Get two new tips and two new tools for your elder care journey here.
Get two new elder care tips and two new tools to equip you along the caregiving road.
Get two new elder care tips and two new tools to empower your caregiving journey.
The following is a guest post from Ruth Folger Weiss, a blogger for Kearsley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
Deciding to make the move into a senior living facility is a major life decision for a family with elders. This decision should be carefully discussed prior to deciding on which community is right for your elder. With the right course of action, you'll be able to find a home that your parents or other senior family members can feel comfortable living in.
Before the Move: Prior to making a decision on a senior living facility, families and elders should:
- Plan a meeting. This should involve everyone, including your elder's doctor and the staff of the potential senior living facility you are looking into. This will not only help your parent feel better about the decision, but give them an idea of all there is to look forward to when they make their move.
- Understand what is offered. Be sure that the facility offers the care that your family member needs. Take a tour of the place and look at the physical therapy or dining facilities. Are they clean? Are they up-to-date? Are there any noticeable issues? Have a discussion with the staff to find out what their hours are like, when medications are administered, and any other questions or concerns you may have.
- Consider the commute. You'll want to plan visits to see your elder, so make sure the facility is within a close travel distance. Talk with other family members and see how long they're willing to commute to visit the senior living facility you are considering.
- Trust your gut(s). An initial reaction can weigh a lot when it comes to making this decision. Consider your first impression of the facility, as well as your elder's first impression, before you settle on a decision.
The Moving Process: Moving into a new environment can become very overwhelming, especially for the elderly. In order to make this adjustment easier becoming resident of a senior living facility, elders should:
- Be active in their new community. Senior citizens are encouraged to socialize with one another at the Kearsley Philadelphia nursing home and nursing homes around the country. It's important for seniors to get out of their apartment, stretch, and talk with other residents. Try attending an event that is going on, like a movie night or gaming hour. This will make interacting less stressful, and there will be other residents there who share a common interest!
- Ask questions. Never be afraid to state discomfort or ask questions about medications, meal times, or physical therapy. Talk with the staff at your senior living facility. They'll help you to understand your new routine and make any adjustments necessary to make you as comfortable as possible in your new home.
- Be open-minded. Moving all of your belongings into a new location and constantly being supervised might be a little overwhelming at first, but keeping an open mind and being understanding of the situation will make your transition easier. A lot of time and careful planning went into this decision. Knowing and understanding that should make the process less stressful.
After the Move: Children and grandchildren also play a role in the moving process. The family should:
- Be supportive. Having a loving family to rely on during this time is the most important thing your elder will need. Guide them through the process, answer any questions or concerns that they may have, and remind them how much you care.
- Help out with the move. Assist your loved one move in and make the space their own, but don't hand-hold. When they're all settled, leave to give them space to become acquainted with their new surroundings and neighbors.
- Keep in touch. A phone call or weekly visit will mean so much more to an elder, especially right after their move. Spend time catching up and discussing what they love about their new home. Have them introduce you to friends and staff, and see what their new daily routine looks like.
- Neglect guilt. You may feel a ping of guilt when you leave your elder in the care of someone else, but caregivers at nursing facilities are trained to care for elders. Once you've found the right community, be confident in that choice.
Check out my thoughts, along with those of dozens of other elder care experts in a variety of fields and venues, about the misconception of aging that many Americans hold: http://www.seniorcare.com/featured/misconception-on-aging/
Many thanks to Carol Marak for compiling this valuable resource!
What do you fear most about growing older? In what ways have you prepared? In what ways should you be better prepared? Let's discuss this important issue in as many places as possible!
This guest post was submitted by Senior-Planning Services.
Qualifying for Medicaid for long-term care can feel like contending with a labyrinth of rules, exceptions to those rules, and exceptions to the exceptions. As if that were not challenging enough, Medicaid rules can also vary drastically from state to state, and as financial or living circumstances change.
Compounding the difficulty even further, those applying for Medicaid are typically under a great deal of stress and pressure as they cope with having to admit a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility.
The entire conceit of Medicaid is that it is a “need-based” program. This means that the Medicaid applicant must have insufficient assets to pay for their own care.
Therein lies the kernel of the problem: Since the test for whether an applicant qualifies for Medicaid benefits becomes one of evaluating their assets to see if they pass a certain financial threshold, it naturally follows that there will be a great many seniors who may fall just outside that limit disqualifying them from Medicaid.
Without guidance, these seniors on the Medicaid borderline get caught in the unenviable position of too rich to qualify, but not rich enough to afford quality care, in essence, punishing prosperity.
Medicaid Spend Down and Asset Management
Fortunately, there are concrete strategies for dealing with this issue. In general, the idea is to make the applicant eligible for benefits by bringing the assessment of their assets under the limit. This is called Medicaid “spend down.”
In a spend-down, the applicant is required to pay bills from their own funds until their funds are depleted, at which point Medicaid kicks in on the condition that other eligibility requirements are met. Here, the single smartest decision an applicant can make is to hire a Medicaid planner to assist in the procedure, because doing so counts towards the ‘spend down’ itself.
An applicant can essentially use the free money over the limit (that must be spent anyway) to get themselves approved in advance through a Medicaid planning company, while at the same time receiving professional help with the process itself. An all around win-win.
A professional can assist with the classification and management of assets to help ensure that the applicant qualifies for Medicaid while still retaining the most wealth possible.
Many are unaware that items such as personal possessions, a car, prepaid funeral expenses, Term life policies German Reparation Payments, and financial instruments like trusts set aside for the care of a disabled child, or irrevocable trusts created over 5 prior to the Medicaid request date, are NOT counted against the applicant.
Meanwhile, checking and savings accounts, assets like CDs, stocks, bonds, IRAs and mutual funds, revocable trusts, whole life insurance policies, private business and company equities, and even more, CAN all count against the applicant in qualifying for Medicaid. Click here for more FAQs.
Quite often, a senior Medicaid applicant has shared his/her life with a cherished loved one. Under complex Medicaid laws, this can affect a spouse’s ability to qualify for Medicaid, and can lead to--for example--questions about whether a spouse can keep a primary residence if the other spouse applies for Medicaid. Generally, they can.
However, in some cases the Medicaid applicant’s name must be removed from the deed. There can also be Medicaid liens and other penalties enforced against the estate, except in certain circumstances, such as in the case of a surviving spouse. These are examples of just some of the many pitfalls.
Then there is the need for providing financial statements over the last 5 years, the so-called “look-back” period. In the past, seniors would give away their money and property to qualify for Medicaid, and so the look-back requirement was created in answer to that practice.
This has placed an enormous burden on seniors, who now have to document their financial lives even beyond the scope of an average IRS audit! It also puts renewed focus on enlisting the help of financial planners who can help seniors strategically earmark funds for care earlier in life, so their loved ones are not burdened with the cost of their care years before Medicaid takes effect.
All of this sounds like a lot to tackle without help, and it is! As you can see, the complicated financial aspects of qualifying for Medicaid are often best handled by an expert. Through a combination of sound asset management and responsible long-term planning by a professional, the transition into Medicaid-sponsored care for seniors can be as smooth as it is reassuring.
...and check out her sleek new site!
Gina LaGuardia is one-of-a-kind in so many ways. Even though I'm a writer, it's hard to adequately summarize or describe all her incredible skills and gifts, and I am constantly pinching myself about working with someone so talented.
Throughout these six years of working together (we have still yet to meet in person but I feel as though we've been friends and co-workers for much longer than our six years!), I have added new skills, taken on new responsibilities, secured new clients through word-of-mouth as a direct result of working for hers, had articles published on sites I only dreamed of being published on (ReadersDigest.com, AARP.org, The Huffington Post, USNews.com), have seen my name and work in print in a fashion magazine available on newsstands in NYC, have seen the Twitter chat I've co-moderated hit trending status several times, have interviewed amazing people, and have enjoyed full-time work -- before becoming a mom, I often worked 8-10+ hours a day doing writing, editing and social media management -- for SIX years and counting.
As I've learned by working in this industry, that is a very. long. time.
And in my six years, I've had other clients come and go, and other clients who were not nearly as easy or enjoyable to work with -- especially not with the same level of professionalism, camaraderie, or rapport -- as Gina.
Besides that, I've met some of the industry's best and am proud to work alongside them -- supporting each other, sharing each other's content, providing story leads, quotes, interviewees and more -- as part of the Gina LaGuardia Editorial Services (GLES) team.
I am grateful beyond words for all the personal growth and professional opportunities that working with and for Gina has afforded. She's made my dream of being a writer come true in ways I didn't think possible, and I am happy to give back in even just a small way by promoting her new site and social media pages/profiles.
- Check out her newly redesigned website.
- Follow her company on LinkedIn.
- Like her company page on Facebook.
- Read my bio on her site.
- Read about my newest social media venture for SeniorsforLiving.com, offering Google Helpouts (aka virtual office hours) on senior care decision-making and advice.
This guest post was submitted & written by Elena Watson, a blogger for JustHomeMedical.com and a student at Bard College. She spends her time researching and writing about health care, particularly child and senior wellness.
It’s not uncommon to experience a decrease in mobility as you get older. Sore joints, fragile bones, and a more frequent feeling of fatigue can all make it harder to get up and go. But being active doesn’t have to mean pushing yourself beyond your limits, and even if you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, there are still many ways for you to get out there and exercise without putting yourself at risk.
Go for a walk: Walking is a great way to stay active because even though it doesn’t feel like exercise, it still burns calories and strengthens muscles. During the hot summer months, consider taking your walk in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. And always bring along a bottle of water.
Stroll indoors: When it’s hot outside or the weather’s bad, you can still get some walking in. Places like museums, art galleries, and even malls are all great ways to stay on your feet while enjoying culture, shopping, and, of course, air conditioning!
Garden: Tending a garden is rarely seen as “exercise,” but it’s another activity that keeps you outside and moving, and it burns more calories than you might think. Plus, it’s a great way to add beauty or fresh produce to your home.
Take a dip: Swimming is the quintessential summer activity (or year-round, if you have access to an indoor pool. It’s fun, it cools you down, and it’s a great way to maintain mobility and strengthen muscles. Some community pools even offer water aerobics classes, which are less strenuous than traditional aerobics.
Get your groove on: Dancing might seem like just a fun activity, but it’s actually a great workout as well. If your community offers dance classes, sign up (and bring a friend!). If not, start a dance group yourself, or just boogie out to some music in your house.
Join a club: Many communities and senior centers offer a number of fun and invigorating classes that can help you stay active, and perhaps learn a new skill at the same time. You could sign up for a class or club dedicated to bowling, indoor aerobics classes, golf, baseball, and much more.
For seniors, keeping up mobility is important not only because it allows you to stay independent, but also because it can benefit your health and sometimes even postpone the effects of aging (nothing makes you feel young like a good blast of endorphins!). Thankfully, staying active doesn’t have to mean sweating away in the gym. By engaging in fun community activities like these you can improve your health and enjoy yourself at the same time!
101 Mobility is a local provider of trusted brands of mobility and accessibility equipment. Their staff install and service hundreds of auto lifts, stair lifts, turning seats, modular ramps and platform lifts each year. Learn more by calling 1.888.258.0652.
BenefitsCheckUp helps you find state, federal, and private benefits programs available where you live, programs that help pay for prescriptions, health care, food, utilities, and more. You can also get help with tax relief, transportation, legal issues, or finding work.
Resources for Older Adults & Caregivers via the National Council on Aging
Articles/Books of Interest:
Via the site: "Whether you’re an older adult, family helper or elder-care professional, Staying Power: Age-Proof Your Home for Comfort, Safety and Style can help you understand the process of aging and make scores of simple changes that support independence – in nearly any type of house, apartment or condo. Packed with checklists, shopping lists and more than a hundred key resources in the United States and Canada!"
- Take Control of Your Health: 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall
- Four Questions About Aging in Place
- Aging in Place Alone: Tips for Preventing Injuries and Isolation
- You Can Stay Home: Tips for Supporting Aging in Place
- 5 Places to Improve Access at Home
- Home Design Features That Help You to Age in Place
- Aging in Place and Choosing Care When Needed
- How to Know When It’s Time to Start Seeking Home Care
- Using Technology to Age in Place
- Home Modifications: What Medicare Will and Won’t Cover
Caregiving: Making Every Minute Count
by Cameron Von St. James, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
You can learn more about this month's guest blogger here: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/bio.htm
Life is full of surprises -- some good, and some that we are not prepared for. My wife, Heather, and I had just celebrated the birth of our first and only child, Lily, in the summer of 2005. We couldn't wait to celebrate the upcoming holidays with our precious new addition. However, on November 21, 2005, our joy quickly turned to despair as we were blindsided by unexpected news. Heather had been diagnosed with cancer -- malignant pleural mesothelioma. In an instant, my role changed from a husband and father to the caregiver of a cancer patient.
The doctor implied that this was not going to be easy, and Heather would need care. He explained the course that mesothelioma would most likely take, and recommended seeing a specialist. There were three treatment options that he gave us: the local university hospital, a regional hospital with an excellent reputation, but without an established mesothelioma program, or commute to Boston to see a renowned specialist, Dr. David Sugarbaker. We were waiting for an answer from my wife as to which treatment she preferred, but still in shock, she could not answer.
She stared into space with disbelief on her face. Immediately, I told the doctor to set us up for Boston. All I could do then was pray that this doctor could save my wife.
Over the next two months, our previous daily routines were nonexistent. We both had full time jobs prior to her diagnosis, but due to traveling to appointments in Boston, I had to take care of Lily and only work part-time. Heather could not work at all, instead focusing on her health. The list of things to do was endless and overwhelming. I found myself secretly crying out in frustration. I feared what fighting this disease would cost; that my wife would die from this cancer and leave me a broke, homeless widower with a young daughter to raise. However, I realized that this was not about me, and I had to focus on seeing that Heather got the best I had to offer. I had to stay strong for her and not let her see my weakness.
We were offered help by our families, friends, and people we didn't even know, from phone calls, cards, and letters to financial assistance. As a caregiver, I learned not to be too proud to accept help when offered. I was worried about imposing on someone's time -- but if they didn't really mean it, they wouldn't have asked. We could never give enough thanks for the help we received. Even small things make a big difference, and most of all, it is reassurance that you are not alone.
Being a caregiver is not easy, no matter how you look at it. Besides the added responsibilities, the stress is unreal. You never know what will happen next, and you have to be prepared for it. You cannot walk away from it no matter how you feel. Anger and fear can take over and you will have bad days -- there’s no avoiding it. However, remember why and for whom you are doing this, and never give up hope. Caregiving is one of those life challenges in which the caregiver needs every outlet possible to remain sane.
Our lives finally leveled off after a few years of upheaval, and we had a somewhat normal schedule again. We managed to get Heather safely through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and despite the typically poor prognosis for mesothelioma, she was able to beat this terrible disease. Thankfully, she has been cancer free for seven years.
Being a caregiver taught me many things about life. First, pride is replaced with humility in caregiving. This is about them, not you. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength, because your loved one needs the best care possible, whether it's from you or someone else.
Never give up hope. Challenges may arise that you never would have imagined, but you can overcome them with hope.
Being a caregiver also taught me time management skills and how to deal with stress. Two years after Heather's diagnosis, I went back to school and earned a college degree.
During this difficult journey, I learned to never stop fighting for a loved one with a serious illness. My relationship with Heather and Lily has grown deeper, and I learned a lot about myself and my strengths and capabilities through the experience. Today, I look at my wife and daughter and I can’t believe how lucky I am. If you are a caregiver to a loved one, never give up hope, and always keep fighting, and you might find that you’re capable of more than you ever thought possible.
Thank you, Cameron, for sharing your story and for reminding caregivers that they're not alone. I know your words will encourage and inspire others who are in the midst of a caregiving experience.
At the end of May, I traveled to Bulgaria (for the second time this year) and came back as the mother of a nearly three-year-old girl. The last two months have been a whirlwind of activity and full of the exhaustion, excitement, wonder and worry that is parenthood. At the beginning of this month, I eased back into work, writing and managing less than in the months before I brought my daughter home, but enough that I have to figure out that difficult dance between work, play, rest and caregiving.
I look forward to getting back into a monthly blog post routine for this site, but I am also open to receiving guest posts -- provided they fit my content niche -- both to give myself some wiggle room and offer exposure to those who would like to share content here. If you're interested, use the Contact form on this site to reach out.