Finance and family

The Albany Guardian Society 2019 Fall Institute Catalog is now available.

Our Institute offers a series of educational programs that will allow you to learn more about aging-related topics in the following categories:

  • Caregiving
  • Community Engagement
  • Health & Wellness
  • Housing
  • Professional Development
  • Technology

Detailed information on each of the programs being offered is available in our catalog. There is no charge to attend our Institute programs, however, registration is required. 

View our 2019 Fall Institute Catalog

                     We intend to continually expand our course offerings and we welcome your thoughts about additional programs you believe would be beneficial to our community. 
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 518.434.2140.

Ken HarrisExecutive DirectorAlbany Guardian Society

CDC Publication – What can you do to stay independent?

Do you or your loved ones have a plan to stay safe, mobile, and independent as you age? Many people make financial plans for retirement, but don’t consider how to plan for potential mobility changes. The mobility planning tool can guide you to take action today to help keep yourself—or your loved ones—safe, mobile, and independent tomorrow.

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Dear Parkinson’s

Dear Parkinson’s,

December 12th will be the sixth anniversary of our official, diagnosed, life together, although we were getting to know each other years before that.  I feel that our relationship is progressing. I remember when we met among the nerve cells of the substantia nigra. By the time we were officially diagnosed, we had already lost 80 percent of our dopamine-producing cells.  If it’s all right with you, I would like to name the surviving dopamine cells to let them know that they are needed and loved and should stick around.

Do you think we should get an anniversary present for each other? Metal or wood is traditional for the sixth anniversary, but I can’t think of anything made of wood or metal that I would want.  I have an idea. We could get masquerade costumes. Parkinson’s has already given me a mask to go with the costume, due to decreased facial expression. There are some gifts you have given me that I would like to return; I don’t really need them.  Are there gift receipts for these things I got from you? I would like to box up and return muscle rigidity, stiffness in the arms, shoulders and neck, voice changes and unsteady walking. If you’re willing to take those back, I’m sure I could find a few more.

On the other hand, there are some other things you have given me that I love and wouldn’t mind more of:

Give me more flexibility in adjusting to change.  There are parts of my life I have no control over.  Every day poses unique challenges and I need to be able to quickly shift course.

Remind me, Parkinson’s, to have a positive attitude. Choosing to have a positive attitude impacts my relationships with others and how I take care of myself.

Keep teaching me compassion.  You may have changed my way of moving, working and living, but you also taught me to have compassion, empathy and appreciation for those affected by all types of illness.

And, Parkinson’s, let’s keep being open and unashamed about what you give me.  This openness has lead to wonderful friendships, and a most supportive community.

You can continue to give me the gift of gratitude. I believe that you have increased my gratitude for the simple things in life that are often taken for granted.

So Parkinson’s, like so many relationships, we have had good times and weathered some bad times.  May we continue in our journey together for many years to come.

Driving and Parkinson’s

Driving allows personal freedom, control and independence. Many people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) continue to drive safely long after their diagnosis.

While Parkinson’s progression and medication side effects may affect a person’s driving ability, the diagnosis alone does not tell the whole story. Much depends on a person’s specific symptoms, as well as the presence of other age-related changes.

Though Parkinson’s may present driving challenges, there are many ways to maintain independence. If you are facing driving challenges, consider the following tips to help you take control of your transportation needs.

Local resources:

Sunnyview’s Driver Training Center offers the most comprehensive program of driver assessment, training, retraining, consulting about adaptive driving devices, and on-the-road evaluation for the disabled and elderly. In fact, Sunnyview is the only area hospital with such a program available to the public.

Our trained driver rehabilitation specialists discuss all findings and recommendations with clients and family members, as well as assisting with license renewal information as needed.

The goal is safety, and getting back on the road.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 518-382-4569.

Sunnyview patient resource about driving evaluation

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More information from national PD organizations



Managing Financially: Advice For People With Chronic Illness

No one ever plans to have a catastrophic illness.

Most people go through life assuming that conditions such as organ failure, HIV/AIDS, cancer or hypertension will happen to someone else – not to them or their loved ones. But if a chronic disease does strike, individuals are confronted with a wide range of issues, one of which is finances.

If you are seriously ill and concerned that you have insufficient funds to maintain your quality of life, consider the information presented here before you do anything drastic such as selling your home or your life insurance policy. Also, retain the counsel of a professional comprehensive advisor. This individual should be someone who is not working on commission and with whom you have no conflict of interest. The advisor should examine your situation to suggest the wisest course of action.

Understand Your Financial Situation

The most important thing you can do is to get a clear picture of your financial situation – from assets to liabilities to borrowing sources. Once you thoroughly understand your financial situation, review these tips.

Read more

Discounts for people with disabilities


Always Ask
The first thing to know is that most businesses that offer discounts to people with disabilities or their escorts don’t publicize them, so it’s important to always ask.

Also note that most nonprofit organizations and government agencies that provide disabled services or benefits will require proof of disability through a letter from your doctor or some other form of verification before they will accommodate you.


Medicare HelpLine

Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organizations (BFCC-QIO) help Medicare beneficiaries exercise their right to high-quality healthcare. They manage all beneficiary complaints and quality of care reviews to ensure consistency in the review process while taking into consideration local factors important to beneficiaries and their families. They also handle cases in which beneficiaries want to appeal a health care provider’s decision to discharge them from the hospital or discontinue other types of services. Beneficiary experiences, both good and bad, give the QIO Program the perspective to identify opportunities for improvement, develop solutions that address the real needs of patients, and inspire action by health professionals.

BFCC-QIOs, like Livanta, review appeals and complaints about health care for Medicare patients. Quality Innovation Network (QIN) QIOs work with providers to improve care.

While BFCC-QIOs are the primary point of contact for Medicare beneficiaries and their families, quality of care complaints can also be made by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

Livanta BFCC-QIO HelpLine 866-815-5440

Please have the followinf information available when calling:

Medicare card and number
Date of birth
Address and phone number
Date of service
Provider contact information

In Parkinson’s Disease, early diagnosis does matter

In Parkinson’s Disease, early diagnosis does matter—for some obvious reasons, and also for reasons that are rarely discussed.  (recent edit 2/20/2018)

Carolyn Allen Zeiger, Ph.D.

Retired Licensed Psychologist and spouse of someone with Parkinson’s Disease

The question I always hear people with Parkinson’s (PWPs)—and their spouses—ask about someone else with PD is not, “How long have you had PD?” but “When were you diagnosed?”  Given that there is no definitive medical test to confirm the diagnosis, the delay between symptom onset and diagnosis is generally a few years. The thinking used to be that an early diagnosis didn’t matter.  After all, at this time it can’t be cured, it’s going to progress, and perhaps it is best to delay the use of dopamine replacement medications since they only provide symptom relief. In addition, even some physicians still harbor the mistaken belief that these medications tend to lose their effectiveness over time. Generally unstated, is also the thought that early in the progression of the disease it doesn’t have a big negative impact on the patient, or his life in general.  He’s doing well enough to get by. But is he or she? And what about the spouse or partner?

Fortunately, more doctors are focusing on early diagnosis.  But not for a reason that I find compelling: the impact of PD on our most intimate relationships—spouse, partner, lover. So many times I have heard, and experienced myself, the painful impact of undiagnosed PD on our closest relationships. Sometimes the impact is so great as to mean the ending of even long-term marriages when unidentified symptoms become burdensome or sources of ongoing conflict.  


Estate Planning and Parkinson’s 101 + New Tax Laws

Establishing your estate plan can be likened to committing to healthy eating. You know that it will benefit your health and quality of life as soon as you commit to it, but revving up to that first day and turning it into a lifestyle can feel like an impossible job.

Read more here

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

If you live with Parkinson’s disease, are below 65 years of age and are unable to work due to your Parkinson’s disease and/or other condition, you might be entitled to SSDI benefits. These are income supplements for people whose employment is limited due to a disability. Read more about SSDI or call 1-800-772-1213 to learn more.


Parkinson’s disease and the Blue Book

Whenever the SSA receives an application for disability benefits, they will compare your medical records and test results to their own guide known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book lists hundreds of conditions that are potentially disabling, as well as the test results or symptoms you’ll need to be approved for benefits.

Parkinson’s disease is listed under Section 11.06 of the SSA’s Blue Book —Parkinsonian syndrome. To qualify under this listing, you will need to show that you experience at least one of the following symptoms in two extremities:

  • Rigidity
  • Slowness of movement
  • Tremors


These symptoms need to be severe enough to affect one of the following:

  • Your ability to perform dexterous movements, such as typing on a computer
  • Your ability to walk
  • Your ability to stand upright

You can apply online at

If you are denied, get an attorney to help you appeal,  You will pay only if you win.


More resources


Social Security Administration booklet