QUESTION: I am not sure if I am required to take a distribution from my retirement account. Can you help?
ANSWER: You must begin taking distributions at age 70½ or face stiff IRS imposed distributions
If you will reach age 70½ by Dec. 31, 2016, you will have until April 1, 2017, to begin taking your required minimum distributions, known as RMDs, from your account(s). This will meet your 2016 distribution requirement.
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Once distributions begin you must take them annually by Dec. 31. That means you will need to take your next RMD by Dec. 31, 2017, regardless of when your 2016 RMD was taken.
RMD rules apply to traditional IRAs, Simple IRAs, SEP IRAs, 403 (b) plans and certain employee-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) plans.
Check with the holder of your retirement account to determine what action you need to take and when.
QUESTION: In my everyday schedule I deal with many older adults and am finding that communication is becoming more difficult. Are there any suggestions on how to make some improvement?
ANSWER: Since you didn’t mention the type of contact you have with these elders nor the reason for the difficulty in communication I will address your question in general terms.
People, of all ages, may experience physical impairments that interfere to some degree with the ability to communicate.
The four common physical impairments that come to mind are hearing loss, loss of sight or low-vision, speech impairment and cognitive ability.
If the person you are trying to communicate with has a hearing problem, make every attempt to be face-to-face when speaking as most people do some lip reading. Speak clearly and at your normal volume, speaking loudly does not help. Your words will be much harder to understand if you are chewing gum or smoking. Remember to keep your hands or other objects away from your mouth or face and keep your sentences short. Eliminate as much background noise as possible.
If loss of sight or low-vision is the physical impairment you are trying to overcome, don’t rely on sight cues. Use the person’s name to get their attention and describe actions he or she may not be able to see. If speaking in a group, always identify, by name, the person you are speaking to as this will allow the person with the vision problem to follow the conversation.
For those who have a speech impairment, you need to be patient. Give them time to get their words out and don’t interrupt or try to finish their sentences. If you are trying to obtain information, use closed questions that can be answered with a yes or no or a nod of the head. You could also resort to the use of pencil and paper. Never assume that a person with a speech impairment has a mental impairment.
For those with a cognitive impairment, use a normal tone of voice, speak slowly and keep your comment or question simple. Do not try to provide too much information at any one time. Ask questions in a manner that will help them make a decision. Ask, “Would you like tea or coffee?” instead of, “What would you like to drink?”
These are some simple suggestions, but I hope they will help the situation.
Today: 1 p.m., “Fraud and Scams” presentation at Thousand Oaks Council on Aging Meeting in the board room of the Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. No reservations needed.
Dec. 15: 11 a.m. to noon, “Exploring End of Life Options” presentation at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Erika Ruiz, outreach manager for Compassion & Choices, will review strategies for having important conversations with your doctor, options for end of life care and how to access California’s new medical aid in dying law, the End of Life Option Act. For reservations, call 381-2744.
Dec. 18: 2-3 p.m. “My Darkest Years” presentation by author and Holocaust survivor James Bachner at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road. For reservations, call 381-2744.