Senior Living Blog

Tax Time

Unfortunately being a senior citizen does not exempt oneself from taxes.
The following tax tips were developed by the IRS to help seniors avoid some of the common errors dealing with the standard deduction for seniors, the taxable amount of Social Security benefits, and the Credit for the Elderly and Disabled.

Standard Deduction for Seniors – If you do not itemize your deductions, you can get a higher standard deduction amount if you and/or your spouse are 65 years old or older. You can get an even higher standard deduction amount if either you or your spouse is blind. (See Form 1040 and Form 1040A instructions.)

Taxable Amount of Social Security Benefits -When preparing your return, be especially careful when you calculate the taxable amount of your Social Security. Use the Social Security benefits worksheet found in the instructions for IRS Form 1040 and Form 1040A, and then double-check it before you fill out your tax return. See Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.

Credit for the Elderly or Disabled – You must file using Form 1040 or Form 1040A to receive the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled. You cannot get the Credit for the Elderly or Disabled if you file using Form 1040EZ. Be sure to apply for the Credit if you qualify; please read below for details.
Who Can Take the Credit: The Credit is based on your age, filing status and income. You may be able to take the Credit if:

  • Age: You and/or your spouse are either 65 years or older; or under age 65 years old and are permanently and totally disabled.
  • Filing Status: Your income on Form 1040 line 38 is less than $17,500, $20,000 (married filing jointly and only one spouse qualifies), $25,000 (married filing jointly and both qualify), or $12,500 (married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year).
    And, the non-taxable part of your Social Security or other nontaxable pensions, annuities or disability income is less than $5,000 (single, head of household, or qualifying widow/er with dependent child); $5,000 (married filing jointly and only one spouse qualifies); $7,500 (married filing jointly and both qualify); or $3,750 (married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse the entire year).

Calculating the Credit: Use Schedule R (Form 1040 or 1040A), Credit for the Elderly or Disabled, to figure the amount of the credit. See the instructions for Schedule R (Forms 1040 or 1040A) if you want the IRS to figure this credit for you.
Also see Publications 524 (Credit for the Elderly or Disabled); and 554 (Tax Guide for Seniors).

Free IRS Tax Return Preparation – IRS-sponsored volunteer tax assistance programs offer free tax help to seniors and to low- to moderate-income people who cannot prepare their own tax returns.

For more information visit:

What to take with you when moving into an Assisted Living or Memory Care Community

Often we get asked, “what should I bring” when moving into a community like ours. While the decision of what to bring is of course personal, we do know from experience to start with the premise that you actually need very little when moving into an assisted living or memory care residence.

  • First and foremost people need less than they think. Most residents bring too much with them. Once here they realize how few items they actually need. And for those suffering from memory loss, too many items especially clothing options can confuse or frustrate the resident.
  • If furnishing your own apartment check to make certain that what you intend to bring will fit and is safe. Avoid furniture with sharp corners; chairs that are unstable and throw rugs, which can make a person easily, trip.
  • Leave your valuables with a trusted family member or friend.
  • Do bring a touch of home with you. Family photos, beloved trinkets and a few well-loved items will make your new residence feel like home with these in place.
  • Comfortable clothing is fashionable at our community. Bring clothes that you enjoy wearing and that you can move around in comfortably.
  • Please leave behind your over-the-counter medications or items with medications included in them.

Lastly we encourage new residents to stay busy, introduce themselves to the other residents and participate in our many activities. By doing so you’ll feel at home in your new community.

Alzheimer’s Updates

Can it be true – can we drink beer to ward off Alzheimer’s disease?

An ingredient in beer hops, xanthohumol (also known as Xn) has been shown to protect the brains of mice from cell damage according to a report by Dr. Jianguo Fang in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Fang said that Xn was shown to not only fight free radicals but to jump-start signaling and protect cells from neurotoxicity.

The report states that one way to get the benefits of Xn is to ingest a daily intake of products containing Xn, such as beer.

More information can be found at:

Understanding the differences between Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and a Skilled Nursing Facility

You are not alone if you find yourself confused between the many different options when it comes to care types and styles of senior living communities. While ISL Communities offer independent living, assisted living, and memory care, let me give you a brief description of the four most dominate senior living options available.

Independent Senior Living Communities are best suited to seniors who are living an independent, self-sufficient life. They offer a carefree lifestyle, freeing residents of the many burdens of daily life. Meals are prepared, housekeeping, laundry and transportation services available as well as 24 hour on site staffing and great social events and activities.

Assisted Living Communities is a combination of housing, personalized assistance services and care tailored to the individual who require help with activities of daily living. In these communities you’ll find more support services such as assistance with bathing, grooming, and dressing while still enjoying independence.

Memory Care Communities are designed especially for residents with memory loss and other forms of dementia. Memory care is often provided in a secure area or special wing within an assisted living community.

Skilled Nursing Facilities (Nursing Homes) offer the highest level of care for residents (outside of a hospital) with an emphasis on medical care. They offer 24-hour supervised care with meals, activities and health management support for residents.

Valentine’s Day for that Senior in Your Life

By Judith Jones, Claremont Place

As we all know, Valentine’s Day conjures up thoughts of romance and love. We appreciate the extra attention we get on February 14th, , often evoking the warm feelings felt when we first fell in love. But for seniors, Valentine’s Day can be a day of mixed feelings.
For many of our residents, the love of their lives have passed away, leaving them with wonderful memories of days gone by but also a feeling of sadness. Valentine’s Day can bring some added weight to their sorrow. Finding a special way to show them some extra love on Valentine’s Day can make a big difference.

  • Here are some ways you can fill a senior’s Valentine’s Day with some extra love:
  • Flowers warm the heart and soul, have some delivered
  • You are never to old for chocolate- share some on Valentine’s Day
  • A good old fashioned Valentine Card says a lot, don’t forget to send one
  • Take an old photograph of the couple and frame it up
  • Offer your time and spend the day, or at least part of the with your senior

These are just some ideas that let the senior in your life know that you are thinking of them.


By Tricia Elliker, Community Marketing Director at Claremont Place Senior Living.

If you are a caregiver, consider making some special caregiver resolutions this New Year. Go beyond the pledge to loose weight, work out or give up that favorite no-no and think about resolutions that promote your health and wellbeing in a positive way. The New Year is a good time for you, the caregiver, to step forward and take a Caregiver Pledge for yourself that looks to the positive in everyday life.

Here are 5 pledges to set you on the path for a happy and healthy 2015:

  1. I will respect myself and ask that others respect me
  2. I will take care of my physical self, getting enough rest, eating well and living a healthy lifestyle
  3. I will take care of my mental self, fulfilling my spiritual needs and seeking friends and family to share my thoughts and ideas
  4. I will seek professional help when needed, and not view this as a failure
  5. I will find love and laughter each day

Alzheimer’s News

There is a new film coming out in January about Alzheimer’s that is receiving a lot of attention. The film is “Still Alice” starring Julianne Moore. Moore plays Alice Howland, a brilliant college professor grappling with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Happily married with three grown children, the renowned linguistics professor starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested in this intense drama.

Early Hollywood talk is that Moore may get an Oscar nomination for her role in the film. “Still Alice” opens nationwide in theaters on January 16, 2015.

Catch a glimpse of the trailer at:

Tax Season is a Good Time to Talk Money

When it comes time to do taxes, it can also be a good time to start the conversation about money with the senior in your life. Discussions about their financial well-being are necessary but not easy. But tax time is an excellent time to open the dialogue — and perhaps an upside to this trying annual rite we experience each year.

Often seniors don’t want those younger than themselves involved in their finances, and conversely the younger adults don’t always want to know how much the senior has or what they’re doing with it which is understandable.

Yet tax season gives a natural opening to start the conversation. Money is an issue filled with emotion and not just for seniors. But take it slow and steady; give yourself time to talk to the senior in your life about their finances. Begin or continue the conversation sooner than later. It is an important task, and one that is best done when there is time and the ability to address the matter at hand.

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Senior in Your Life

Having trouble buying holiday gifts for people who’ve already had a full life of being naughty and nice? What can you give them that they haven’t already bought for themselves? We have a few ideas that will please the senior in your life.

The key to holiday gift giving for seniors is to remember what their individual needs and capabilities are at this moment in time, and also being practical yet thoughtful.

Holiday gift ideas for the senior in your life
Photos- frame a great family photo from the present, or find an old one and frame it.

An Outing- Give them a gift card to a favorite restaurant with a promise to take them at a later date after the holiday.

Days Gone By- We all love a little nostalgia and an easy way to take someone back in time is with a good movie. DVD collections are easy to find and easy to play.

Toys– yes a favorite toy or game from the seniors youth. Something along the lines of Lincoln Logs, Pick-Up Sticks, yo-yo or top, Hula Hoop, jigsaw puzzle, or games like Life, Scrabble or Monopoly. Seniors can invite the grandkids over to play.

Reading New Technology- E readers and tablets are getting more popular than every with seniors. They are not as complicated as computers, easy to use and travel easily.

Music New Technology- Seniors are like all of us, they respond to the music of their youth. Load a digital music player with songs from the era of their youth- and then show them how to use it. You will see a big smile on their face.

Go for a Drive- Many seniors don’t drive anymore, but have the desire to get out. Here is a great gift to give with little to no cost. Offer to take them for drives.

Hobby Basket- Sounds simple and it can be. Fill a basket with many of their favorite things- this way you are giving a big gift, with many little items. Some fun themes include:

Playing cards- cards, score pads, and of course snacks
Afternoon tea- tea, new cups and saucers, teapot, and cookies.
Sports- Book by a famous sports star, snacks to watch the game on TV and tickets for an in-town game.

Keeping Warm- Seniors can always use new blankets, slippers and robes to keep warm.

Help with the Bucket List- Help them answer a dream if asked “I’ve always wanted to ….” Ask them what’s on their list and help them make a wish or two come true.

And Time- The most valuable gift of all is the gift of your time.

10 Caregiver Survival Tips

November is a month that celebrates many events like voting, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving and even family caregivers. Yes every November family caregivers are reflected upon and we would like to take a moment to acknowledge all the sacrifices and help they provide for those that need assistance.

And while November may be the official month to recognize the a caregiver, every month–and every day–is one in which they make a difference. The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. Therefore it’s very important to take advantage of available help and support whenever possible. The healthier a caregiver is the better able they are to support others.

Here are 10 caregiver survival tips we’d like to share with you

Learn to accept help – It’s ok to ask others for help, it can be as simple as having someone help pick up the groceries.

Be Kind to Yourself – Take at least 20 minutes a day to be kind to yourself, enjoy a cup of tea, read a magazine or just sit back and the moment.

Know Yourself – Choosing to take charge of your life means recognizing your own strengths and limitations.

There is no perfect caregiver – Remember there is no “perfect” caregiver and remind yourself frequently that you’re doing the best you can at any given time. Your house does not have to be perfect, and no one will care if you eat leftovers three days in a row. And you don’t have to feel guilty about asking for help.

Get connected with resources – Research and enlist help from organizations such as local hospitals, the Red Cross and the Alzheimer’s Association who may offer classes on caregiving.

Join a support group – A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. It can also be a good place to make new friends.

Keep a Positive Attitude – Perhaps the most important choice you have to make is how you are going to approach life going forward. Of course keeping a positive attitude is immeasurable! Your decision will set the stage for everything else you do.

Don’t forget your friends – Make an effort to stay physically an emotionally connected with your family and friends. It’s ok to set aside time for socializing. When possible,
make plans to get out of the house.

Make sure you are health – As the caregiver you are often overlooked when it comes to your personal health. Visit your doctor annually and get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver.

Be Proactive – Knowing yourself and understanding the circumstances that surround you is a start, but taking charge of your life shouldn’t end there. Looking ahead and plan to the extent that you can, looking to prevent crises rather than letting them happen.

Having a good attitude, staying connected to the community, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, being proactive, and gathering information are just a few of the ways you can begin to take charge of your life. It’s largely about recognizing that you do have choices and making the ones most likely to support you in your caregiving role. To learn more about caregiving visit