Quack, Quack

Caveat emptor! That is Latin for “hold on to your wallet!” (Actually it means “let the buyer beware!” but close enough.)

As of late we have been hearing about ‘medical professionals’ offering services that sound pretty much like quackery.

You know the old saying: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it is probably a duck. The problem is some of us don’t know what one of those old ‘quackers’ looks like.

Ergo, I am offering a short tutorial on identifying the ‘ducks’ among us (Great. Another ‘ornithology’ lesson 😵).

You can find dozens – literally dozens; makes me kind of sad about the ethics level in America – of posts talking about how to spot a quack. Skeptical OB gives a shortlist of six red flags that can be applied across the disciplines. They report quacks make claims of secret knowledge and giant conspiracies. They baffle with bullshit and claim they are so revolutionary they threaten the medical establishment. Claiming toxins in everything is a biggie. Also flattery. You have heard it. How you are doing such a great thing and blazing the path for others? Yeah, that one.

There are also posts talking about how to spot quacks in more specific areas. Quackwatch.com has a list of 26 ways to spot vitamin pushers.

Some financial ways of identifying quacks are listed by USA Today. Reputable doctors do not ask for deposits or cash up front. Potential quacks offer the most amazing – and expensive! – treatment first and don’t even bother attempting other treatments. Not covered by insurance? Be suspicious and ask lots of questions.

To support some of the points in the Skeptical OB post, USA Today points out science is pretty much a team sport and very few people make discoveries all by themselves in their garages anymore. Things are just too complicated and too expensive these days.

The idea of the dashing, undaunted, brilliant rogue doing his research alone at night (I just flashed on Dr. Frankenstein here; sorry.) is romantic but obsolete.

Testimonials are great at funerals and ‘roasts’ but anyone who has had to write a recommendation knows such things are easily slanted and misinterpreted. I am stopping short of accusing anyone of outright lies or psychotic delusions, but if all the treatment has to back it is testimonials? Put away the credit card and leave.

The problem – or one of the problems, I should say – with quacks is they go after the vulnerable. Sleazy sons of sea crooks. Are some of us desperate? Absolutely. We don’t want to believe medicine is not yet in a position to help us.

USA Today suggested one of the things I have been harping about now for months: sign up for a clinical trial. Even though ‘mine’ have been stalled for months and driving me insane, mainstream research is where the action – and the hope – is.

Minimally go for a second opinion before you commit to any treatment, but especially if it looks a little murky based on some of the red flags we have talked about. If your treatment provider tries to discourage you, he might be hiding something (like he’s a quack, for example!)

Thus endeth the lesson on “foul” identification😘

Be safe out there. Continue reading “Quack, Quack”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Quack, Quack
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Full of Lint

Earlier in the week I offered a housekeeping tip. I actually have another one! Make sure the vent for your dryer has been cleaned.

The clothes washer has not been working properly, won’t spin, but even taking that into account, the dryer seemed to be taking forever. The one thing I know we can do for ourselves is clean the vent hose so I asked my husband to do it.

It was sort of full of lint. We all know that that is another invitation for a fire, not to mention a lot of wasted electricity and money from long drying times. Time flies when you are older and it just may be your dryer vent hose has not been cleaned within the recommended year (even though you could swear you did it last week!).

Do me – and yourself – a favor and clean the vent hose. Fires are bad for anyone but a fire and low vision could be nasty.

That, however, does not solve the problem of the washer that will not spin. That will require a repairman. Hopefully it won’t require a new washer.

Which got me to thinking: is there a way to get free appliance repair for those who are low vision or blind? Did not find that but – glory be! – I found a possible way to get free replacement appliances!

The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is allowed to replace your appliances. This is not guaranteed because all of the money comes out of the same pot and is often spent on things like home heating, but if you need an energy efficient refrigerator or washer, it would not hurt to inquire.

Qualifications are pretty much what you would expect. You can not earn more than 150% of the poverty level or more than 60% of your state’s median income level. In other words, a pretty low income is required.

Other than replace energy- hog appliances, LIHEAP helps people with energy bills and weatherization. The whole idea is to reduce the amount of income that is spent on energy in the home.

Now, obviously I would not qualify. I will have to get my washer repaired on my own dime. However, those of you who are living on limited incomes may wish to call 1-866-674-6327 and inquire about the program. This number belongs to the National Energy Assistance Referral project and it is manned from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. mountain time. That would be 9 to 7 eastern time, 8 to 6 central and 6 to 4 Pacific time. Any other time zone? You are on your own.

Hopefully that nugget of information will give you one other possible resource for getting through this AMD mess and all the not so little messes that may have come along with it. Disabled and “of a certain age” too frequently go along with low income in America. Anything that can make the financial struggle a little easier can be a good thing.

Me? I call your friendly, neighborhood appliance repairman first thing Monday. I have laundry to do. Continue reading “Full of Lint”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Full of Lint
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Tax Time

In real time March is only five days away. Wow. Winter is going fast. It has also been freakishly mild. I suspect March will come in like a lamb meaning it should go out like a lion. Maybe that will mean at least one more opportunity to cross country ski at the park. Maybe not. Probably just wind and cold rain. Phooey.

March 7th is going to be another first year milestone. March 7, 2016 was my first day back at school. Soon I will have been an employed, low vision person for a whole year! This time last year I was not sure it was possible.

Sometimes we just have to practice what we preach. I told a little guy today I never get angry at my students for getting a wrong answer, but I could promise him I would be angry if he did not try. No matter what the outcome, we all have to try. That includes the big people.

The beginning of March also tells me I need to get it in gear and get my stuff together for the accountant. It’s tax time!

The United States and many other countries – I just found information on Ireland; perfect for the month of St. Patrick’s Day – have special tax breaks for the blind. In the USA you qualify if you have a field of vision of 20 degrees or less or if you have 20/200 vision or less with best correction. In Ireland people qualify if they have 6/60  central visual acuity in the better eye with best correction or a visual field of 20 degrees of arc or less. They sound similar but you should check and see what the rules are where you are.

Remember the American law allows you to deduct what you spend to prevent, diagnose or treat an illness or medical condition. That includes costs related to your blindness or visual impairment. Disability associated items include all sorts of things. For example, they include feeding and grooming your guide dog! Same in Ireland as long as you have a certificate from the Irish Guide Dog Association.

Hold on to your certificate once you claim because the Irish tax people can ask for it any time over the following six years. Also in Ireland you can get the VAT (value added tax) refunded on purchases of aids and appliances. Hold on to those receipts, too.

In Tax Tips for the Blind, the TurboTax people say that even if you do not make enough that you are required to file, you can get a ‘hefty refund’ in the form of earned income tax credits.  Do I know enough to explain that? Absolutely not.

Which is the reason that again this year we want to remind you there are qualified professions – or soon to be professionals – available to help you with your taxes. The InFernal Revenue System (auto correct is no fun! I tried three times to write ‘infernal’ and it would not let me! I kept getting ‘internal’ ::grin::) offers links to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly.

Ireland? Wish I could have found something for you but my search engine was not cooperative. I would suspect that calling the local tax office would get you some info. Let us know. Maybe we can use the information. You do know, I assume, that here in America, on St. Patrick’s Day, EVERYONE is Irish! Just don’t ask us to file there, too!

Lin/Linda here: The RNIB in the UK offers free tax advice, click here for more information.  I don’t know if this applies to Ireland or not.  There is a branch of the RNIB for Northern Ireland, click here for more information. I don’t know if they have similar services but you could check.

Continue reading “Tax Time”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Tax Time
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Thank You For Your Service

Happy Sunday. I am sore. I overdid. I not only did my usual Saturday routine but I went to the staff party for the elementary teachers and danced for about two hours. Maybe three? Anyway, while I lived to tell the tale, I know I exerted myself. (These are trained professionals. Do not try this at home 😀.)

The party was at the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), which got me to thinking about our veterans. No matter what you may have thought of the VietNam conflict, the guys and gals who were in that war did their duty and deserve respect. They are all also of an age to be experiencing vision problems, including AMD. What does the Veteran’s Administration have for the visually impaired?

To start on a general note, the United States Veterans’ Administration (VA) offers a program called Aid and Assistance for veterans and their spouses who are over 65. The veteran must be eligible for a pension although I am not sure what that means exactly.

The program is to help pay part of the cost of having someone come in and help with activities of daily living. ADLs are things like eating, dressing and bathing.

Daddy served in World War II and was eligible for this benefit. Since we were trying to keep him in his home as long as possible, I had gotten him a caregiver to come in morning and evening. I also had him enrolled in ‘Daddy Daycare’ and transportation.

It was a real bear to get the approval – took about 14 months! – and we had to prepay everything and submit the bills. However, when all was said and done, we ended up with between $30,000 and $40,000 being reimbursed by the government. That money literally saved the house from having a lien put on it.

That is the general help available to everyone who qualifies. There are also all sorts of specialized services for blind and visually impaired vets.

According to The VA Office of Research and Development, the VA became involved with blindness and visual impairment in 1944. I think I mentioned before how the government realized it had an obligation to the war blind. Since that time the United States has started the VA’s Office of Blind Rehabilitation Services, which operates 13, Blindness Rehabilitation Centers for the ‘blind’ and also the Visual Impairment Center to Optimize Remaining Sight. That one is for veterans who are partially sighted.

I have had direct experience with the Aid and Assistance program but I have not had any experience with the vision programs the VA offers. Just mentioning them for anyone who might qualify and be interested in hassling with all of the nonsense that comes with dealing with the government ! 😨 Contact your local VA for assistance in learning more.


For those of you in the UK, you can contact Blind Veterans UK at 12-14 Harcourt Street, London, United Kingdom, @blindveteransuk, phone +44 20 7723 5021.

Continue reading “Thank You For Your Service”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 3.00/5
Thank You For Your Service
Total Avg Rating: 4.35 out of 5 with based on 2 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Growing Younger

I would imagine many of you living in the States belong to AARP. I will put a plug in for them here. Membership is cheap and you can get that back on their discount program very easily making the magazine and the good information there pretty much free. After my father retired we got one of their medical insurance programs and it worked out nicely for him. Not free, of course, but it was a good deal.  Click here for their Membership Guide.

Again, we get no monies from anything we talk up but we would like to! We do have scruples and won’t say nice things about anything we do not personally know. Occasionally I will include what I have heard but hearsay is marked as hearsay.

So much for the disclaimer. AARP magazine for October/November 2016 has an article about growing younger. It is based on a book by Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge. The article hits the basics. You know the fitness four (strength, endurance, balance and flexibility), healthy eating, social connectedness and meaning in life, although they do not use the same words. Looking through their section on meaning, they call it nurturing your inner life, I noticed #5 which said “get over yourself”. Oh, my.  [Lin/Linda here: I can’t connect to the article, you have to be a member to access the magazine.  For a look at what is in this issue, click here.]

The point they make is you won’t be the hotshot_______ when you retire. That identity goes away. You have to be prepared to lose part of your self. Crap.

I have been in my profession for 39 years. Who am I? I am a psychologist. The idea of giving that up voluntarily is one thing but the idea of being forced to give it up is almost traumatic. OK. Maybe it is traumatic. No matter what words you use, it ain’t good. Maybe I should start looking at some stuff about retirement. Maybe get a little more comfortable with the idea?

US News had an article that talked about 12 ways to survive an early retirement. It is a more practical article but does have some information that might help emotional coping as well. I want to do this article for this page and go over another article on coping for another page. Hope that’s OK.

The article said 45% of people retire earlier than planned. I guess if misery loves company, when the time comes (probably not at 70 as I had planned), that little fact should give me some comfort.

Getting forced out of a job is sort of normal. It is not me (or you either).

If you can get a job, get a job. It does not have to be in your field. A related field would be nice, but not necessary. For example, my specialty has always been assessment but administering and scoring tests has gotten harder. Plan B is to do more counseling.

Try to cut expenses. I have heard of some people who ‘practice’ living on what they will have after they retire. If you can get an estimate of what you will have, that may be helpful.

If you can, postpone filing for Social Security. If you file early, benefits will be a lot less than they would have been if you waited until your full retirement age. Waiting until 70 to file will increase your benefits even more. Since I plan to live to a ripe old age, my thought now is to collect school disability retirement, work as much as I can and fill in the gap by tapping savings. Of course, since I should be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI), I will want to investigate that before making a final decision. Seeing a financial consultant early will allow you to crunch the numbers and see which will be to your advantage.

There are several more suggestions in the article. I took the ones out that ‘spoke’ to me. I would refer you back to the source for the rest. Continue reading “Growing Younger”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Growing Younger
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Wake-up Call

My parents stopped learning about finance and estate planning sometime around 1960. They paid for their house, kept the bills low, wrote a basic will and figured they would have about $70,000 in profit sharing plus social security to live on. Bases covered; right?

Oh, so wrong. Daddy retired early at 64 to care for my mother who had multiple physical and mental health issues. After a stroke at 67, my mother spent 14 months in a nursing home before her death. The nest egg was cut in half for the nursing home and several thousand more was spent on the burial.

Then my father – who was sure he would die in his mid-70s just like his parents – surprised himself and died a month shy of his 87th birthday. Need I say that when I took over his finances things were a bit of a mess?

A September, 2014 report on money and people with disabilities reported 30% of the disabled have a “very difficult time” making ends meet. The disabled are much less likely to have an emergency fund.  The disabled are more likely to depend upon credit card loans and charging basic necessities. The credit cards the disabled can be approved for are usually the most expensive ones out there.  Assistive devices are costly. It goes on and on and on.

Many of you are older and maybe discovering you could have done a little better planning. However, I know we have a fair number of younger people who have just been diagnosed and have a few good years to get their financial houses in order.

Consider this your wake-up call and never say I did not warn you.

I THINK – and that is a big think – we are OK. My only ‘big’ bill is from vacation. I have made sure we have an emergency fund. I have a will that contains some pretty good protections.

When my vision really went to hell in February I took part of my time off and went to see my new lawyer. (My crackerjack estate lawyer has retired! Sob!) We made sure the things I had in place were still in line with the laws. I would suggest you spend the money and do the same.

Why spend money on a high-priced lawyer? Well, let us just say my old estate lawyer saved me around $50,000 in taxes and fees when handling my father’s estate. I was thrilled.

In the meantime The Council for Disability Awareness has a site that will walk you through “Your Disability Security Plan” and might be helpful. They talk about keeping healthy and guide you towards sites that review other income sources like social security disability income. There are also some suggestions on budgeting and saving.

If you have served in your country’s armed services there are – at least in the USA – veterans’ benefits. I got Daddy’s home care aide, ‘Daddy daycare’ and transportation reimbursed by the Army. They also gave him his medications for free. Don’t forget to tap ‘Uncle Sugar’!

Right now, since I was caught flat-footed by the last drop in my vision, my husband and I are looking around the house and making note of the big-ticket repairs we might need to have done. Get some of that stuff out of the way while the getting is good. I would suggest you do the same.

Continue reading “Wake-up Call”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Wake-up Call
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me