Understanding Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-Term Care Policy Sources

Individual Plans: Most
People buy long-term care policies through an insurance agent or broker. If you
go this route, make sure the person you are working with has additional
training in long-term care insurance (many states require it) and check with
your state’s insurance department to confirm that the person is licensed to
sell insurance in your state.
Some employers offer group long-term care policies or make
individual policies available at discounted group rates. A number of group
plans do not include underwriting, which means you may not have to meet medical
requirements to qualify. Benefits may also be available to family members, who
must pay premiums and might need to pass medical screenings. In most cases, if
you leave the employer or the employer stops providing the benefit, you will be
able to retain the policy or receive a similar offering if you continue to pay
the premiums.
Plans offered by
A professional or service organization you belong to might
offer group-rate long-term care insurance policies to its members. Just as with
employer-sponsored coverage, study your options so you will know what would
happen if coverage were terminated or if you were to leave the organization.
State partnership
If you purchase a long-term care insurance policy that qualifies for
the State Partnership Program you can keep a specified amount of assets
and still qualify for Medicaid. Most states have a State Partnership Program.
Be sure to ask your insurance agent whether the policy you are considering
qualifies under the State Partnership Program, how it works with Medicaid, and
when and how you would qualify for Medicaid.
Joint policies: These
plans let you buy a single policy that covers more than one person. The policy
can be used by a husband and wife, two partners, or two related adults.
However, there is usually a total or maximum benefit that applies to everyone
insured under the policy. For instance, if a couple has a policy with a $100,000
maximum benefit and one person uses $40,000, the other person would have
$60,000 left for his or her own services. With such a joint policy you run the
risk of one person depleting funds that the other partner might need.


Understanding Long-Term Care Insurance: Factors to Consider

Here are some important factors to understand when choosing long-term
care insurance.
Your age and health: Policies
cost less if purchased when you are younger and in good health. If you are
older or have a serious health condition, you may not be able to get coverage
and if you do, you may have to spend considerably more.
The premiums: Will
you be able to pay the policy’s premiums now and in the future without breaking
your budget? Premiums often increase over time, and you income may go down. If
you find yourself unable to afford the premiums, you could lose all the money
you have invested in a policy.
Your income: If
you have difficulty paying your bills now or are concerned about paying them in
the years ahead, when you may have fewer assets, spending thousands of dollars
a year for a long-term care policy might not make sense. If your income is low
and you have few assets when you need care, you might quickly qualify for
Medicaid. Medicaid pays for nursing home care and in most states it will also
cover a limited amount of at home care. Unfortunately, in order to qualify for
Medicaid you must first exhaust almost all your resources and meet Medicaid’s
other eligibility requirements.
Your support system: You
may have family and friends who can provide some of your long-term care should
you need it. Think about whether or not you would want their help and how much
you can reasonably expect from them.
Your savings and
A financial advisor or a lawyer who specializes in elder law
or estate planning can advise you about ways to save for future long-term care
expenses and the pros and cons of purchasing long-term care insurance.
You taxes: The benefits
paid out through a long-term care policy are generally not taxed as income. Also,
most policies sold today are “tax-qualified” by federal standards. This means
if you itemize deductions and have medical costs in excess of 7.5% of your
adjusted gross income you can deduct the value of the premiums from your
federal income taxes. The amount of the federal deduction depends on your age.
Many states also offer limited tax deduction or credits.
Source: www.aarp.org/health.health-insurance/info-06-2012/understanding-long-term-care-insurance.html

Helping Seniors Beat the Holiday Blues

While the holiday season is a
festive time for many, it can cause depression for seniors. There are many
factors that contribute to sadness or apathy around the holiday season such as
the loss of a spouse, sibling or a close friend. Some feel alone and isolated
because their grown children and grandchildren live far away. While others may
feel blue because of financial concerns, poor health or because they’re unable
to perform routine holiday activities like shopping, baking or even attending
religious services.
If you notice that an
older loved one seems depressed:
– Lend a hand by offering to
help them with shopping, transportation and holiday preparations.
– Get them out and about.
Avoiding isolation is key in reducing depression.
– Helping others by
volunteering can be a great mood lifter. Contact local schools, churches,
synagogues and mosques to find out about volunteer opportunities.
– Don’t drink too much alcohol,
which can lower your spirits.
– Accept and help express
feelings. There’s nothing wrong with not feeling happy during the holidays,
many people feel the same way. Talking about feelings can help you understand
how to help.
– There’s a big difference
between feeling sad or blue and being chronically depressed. If the blues
linger beyond the holidays into the New Year, there may be a more serious
problem and will need addressed by your physician. Following are some signs to
watch out for:
A persistent feeling of
• Lost interest in hobbies or
activities that was formerly enjoyed.
• Feeling worthless or
• Inability to sleep or
sleeping too much.
• Loss of energy or motivation.
• Not eating or eating too
• Trouble thinking,
concentrating, and making decisions.
• Feeling anxious, restless, or
• Thinking about dying or
suicidal thoughts.

Financial Safety Tips

Never leave your purse unattended.
Always carry your wallet or any bills in a front
pocket, never in a rear pocket.
Avoid having large amounts of cash or valuables
at home.
Tear up or shred all personal and financial
information; never just throw it into the trash.
Never give your Social Security number or
particulars about your bank account to anyone. If someone calls you asking you
to confirm that the account numbers are yours, don’t do it.
If you get calls asking for donations, tell them
to send requests by mail. Never discuss donations over the phone.
Verify the status of a charity before making a
Arrange to have Social Security checks
direct-deposited to your bank.

Source: www.parentgiving.com

Medication Safety

The over 65 population in America purchases and consumes
more medications than any other age group. According to the Food and Drug
Administration, they purchase more than 30% of all prescription medication and
more than 40% of over the counter medicines. Estimates are that as many as 90%
of seniors use either herbal remedies or vitamins.
To avoid an interaction, make a list of all medications,
vitamins, and herbal remedies that your loved one is taking. Also, beside each
medication, write the contact information of the physician who prescribed the
medicine. Some physicians may not realize how many other doctors their patients
are seeing. Take the list to each doctor appointment and be sure that is kept
Avoid Pharmacy Shopping:
With the rising cost of medications, many seniors choose to
shop for the cheapest price without realizing the benefits of staying with one
pharmacy. This is often a source of confusion and drug interactions.
Throw away Outdated
Some people prefer to keep medications longer to save money
on prescription costs. Don’t. Some medicines degrade over time with exposure to
light and heat. If you rely on medications you have at home instead of advice
from your physician, you could be headed for trouble. Be sure to call your
physician before using medication that you have at home.
Antibiotics: these are meant to be taken in their entirety
when they are prescribed. Saving some for the next infection may cause serious
health problems; bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics and need even stronger
medication the next time.  Plus, for the
second infection, a different class of antibiotics may be used in order to
prevent resistance build up.
Watch for Side
Seniors especially can be sensitive to new medications. Ask
your doctor about possible side effects of the medication and how it may react
with other medicines that you are currently taking.
Borrowing or Lending
Taking medication intended for someone else is a dangerous practice
that needs to be eliminated. Prescription medication should never be taken by
anyone else than for whom it is prescribed. Other individuals have special
medical histories and may also be taking other medicines that can cause serious
drug interactions.
Skipping Doses:
Take each medication as prescribed and do not skip doses to
make the medication stretch further. Skipping doses can cause problems later
when your condition isn’t managed properly.

Source: wwwcaregiver.com/channels/medication/srticles/track_medications_safely.htm

Caring for an Elder from Far Away: Geriatric Care Managers

For people who work and care for an aged family member,
particularly when that family member lives far away, one solution is to hire a
professional geriatric care manager. A geriatric care manager is a professional
who specializes in assisting older people and their families with long-term
care arrangements. Care managers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or
substantial equivalent training in gerontology, social work, nursing,
counseling, psychology, or a related field.
Prolonged illness, disability, or simply the challenges of
aging can significantly alter the lifestyle of older adults. Daily
responsibilities can become difficult. Efficient coordination of medical,
personal, and social service resources can enhance the quality of life for
older adults and their caregivers.
Geriatric care managers assist older adults in maintaining
their independence at home and can ease the transition to a new setting, if needed.
Geriatric care managers also help:
  •          Conduct care planning assessments to identify
    problems, eligibility for assistance, and need for services.
  •          Review financial, legal, or medical issues and
    offer referrals to geriatric specialists to avoid future problems and conserve
  •          Act as a liaison to families at a distance,
    making sure things are going well and alerting families to problems.
  •          Assist with moving an older person to or from a
    retirement complex, assisted living facility, or nursing home.
  •          Offer counseling and support.

How do you know when it is time to call a professional? Look
for the following signs:
  •          Is your loved one losing weight for no reason?
  •          Do they fall?
  •          Is the home unkempt and becoming unsafe?
  •          How are meals made?
  •          Who pays the bills?
  •          Are they able to and do they maintain a neat
  •          Has drinking become a problem?
  •          Is it safe for them to drive? If not, who does
    the driving for them?
  •          Has there been a sudden memory loss or increased

In order to answer these questions you will have to pay a
visit to your long distance loved one or rely on information from a relative or
friend who is close to that loved one.

Caregiver Burnout

Being able to cope with the stresses of being a caregiver is
part of the art of caregiving. In order to remain healthy so that we can
continue to be caregivers, we must be able to see our own limitations and learn
to care for ourselves as well as others.
It is important to recognize the signs of a burnout. The following are symptoms we might notice in ourselves, or
others might say they see in us: 
  •          Feelings of depression.
  •          A sense of ongoing and constant fatigue.
  •          Decreasing interest in work.
  •          Withdrawal from social contacts.
  •          Increase in use of stimulants and alcohol.
  •          Increasing fear of death.
  •          Change in eating patterns.
  •          Feelings of helplessness.

Strategies to ward off or cope with burnout are
important.  To counteract burnout, the
following specific strategies are recommended:
  •          Participate in a support network.
  •          Consult with professionals to explore burnout
  •          Attend a support group to receive feedback and
    coping strategies.
  •          Vary the focus of caregiving responsibilities if
    possible (rotate responsibilities with family members).
  •          Exercise daily and maintain a healthy diet.
  •          Establish “quiet time” for meditation.
  •          Get a weekly massage.
  •          Stay involved in hobbies.

By acknowledging the reality that being a caregiver is
filled with stress and anxiety, and understanding the potential for burnout,
caregivers can be forewarned and guard against this debilitating condition. As
much as it is said, it can still not be said too often, the best way to be a
caregiver is to take care of yourself.