Atlanta Retirement Communities

St. George Village Blog

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  • How the Affordable Care Act Affects Your Tax Return

    New health care laws may affect your taxes but do-it-yourself tax programs can help.

    In addition to significant health insurance changes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included tax law changes. Several of those changes will impact 2013 federal tax returns, due April 15, 2014.

    “Online tax preparation solutions like TaxACT will cover all the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act plus hundreds of other tax law changes,” said TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. “All you have to do is answer simple questions. The program does the math and completes the tax forms for you.”

    The tax law changes in the health care act, also known as “Obamacare,” for 2013 returns include:

    • Reporting health insurance premiums, flexible spending beyond payroll deductions and other premiums paid by employees and their employers. “Simply enter the amount in Box 12 with Code DD on your Form W-2 when prompted by the tax program,” said Dolmage. “You’re providing information only; it won’t change your taxable income.”

    • Higher threshold for deducting medical expenses. The threshold for itemizing medical expenses increases to 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). The threshold for taxpayers age 65 and older remains at 7.5 percent. Tax software will calculate the deduction based on medical ex­penses entered.

    • 3.8 percent tax on net investment income. Individuals and heads of household with an AGI of $200,000+, married couples filing separately with an AGI of $125,000+, and couples filing jointly with an AGI of $250,000+ must pay the tax. Answer a few questions about investment income and your tax program will do the rest.

    • Additional 0.9 percent Medi­care tax on wages and compensation in excess of $200,000. Taxpayers in those same AGI ranges are subject to the additional Medicare tax. It’s automatically withheld from employee wages, with the total amount provided in Box 6 of Form W-2. The tax is calculated for business owners or self-employed using figures on Schedule SE.

    The health insurance requirement begins to have implications on 2014 income tax returns (due April 2015). If you have health insurance, your online tax solution will guide you through the simple process of reporting it on your tax return. If you don’t have health insurance for a total of three or more months in 2014, you may pay a penalty that’s reported and calculated on your return. Tax programs will calculate the amount based on the number of uninsured individuals in your household and household income.

    Uninsured individuals can shop and apply for health insurance through online “marketplaces,” also called “exchanges,” starting October 1, 2013. States will have their own marketplaces, use the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace, or have a hybrid of the two. Enrollment closes March 31, 2014.

    If you don’t have access to minimum required employer-provided insurance and purchase insurance through a marketplace, you may qualify for a tax credit. The money can be used to pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as de­duc­tibles, co-payments and co-insurance. Eligibility and amounts are based on the cost of marketplace premiums and your household size and income. The credit will be paid directly to the health insurance company. If you elect to receive a lesser credit or no credit at all, you can claim the refundable credit on your 2014 tax return.

    Whether you have a simple or complex situation, TaxACT makes it easy to navigate the tax implications of the Affordable Care Act anytime, anywhere. Prepare, print and e-file your federal taxes free at able-care-act. Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace for information about insurance op­tions.


    Posted in Independent Living, Knowledge Center, Lifestyle, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

  • The Empowerment of Restored Hearing

    Audrey Hall, pictured here with her daughter, Cindy Grey, says that hearing aids have restored her ability to communicate with friends and family.

    Audrey Hall says that her children are to thank for her ability to hear these days.

    “The kids were wonderful — they made me do it!” she laughs. But Audrey has no regrets when she talkes about the hearing devices that allow her to once again actively participate in the world around her.

    Audrey found herself in a growing number of situations where she could not hear, such as being at a meal in the dining room with friends. And her children finally convinced her that she was missing out on a lot by not being able to hear.

    “Being able to communicate is so important,” says Audrey’s daughter, Cindy Grey, who took her mother to be evaluated by an audiologist.

    Audrey was fitted with Lyric® extended wear hearing aids. Placed deep in the ear canal where they are virtually invisible to others, the devices are worn 24 hours a day for months at a time, even during activities like showering, exercising and sleeping. This type of device works well for Audrey, who also has macular degeneration, which is responsible for her declining vision.

    “The Lyric hearing aids are wonderful for someone who can’t see well and would have trouble replacing batteries in another type of hearing aid,” she explains. “I never take these out of my ears.”

    Audrey has enjoyed her Lyric hearing aids for the past two years. She goes in to the audiologist’s office about every three months for replacements, but doesn’t have the daily hassle of remembering to put her hearing aids in, nor does she have to worry about replacing the batteries.

    With a family that includes her two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren as well as a host of friends at St. George Village, Audrey is pleased to be able to communicate and enjoy hearing them again.

    “I can’t say enough [good things] about my hearing aids,” says Audrey. “You just get to the point where you have to hear.”

    If you believe you have hearing loss, consult an audiologist. Audiologists hold graduate or
    doctorate degrees from accredited universities, are licensed, and are trained to detect, diagnose, manage and nonmedically treat hearing disorders.

    To learn more about Lyric Extended Wear Hearing Aids, call 1.866.964.8450 or visit Lyric.

    Posted in Knowledge Center, Lifestyle, Residents Corner, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

  • There’s No Age Limit on Staying Active and Loving Life

    Active and loving life in her 90s, Mary Shern’s career includes an acting stint on radio soaps, a long career in real estate and authoring several books.

    “I like the companionship. You always feel like you have friends here,” says Mary Shern, who moved to St. George Village in 2006. “It reminds me a little bit of living in the dorm in college — you can borrow whatever you need!”

    That youthful college spirit is still quite evident in Mary’s vivacious, enthusiastic personality. The nonagenarian makes use of SGV’s indoor pool as often as possible, serves on the community’s food committee, has produced a couple of the Villagers shows and participates in the Great Decisions program…and also has just completed a soon-to-be-published book on the subject of being 90!

    Mary’s life is a testament to the term “active aging.” Growing up in New York, she began working when she was just a teen.

    “I started out in show biz, acting on radio soap operas. My first role was on the show, ‘Pepper Young’s Family’ — Burgess Meredith was Pepper! Later, I had a role on ‘When a Girl Marries,’” she says. “Then, I did an interview show for a while and years later, when I was living in Hawaii, I had a real estate show on Sunday afternoons called ‘The House Detective.’”

    It was in New York as a young woman that Mary met and married her husband, a real estate developer…and that led to her second career as a realtor and a side job as an author.
    “I was a real estate broker with my own company, teaching the business to agents who needed their licenses. I had my own style of teaching, so I wrote my own textbooks,” she explains. “I published three of those.”

    She also wrote a novel that she says was “just happenstance. The Women’s Real Estate Association wanted me to write about how a housewife could get into the real estate business once her children were in school.”

    Mary lived in Hawaii for 18 years before moving to Atlanta, where two of her children live, and where she continued working in real estate.

    “At that time, the market in Atlanta was still pretty good,” she says. “I ran a real estate school and did a lot of speaking engagements and traveling.”

    Finally, at the age of 90, Mary decided to retire. But that didn’t mean she retired to an easy chair. She wrote an autobiography just for her family, and then moved on to write the new book in progress.

    “The books weren’t a big part of my career; they were more like an ancillary occupation at the time. But writing did become a kind of compulsion for me,” she laughs. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll do it, though.”

    Posted in Independent Living, Lifestyle, Residents Corner | Tagged , , , , ,

  • Meet Our Care Partner, Assistant Activity Coordinator Della Westerfield

    Della Westerfield enjoys being creative… and it shows in her dedication to her role as Assistant Activity Coordinator for The Springs, Treasures of Lakeview and Friendship House communities at St. George Village.

    Della calls on her background in community service and dance and exercise instruction when she plans activities for residents, such as storytelling, bowling, dancing, nature walks or special programs like the monthly “Love and Kisses” show.

    “I bring in different individuals and groups to entertain — we’ve had everything from dance troupes and musicians to singers and comedians doing monologues,” she says. “The program started out in the lounge of The Springs, but it’s grown so much that we moved it to the auditorium. A lot of our independent living residents love the show, too!”

    Della has a lifelong love of dance and performing. Her dream is to one day open a studio that teaches a wide variety of cultural dance, such as Irish, West African, Mexican Folk and more.

    “I’d like to provide an opportunity for kids to learn about different cultures through dance,” she says, adding that “it could bridge the gap of understanding.”

    Recently named SGV Care Partner of the Quarter, Della says she loves working at St. George Village because of the friendly, family-oriented atmosphere.

    “Everyone is so helpful to each other — staff and residents. Everyone is doing their part,” she says. “I find that really nice. You feel welcome here.”

    Posted in Independent Living, Lifestyle, Residents Corner, Wellness | Tagged , , , ,

  • Our New Pavilion is Open!

    Care Partners from the dining rooms, maintenance staff and administration gathered for the official ribbon cutting ceremony on July 8, 2013.

    Outdoor dining recently became a reality at St. George Village with the completion of the new Pavilion on the dining room patio.

    A dedication service for the new structure was held on July 2, which included a blessing by Monsignor Peter Rau from St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church. More than 50 residents attended the service and then enjoyed mimosas, coffee and doughnuts in the new outdoor dining space.

    Additionally, an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by SGV care partners from administration, the dining rooms and maintenance, was held on July 8.

    St. George Village is so pleased to offer this new outdoor addition and hopes residents will enjoy dining al fresco.


    Posted in Independent Living, Lifestyle, Residents Corner | Tagged , , , ,

  • Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

    St. George Village residents turned out to cheer on the Gwinnett Braves in their game against the Norfolk Tides on July 11, 2013. The outing was one of SGV’s Thursday trips — organized day travels to fun and interesting sites and events around the north Georgia area. (By the way, the G-Braves bested the Tides in a 10-4 rout!)

    Posted in Independent Living, Lifestyle, Residents Corner | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

  • Celebrate Summer!

    In honor of the onset of summertime, we at St. George Village share this poem and wish you all the fun and joy of the warmest season of the year.

    Summer Sun
    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Great is the sun, and wide he goes
    Through empty heaven with repose;
    And in the blue and glowing days
    More thick than rain he showers his rays.

    Though closer still the blinds we pull
    To keep the shady parlour cool,
    Yet he will find a chink or two
    To slip his golden fingers through.

    The dusty attic spider-clad
    He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
    And through the broken edge of tiles
    Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

    Meantime his golden face around
    He bares to all the garden ground,
    And sheds a warm and glittering look
    Among the ivy’s inmost nook.

    Above the hills, along the blue,
    Round the bright air with footing true,
    To please the child, to paint the rose,
    The gardener of the World, he goes.

    Posted in Independent Living, Lifestyle, Residents Corner | Tagged , , , , , ,

  • Older and Younger Generations Partner on Project to Help Others

    Mary Apps (right) shows a first grade student how to tie the edges of a Linus blanket, which will be given to a child in need.

    One of the volunteer activities St. George Village resident Mary Apps loves most is making blankets for the Linus Project, a national nonprofit organization that provides homemade blankets to children in need. (The concept is based on the Peanuts cartoon character, Linus, and his trusty security blanket.)

    Mary and several other SGV residents had been making the Linus blankets and giving them to a group at St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church, who then distributed the blankets to area shelters. When a teacher at nearby Queen of Angels Catholic School heard about the Linus blankets, she approached Mary about getting some of the younger students at the school involved in the project.

    “Each class at Queen of Angels works on a project during the school year. The first graders help make the Linus blankets and the second graders distribute them,” Mary explains. “In November every year, the children come over to St. George Village and we show them how to tie knots and finish off the blankets so that they don’t ravel.”

    “The blankets that our children make are given to local organizations like the Drake House, the Ronald McDonald House and the Catholic Charities’ prenatal program,” Mary explains. “A supply of blankets is also given to first responders and emergency workers, who often encounter children who are affected by disasters and other emergencies — children who don’t have as much as they need to stay warm.”

    After the blanket-making session, the children go to the chapel, where a priest blesses them and their blankets, and then they enjoy a reception with refreshments.

    Mary says that the Linus blankets have become a beloved tradition at Queen of Angels, both for the good feeling it brings to do something for someone else and for the fun of partnering with SGV residents.

    The students have fun making friends with the St. George Village residents and they learn how their Linus blankets will help other children in need of comfort.

    “So many of the children have older siblings who participated in the project and have talked about it,” she says. “They look forward to being in first grade so they can work on the blankets and come over to spend time at St. George Village!”

    Posted in Faith, Independent Living, Lifestyle, Partnerships, Residents Corner | Tagged , , , , , ,

  • Discussing the World, Staying Intellectually Engaged

    Members of the Great Decisions class at St. George Village listen to a guest speaker’s presentation at a recent meeting.

    Iran, Egypt, China, Africa, NATO, the future of the Euro and the threat assessment of certain countries to the United States and other countries — these are the topics St. George Village residents are learning about and discussing in the Great Decisions program.

    Great Decisions is America’s largest discussion program on world affairs. This national civic education program, administered by the Foreign Policy Association, takes place in communities all across the U.S. Discussions highlight eight of the most thought-provoking foreign policy challenges facing American each year.

    Great Decisions members are provided with background material — a study guide and a short DVD presentation — to review before each lecture takes place. Then they are treated to presentations by foreign affairs experts including university professors and ambassadors, who speak on the designated topic.

    The Great Decisions program requires participants to commit to attending the eight presentations, which are scheduled throughout the year. About 30 SGV residents currently are members of the class, a number that has remained stable for the six years the program has been in existence.

    SGV’s Great Decisions members find the presentations intellectually stimulating and thought provoking. And they never allow their diverse political views to get in the way of their discussions.

    “We try to leave politics out of this particular situation,” says Pat Tritt, who organizes the program’s schedule and lines up the guest speakers. “Everyone is respectful of each other’s opinions.”

    Posted in Independent Living, Knowledge Center, Lifestyle, Residents Corner | Tagged , , , , , ,

  • Meet the SGV Staff: Dave Fagerstrom

    One of the first things you notice about Dave Fagerstrom is his welcoming smile. Dave, who has been a driver for St. George Village since August 2011, says that being behind the wheel gives him a reason to smile.

    “I love driving!” he says. “And I enjoy spending time with our residents. It’s great to feel I’m being helpful to them by getting them where they want to go.”

    Originally from Jamestown, N.Y., Dave served in Vietnam as an Air Force helicopter pilot. After serving his country, he began a career in banking as a branch manager and eventually moved to Atlanta in 1979. He discovered his true love of driving in retirement, when he did a stint as a tractor-trailer driver.

    Today, Dave ferries SGV residents to doctors’ appointments and routine errands like grocery shopping and stops at various banks and dry cleaners. But he especially enjoys SGV Trip Days.

    “On Thursdays, we take day trips to places like Calloway Gardens, Amicalola State Park or the outlet mall,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun!”

    The St. George Village staff invites you to get to know us better! We’ll highlight a different staff member occasionally in our blog as an ongoing feature.

    Posted in Independent Living, Lifestyle, Residents Corner | Tagged , , , , , ,