reduce the impact of a fall once it could not be avoided. All exposed skin should be covered up – especially hands and head/face. Just make sure that the field vision isn’t affected.

Cane adjustment

If your elderly relative owns and uses a cane to walk, take all the necessary measures to adjust it for wintertime — replace the rubber tip at the end either with a new one that isn’t worn out, or, even better, add an ice-pick attachment such as this one for added stability and traction: Cane Ice Tip Attachment (

Keeping Their Own Pace

Whether you’re going for a walk, accompanying a senior for grocery shopping or taking them to their doctor’s appointment, always make sure to have some extra time on your hands. Being in a hurry and creating stress can result in unnecessary loss of awareness, panic and consequential injury. Always allow your senior loved one to keep her own pace and don’t hurry. I know it’ll get difficult, especially during the stressful time that the holiday season tends to be. Just always remember that health and safety of your relatives must stay in first place at all times.