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.

Getting your parent back into the dating scene

How to help a parent back into the dating scene

There is no way to deny that millions of people are getting divorced or, sadly, losing a spouse to old age or accident. There has historically been a mild taboo associated with people who reach their senior years dating. It has been frowned upon to see people of a certain age looking for love and romance again — but this is no longer the case and there are many reasons why you should encourage your single parent to date again. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some tips to help your parent get back into the swing of things.

Make them feel comfortable about it

The best thing to do at first is to tell them that you are perfectly fine with them dating again. Tell them that the idea of seeing this as a bad thing is no longer something that your generation believes and even millions of adults who grew up seeing that as a bad thing are now adapting to the modern world. Also, mention how you feel that they deserve a chance to be happy again with someone else. This is a great way to start and make them feel comfortable about the whole situation.

Introduce them to dating sites

There is a world of new dating sites that are specifically targeted for senior citizens to use. These sites are very confidential and they screen their users to make sure that they are not posting fake profiles on those sites. Give them the names of reputable and useful dating sites so that they will consider using them without fear of being involved in something that is not safe and secure.

DatingAdvice.com has a good review of the top online sites for senior dating, and explain their methodology behind how they ranked them.

Give them a rundown on the benefits of online dating

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that it has become quite common now for people to use dating sites and it’s no longer something that only “strange” people do. Now that the world is so hectic, the use of this sort of dating network is extremely common amongst professionals and people with high moral values.

They will also avoid the hassles and the awkward moments of having to go out and meet people just to get to know if there is a connection at a basic level. With dating sites, they get to know the basics about a person through the use of chat or with their profile bio and this saves them time and it keeps them from experiencing those embarrassing moments.

Conclusion

Dating sites are no longer seen in the same light as they used to be seen. They are now part of our culture and they are perfectly acceptable as a legitimate way to get to know people. This is the reason why their popularity has grown significantly in the last few years and your single parent deserves to have the chance to find someone that they can share their lives with.

 

fall activities for seniors and kids

Fall Activities for Seniors in Southwest Ohio

It’s hard to imagine that summer officially ended two weeks ago (particularly since we’ve been seeing highs that are 5-10º above average for the last several weeks), but it’s true: autumn is here. But thankfully, there are all sorts of fall activities that are perfect for senior citizens. And this is a great opportunity to get outside and engage in some light exercise — at least walking around and getting a little active before the sedentary days of winter set in.

Here in southwest Ohio, there are lots of options. Better, with two big autumnal holidays, there are lots of great opportunities to get out and do things with the grandkids, whether it’s a Pumpkin Show or a Zombie Walk (scroll about halfway down, to October 22nd, and maybe check out some of the other fall activities in Marietta-Washington County while you’re there).

Another great site to check out for fall festivals around Ohio is the Ohio Traveler site, that has lots of options from haunted houses, to hay rides, to corn mazes — all great activities that seniors and kids can do together.

If you’re looking for something a little more local, check out any of these for a great adventure:

The Sugarcreek Metropark Orange Trail is an amazing natural wonder that we have right here in our backyard. If you’re up for a relatively easy hike, it just might be one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen. Not only is the covered walk under the trees something beautiful to behold on its own, but on the trail, you’ll discover the Three Sisters — a pair of white oaks that, at more than 550 years old, predate Columbus coming to the New World!

For a little more lively action, check out the Old West Festival, in Williamsburg, just outside of Cincinnati. If you’re over the age of 60, you almost certainly saw these kinds of shows as a kid — sheriffs and outlaws, gunslinging their way through the old west. Here’s your chance to introduce your grandkids to all that fun, right here near home.

If you’re looking for something to do immediately, this weekend, then here’s something that you may not expect: the 47th annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival. Yep, you heard me right: sauerkraut. And it’s not just for sausages. You can try sauerkraut pizza, sauerkraut mac ‘n cheese, and sauerkraut … brownies? Really, the options defy the imagination.

And if somehow you still haven’t found the right fall activities to fill your schedule between now and the first snowfall, take a look at the Senior Citizens’ Guide to Southwest Ohio — you’re bound to find something there.

Last but not least, if you have any great events that are coming up this autumn and you think would be perfect for seniors, or seniors and their families, by all means — leave a message in the comments!

two elderly men walking through a park

Marching in May — Activities for The Elderly

Following on to my popular post of activities you can do with your elderly relatives in April, here’s my list of activities for the elderly this May. There’s a bunch of great stuff happening — some of it one time, some of it recurring — so you’ll have ample opportunity to grab your parents or grand parents, and get up and go!

May 5th, Dayton, First Friday — happens the first Friday of every month, so if you miss it in May, you can try again as long as the weather holds out. The exact details are different every month, but it generally includes a bunch of open art galleries, along with street performances, so it’s a great walking tour. You can download the latest month’s details from downtowndayton.org.

May 6th and 7th, Dayton, Brahms Festival — the Dayton Philharmonic has a couple of great events happening in May, including their Brahms festival. If classical music is more up your alley than walking around downtown, it’s worth checking this out. Also, seniors get a discount.

May 7th, Oxford, Red Bricks and Roses — everyone loves a parade! Instead of just the big-deal Independence Day parades, why not check out something a little more low-key, and a little more nostalgic. The parade is at 2PM, but there are activities starting as early as noon in downtown Oxford. The best part? The entire parade is horse-drawn carriages!

May 13th and 14th, Dayton, Best of Broadway II — symphony for those who don’t prefer the symphony. A few years ago, the Dayton Philharmonic hosted a “best of broadway”, and it was a rave success. This year, they’re doing a follow up, Best of Broadway II. It’s chock-full of show tunes that your elderly relatives are sure to love, from Kiss Me, Kate, South Pacific, Hello, Dolly, and many, many more — all the way up through modern-era broadway hits like Jersey Boys and Wicked.

May 20th and 22nd, Dayton, The Book Collector and Carmina Burana — that’s right … a double-feature opera! If the Dayton Philharmonic didn’t meet your needs with either the classics of Brahms, or the Best of Broadway, check out this double feature, including the famous opera Carmina Burana, and the world premier of The Book Collector. The Sunday show is a matinee, starting at 3PM. Both shows have a talk, starting an hour before hand, and both offer senior discounts.

May 20th-28th, Cincinnati. It seems that May is full of music! Most of the entries this month have been from the Dayton Philharmonic, but it’s worth the trip to Cincinnati to check out their May Festival.

May 21st, Miami County Fairgrounds, Gourmet Food Truck Competition — in case you missed it, the nation has been overwhelmed by gourmet food trucks. Mostly, this phenomenon started off in LA, and quickly spread to San Francisco and New York. But now, it’s accessible right here in Ohio. And what better way to experience it then getting all the best of them together at once. Check out the fairgrounds from 11AM to 9PM. Admission is free (though the food isn’t).

May 27th-29th, Springfield, Swap Meet — some people are into art. Some people are into music. And some people are into cars. If your elderly relative falls into the latter group, check out the spring Springfield Swap Meet and Car Show. They’ll love it!

May 28th-30th, Cincinnati. The Taste of Cincinnati. Enough said. OK, maybe not enough — it’s a great “taste” food festival, without being as crazy as the Taste of Chicago. A great way to spend they day walking around, getting a little bit of exercise, and enjoying great food and great people watching.

Recurring Events

Every Saturday (through the end of they year) — if your relative is an old-school aviation buff, then this is just the treat. Every Saturday, you can watch volunteers at the Champaign Aviation Museum work on restoring a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. And there are plenty of other things to see at the museum (and it’s open other days, too, but this is far-and-away the coolest thing they’re doing).

collage of aerial views of Dayton from 1870 an 2008

Ask Your Elders about Earth Day

Earth Day isn’t exactly an ancient holiday. In fact, if you’re a reader of this blog, then you are almost certainly old enough the very first one: April 22nd, 1970.

It’s “only” been 45 years since that first Earth Day. In some contexts, I suppose, 45 years is a very long time — but to many of us, it doesn’t really seem like that long of a time, at all. Still, 1970 was shockingly different than is 2015. And in many ways the same. The height of the counterculture movement and dissatisfaction with government and the war in Vietnam culminated in the tragedy at Ohio’s very own Kent State University; Jimi Hendrix died, and the last Beatles album was released.

Earth Day was inspired by the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, which caused Senator Gaylord Nelson, of Wisconsin, to take action. The action he took was to channel the sense of civic responsibility of the time, and ultimately, before the year was out, create the Environmental Protection Agency and pass the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. For really the first time ever, the environment was front-and-center on the nation’s agenda.

Why not use today’s Earth Day celebration as an opportunity to talk to your elderly friends and relatives about how much times have changed — and how much they haven’t. I bet you’ll be surprised to learn exactly how much of both are true.

The cover image for this post is a collage of “Dayton 1870” a public domain image, via Wikimedia Commons and “Dayton” by redlegsfan21 (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

books

Buy Your Grandparents A Book

We may all still read books to our children, but among adults reading is declining in the U.S., and it has been doing so for years. Even the advent of ebooks, which initially showed growth, is slowing down, and hasn’t been enough to staunch the overall decline. That said, there’s one group that still loves to read — the elderly. Which is exactly why your should buy your grandparents a book.

Coming up this weekend, you have a great opportunity to do so, as the Dayton Metro Library is having their semi-annual book sale. The sale takes place at Hara’s East Hall on Friday, April 15 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday, April 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 17 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Even if your elderly relatives aren’t still excited about reading, you may find something there, as they’ll have cassettes, CDs, and videos from the library as well.

Of course, this goes both ways. Not only might it be a great place to pick up a gift for your elderly relatives, it can be an inexpensive way for the elderly to pick up books for their grandkids.

So, head out this weekend, support your local library, and buy your grandparents a book.

Men raising a Maypole for spring celebration

Celebrating Spring with Your Seniors

It’s Spring! (OK, we still have a few days left, but preparing for Spring a few days before the actual vernal equinox seems much more reasonable than the questionable move of the commencement of daylight savings time to last week).

The commencement of Spring, unsurprisingly, has been incredibly impactful on they psyche of man. The end of Winter, the time of rebirth, where the days of starvation and freezing are behind, and it’s time to plant the crops. While Passover and Easter are wonderful religious traditions, they’re also clear markings of the beginning of Spring, enshrined into religion. But while many of us in Ohio follow our religions devoutly, we also have some more secular Spring traditions that we follow. Spring cleaning. The beginning of yard-sale season. Maybe the long drive up to Traverse City to watch the cherry blossoms.

But as always, these traditions change over time. Your parents and grand parents probably did all of those things I just mentioned, but they probably also had traditions of their own. As always, this is a great time to ask your elders — I’m sure they have great stories about the springtime traditions from their childhood, particularly if they’re first or second generation immigrants. Although it’s too early for me to find announcements, I’m sure there will be plenty of Maypoles put up in communities around the area. Taking your elders out to watch the dancing might be a great deal of fun. But depending on where your family originated, you might find any number of surprising traditions, from the burning of the Böög to throwing water at the little girl next door.

And of course, there are the much more modern traditions — Opening Day in baseball, and the heigh of trout fishing.

In fact, if it’s not already a tradition, with six minor-league baseball teams spread across the state, going to opening day with your grandparents may be a great Spring tradition for you to start. Minor league baseball is exactly the kind of thing that’s great fun for the entire family, regardless of age.

But, whatever you do, go engage in some springtime activity with your elders. As Winter draws to a close, you all deserve it.

Different times on different sides of the line.

Ask Your Elders about The Uniform Time Act

Ask Your Elders

Following on the heels of last week’s “ask your elders about healthcare” post, and given the Spring Forward event this Sunday, I thought the Universal Time Act would be another great conversation for you (or your kids) to have with your parents (or their grandparents).

Daylight Savings

Twice a year, we gather around the water cooler to complain about the time change, one way or the other. And lately, for reasons that surpass explanation*, we’ve even changed when we do it — now having four to five more weeks of daylight savings than the other parts of the world that currently celebrate it (though not exactly, it’s basically only the US, Europe, and parts of Australia that do).

As if celebrating daylight savings on different days than the rest of the world wasn’t confusing enough, it’s not even the case that all of the U.S. states celebrate it (Arizona and Hawaii currently do not). But at least that’s an improvement. I still remember when our neighbor to the west had half the state celebrating it and half not.

The Universal Time Act

Daylight savings time is confusing enough, and has changed often enough. But what’s really worth asking your elders about is life before the Uniform Time Act of 1966. I feel quite confident that life before the Act directly led to the 1966 recording of To Morrow by The Kingston Trio.

The fact that the opening line references Ohio is, I assure you, completely accidental.

I started on a journey about a year ago to a little town called Morrow in the State of Ohio.
I’ve never been much of a traveler, and I really didn’t know that Morrow was the hardest place I’d ever try to go.

So I went down to the station for my ticket and applied for tips regarding Morrow not expecting to beguiled.
Said I, “My friend, I’d like to go to Morrow and return no later than tomorrow for I haven’t time to burn.”

Said he to me, “Now let me see if I have heard you right. You’d like to go to Morrow and return tomorrow night.
You should have gone to Morrow yesterday and back today for the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way.

If you had gone to Morrow yesterday now don’t you see, you could have gone to Morrow and returned today at three
For the train today to Morrow, if the schedule is right, today it goes to Morrow and returns tomorrow night.”

Said I, “My friend, it seems to me you’re talking through your hat. There is a town named Morrow on the line now tell me that.”
“There is,” said he, “but take me a quiet little tip. To go from here to Morrow is a fourteen hour trip.

The train today to Morrow leaves today at eight thirty-five. At half-past ten to Morrow is the time it should arrive.
So if from here to Morrow is a fourteen hour jump, can you go today to Morrow and get back today, you chump?”

Said I, “I’d like to go to Morrow so can I go today and get to Morrow by tonight if there is no delay?”
“Well, well,” said he to me, “and I’ve got no more to say. Can’t get anywhere tomorrow and get back again today.”

Said I, “I guess you know it all but kindly let me say, how can I get to Morrow if I leave this town today?”
Said he, “You cannot go to Morrow any more today ’cause the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way.”

I was so disappointed. I was mad enough to swear. The train had gone to Morrow and had left me standing there.
That man was right in telling me that I was a-howling jay. I could not go to Morrow so I guess in town I’ll stay.

You see, before the Uniform Time Act, time wasn’t … well … uniform. Every state and municipality had their own rules. According to Seize the Daylight by David Prerau, “because some of the towns along the way [from Moundsville, West Virginia, to Steubenville, Ohio — again, Ohio reference unintentional!] observed [daylight saving time] and others did not, passengers had to change their watches seven different times along that 35-mile route”.

Now, there’s something you should be asking your parents and grandparents about. I’m sure anyone who was an adult by the mid 60s has some amazing stories to tell about this, and isn’t at all flummoxed by our current Daylight Savings Time nonsense.

For more on the history of daylight savings (including some Ben Franklin myth busting), check out The Strange and Surprising History of Daylight Saving Time by National Geographic.

* Apparently, at least part of the explanation is that one of the Representatives from our crazy state to the north wanted to extend the number of daylight hours available to children for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

a grandmother helps her grandson fill out a questionnaire on family medical history

Asking about Family Medical History

Understanding your family medical history can be important. It can influence all sorts of decisions throughout your life: everything from helping your doctor make decisions about what screening tests should be run at various points in your life, to estate and end-of-life planning. But getting that family history can be difficult. Sitting down and grilling your parents about their recollections of how their parents and aunts and uncles died, and what symptoms they had towards the end of their life might not seem particularly appealing, but a surprising number of diseases and conditions have at least some hereditary factors:

  • Alzheimer’s disease or dementia Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Birth defects
  • Cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Stroke

However, it’s worth noting that this reticence to discuss these things is a distinctly modern, American (and slightly weird) phenomenon. You can use that to your advantage, to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Discussing family medical history is a great opportunity to get your kids interacting with their grandparents. Everyone will get something good out of it. The youth and elderly will get to spend some quality time together, and you’ll learn more than you probably wanted to know about your family history.

Depending on the age of your children, you can make this part of a school project, or use it to help start your own conversations with your children about the nature of death. Obviously, you’ll want to steer the conversation in a way that’s appropriate for your child’s age, and that will likely start by you screening the questions. A great place for you to start thinking about appropriate questions is either this form from Utah’s health department, or this online tool from the Department of Health and Human Services (depending on whether your preference leans more towards pen-and-paper, or the Internet).

Either way, use those tools as a starting point, and tailor your own family medical history questionnaire that’s appropriate for your child.

Questions to Ask Senior Citizens — 6 Degrees of Abraham Lincoln

There’s a famous, pop-trivia game: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The idea is to try and figure out, if you called the person you know who is most likely to know Kevin Bacon, and asked them to do the same thing, how many calls would you have to make before you’re actually talking to Kevin Bacon?

The game is based on the concept that any two people are only separated by six degrees, first posited by Hungarian playwright Frigyes Karinthy. Today, with modern social networks, we actually have some knowledge around this, and while it may actually be true that all humans are within 6 degrees of each other, it actually turns out that most are much closer — generally around 3-4.

But today, on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, I’m thinking about things in another way. I’m thinking about connections to historical people. So, the question is, how many degrees of separation are you from Abraham Lincoln?

In some ways, it seems like a crazy question. Lincoln is someone on our money, some legend of history. One may as well be asking, how many degrees of separation am I from Beowulf. But if you really think about it, the truth is shockingly different. Lincoln died on April 15th, 1865. That’s only 145 years ago. That still seems like a long time, but, how old is the oldest person you know? 80? 90? 100? You’ve already reached more than half-way back to Lincoln.

Someone who is 80 now could easily have had a great-grandparent living until the age of 20 — long enough to ask lots of adult questions of that great-grandparent, and hear lots of stories. If that great-grandparent was also 80 when are putative oldest friend was 20, then he was born only 10 years after Lincolns death. That death, and the times after, it would have been clear and present in his parent’s memory.

So, to summarize, if the oldest person you know is only 80, then there’s a very good chance that you’re only 3 degrees removed from Honest Abe. If you know someone older, it might only be 2 — you might know someone who knew someone, and can remember, the time of Lincoln.

Do yourself a favor, and start asking you senior citizens about the world of the past. The stories you hear are bound to amaze you. And perhaps give you a very different perspective on today’s world.