Tax Time Can Be An Opportunity

1040 form + checkNow that the New Year is underway, it’s time to clean up the loose ends from 2012- and that means completing our tax returns. Don’t close your browser window; this is actually good news!

A recent article emphasizes ten important tips on how to Get the Tax Refund You’re Owed. Whether you complete your own returns, or better yet have a professional sift through your receipts and make Federal sense out of them, there are some places that 50+ taxpayers should be sure to check.

Key areas that Carole Fleck highlights are insurance, second homes, extra income, managing parental expenses, and retirement income. It just makes sense to use as many deductions as you can and this 2-page article will help to jog your memory or give you new pointers when filing your 2012 income tax returns. I know that it has me thinking about potential extra deductions!

7 Hairy Ways to Stay Young at Heart

pet ownerBeing young at heart means finding laughter and joy in simple things. The elderly and disabled often find simple pleasures in hobbies, bird watching, telling stories, or pleasant conversations with friends. But too often, they can be lonely, depressed, or bored – situations that all lead to declining health.

As children of aging parents, we look for ways to provide comfort, companionship, and activities to keep our elders happy and healthy, especially when we can’t be there. One way is through pets – whether permanent pets in the home, or service dogs that visit once a week, pets are a great way for anyone at any age to stay young at heart.

  1. Exercise. Walking a dog means we get a daily walk too. It helps burn those extra calories, keeps arthritic joints limber, and is great for overall health and fitness. Walking a pet is a great way to make new friends and stay in regular contact with neighbors.
  2. Activity. Feed the cat. Walk the dog. Clean the litter box. Pets require daily care and seniors who own pets develop an active day-to-day routine just caring for them. When a live-in pet isn’t practical, scheduled time with a Therapy Dog is therapeutic and something to look forward to.
  3. Companionship. Pet owners are never alone. It’s understandable that man’s (or woman’s) best friend is a nonjudgmental dog or cat. Just ask the cat lover who has to shoo Kitty off the morning newspaper, or the dog lover who is greeted at the door with loving leaps and licks upon their return. Pets are loyal, dependable, loving companions.
  4. Health. Therapy animals used in hospital and nursing home settings help lower blood pressure and stress. Pet ownership is like having your own personal therapy animal by your side 24/7. The National Center for Infectious Diseases provides information on how pets can also lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and other health benefits.
  5. Grief Management. Additional studies have found that pet owners dealing with the recent death of a loved one fared better during the grieving process than non-pet owners.
  6. Alzheimer’s Relief. A 1999 University of Nebraska study found that Alzheimer’s patients suffering from Sundown Syndrome, a behavioral syndrome associated with Alzheimer’s that is marked by increased aggressiveness, were aided by the presence of a therapy dog and experienced reduced agitation and restlessness during the early evening hours.
  7. Romance. Nothing keeps the heart young like the thrill of a new romance. And there’s never an awkward conversation between two pet lovers.

Being loved, wanted, and needed not only feels great, it keeps us engaged in the present and looking forward to the future.