"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown." Helping caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, navigate through deep waters.


Alzheimer’s Caregiving

Uncle Sam Wants You to File Alzheimer’s Patient’s Taxes


Taxes are certain.

No one is exempt. Filing taxes is perhaps one of the most dreaded chores that caregivers have to complete for their patients. Alzheimer’s disease eventually steals away everything from those who suffer from it. Responsibility is stolen away. Gone are pleasant and not so pleasant tasks. Taxes, however, remain.

Alzheimer’s patients may not remember how to file, what to file or even what a tax is, but they are still responsible for filing each and every year, just like the rest of us. As with every other chore, caregivers take up the slack, but filing taxes is a bit more complicated than washing another person’s laundry or seeing that he or she is fed properly. It is after all, the United States Government to which we give an answer.

Now, for those caregivers who are extremely organized, filing taxes for a loved-one may not be a significant problem. In fact, an envelope addressed to Uncle Sam may already be stamped and ready to be dropped in the big, blue box. But, for those of us who are a bit less organized, filing taxes can be dreadful. There are a lot of questions dancing in our heads on the 14th of April, when we finally totter off  to desperately search for receipts and forms. As caregivers do we claim the person for whom we provide care; do we file separately; what? Maybe I can get an extension?

Take a Breath.

If as a caregiver you’re feeling harried over filing taxes, it’s okay. Misery loves company, and with 150 million people expected to file this year, you can rest assured that you’re not the only one feeling overwhelmed. Besides, you still have time to get organized, and there’s more good news; this year you will have a few extra days to file. Usually, the last day to file is the 15th of April, but as it falls on a weekend this year, you will have an extension of three whole days. File by Monday the 18th and you’re golden. If you live in Maine or Massachusetts you’re lucky enough to have an additional day after that, since you’ll be celebrating Patriot’s Day on the 18th.

Filing Taxes for Seniors

Filing taxes for an elderly parent can be enough to make your head spin. Remember this; seniors aren’t required to count Social Security income as gross income. If Social Security is the only source of income received, then you needn’t go to the trouble of filing a tax return. Now, it gets a little more complicated if you’re filing for a married person. Married seniors, filing separately are required to include Social Security Income as gross income, if they live with their spouse at any time during the year. Additionally, some (not all) Social Security benefits are to be included in gross income, when half the sum of Social Security plus all additional income (tax exempt income included) is more than $25,000 or if filing jointly, $32,000.

When Seniors are Required to File

  • If gross income is more than the sum, of the standard deduction for their filing status, plus one exemption amount.
  • Seniors who are 65 and unmarried, with a gross income of $11,850 or more must file.
  • Married to a spouse who is 65 or older and filing jointly-if the combined gross income is $23,100 or more. For 2016 the threshold amount decreases, if the spouse is less than 65 years-of-age. In this case the amount is $21,850.

Tax Credits

If a senior owes money to the Internal Revenue Service and is 65 years old with income other than Social Security that is not really high, then the disabled or elderly tax credit is available.

Finally, tax documents needed to document income are sent out in January, including investment-related 1099’s. They are also posted online, in most cases: credit card companies, banks. etc. You will also need charitable donation receipts, health care receipts. There are records that will not apply to your elderly parent’s situation, but you should remember to also gather receipts for job-search expenses, and any work expenses that weren’t reimbursed.

When it’s Time to Call a Professional

Preparing to file taxes is a challenge for just about anyone, perhaps especially for a caregiver whose list of “things-to-do” on any given day is a mile long. Make it a little easier on yourself; call in a professional if you like. A tax preparer won’t charge that much, usually less than a hundred dollars. Hiring an accountant is a different story, however.

The cost to hire a Certified Personal Accountant will cost somewhere between $150 to $250 per hour, more if they are backed by a firm. Unless you are being audited, your taxes are super complicated, involve investments, or business related issues, then you can get away with hiring a tax preparer for much less.

For more information on how to file 2016 taxes visit:





A Future Following Alzheimer’s Disease?

When was the last time that anyone asked you, “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” If you’re over the age of 40, perhaps even 35, the question probably hasn’t come up in conversation, and especially not if you are a caregiver. It seems to be a question for the young; but at what age do we stop having a future? When do we stop envisioning what the future could bring? I’ll tell you when; “Never.” If you woke up this morning, and presumably you did, then you have a future. The question is, “What will you do with it?”

Caregivers can easily get stuck in no-man’s land.

Tripping through life, caring for those we love, it seems rather selfish to think about the future, at least as it pertains to personal dreams. This is unfortunate, but understandable. It’s painful to dream about an exciting future we could have, when we know that there’s only one way out of Alzheimer’s disease. That person within our care will eventually succumb to Alzheimer’s. Dare I say it, to dream of a future beyond caregiving makes us feel guilty. We avoid looking forward to the future because we know what that means. Freedom begins when our loved ones are no longer here, and that just plain hurts. But, here’s the thing; that sad fact isn’t changed just because we avoid thinking beyond it.

Caregiving Season

For most of us, caregiving is a season. In this caregiving season, while there is time, do everything within your power to love, and serve that parent or spouse for whom you provide care, but dream, too. It’s okay. Think about your future and don’t feel guilty about it. Dream about ten years from now, and beyond. Contemplate that trip, cruise, new house, whatever. Daydream about your future. Without being fatalistic, ask, “Where do I see myself in 10 years?” What’s the worse thing that could happen? You may have to adjust the plan as years accumulate, but Lord willing, there’s time to strike a few entries from your bucket list.

If you’re living as if this is all there is, all there ever will be, then stop it. You’re quite right, that tomorrow isn’t promised to us, but chances are the sun will come up tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. What will you do with your life post Alzheimer’s disease?

Think about your future without shuddering.


Image: Flickr: Natalia Daporta





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