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Home About Us News Latest News Tagged with: Senior

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Tax Preparation Options for 2012

1/26/2012 4:15pm

Senior Neighbors will no longer be offering assistance with taxes. However, they have compiled a list of resources older adults can contact for help with tax preparation. Senior Neighbors’ outreach workers will help seniors problem solve tax issues through appropriate referrals, like they do with many other concerns. To contact Senior Neighbors, call (616) 459-6019 or visit www.seniorneighbors.org

H&R Block is willing to go to senior housing sites and senior centers and provide tax services like Senior Neighbors has done for the past several years.  They are willing to assist the seniors using the same suggested donation schedule Senior Neighbors used last year.  The contact person at H&R Block is Carl Underhill.  He has been volunteering with Senior Neighbors the last couple of years helping with its tax program, so he is familiar with how the program has operated.  Carl can be reached at 616-669-2081 or at carl.underhill@tax.hrblock.com

AARP will continue to operate their senior tax program at the Baxter Community Center.  They have the capacity to help many seniors with their tax forms at the Baxter Center and can be reached during tax season at 616-456-8593.  Phil Quist is the contact at Baxter. For more information, visit http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/ .

The Kent County Tax Credit Coalition operates over 20 sites to assist people with tax forms.  For more information, call 211 or check this link: http://www.hwmuw.org/media/KCTCC_Coupon_English_2011.pdf

Comments

#1 Debra Dagen said:

Thank you for update. Does anyone know if H&R is offerring these services in other counties?

#2 Jackie said:

I am not aware what is available in other counties, but you can contact AARP and H&R Block in your area and ask. I recall seeing an H&R Block commercial offering to do the taxes for free if you meet the criteria listed on the IRS website for free e-filing. OR someone can help them with the online format.

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Snowflakes, Seniors and Scams

11/23/2011 12:10pm

Around the winter months, like all of us, seniors may be more susceptible to scams that prey on persons needing to stay warm or to protect their health during frigid weather. However, during this time older adults can increase their knowledge about how to avoid being taken advantage of and ensure a safe and warm winter season.

Tips for seniors to avoid scams:

 

  • Always ask for information in writing and read documents carefully before signing. When asked to sign a contract, consider taking the document home and read it without stress. If comfortable with the terms and conditions, return the next day with it signed.
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. During the winter months many places offer great bargains on items to keep warm and healthy. Unless it is a reputable, familiar business, stay away from deals that are “too good to pass up” and always read the fine print.
  • Protect yourself and your medical and financial information. Do not disclose this information over the phone. This has long been a popular tool used by con artists to gain access to personal information. Financial and medical institutions do not ask for this information over the phone.
  • Do your research before working with a new organization or individual. Many community resources exist to help seniors advocate for themselves. Contact your local Agency on Aging, the Better Business Bureau, legal assistance programs or family and friends you trust for more information on an organization. If something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. 

For other ways to combat fraud and abuse, visit the Senior Advocacy in Action Alert and contact your state Representative about pending legislation.

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

11/17/2011 2:15pm

Your action is needed to help prevent elder abuse!

Five years ago, a Governor-appointed Task Force of aging experts released a set of recommendations on addressing the growing, and mostly hidden, problem of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.  Since then, many bills have been introduced, but have died due to inaction by one or both houses.  Similar bills have been introduced in 2011.  We want legislators to get the job done this year to prevent abuse and get justice for victims.  

The Senate passed a package of 18 bills in early November.  Here are a few examples:

  • Senate Bill 461 would prevent an abuser from inheriting his/her victim’s assets. 
  • Senate Bill 454 would allow vulnerable adults to provide videotaped testimony similar to laws protecting children from having to face their abusers. 
  • Senate Bill 466 would require law enforcement to publicize a missing elder similar to the Amber Alerts used for missing children 

 

Fourteen (14) of these bills are now in the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, chaired by Rep. Ken Kurtz, and the other four bills are in the House Banking and Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Marty Knollenberg.  The bills have to be reported out of these committees, and then be approved by the entire House before they can go to Governor Snyder for his signature.  Advocates are pushing for the bills to become law by Christmas as a present for older Michiganians. 

Whate You Can Do:

Contact the Chairmen of these two committees along with the Speaker of the House and ask that the bills be reported out of these committees as soon as possible!  Also contact your own Representative and ask him/her to advocate with Kurtz, Knollenberg and Bolger.

 

Here are some talking points:

  • About 80,000 Michigan elders fall victim to some form of abuse each year.
  • Last year, Adult Protective Services received 19,000 calls reporting abuse, up from 12,000 calls in 2000.
  • 70% of abusers are ‘trusted ones,’ including spouses, children, grandchildren and friends.  Victims come from all walks of life and income classes, as witnessed by Mickey Rooney’s testimony before the Congress.
  • Michigan’s high rate of unemployment is fueling the financial exploitation of the elderly.

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Senior Odyssey

10/18/2011 1:00pm

Senior Odyssey of the Mind teams are now forming and they need you! Click here for more details on how to get involved and join in the fun!

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

8/17/2011 3:40pm

Older Americans have a lot at stake as Congress launches its twelve member committee charged with developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit.

Michigan is the only state with two members on the special committee – Congressman Dave Camp (R-Midland), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) who chairs the House Energy & Commerce Committee.  This means that advocates in our state can have a bigger impact on the recommendations coming out of the committee.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Contact your U.S. Representative, along with Senators Stabenow and Levin, and urge that a balanced approach be used to reduce the federal deficit, meaning an approach that includes new revenues.  Two bipartisan committees that have studied this issue both concluded that cuts alone cannot balance the federal budget without devastating programs that aid seniors, children, veterans or other vulnerable people - revenue increases must be part of the solution. 

Congress’ website at www.congress.orgwill help in identifying your U.S. Representative and allow you to send messages directly to him/her, as well as Senators Stabenow and Levin.  Or use the list below for contact information - messages can be sent through the websites. 

U.S. Representatives from Michigan (Washington D.C. area code is 202): 

U.S. Senators from Michigan: 

Background:  

Older Americans have a lot at stake as Congress launches its twelve member committee charged with developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit.  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act and other federal programs are a social safety net for the growing population of older Americans.  They are frequently identified as ‘bankrupting’ the federal budget and being unsustainable in the long-term.  However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (www.cbpp.org), tax cuts are the primary reason the federal budget is now out-of-balance. 

The committee is charged with developing a plan by November 23, 2011 to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 - $1.5 trillion.  Everything is on the table for the committee to consider: tax increases; closing tax loopholes; cuts in entitlement programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; and cuts in discretionary programs like the Older Americans Act.  More than half of the committee must approve the plan for it to proceed to the U.S. House and Senate for votes.  The plan must be voted up-or-down with no amendments.  Congress has until December 23, 2011 to approve the plan. 

If the committee can’t agree on a plan, or the plan isn’t approved by Congress, automatic cuts will take place in 2013.  Half of the cuts would come from defense & homeland security programs and the other half from discretionary programs.  The cuts would not affect Social Security, Medicaid or a few other low-income programs.  They would not cut Medicare benefits either, but they would cut payments to Medicare providers by up to 2%.  This could affect access to physicians and other providers for people on Medicare.  If the committee passes a plan that falls below the minimum $1.2 trillion, automatic cuts would be made to bring total savings to the $1.2 trillion level. 

 Talking Points: 

  • The deficit should be addressed through shared sacrifice by those able to contribute.  The budget should not be balanced on the backs of frail and low-income older Americans who are least able to afford cuts.
  • The committee should follow the lead of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Debt Commission, which embraced the principle of protecting the truly disadvantaged, providing a robust, affordable, fair and sustainable safety net.1
  • Any changes to Social Security or Medicare should not hurt the disadvantaged.  Even with these programs, over one-third (37%) of older Michiganians do not have enough income to cover the basics like housing, food and health care.2
  • The Committee should reject proposals that undermine or weaken the current structure of Medicaid, which provides health care for low income individuals and families.  Medicaid is the primary funding source for long term care including nursing homes and home and community-based services.  Proposals to block grant Medicaid or freeze Medicaid spending should be rejected.  There are other cost-saving approaches that should be pursued, however, such as reducing institutionalization by expanding home and community-based services.  Baby Boomers are a demographic tidal wave, and will place significant financial demands on Medicaid if changes aren’t made in the way we provide long term care.
  • The Committee should reject proposals to cut the Older Americans Act. Investments in meals-on-wheels, home care, caregiver supports and other services will help our aging population live independently in their own homes, stay out of nursing homes and off the Medicaid program.

  

1 National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. (December, 2010). The Moment of Truth: Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Retrieved August 15, 2011 from National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform web site: www.FiscalCommission.gov.

2Jankowski, T.B. et. al. (July 20, 2011). Invisible Poverty: New Measure Unveils Financial Hardship in Michigan’s Older Adult Population (Working Paper Series, No. 3).  Retrieved August 15, 2011 from Seniors Count web site: http://www.seniorscount.org.

Information provided by the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

8/9/2011 4:00pm

Action is needed on elder abuse bills! Individuals are encouraged to contact legislators to get legislation passed this year.

Five years ago, a Governor-appointed Task Force of aging experts released a set of recommendations on addressing the growing, and mostly hidden, problem of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.  Since then, many bills have been introduced, but have died due to inaction by one or both houses.  Similar bills have been introduced in 2011.  We want legislators to get the job done this year to prevent abuse and get justice for victims.  

 

What You Can Do:

Contact these Committee Chairs and ask them to take action on the elder abuse bills in their committees this fall:   

Background:

 There are more than 40 bills dealing with abuse, here are just a few examples: 

  • House Bill 4331 and Senate Bill 461 would prevent an abuser from inheriting his/her victim’s assets.  
  • House Bill 4327 and Senate Bill 454 would allow vulnerable adults to provide videotaped testimony similar to laws protecting children from having to face their abusers. 
  • House Bill 4345 and Senate Bill 468 would allow a third party to file a complaint with law enforcement regarding abuse, even though the abused person refuses to file a complaint.
  • House Bill 4332 and Senate Bill 466 would require law enforcement to publicize a missing elder similar to the Amber Alerts used for missing children 

Talking points: 

  • About 80,000 Michigan elders fall victim to some form of abuse each year.
  • Last year, Adult Protective Services received 19,000 calls reporting abuse, up from 12,000 calls in 2000.
  • 70% of abusers are ‘trusted ones,’ including spouses, children, grandchildren and friends.  Victims come from all walks of life and income classes, as witnessed by Mickey Rooney’s testimony before the Congress.
  • Michigan’s high rate of unemployment is fueling the financial exploitation of the elderly.

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It's a Senior Open House and You're Invited!

7/12/2011 2:30pm

Ever wonder how your tax dollars help your neighbors? Want to learn about services for seniors in Kent County? The Kent County Senior Millage is hosting an Open House to give the community a chance to learn more about the 46 different services provided for older adults.

On Friday, July 22, 2011, 31 Senior Millage providers will be on hand to answer questions and explain their services in an open house format at the Wyoming Senior Center (WSC) located at 2380 DeHoop Ave SW, Wyoming. The event will run from 9:30 a.m.until 12:00 p.m.

The event will also include four separate twenty minute presentations by local experts on the following hot topics:

  • 9:45 a.m.- Identity Theft: protecting yourself online and off
  • 10:20 a.m.- Healthy Aging:  learning to get active and be healthy
  • 10:55 a.m.- Transportation: getting around without gassing up
  • 11:30 a.m.- Equipment and Technology:  taking seniors into the future

“Identity theft, transportation, technology and healthy aging are important topics to older adults,” says Anne Ellermets, Kent County Contract Coordinator at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM), the organization that administers the Millage. “In addition to providing information on the topics, we will also have resources available because each topic is addressed by a Kent County Senior Millage service.”

The event includes refreshments and over 30 door prize drawings for gift cards, gift baskets and other items.

Individuals will also have an opportunity to visit tables for each organization, pick up information about the Kent County Senior Millage and ask questions.

“We want the community to be engaged and aware of the Kent County Senior Millage and the good work it does in our community,” says Jackie O’Connor, Assistant Director at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. “We are incredibly grateful that Kent County residents have been supportive of the millage and of older adults and we want to continue to provide information so they can see how their support helps improve our community.”

The Kent County Senior Millage was adopted by voters in 1998 and renewed and increased in 2006. In 2010, 17,824 clients were served. In 2011, $6.4 million will provide 46 unique services for older adults.

Click here for more information or call (616) 456-5664.

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Kent County Senior Millage Letters of Intent

6/28/2011 8:45am

AAAWM is accepting Letters of Intent for 2012 - 2013 Kent County Senior Millage funds. Letters of Intent are required for all new agencies, as well as for current millage funded agencies who wish to add a new service. The letter is due to AAAWM no later than 12:00 p.m. on Friday, July 29, 2011.

There will be an informational meeting to answer any questions about the Letter of Intent on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. in the AAAWM conference room B at 1279 Cedar NE, Grand Rapids, MI.

Questions can be submitted prior to the meeting to proposal@aaawm.org. Questions will not be answered outside this meeting, however, answers to any submitted questions will be shared. Please do not ask AAAWM Contract Coordinators any direct questions, as they are unable to respond to individual inquiries.

Letters of Intent will be reviewed by the Kent County Millage Review Committee (KCMRC).

Agencies will be notified by August 12, 2011 if they are permitted to complete a full proposal. Proposals will be due September 6, 2011. Meetings with the KCMRC will be October 3, 4 or 5, 2011. Please save those dates to ensure your availability to give a short presentation to the KCMRC.

Click here to access the Letter of Intent.

 

Continuation Funding Forms

Current service providers will receive continuation of funding forms in early August. You will also be meeting with the KCMRC on the above October dates.

A 3 - 4% decrease in millage funding is expected for 2012 compared to the $6.4 million allocated in 2011.

Funding decisions are guided by current needs and community priorities. To learn more go to www.aaawm.org/providers/kent_county_senior_millage_providers or contact Jackie O’Connor at 616.222.7002 or at Jackie@aaawm.org

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

5/6/2011 12:00am

House reduces senior services funding. Now is the time to contact state Legislators and encourage them to protect seniors services.

This week on the floor, the full House restored cuts to the Office of Services to the Aging for meals & community services, and eliminated all funding for the three senior volunteer programs.  These were the same cuts that came out of the House DCH Subcommittee.  Here are the specific cuts:

  • $1, 581,700 (18%) senior meals
  • $1,835,000 (15%)   community services
  • $627,300 (100%) RSVP
  • $2,233,600 (100%) Foster Grandparents
  • $1,604,400 (100%) Senior Companions

Due to procedural maneuvers there was no roll call vote on the OSA cuts. 

This is very disappointing however, here is what you can do now:

Send messages to the following, who are likely members of the conference committee, asking that OSA cuts in aging programs be restored.

Sen. Roger Kahn senrkahn@senate.michigan.gov 

   (866) 305-2132

Sen. John Moolenaar senjmoolenaar@senate.michigan.gov 

    (517) 373-7946

Sen. Vince Gregory  senvgregory@senate.michigan.gov   

   (517) 373-7888

Rep. Chuck Moss  chuckmoss@house.mi.gov  

   (877) 707-6677

Rep. Matt Lori   mattlori@house.mi.gov   

   (877) 262-5959

Rep. Rashida Tlaib  rashidatlaib@house.mi.gov    

    (877) 852-4212

Here are more talking points you can use:

  • OSA services prevent seniors from going on Medicaid.
  • OSA services are extremely cost-effective.  The average annual cost of OSA services (meals-on-wheels and home care) was $1,000 in FY 2010.  In contrast, a nursing home cost an average of $68,000.
  • There are over 6,000 seniors on waiting lists for OSA services like meals and home care.

Background:

Will the cuts ever end???  From 2009 2011, programs funded by the Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) were cut by $10 million (28%), and even more cuts are proposed for next year!

The Governor recommended another $2.2 million in OSA cuts, coming from meals ($800,000), community services ($1 million) and volunteer programs ($400,000).     

The Senate has approved an OSA budget with no cuts in senior meals, keeping the cuts in community services, and increasing the cuts in volunteer programs to $670,000.  The House has approved a very different version that increased cuts in senior meals ($1.6 million) and community services ($1.8 million), and totally eliminated funding for three senior volunteer programs RSVP, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions ($4.4 million total). 

The next step is a joint House-Senate Conference Committee that will work out the differences.  

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

4/28/2011 9:30am

Advocacy needed today!

Our advocacy is having an impact. Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee voted to restore almost $8 million in cuts to senior meals, community services and volunteer programs in the OSA budget.  Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville) recruited three other GOP colleagues to muster enough winning votes to pass an amendment introduced by Rep. Joan Bauer (D-Lansing).

The full House is taking up the Community Health budget bill today.  Amendments can be introduced at this point as well and we need to make sure that the cuts are not put back in!

Please send short emails right away to the key legislators below and urge them to maintain funding for OSA/aging services in the Community Health budget bill.  

 

Here are a few more talking points you could add to your message:

  • OSA services prevent seniors from going on Medicaid. 
  • OSA services are extremely cost-effective.  The average annual cost of OSA services (meals-on-wheels and home care) was $1,000 in FY 2010.  In contrast, a nursing home cost an average of $68,000.
  • There are over 6,000 seniors on waiting lists for OSA services like meals and home care.

Send messages now!

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Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan
3215 Eaglecrest Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Phone: 616-456-5664 or 888-456-5664 • Fax: 616-456-5692

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