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Friday, September 28, 2012

My Snail Mail – Invasion Of The Time Snatchers

CSA Judy Rough tells us: If papers control your life, it’s time to control your papers. The goal she sets? To get control of your delivered mail and all the papers that come into your home on a daily basis!
Set Up a System

Managing today’s mail is even more complicated than in the past when everything came by snail mail. Whether you remain totally paper-based or manage most of your bill payments and personal business online, you need a system to manage the flow of paper in your home and in your life. 

Make a Commitment

Follow this step-by-step plan to help you to take control. This time, with a system in place, you can make it happen. Remember to adapt it to your personal situation.

Step 1. Create a home

§  Control the chaos by setting up a “home” for everything and a process that works for you to direct incoming paper where it belongs. 
§  Be sure to designate a clear organized space to write checks and correspondence and use the computer and the phone with everything you need at your finger tips - including an online filing system such as the Papervana Binder System for storing, if you have one.

Step 2. Gather the tools

§  Have the tools you need ready in the designated “home” location - letter opener, pencil/pen, pad, stamps, calculator, return address stamps or labels, a holder for outgoing mail and a small, portable file holder with 4 folders labeled: 

ü  Bills  
                  ü  File/Scan   
                  ü  To Do   
                  ü  Receipts

Step 3. Collect your mail and papers daily

§  Retrieve mail from your mailbox every day, if possible. Don’t neglect your snail mailbox. Especially if you receive most items electronically you don’t want to miss an important item needed for filing income tax or other date sensitive notifications.
§  Empty your wallet, purse, backpack, laptop case, pockets, glove box of your car, children’s backpacks etc. of all receipts on a daily basis 
§  Bring mail, receipts, school flyers, etc. into your home or office to the same designated location everyday. Be creative. Set up a place that makes sense for your living space

 Step 4. Purge and Sort Daily

 Take 5 minutes to open and sort all papers into the following 4 categories:
§  Recycle used envelopes, unwanted flyers, solicitations, junk mail and all unwanted print materials.
§  Shred – items containing your personal information to avoid identity theft.
§  Read – store notes, letters, magazines, catalogs, newspapers, etc. in the same designated place for reading time later.
§  Take Action  sort any papers requiring action into one of your four folders in your portable, small file holder.                         


Take all items to be recycled to the recycle bin right away and do your shredding immediately - now you are gaining control!

Place all the “Read” items in a designated location when they arrive.

Set a deadline, such as recycle day in the first week of the month, to help motivate you to enjoy your “Read” file and prevent a pile up.

To pare down your pile of magazines and newspapers, cut out the articles you want to read, scan any articles you want to keep and recycle the rest!
Step 5. File items for later action

Place items requiring action directly into one of 4 folders in your portable, small file holder:

§  Bills and Payments to be made and Statements to be reconciled – then filed. 
§  File and/or Scan – medical statements, paid bills, reconciled statements, policies or anything  else you may need to reference later.
§  To Do – make a call, discuss a decision, send an email, collect items, etc.
§  Receipts – save for proof of purchase, warranties, tax related items, etc.
Step 6. Take care of business

§  Make sure to set an uninterrupted scheduled time to take care or your financial affairs . – once a week, twice a month, you decide.  
§  On your scheduled date and time bring your portable outgoing mail holder along with your portable small file holder to the location where you will pay your bills, send emails, make phone calls, read, etc.

If you are paying bills by mail:

§  Open the bill
§  Recycle the outer envelope and unwanted inserts
§  File the bill in the small file holder in the Bill folder
§   Use proper postage and return address information to ensure receipt. Write a “to be mailed by” date on a visible corner and file in date order in the outgoing mail holder with the date showing
§  Incorporate occasion cards and other date sensitive items into the outgoing mail holder with the mailing date visible and filed in order

If you are paying your paper bills online:

§  Open the bill
§  Recycle the outer envelope and unwanted inserts
§  File in the small file holder in the Bill folder
§  Set up e-bill, if desired
§  Scan into an electronic file, if desired
§  Have passwords handy 
Tip          There are several highly encrypted password vaults that you can use on your desktop to manage passwords so you only have to remember one password to access them all. They can even capture your User IDs and passwords as you create them and fill them in for you as you log in to a site. Search online for password managers, password keepers to compare software, if this appeals to you.


Handling all the To Dos 

§  Set aside a time each week to handle all your To Dos, mark it on you calendar, or set an alarm
§  Make a list and assign a priority order to the list, check it daily
§  Remember to do  one thing at a time
§  Delegate whenever possible
§  Be honest with yourself and only take on what you can handle while keeping your stress level as low as possible
§  When something is driving you crazy – create a new system that will last, it’s all about consistency
Build a habit, challenge yourself!  Commit to controlling your mail for the next 30 days then celebrate and reward yourself!

While clutter and a lack of organizational skills can be a nuisance, hoarding can be a serious illness which  expert Marilyn Ellis discusses in the most recent issue of the CSA Journal.

Blog posting provided by Judy Rough, CSA

Owner of Carefree Transitions, LLC - a Senior Move Management company and Owner of Papervana, LLC – a record and document organizing and management company

Judy works with seniors and their families on the emotional, as well as the physical aspects of moving and professional organizing. She can be reached at or 480-200-3415


Monday, September 24, 2012

You Don't Have to be a Loan Officer to Help With Reverse Mortgages

The need to liquidize assets in order to raise the funds necessary to maintain financial independence as a senior or even care for aging loved ones is a growing trend in America.  There are many products and services offered today that promise a senior will be “all set” financially, however it is essential that professionals invest the time to better understand these products in order to effectively serve their clients. A Reverse Mortgage is one method many seniors are utilizing to convert the equity in their homes to cash so that they can maintain greater financial security, meet unexpected medical expenses, make home improvements and much more.

CSA Alain Valles, an expert on reverse mortgages, will be presenting the next SCSA educational webinar: Reverse Mortgages: Help Clients and Increase Referrals. Valles is President of Direct Finance Corp., and was the first person in New England to receive the arduous Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional (CRMP) designation. He will provide attendees of this informational webinar with the pros and cons of Reverse Mortgages and will share his expertise in order to help other professionals improve and maintain the quality of life for their senior clients.
This webinar will not make you a loan officer, but rather will increase your knowledge in order to better serve clients whatever your discipline.
The webinar will be held Thursday, September 27th. To sign up go to Reverse Mortgage Webinar.
A reverse mortgage can be a suitable option for many homeowners, but they are not always for everyone. What experiences have you or a loved one had with a reverse mortgage, and what made this option work or not work for that situation?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

End-of-Life Coalitions for Improving Seniors' End-of-Life Care

As a clinical bioethicist, educator and hospice volunteer, the issue of how to help people have a good death matters a lot to me.  I wanted to share with you what is happening across the country.  Organizations called end-of-life coalitions are creating positive change for seniors and their families when it comes to better advance care planning and end-of-life care. 

These end-of-life coalitions have conferences, and offer training in better end-of-life communication, as well as updates on the legal changes coming to your state.  As CSAs, I would encourage you to check into these wonderful resources and opportunities to expand your understanding of how to improve a senior’s last days. 

Another great thing about these coalitions is the people you will meet.  The individuals involved in these coalitions are the movers and shakers in your state. They are also big-hearted, dedicated and passionate about making a difference – just like you.  You may find yourself getting caught up in the energy of a group that isn’t just talking about making a difference, but actually doing it. 

For those of you in Missouri, I will be speaking at the 8th Annual Policy Summit of the Missouri End-of-Life Coalition Conference on September 27. It’s open to the public: professionals and families alike can register to participate in the Conference.  It’s sure to be an exciting and educational day.

For more information about the Missouri End-of-Life Coalition:

The California coalition is another leader in the country in improving the last days of seniors lives. They have valuable end-of-life resources that you will find useful in distributing to your clients, residents, patients or family members no matter where you live or what you do.

I know many of us are faced with end-of-life decisions for our clients, whatever our professional field. If you work with any good resources, or simply want to share your experiences, let’s hear from you!

Have a kind and respectful day.

Viki Kind is a clinical bioethicist, educator and hospice volunteer.  Her award winning book, “The Caregiver’s Path to Compassionate Decision Making:  Making Choices for Those Who Can't,” guides families and professionals through the difficult process of making decisions for those who have lost capacity.

For more resources on end-of-life issues from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors available for seniors and their loved ones visit Information for Life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meet CSA Spotlight, Delana Schneider

As a young woman I had an opportunity to work with “elders” and their families. Working in an institutional environment created a deep desire in me to be part of changing the attitude and landscape of senior care. It was obvious to me from this experience that the way we as a society meet the needs of the aging population has some serious flaws.

My business background led me to work in an administrative and consulting role, most recently, with a small company that had a big mission: support seniors during the transitions at the end of life.

My engagement with seniors and those on their way to seniorhood continued to deepen the more I served the aging community. Society of Certified Senior Advisors offered a way to “legitimize” my work and commitment. Seniors, often the most vulnerable of our population, need a way to identify who they invite into their homes, not only for their own safety but also for the peace of mind of their families. The CSA education and certification instills confidence and reassures my clients that they will receive quality service from a professional who is knowledgeable in all areas related to senior issues. This empowers them with the confidence that they have made a sound choice. I found the course to be very comprehensive, and it continues to be a valuable resource. An attorney friend who coached me through the legal chapters was amazed at the depth of the information and offered a glowing recommendation for the CSA course.

I am also trained as a hospice volunteer and own Hearthstone, a business that provides organizational and “right-sizing” services. Hearthstone also supports elderly clients and their families as they face end-of-life issues. We practice compassionate listening as we offer guidance and resources that will meet the clients’ needs gently.

Over the past four years, I have volunteered with the Monterey Bay Village founding council to explore, research and develop the “villages” concept and ultimately make the village opportunity available in our community. This not-for-profit, aging-in-place concept, modeled after Beacon Hill Village in Boston, provides a concierge of services, a type of safety net that enables seniors to age in place. “Stay home, stay active and stay connected!” On July 1, 2012, the Monterey Bay Village was launched (

My goal of seeing the senior landscape change, in terms of senior care and living, continues to fuel my passion with the vision that one day we will see intentional intergenerational communities replace the isolation of the current retirement communities that many seniors experience during the last chapters of life. If this interests you or your business supports this vision, please contact me!

Blog posting provided by Delana Schneider, CSA
Certified Senior Advisor

Are you a Certified Senior Advisor interested in being featured as CSA Spotlight in the monthly newsletter Senior Spirit? We'd love to hear from you. Contact us at

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Myths and the Facts of Long Term Care

As an older American, or someone who works with seniors, you may think you have a good understanding of what long term care (LTC) is. But do you? Marlene S. Stum is a Professor in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota and is nationally recognized for her research, teaching, and outreach work on family economics and social gerontology issues. “What many individuals believe about LTC is very different from the facts,” she says. There are many studies showing that people think they have LTC financial literacy. In reality they have insufficient understanding of LTC which results in LTC knowledge gaps that leave them vulnerable to financial insecurity and a reduced quality of life and care. “People think they know the facts, but all too often their beliefs are based on common myths or misinformation about LTC risks, costs, and alternatives,” she continues.

To better understand and plan for the impact of LTC you need to understand the potential for needing LTC, the associated costs of that care and the risk management strategies and financing alternatives. Dr. Stum debunks many of the myths surrounding LTC in her article, including myths on risk, cost and financing alternatives, in an effort to close the LTC financial literacy gap.

Myth: Men and women are equally at risk for needing long-term care.
Fact: Women face a greater likelihood than men of needing LTC.

Myth: LTC costs are the same regardless of where you live.
Fact: LTC costs vary considerably from state to state and from rural to urban settings.

Myth: Most LTC costs are paid by Medicare.
Fact: Medicare does not pay for LTC. Medicare coverage focuses on treating acute, short-term illnesses and only covers nursing homes and home care for a limited time.

Read more from Marlene in her article, “Long Term Care: Do Your Client’s Beliefs Put Them at Risk?” published this month in CSA Journal 52.

Are you LTC literate? What are some of the concerns you have seen or experienced? Have you been able to improve your LTC financial literacy or that of your family or your clients, or do you have resources you can share?

blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors