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News

Avoid these holiday hazards to keep pets safe

WALTHAM – The turkey’s in the oven and guests are on the way -- the last thing you need now is an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital.

Unfortunately, the holiday season tends to be a busy time at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospitals, according to Dr. Beth Davidow, medical director and board-certified specialist in critical care and emergency medicine. She said holiday emergencies are typically caused by three main culprits: food, travel and decorations.

“This should be a fun and enjoyable time of year for everyone,” Davidow said. “By taking some basic precautions, you can make sure your pets have safe and healthy holidays, too.”

Food

While it may be tempting to let pets partake in the family feast, bones, turkey skin and other table scraps can cause problems, Davidow warns. Pancreatitis, a gastrointestinal upset caused by ingesting too much fat, is one of the most common problems she sees during holiday time.

Holiday cooking may also include foods that are toxic to pets. Keep dogs and cats away from chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and uncooked bread dough. Be especially vigilant about xylitol, a sweetener found in sugar-free gums and candies. The substance, which is extremely toxic to pets, is also used for baking and can even be found in some brands of peanut butter. If you suspect your pet has ingested xylitol, get to an emergency animal hospital as quickly as possible, Davidow said. And be sure to keep handy the number for the ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline (888.426.4435).

Travel

Planning to bring Fido or Fluffy when visiting relatives? If you’re going to fly, you’ll need a health certificate from your veterinarian issued within 10 days of travel. Davidow said she sees a lot of panicky travelers in her ER, hoping to get a last-minute certificate.

If your pet is on medications, be sure to bring them with you on your trip. It’s also helpful to have a copy of your pet’s medical records with you.

Take a few minutes to research the nearest emergency veterinary hospitals near your destination.

“If you end up going to an ER in a different town, it’s so much easier if the veterinarian knows what the underlying issues may be,” Davidow said.

Decorations

While many people have heard that poinsettias are dangerous to pets, Davidow said recent studies have shown the plants cause irritation but aren’t toxic. A far bigger threat: the lilies included in your Christmas bouquet. “Those can kill cats because they cause acute kidney failure,” Davidow said.

Other potential pitfalls are tinsel and ribbon, which can be very harmful if ingested. Also be sure to prevent pets from chewing on electrical cords. At the very least, this can cause burns in the mouth, Davidow said. It could also create non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs, which can be fatal if left untreated.

“If your dog or cat starts showing any signs of distress, be sure to get to an emergency hospital right away,” Davidow said. “An early vet visit is usually a lot cheaper than a late visit.”

 

5 Questions Kenny G

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In a recording career that spans almost three decades and 23 albums, Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Kenny G has grafted elements of R&B, pop, and Latin to a jazz foundation solidifying his reputation as the premiere artist in contemporary jazz. He will be performing many of his career hits and as well as songs of the holiday.

SD: At what age did you realize that playing music was going to be your career?

KG: I was 17 years old when I realized it. I was playing with Barry White while still in high school. It was super and I was getting paid. I thought I could make a career out of this.

SD: Why did you choose the saxophone?

KG: I saw someone playing it on the Ed Sullivan show and wanted to try it.

SD: I read that you still play your high school saxophone. Why do you still use it?

KG: I am and I love it! It is a great saxophone. It’s been a part of me and my sound for so long, I’ll probably never stop playing it.

SD: Where did you draw inspiration from for your newest album “Brazilian Nights?”

KG: Jazz saxophonist Stan Getz. I have been listening to “Getz for Lovers” nonstop for years.

SD: It is always more exciting to tour when there is a new album?

KG: It’s exciting to tour whether or not there is a new album out. I’m always excited to get on the road and share my music with my fans.

SD: How did you find your own style of music to play?

KG: I like to use the word “Jazz.” I’m a saxophone player who plays instrumental music. My style is more of a controlled style of jazz.

SD: Does touring this time of year take the fun out of Christmas for you?

KG: No, we are very proud to make other people’s holiday season special. For me, it is very satisfying to be able to enjoy the holiday season with my fans.

SD: What can your fans expect to see and hear at your show?

KG: The first half of the show is going to be music from my past records and the other half will be Christmas songs. My wish is that the audience will leave the show in good cheer and full of holiday spirit.

For more information about Kenny, visit www.kennyg.com. To purchase tickets to see him perform at the Shubert theatre on December 8th visit www.bochcenter.org

 

How Much You’ll Pay for Medicare in 2017

Dear Savvy Senior,

I know there won’t be much of a cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year but what about Medicare? How will the 0.3 percent Social Security raise affect our Part B monthly premiums in 2017?

Inquiring Beneficiary

Dear Inquiring,

Considering the rising cost of health care coverage, the news regarding your Medicare costs for 2017 is not too bad. Here’s what you can expect.

Part B Premiums

Because the Social Security Administration is giving out a measly 0.3 percent cost of living increase starting in January – that equates to about a $4 to $5 monthly increase on average – the 2017 Part B monthly premium for about 70 percent of Medicare recipients will increase only about $4 to $5.

Thanks to the Social Security Act’s “hold harmless” provision, Medicare cannot pass along premium increases greater than the dollar increase in their Social Security checks.

So, if your Medicare Part B monthly premium is currently $104.90, you can expect it to be around $109 (on average) in 2017. Or, if you signed up for Part B for the first time in 2016, your $121.80 monthly premium will rise to around $127 (on average) next year.

Some Will Pay More

Unfortunately, the hold harmless provision does not protect all Medicare recipients. New Medicare enrollees (those who will enroll in 2017), beneficiaries who are directly billed for their Part B premium, and current beneficiaries who have deferred claiming their Social Security will pay more.

If you fit into any of these categories, your Medicare Part B premium will be $134 per month in 2017, up from $121.80.

The hold harmless rule also does not protect high-income Medicare beneficiaries who already pay higher Part B premiums because their annual incomes are above $85,000 for an individual or $170,000 for a couple. If you fit into this category, here’s what you’ll pay for your Part B premium next year, based on your 2015 tax returns.

Individuals with incomes of $85,000 to $107,000, or married couples filing joint tax returns with incomes of $170,000 to $214,000, will pay $187.50 per month.

Individuals earning $107,000 to $160,000 (couples $214,000 to $320,000) will pay $267.90.

Individuals with incomes of $160,000 to $214,000 (couples $320,000 to $428,000) will pay $348.30.

Individuals with incomes over $214,000 or couples above $428,000 will pay $428.60.

Another increase high-income beneficiaries (those with incomes over $85,000, or $170,000 for joint filers) need to be aware of is the surcharge on Part D premiums. Affluent seniors that have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan will pay an additional $13.30 to $76.20 per month, depending on their income, on top of their regular Part D premiums.

Deductibles and Co-Pays

Other changes that will affect all Medicare beneficiaries include the Part B deductible, which will increase to $183 in 2017 from $166 in 2016. The Part A (hospital insurance) annual deductible will also go up to $1,316 in 2017 (it’s currently $1,288) for hospital stays up to 60 days. That increases to $329 per day for days 61-90, and to $658 a day for days 91 and beyond. And the skilled nursing facility coinsurance for days 21-100 will also increase to $164.50 per day, up from $161 in 2016.

by Jim Miller

For more information on all the Medicare costs for 2016 visit Medicare.gov and click on “Find out how much Medicare costs in 2017,” or call 800-633-4227.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

 

   

DURABLE POWERS OF ATTORNEY OPTIONS

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A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an attorney in fact to act on your behalf in the event you cannot act for yourself in virtually all types of legal, financial and business transactions. It is a critical document in anyone’s estate plan that serves to save your loved ones a lot of time and aggravation in assisting in these transactions in the event you were to suffer from an illness, however short or long, if you were to be injured, whether temporary or permanent, or whether you were suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The first question you  need to ask yourself is: do I trust the person I am about to appoint? You also have to decide whether or not you will appoint one attorney in fact, with a first successor if your initial attorney in fact cannot or will not serve and even a second successor if your first successor cannot or will not serve. You also might consider appointing co-attorneys in fact (meaning two or more attorneys in fact will serve at the same time).

Many people are concerned that if only one child is named as attorney in fact, then other children will feel slighted as the person who is selected first is deemed to be more trustworthy and/or more financially responsible.

Two attorneys in fact can be named if you believe this will solve those concerns. This may give rise to better communication as both attorneys in fact are continuously involved in the parent’s financial affairs. It can also serve as a deterrent in the misappropriation of assets if there are two attorneys in fact serving contemporaneously.

Appointing more than two attorneys in fact to serve concurrently is probably too burdensome. However, there are situations that might actually lead a parent to choose three children to serve as attorneys in fact.

It is also usually recommended that each attorney in fact possess the right to act unilaterally. If this is not the case, conducting legal, financial and/or business transactions with the requirement of all attorneys in fact executing documents can be extremely cumbersome. If you were truly concerned about the trustworthiness of any one of your attorneys in fact, then inserting a provision in your durable power of attorney requiring all appointed attorneys in fact to sign might be a good idea. But then again, it is doubtful you would be appointing anyone that you had any doubts about.

Some practitioners have indicated that certain financial institutions have been reluctant to accept a durable power of attorney when there is more than one attorney in fact concurrently serving. Thus far, I have not had a concern with any financial institution regarding this issue.

I do believe that successorship is important. If you are going to execute a legal document such as a durable power of attorney or health care proxy, you might as well have 3 individuals that could potentially serve in the event that your first attorney in fact or health care agent cannot serve, or in the event your first successor attorney in fact or first alternate health care agent cannot serve.

Joseph D. Cataldo

“YOUR FINANCIAL FOCUS”

Joseph D. Cataldo is an estate planning/elder law attorney, Certified Public Accountant, registered investment advisor, AICPA Personal Financial Specialist and holds a masters degree in taxation.


 

New Café’s Menu includes job training for people with disabilities

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Breaking Grounds Café celebrated its grand opening on Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of its location at 67 Main St. Naomi Harty, café manager, said the coffee shop has a menu featuring quiche, muffins, sandwiches, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The menu is expanding and features some items, such as chicken salad, provided by Henry’s Market in North Beverly.

Northeast Arc, a nonprofit organization, operates Breaking Grounds. The café not only serves Peabody as a fully operational coffee shop, but it also provides employment training and education to people with disabilities who have an interest in exploring a career within the food service industry.

Clients of Northeast Arc go through an interview process and then begin job-training in the café. “They come in and have daily tasks that they work on,” Harty said. “Initially, a job coach stays with them and shows them what to do.” Eventually, she said, the coach pulls back and leaves them to do their own thing.

After working for three to four months, the individuals graduate from the training program. “They can’t stay here,” Harty said. “It’s a revolving door to do more job-training for other people. This is just a start to get them to apply and become independent and apply for their own jobs and have the job-training.”

Breaking Grounds Café is open Monday–Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday–Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

By Pam Niequist Wehbi


   

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