11-03-2016 Columns


November is National Diabetes Month. Make it your time to take charge of your type 1 or type 2 diabetes for a longer, healthier life. Preventive care for people with diabetes—and for the risk factors that cause related health problems—has improved significantly over the past 20 years, and people are living longer and better with the disease. But living longer can mean having other health problems longer, too. Good management over a lifetime is the key; starting with the day you are told you have diabetes. More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but 1 out of 4 does not know they have it. Most people with diabetes—9 out of 10—have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels.  If you have any of these risk factors, ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future. Risk factors include: Being overweight; Being 45 years or older; Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes; and being physically active less than 3 times a week. Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes. Managing diabetes from the beginning can mean fewer health problems later on. It is a balancing act—food, activity, medicine, and blood sugar levels—but one you can master. Manage your diabetes throughout the day by: Following a healthy eating plan, including eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and salt; Getting physically active—10 to 20 minutes a day is better than only an hour once a week; Taking diabetes medicine as prescribed by your doctor; and testing your blood sugar regularly to understand and track how food, activity, and medicine affect your blood sugar levels. Living with diabetes is challenging, but it is important to remember that making healthy choices can have a big effect on the course of the disease—and your quality of life.

EDWARD JONES-Investing in Your Future

Do not overlook long-term care costs

 How much money will you need in retirement? To arrive at an estimate, you should consider various factors, such as where you will live, how much you plan to travel, and so on. Not surprisingly, you will also need to think about health care costs, which almost always rise during retirement. But there is one area you might overlook: long-term care. Should you be concerned about these costs?  In a word, yes. Expenses for long-term care – which can include receiving assistance at home as well as prolonged care in a facility – can be surprisingly expensive. Consider the following statistics, taken from the 2016 Cost of Care Study issued by Genworth, an insurance company: The average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $92,000. And in some places, particularly major metropolitan areas, the cost is considerably higher. The average annual cost for full-time services of an in-home health care aide is more than $46,000.  These costs are certainly daunting. Of course, you might think that you will not have to worry about them, because you would not ever need any type of long-term care, particularly if you have always been in good health and your family has no history of later-in-life cognitive impairment. However, the odds may not always be in your favor, because almost 70% of people turning age 65 will need some kind of assistance or long-term care at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Given the costs of long-term care, and the possibility that you might really need this care, how can you prepare for the costs?  Things may change in the future, but at this point, you really cannot count much on government programs to help pay for long-term care. Medicare typically pays for only a small percentage of these costs, and, to be eligible for Medicaid, you must have limited income and assets. In fact, you might need to “spend down” some of your assets to qualify for Medicaid long-term care services. Obviously, this is not an attractive choice, particularly if you would like to someday “leave something behind” to your family or favorite charity.  Consequently, you need to look at your options for paying for long-term care – just in case. You could earmark a certain percentage of your investment portfolio to cover long-term care costs; if you never need this care, you can simply use the money to pay for other areas of your retirement or for other purposes, such as charitable gifts or financial support to your grown children or grandchildren.  Or, as an alternative, you might want to work with a financial professional, who can recommend a strategy specifically designed to help you address long-term care costs. The marketplace in this area has evolved rapidly in recent years, so you should be able to find a solution that is both affordable and effective. Keep in mind, though, that the earlier you purchase a long-term care solution, the more economical it will likely be for you.  In any case, do not delay your planning for long-term care. Knowing that you are protected against potentially catastrophic costs can make your retirement years less stressful for you and your family.  This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.


 Whenever we get close to Election Day, I think of my two uncles – Hank Krause and Mel Dietzel. They both served in World War II, where they were part of the greatest generation and literally helped save democracy. My Uncle Hank served in the U.S. Navy and was outgoing and talked about his service; my Uncle Mel served in the U.S. Army and was more reserved and did not talk about his service much. What they both talked about a great deal was the responsibility and obligation as citizens to vote.  The United States may be the world’s oldest continuous democracy, but experience does not always equal enthusiasm. In 2012, the U.S. had the ninth lowest voting rate among the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The 2008 presidential election had the highest turnout since 1968 – and more than four in ten Americans aged 18 and over stayed home.  There are lots of great reasons to vote. I know some folks are a bit turned off by the choices for President. But it is not just that race on the ballot. We have state races, a millage question, and some local races may impact your life more than any other election. A higher turnout makes our democracy more representative, and think about this – the margin of victory can be important. People who are elected by a narrow margin tend to be reminded of it by the other side. So while the comedians are making fun of the election, voting is your voice. If nothing else, voting is a license to complain later about your elected officials. Your grievances carry more weight as you hold your candidates accountable for the promises they have made. Make sure you vote and your voice is heard.  For me, it will be the memory of Uncle Mel taking me the local post office to sign up for civil service, and then taking me to register to vote.


Standing with our  soldiers

 Recent news stories reported that almost 10,000 California National Guard members were being ordered by the U.S. Department of Defense to repay enlistment bonuses given to them more than 10 years ago due to mismanagement and overpayment of enlistment bonuses by some administrators there. These men and women were told to repay their bonuses – with interest added – or face collections, wage garnishment, or tax liens. This money was to be paid regardless of whether they were injured in combat, served multiple tours, or if they served in the most dangerous assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This is wrong on so many levels – and more than 200 of my colleagues in the House of Representatives agreed. We sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter urging him to stop this order immediately and to wave any overpayment liability for those who had fulfilled their service contract.  Secretary Carter listened and last week announced he was suspending all efforts to get back these payments.  I will continue to work to make sure this suspension is made permanent and relief is granted to all of these soldiers. In addition, we will investigate how Pentagon personnel could allow these false promises to be made to our soldiers and how the reprehensible choice was made to try and recover those promised payments from men and women who volunteered to serve our country. Our veterans, and their families, have already made huge sacrifices for our country; we must ensure they are not asked to shoulder the burden of mismanagement that occurred years ago. I supported provisions in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that prohibited the Pentagon from seeking these repayments, and I will work to ensure that it remains in the legislation for President Obama to sign into law.  If you, or a loved one, have any issues in dealing with the Veterans Administration, please do not hesitate to call my Kalamazoo District Office, 269-385-0039. To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov.


 While the freedom to choose or reject our leaders makes us the beacon of liberty in the world, voter turnout nationwide remains low. According to Pew Research, only 54 percent of our country’s voting-age population voted in 2012. America was founded on the idea that our government does not give us power; our government only has the power that we, the people, choose to give it. Our rights are endowed upon us by our Creator, and key to these is the right to vote.  I encourage all citizens to exercise their voice by getting out to vote. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8 and the polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.  If you do not know where you are supposed to go to vote, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at: www.michigan.gov/vote. Enter your first and last name, date of birth and residential ZIP code, and the website will give you the address and a map of your polling location. Voters may also get their polling location information by contacting the Berrien County clerk’s office at 269-983-7111 ext. 8264 or by email at elections@berriencounty.org or the Van Buren County clerk at 269-657-8218 ext. 6. I would also urge you to learn as much as you can about the candidates and the issues. Our state and nation continue to take on big issues and we need effective leaders who are willing to stand up for their communities. While the presidential election is the most visible, there are important choices to be made for state, county and local offices. Every vote matters, so please exercise your constitutional right to vote.  As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.