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News briefs: January 2014

Ombudsman volunteer training

starts soon; sign up by Jan. 3

Oregonians who want to become certified ombudsman volunteers have until Jan. 3 to apply for acceptance into the program’s five-day training session. Training will begin Jan. 11 in the Portland area.

These volunteers advocate for seniors who are living in long-term care facilities and are trained to educate, investigate and advocate for the rights of the resident and learn to be “problem solvers.”

The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an independent “watchdog” agency of the state of Oregon, dedicated to protecting the rights, safety and dignity of the residents of nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living facilities and adult foster care homes.

Visit www.oregon.gov/LTCO to download an application or contact Gretchen Jordan, coordinator of volunteers, at 1-800-522-2602.

Senior homeowners eligible to reapply for property tax deferrals

Hundreds of Oregon homeowners who lost their senior property tax deferrals can apply to be reinstated in the program.

Since applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis, interested homeowners are advised to get theirs filed on Jan. 2 or soon thereafter.

In December, the Oregon Department of Revenue began advising former participants in the state’s senior property tax deferral program that they were eligible to apply for readmission beginning Jan. 2. Letters were sent to all former program participants with inactive accounts, advising them that they have an opportunity to reapply through April 15.

Under House Bill 2510, up to 700 former participants will be allowed to re-enter the program, regardless of how long they have lived in their homes or if they have reverse mortgages. If readmitted to the tax relief program, eligible homeowners will be able to defer payment of local property taxes in 2014 and subsequent years — until they move, sell their homes or die.

According to David Raphael, spokesman for the Alliance, the reprieve offered to former deferral recipients is a response to outcries by homeowners who had been dropped from the program in 2011 when the Legislature changed eligibility rules. At the time, more than 5,000 homeowners lost state help with their property taxes.

Last March, lawmakers grandfathered in 1,500 homeowners who were terminated from the deferral program simply because they had reverse mortgages. The Legislature passed HB 2510 two months later. It allows an additional 700 former program participants to apply for reinstatement beginning in January.

Applications for 2014 can be downloaded at www.oregon.gov/dor/PTD/docs/deferral-disabled-senior_490-015.pdf.

Study: Stress keeps eating away at us

Fifty-five percent of Americans say they feel stressed during their everyday life, according to a Healthy World Report recently released by TeleVox entitled A Stressed Nation: Americans Search for a Healthy Balance.

Learning how to manage stress, or even use it as a motivator, is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, but many Americans haven’t developed the proper techniques to manage their stress, the study reported. Among the findings:

n Sixty-four percent of Americans reported stress during a typical workday.

n Fifty-two percent reported that stress is negatively impacting their life.

n Forty-four percent said they could do a better job of managing their stress.

In addition, 88 percent of doctors surveyed said they would recommend exercise as a tool to combat stress, but apparently this isn’t message being communicatied: Only 58 percent of Americans said their doctor has suggested exercise as a way to control their stress level.