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Covid-19 continues to create challenges for everyone across the country, and for the nation's senior citizens, there can be even more obstacles to face. Thankfully, here in Chattanooga, there are professionals that recognize the issues and have plans in place to help locals overcome them.

When it comes to matters of the mind, hearing loss and the care it requires to help prevent issues is key. Hearing aids are a great way to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Dementia tends to be brought on by the feelings of social isolation and malfunction of the brain hearing sounds properly. When you utilize hearing aids, you're essentially allowing your brain to function correctly.

When you can hear those around you, you're at a lower risk for developing feelings of social isolation from others. Your brain isn't working harder to hear sounds as your hearing aids are allowing you to hear them at their natural tone. Lastly, your nerves will be back to functioning as normal when sounds are present. All three of these enhancements due to the help of hearing aids can greatly reduce your risk of developing dementia as you age.

At Beltone, hearing tests are always done at no charge, and they have all board certified hearing specialists to do the testing and any needed after care, including programming, cleaning, checking routine maintenance about every three months, always done at no charge.

"We're also doing all we can now to keep people healthy during the pandemic including making sure our facilities are sterilized every day and following every guideline and precaution," said President Perry Ebel.

Beltone provides their patients with free hearing tests, free hearing aid adjustments, free cleanings, and free in-office repairs. A Beltone patient can get their cleanings, adjustments, and in-office repairs at any of the 1,800 Beltone's in the nation at no charge. With 80 years of experience, Beltone goes above and beyond for their patients. Call today for a free consultation and hearing test.

The sudden emergence of Covid-19 has forced many individuals to face the possibility that they could unexpectedly become sick and face the unthinkable. Most of us never consider our mortality, or the possibility that we could pass-away at any time. The firm at Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C. encourages locals not to dismiss it, however.

However, with the necessities of sheltering at home, social distancing, and wearing face masks in public, the uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic has served as a wake-up call for individuals who have not prepared an estate plan, and for those who have not updated their estate plan in many years.

A proper estate plan can reduce the burden on your family should you become ill, incapacitated, or even die. If you become hospitalized or incapacitated, then a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, and Living Will all become very important in allowing your attorney-in-fact to manage your financial affairs and make health care decisions when you are unable to do so. Everyone eighteen (18) years of age and older should have durable powers of attorney in place.

If you already have a Will or a Living Trust, you should update those documents every few years, or at the very least every time there are significant changes in your life. Some examples include: if you or your children get married, have a baby, go through a divorce, inherit money, have a loved one die, children reach adulthood, or upon retirement. It is important to address these types of life changes because they can have a direct impact on the estate plan that you have already put in place.

Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison, P.C. is located at Republic Centre, Ninth Floor 633 Chestnut Street and can be reached at 423-756- 8400.

We all know that we should have legal documents and an estate plan in place for our heirs and loved ones. Often, however, these official documents fail to fully capture practical and sentimental information we would like to leave behind in the event of a sudden tragedy. Cumberland Trust offers a sentimental and meaningful solution.

Many people gain a sense of peace by putting together a "love box" or file to help their children, loved ones, or personal representative navigate life after they are gone. This "love box" can be a shoe box, file drawer, or notebook and can contain documents and other meaningful items. Below are items commonly included, to help you get started on your own "love box."

-Formal, legal documents such as a last will and testament, living will, revocable trust, healthcare power of attorney, and/or financial power of attorney.

-Important contacts list, including your attorney, financial advisor, accountant, doctor, banker, veterinarian, funeral director, religious clergy, close friends, etc.

-Letter of Intent to explain your estate plan in your own words (e.g., why property is left to one person and not another or why property will be transferred to a trust), and to outline your funeral or memorial preferences.

Cumberland Trust has a dedicated trust and estate administration team to support our senior clients and their families. Our team members have the experience and compassion needed to provide extra assistance to those clients who may need it, and to support families through life's transitions. We collaborate with your accountant, estate planning attorney, and financial advisor to help guide the wealth transfer process, and to follow the plan you have put in place.

Call or email Jean Jackson for more information and/or to arrange an office visit at 423-664-9747 or jjackson@cumberlandtrust.com.

As the next generation comes up and begins to make plans for their future, it may look more unsure now than ever. However, it doesn't have to be that way, especially when it comes to those all important financial decisions and practices, as senior citizens right here in the Scenic City can offer their sound guidance, as shared by the professionals at SouthEast Bank.

"Older adults and seniors can instill sound financial habits for high school and college students," shared Ron Jones, SouthEast Bank Chattanooga City President. "We have a number of products that support that."

Topping that mentioned list of products is the EDU Checking, which is a free checking account for students aged 13-24. Students must have someone on the account over 18 if a minor, and it pays cashback on qualifying debit transactions. Students also don't have to keep a minimum monthly balance on the account, and for added safety, it's covered under a 24/7 fraud protection program.

There's also an added convenience of easily sending money to family and friends (or receiving) with P2P, automatic bill payments and mobile deposits.

Seniors can help the students in their life learn more about EDU Checking at https://www.southeastbank.com/edu and get them signed up.

And as for programs designed for seniors themselves, SouthEast Bank offers the Thrive Checking, which is a free checking account that could provide a bump on CD rates. Seniors can also benefit from free checks, plus other premium benefits exclusive to Thrive Checking.

Jones added that they also have Bonus Rate Savings with a generous APY, and plenty of CD options.

To learn more about SouthEast Bank, contact them at 423-242-6300 (downtown) or 423-238-4403 (Ooltewah). Overdraft/Returned items fees may apply to accounts. SouthEast Bank is Member FDIC.

If knee and joint ailments are a concern during this time, Dr. Martin Redish specializes in a procedure that brings the goal of relief.

Total knee replacement is a big, brutal operation with a long recovery. It is usually effective at eliminating debilitating knee pain from end stage arthritis, but it comes with some risks and a long arduous rehabilitation. Some studies have shown up to a 20 % rate of dissatisfaction after surgery. In one local orthopedic surgeon's opinion, at least half of these surgeries are not needed, instead a much safer technique that spares muscle and ligaments and utilizes a short incision and a small fraction of the amount of metal and plastic. This procedure, minimally invasive partial knee resurfacing using the Repicci technique, has been a special interest of Dr. Marty Redish for nearly 20 years.

"At least half of the patients who undergo total knee replacement today do not need the surgery in my opinion," explained Dr. Martin Redish, local surgeon who is both practicing and advocating for a new, less invasive option. "This is because they have unicompartmental arthritis and could instead get a better result with less risk and recovery with minimally invasive partial knee resurfacing (MIPKR). Roughly 60-70 percent of the knee replacements I do are partial knees; the rest I do total knee replacements."

The procedure itself consists of an outpatient surgery that utilizes a small high speed burr that requires the surgeon to freehand sculpt only the diseased portion of the knee so that small metal and plastic implants, the same material as used in total knee replacement, are implanted to patch the worn surfaces.

"These patients will do better by retaining their ACL and leaving things natural," he explained. "By having a stable and natural feeling knee it is easier to be able to walk on uneven surfaces, like doing yard work, hiking through the woods, trout fishing in streams."

To learn more about MIPKR, its benefits, and whether the procedure is right for you, contact Dr. Redish's office at 423-493-5220 or visit  partialkneedoc.com.

And finally, when it comes to Medicare, whether you've deferred in the past for one reason or another, or you're just entering the age bracket where Medicare can apply to you, the steps to get there are the same, and often they may be confusing to navigate. That's why local agent Misty Bolt is sharing her knowledge with clients and working to educate them on the best choices that make the most sense for their needs.

"If you deferred Medicare because you were working and have group coverage and now are retiring or got furloughed, one of the first things you'll need is a filled out form from social security to your employer showing you have had creditable medical and drug coverage," Bolt began. "This way you won't get a penalty for Part B or D."

Bolt's agency helps you through this part of the process, among many others, so you don't have to worry that you've skipped a step or left out vital information.

"You can also fax or mail that form to the social security office. After obtaining Part B, then we can set an appointment to go over your supplement and prescriptions options."

And in that realm, there are many to choose from. Bolt noted that there are over 40 different companies writing supplements and 10 different supplement plans that clients can choose from.

"This doesn't even include Medicare Advantage plans and drug companies out there," she explained. "To say this can be confusing is an understatement, which is all the more reason to have a trained agent to guide you through every step."

Her clients can certainly vouch for having a professional in your corner, as well. Barbara Murnarn began working with Bolt upon her retirement in 2019, and she said her help and guidance made all the difference.

"She came to us highly vetted through our financial advisor, and I knew if he trusted her, I would too," Murnarn shared. "It's not a cookie cutter type of thing, and I felt so good about her background as far as her knowing her vendors and being a broker and not just tied to one company."

To learn more about Medicare Misty and her services, call her at 423-240-0794 or visit medicaremisty.com or follow her on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) (*Medicare Misty Advisors is not affiliated by, or endorsed by any government agency.)

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