Tips for Caring for Bed-bound Patients

A bed-bound patient is usually an elderly who isn’t able to move or do any daily activities on their own. If they aren’t hospitalized, they may opt for external help due to their complex medical history.

Truth be told, most of the patients would rather be at home than in hospital where they run an every-day risk of being dismissed not yet fully recovered, because of the staff or money shortage. For those who can afford extra help, it is much better to know that they have a bed, and not worry when the state will decide they are “too much”- the high cost of hospital stay has never been a bigger issue!

For care providers, on the other hand, it is essential to know how to do it, especially for bed-bound patients. And not only physically, but emotionally as well. The dignity of those patients is really frail and you need to know how to really be there for them.

FOUR-FOLD CARE

Basically, there are four areas in which you as a caregiver need to excel: hygiene, bedsores and their prevention, moving, lifting and handling a person, and creating general comfort with a lot of patience.

Mind you, if any of these sounds overwhelming or your loved one needs professional care, consider hiring a personal assistant for elderly people or a live-in personal assistant, they know exactly how to care for bed-bound seniors’ particular, sensitive needs.

HYGIENE

Bathing- not only does it fight infections, but it also fosters self-worth and adds a “self-care” feeling to the recovery process. It may sound obvious, but it must feel soothing to know you are fresh and clean.

Moreover, it’s not just eliminating microbes and sweat, it’s also sort of a physical exercise for it activates circulation due to the body massage and toning. Make it a daily routine.

That said, there’s not just one type of bathing a bed-bound patient- it depends on a patient and their level of mobility.

Some are done in the bed a patient lies in- like sponge baths, while patients in wheelchairs may have a regular shower with the help of a bench.

You’ll need warm water and a large container, warm towels- one for soaping the other for rinsing, body wash, lamp (to inspect the skin for rashes, sores, swelling), a razor, comb, toothbrush, basin and their clothes, including incontinence panties.

Make sure you lock the door or drop the curtains around bed to allow some privacy. Don’t undress them all at once, for a) they don’t want that exposure and b) they may catch a cold.

When putting on clothes, be careful to dress the painful side first. When taking them off, the stronger side is the first to go.

Always follow the head-to-toe rule, and when it comes to the peri-care (involving the genitals), it’s front-to-back.

Extra tip: while this might be just another daily routine to a carer, it’s way more than that to the patients- it’s critical. Therefore, be mindful and try to perform it with as much dignity as possible.

BEDSORES

Decubitus, known as a bedsore is a pressure ulcer that starts off as a skin inflammation due to longer lying in the same position or improper lifting and turning because of which the skin tears. Lack of circulation leads to the death of the tissue (necrosis).

The most vulnerable patients are those who cannot feel the pressure and are immobile (due to stroke or paralysis).

It’s widespread and lethal at the same time- bacteria enter the blood system, and aside from exuding odor, it may lead to limb amputation or death. The number of people dying from it is growing.

So, how can you prevent these in bed-bound patients?

Extra-padded foam specialty mattress is the key, together with an adequate diet. Check the back zone and buttocks on a regular basis. Change the patient’s position often (every couple of hours), but make sure to use sheets to avoid friction.

Should a bedsore happen, ensure it’s uninfected, and treat it daily- use saline to clean it, change clothes and move the patient often. An infected tissue must be treated surgically. Don’t bathe too much or too often and don’t wipe the skin. Pat it instead and moisturize often.

Extra tip: take photos of the area to track progress or regress.

MOVING, LIFTING AND HANDLING A PERSON

As you’ve seen, this is utterly important in order to preserve the health and comfort of the elderly.

To avoid the risk of hurting yourself or a patient, up the height of the bed. Always bend your knees. Lift smoothly and only to your shoulder height, with stable feet. Also, the more you keep weight to your body, the easier it is on your back.

Furthermore, National Health Service compiled some practical tips- filed under the “Lifting checklist”. It says: “Before attempting to move someone, ask yourself:

  • do they need help to move?
  • do they require help or supervision?
  • have you told them you’re moving them?
  • how heavy are they?
  • are you healthy and strong enough to move them?
  • is there anyone who could help you?
  • how long will it take?
  • is there enough space around you?
  • are there any obstacles in the way?
  • are you wearing suitable clothing and shoes – for example, if you’re on a slippery or damp surface?”

For another detailed list on how to move a bed-bound patient, check here.

BED-BOUND YET COMFORTABLE

A lot goes into the formula of a human’s outlook, and a lot is out of the carer’s hands. But what you can control in order to offer an elderly bed-bound patient a comfortable and bearable life is a nice, clean environment and a lot of patience and genuine care.

It’s not just about changing catheters and taking care of oxygen machines, hydrating the patients and feeding them balanced diets.

Let the sunshine in. Declutter the room and air it properly. Listen to them. Read to them. Play some music. Or their favorite film. If appropriate, ask some meaningful questions: What do other people not understand about you? What do you worry about? Have you learned anything about yourself or other people amidst this situation?

On top of everything, understand the patient and their situation, empathize with their lack of movement, don’t get frustrated, it translates easily.

They already have a very hard time, try not to make it harder.

Conclusion

  • Being bed-ridden is a predicament.
  • Being bed-ridden in a familiar bed is a little better.
  • Seniors confined to their beds may require 24/7 care for their basic needs. Make sure it’s quality care since their quality of life depends on it.
  • And one more thing: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

 AuthorBio: Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londonlive-incare.com. She eagerly shares her knowledge with her audience on various blogs. When she isn’t writing or attending wellness conferences, she likes to pack her rucksack and ride her day away on her bike or spend time with her friends.

Helping Your Senior Loved One Through the Financial Impact of Losing a Spouse

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Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful and traumatic experiences in life. Unfortunately, we have to handle all kinds of difficult life decisions while we’re dealing with grief. The funeral and burial plans must be arranged, outstanding bills need to be paid, and the estate must be distributed. If your senior loved one just lost a spouse, you can be a great help to them during this rocky period. Here are some essential financial matters that should be tackled sooner rather than later.

Funeral Cost Planning

Planning for funeral costs is one of the most immediate tasks that need to be handled after a death. According to Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage, funeral expenses cost an average of $7,000 to $9,000. Cemeteries often have a separate set of costs for other essentials like a plot and headstone. Unless your loved one’s spouse had some form of life or burial insurance, covering these costs can be very stressful. Help your loved one shop around to avoid overspending on expenses like the casket or transportation. Contact several different funeral homes and compare their prices for services or items, so you can keep the funeral affordable.

Collecting Insurance Benefits

If the spouse had an insurance policy, help your senior loved one collect the payout. Investopedia recommends contacting the life insurance company as soon as possible, so your loved one can use the death benefit to pay for the funeral and any other immediate expenses—most companies will pay within 30 to 60 days of your claim. Keep in mind that your loved one has payout options. They can choose to receive the benefit as a lump-sum payment or as regular installments over time. If they choose installments, they may have to pay tax on any interest.

Transferring Assets

According to FreeAdvice Legal, certain assets aren’t passed on by will. These include real estate, cars, investments, and bank accounts held by more than one person. Most of these assets should automatically pass to your loved one, but they will need to update the title into their name. Make sure your loved one transfers these shared assets by filing the appropriate documents to the right offices and agencies. If your loved one’s name is not on these assets, they will have to go through the probate process to gain ownership.

Paying Debts

If the deceased spouse held debt, your senior loved one may be concerned about their liability. The good news is that most debts are not collected from the surviving spouse. However, your senior loved one will be responsible for making payments on any accounts that their name is on. If your loved one did not hold any joint accounts with their spouse, they may be pressured by collection agents to make a few payments which could make them legally responsible for the debt. Make sure your loved one doesn’t make any payments without talking to a lawyer.

New Financial Responsibilities

Many senior couples become accustomed to certain roles in their marriage. If financial matters previously fell on your loved one’s spouse, they may feel overwhelmed and lost by their new responsibilities. Help your loved one organize their financial obligations. Track down all of their bills and consider setting up automatic payments with their bank. You can also help them come up with a new budget to ensure they can maintain their lifestyle without financial help from their spouse. Your loved one may be eager to pay off their mortgage, downsize, or make other large changes to their financial situation. According to U.S. News, overspending and rushing to make financial decisions are common mistakes that people make after losing a spouse. Encourage your loved one to take some time to think before committing to anything major.

Getting life back in order after a loss can take a long time, so be patient and gentle with your senior loved one. Avoid pressuring them to make quick financial decisions. Although you have the best of intentions, your loved one may need time to heal before they can gain a clear understanding of their financial situation.

Post contributed by Lucille Rosetti at The Bereaved

5 Strategies for Maintaining Community Connections While Aging

Community Connections for Seniors

Image via Unsplash

Aging in place may satisfy a senior’s desire for independence, but if they don’t maintain community connections, staying home could do more harm than good. While some seniors enjoy active social lives, others develop a fear of falling that keeps them home-bound more often than not. Our communities also affect seniors’ ability to stay engaged, with seniors suffering greater isolation in areas with poor walkability and limited community resources.

Staying engaged becomes much more difficult as we grow older, but it’s not impossible. With these strategies, seniors and their caregivers can avoid the isolation that comes with aging in place and enjoy better health while aging.

Move Downtown

Rural seniors have it harder when it comes to staying engaged. Isolation hits especially hard when rural seniors lose the ability to drive and can no longer get to their favorite activities. While moving isn’t without challenges, it’s easier for seniors to stay physically and socially active when they live in dense, walkable neighborhoods where everything they need is nearby.

When seniors need to move, it’s always better to do it sooner rather than later. Moving early in the senior years gives older adults an opportunity to form relationships and routines before the challenges of age catch up to them.

Downsize the House to a Manageable Size

Mundane tasks like cleaning the house can take a lot of energy as we get older. It’s understandable that seniors want to stay in a familiar home, but most seniors benefit from a downsized house that’s easier to move around and maintain.

Downsizing also saves money on housing costs. Even if a senior’s home is paid off, selling and buying a less-expensive home will provide a lump sum that can be used for senior care, healthcare, and other expenses. However, downsizing may not save as much money as a senior expects. Before diving seriously into the home-buying process, research home prices to get a clear picture of what you can afford and avoid sticker shock. For example, the median list price of homes in Huntingdon Valley is approximately $396,000.

Save Money with Alternative Living Arrangements

If a senior’s heart is set on an area but homes are not affordable, consider alternative living arrangements like home sharing. Sharing a home with a roommate reduces housing costs and combats loneliness for independent seniors. In some cases, a roommate may offer housekeeping or companion services in exchange for reduced rent and board.

Senior co-housing and cooperatives are other options. These communities combine private living spaces with communal facilities where seniors can connect with their fellow community members. Unlike assisted living, co-housing and cooperative communities are owned by the residents and cater to independent seniors, although residents may hire their own caregivers.

Connect with a Village

Villages are membership-based volunteer organizations designed to meet the needs of local seniors through volunteer services, service coordination, and social opportunities. While only a few communities have established villages, seniors can search for a local village organization or learn how to start a village at the Village to Village Network.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise helps seniors maintain their physical health so it’s easier to get out and enjoy life. Getting active is also a smart way to meet new people. Whether it’s a neighborhood walking group, a Zumba class (which only cost around $5 to $20 per session), or pick-up games at the local senior center, exercise allows seniors to mingle in a low-pressure environment.

Staying active also enables seniors to continue living independently. Physical exercise is the most important thing people can do to prevent Sarcopenia, the gradual muscle loss associated with senior frailty, among other age-related disabilities.

Aging in place presents many challenges, from remodeling the house for senior living to coordinating in-home care. While the challenge of senior isolation is often overlooked, it has a big impact on a senior’s ability to age in good health. By taking a community-minded approach, seniors can stay engaged, active, and independent throughout the senior years.

Post contributed by Hazel Bridges, the creator of Aging Wellness, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.

The Best Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

If you have lived in your home for a long time, chances are you think of it as a comfortable, safe environment. However, as people age, sometimes the risk for in-home falls can increase. To ensure you can savor the safety and comfort you’ve come to expect from your home, a handful of changes can make all the difference.

Cause for Concern

There are numerous reasons that seniors become at-risk for falling. Many of those reasons stem from physical changes relating to aging. Our vision isn’t as sharp as it used to be, or a health condition might cause balance concerns. Oftentimes, it’s harder to catch yourself when you stumble, due to a decrease in strength and flexibility. Some statistics show that 60 percent of senior falls occur in the home; thankfully, as HomeAdvisor explains, there are many modifications seniors can make to help prevent falls at home.

A House Full of Support

The last thing you want is for your home to become a danger zone. With that in mind, start making some notes about what you might change so you can safely age in place.

Here are some ideas:

Light Your Way

Vision naturally fades later in life, with eyes gradually slowing in how they adjust to depth and brightness. With that in mind, brightening dim areas in the home — especially places you go from a well-lit space to a dark one — can help you stay safe. For example, if you leave a bright bedroom for a dark hallway, adding lights in the hallway can help. This can come in many forms, such as installing wall sconces, adding plug-in nightlights, and/or installing overhead lights. Staircases are another area of concern. Contemplate your trouble spots and think of how to improve them, aiming for generally even lighting throughout your home.

Ease Your Entryway

Reducing risks in the entryway can make a difference in keeping you on the go. The ideal situation will include a zero-step entrance, and if steps are a must, ensure they are deep, even, and have handrails for support. Also, change out traditional doorknobs for lever-style handles, which can be easier for older hands to operate, especially if you’re carrying things.

Slips and Slides

With water, smooth surfaces, and changing positions, bathrooms can be hazardous for older adults. To enhance safety and accessibility, consider installing grab bars in the bathroom, and swapping a traditional toilet for a comfort-height selection. Walk-in showers or tubs can also be a boon, and faucets with lever-style handles can be easier to work with than knobs.

Put Away Your Toolkit

There are some simple changes you can make in the bathroom as well that require no tools or expertise. To boost traction, add a rubber bath mat outside the bathing area, and install non-slip strips inside the shower or tub. A magnified mirror can make it easier to groom yourself, and a pill bottle magnifier can help you read the fine print.

Focus on You

Aside from home modifications, there are changes in lifestyle you can embrace to help prevent falls. Tech-Enhanced Life explains that you can design an exercise program aimed specifically at addressing your personal risk. Base your regimen on how much strength, balance, and flexibility you currently have. There are fun options you can explore, like tai chi or a class at a local gym. If your risk is severe, Medicare might pay for you to work with a physical therapist.

When it comes to falls, the home can hold many areas of concern for seniors. Think about how you can improve both your living environment and lifestyle to reduce your risk of falling. With a few changes, you can enjoy safety and comfort at home throughout your golden years.

Post contributed by Kent Elliot at AtHomeAging.info

How Caregivers and Seniors Can Benefit From Daily Yoga and Meditation

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Sometimes, we get so stressed out that we forget to breathe. Caregivers tend to get so wrapped up in their duties that they neglect to take time for even basic self-care. If you are a senior living with a debilitating illness or injury, you may also feel this way. This is why yoga and meditation can be so enriching for both groups. So, if you are feeling frazzled and need some extra self-care in your life, these simple practices may be right for you. Not entirely convinced? Here are some reasons to fold these helpful habits into your daily routine.

Yoga and Meditation Can Be Learned at Home

When you think of yoga and meditation, you may think of large classes taught by experienced instructors. It is true that practicing with others can have many benefits, but you don’t necessarily need to go to a class to learn how to relieve your stress with these practices. You can set up a home workout area that can also serve as your meditation/yoga zone. Make sure you have some soft exercise mats to cover hard floors or consider having a softer floor installed. While many meditation room guides suggest low lighting, seniors would do better with lighting that allows them to see where they are moving. Need some help getting started? Check out online tutorials and apps that will make your home practice so much easier.

Less Stress Will Make Your Practice More Meaningful

Mediation and yoga can definitely help you release tension. However, if your duties as a caregiver have you overly tense, then you may find it hard to even get started. So, before you begin your wellness journey, consider treating yourself to some serious self-care. Plan an at-home spa session to help your body and mind relax. Whip up a DIY face treatment, massage your muscles, and take some time to truly unwind. A cup of calming tea can help seal in all that self-care and can also fight inflammation. To really pull your spa day together, compile a playlist of relaxing spa or meditation music. You can use this playlist later as you work through your first breathes and really get into your new practices.

Even Gentle Exercise Can Provide Stress Relief

Did you know that exercise affects your brain? Regular exercise routines can help seniors and caregivers fight feelings of depression and anxiety. Most studies suggest more intense workouts to maximize your endorphin release, but a gentle workout may suit you better. Plus, you can still get the same mood boost if you choose the right exercise. Since caregivers are at a higher risk of depression and burnout, practicing stretching poses in yoga can be especially beneficial. Headstands may be out of the question for beginners, but that’s okay! You can use variations of tree pose or child’s pose to help your body release any built up stress. What matters most is that you find a relaxing way to get moving a few times a week. That’s why yoga is a good idea.

Purposed Breathing Should Always Be Your Focus

Yoga can certainly be an effective physical workout. The gentle movements are perfect for building balance, as well as developing a little muscle tone. The true benefits of these ancient practices, however, rest in your ability to focus on your breath. Controlling your breath is the simplest way to encourage your body to release tension and stress. For this reason, it may be best to master your breathing before you begin your actual practices. Try this short exercise to learn how to count your breaths and calm your body. You can use it at night to relax before bed or in the morning to set a positive tone for your day.

The beauty of yoga and meditation for caregivers and seniors extends beyond the physical. These self-care habits are so helpful because they can quickly melt away any excess stress. Less stress can add up to more quality of life. So, think about practicing yoga and meditation for your mind, your spirit, and lastly, your body.

Post contributed by Dana Brown at HealthConditions.Info
Connecting You to the Health Information You Need Most 

Video Chat and Other Ways to Watch Out for a Loved One from a Distance

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You can’t always be there when you’re needed, but you can help your senior loved one from anywhere. Whether they choose to live independently or you can’t uproot your family, the following tips can give you some eyes on the ground and ensure you are always in the loop regarding your elderly parents’ care.

Get to Know Their Healthcare Plan

The right healthcare plan can mean the difference between health and hardships. There’s a good chance your elderly loved one is already on Medicare. Even if this is the case, it still pays to review their coverage every year. It’s best to be prepared when you contact a Medicare agent. Have your loved one’s Medicare card and any Medicare Advantage plan identifier or prescription drug coverage plan handy, if applicable. Also, make a complete list of their medications, including any over-the-counter medicines they take.

Schedule Regular In-Person Visits

Depending on how far away you live, it may be difficult to break away for in-person visits. However, it’s necessary at least a few times each year — more when their health begins to deteriorate. If you’re driving, make sure to sleep well in the two or three nights prior to your road trip. Plan plenty of stops and bring along books, games, and puzzles for your youngest passengers. Nationwide offers more tips on planning a successful road trip.

If you plan to fly, book these trips well and in advance and, if possible, stick with the same airline so that you can enjoy reward perks. You can double your benefits by choosing a credit card that also allows you to collect points and cash back on travel and other expenses.

 Screen Potential Helpers Before the Need Arises

If your loved one plans to live alone for as long as possible, they’ll need help at some point. A medical or non-medical caregiver is an asset to your family and to the well-being of your senior in need. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know exactly who to trust, and elder abuse is a problem that runs rampant throughout the United States. Your best bet is to create a list of potential caregivers and then perform a background check on each. Caregiverlist explains this cost between $8 and $18 each, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Another important service for your elderly loved one is transportation. After55 notes that Uber and Lyft now provide transportation services for seniors. Know what’s available in their area so you aren’t scrambling to find them a ride to the doctor’s office when they are unable to get themselves there.

 Add modifications that enhance their safety

Perform a room-by-room assessment of your loved one’s home. This will give you an opportunity to identify and secure potential home modifications, such as wider doorways or enhanced lighting, that can help your family member stay safe. Other additions that can contribute to their well-being include senior-friendly video calling devices, a remote-access home security system, and a wearable medical alert station, which connects with their home telephone and allows them to receive help with the push of a button. Many also provide fall detection and medication reminders.

Build a Network

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, establish a network of people who can be your eyes, ears, and hands when you can’t. Spend a day at your parent’s home following them as they go about their daily routine. This gives you a chance to see who they regularly interact with. You can contact these people and ask if they would be willing to contact you if anything seems off.

When you want to be there but you physically can’t make that happen every day, minor home modifications, other friends and family, and technology can help you stay in control of your loved one’s health and well-being.

Post contributed by Claire Wentz at CaringFromAfar.com

Elder Fraud: How to Keep Your Family Safe

By: Dr. Stacey Wood, Ph.D.

Financial elder abuse is an epidemic in America, and today’s technology makes it easy for fraudsters to take their schemes global. Scammers can call or email from anywhere in the world, making it more difficult to trace the funds after a con artist disappears. According to reports, fraudsters take $37-billion every year from older adults in the United States.

Many scammers play on people’s drive for human connection. Whether the scams begin on social media, through telephone calls, from an email, or even in person, senior citizens are often in a position to be more vulnerable to fraudsters.

Elders don’t need to have experienced cognitive decline to be targeted. A recent loss, like a death in the family or a divorce, can make them more vulnerable. Odds of being scammed more than double during difficult life circumstances and those who are lonely or isolated may be more likely to fall for a romance scam or similar confidence trick.

People who are in a troubling financial situation, who are eager for a bargain, or enthusiastic about risk-taking can also be targeted for get-rich-quick schemes.

There are a number of different types of scams that target senior citizens. Health scams seek out seniors’ private Medicare information to submit false billing for reimbursement. Other medical scammers sell fake prescription drugs at cheap prices. This is a scam that can put seniors’ health and lives at immediate risk.

People who have lost a loved one are also targeted for funeral scams. Fraudsters call grieving people and claim that their loved one had a debt that must be paid. A variety of phone scams involve financial offers, investment opportunities, or claims of overdue taxes.

Many fraudsters take advantage of seniors who are less technically savvy or aware of social media norms. Internet schemes include romance scams over social media, fake anti-virus software used to extort money, or phishing schemes to gather online banking information.

Mortgage and investment schemes seek to divert seniors’ wealth to a con artist, while sweepstakes scams inform seniors that they have “won” prizes, but they must pay to receive their winnings. There is a multitude of schemes that target older Americans, and being aware of the wide range can help people avoid financial catastrophe.

As a caregiver, you may notice signs that something is wrong with your loved one’s finances. One common sign that a person has become a fraud victim is a sudden change in financial habits.

A frugal person may suddenly withdraw large sums of money but have little to show for it. An older adult with a healthy bank account may suddenly be running up debts or receiving collection calls. Others may suddenly discuss a new friend in their lives, often overseas and connected via social media.

Unfortunately, many victims experience fear and shame. They don’t want to admit to being victims, as they fear it will make them look incompetent. However, those understandable emotions can be a barrier to taking action to prosecute those responsible and potentially recover lost funds.

You can help the elders in your life avoid fraud. Open conversations about new friends or love interests can help shed light on potential scammers. Discuss social media use, as well as its pros and cons. In addition, advise loved ones to get a copy of their credit report each year to ensure accuracy.

Seniors can protect themselves by visiting financial advisors, lawyers, and their bank branch. Bank fraud personnel are trained to spot scams, so developing a trusting relationship with the local bank helps seniors protect themselves. Advise loved one to always request financial offers in writing and take time to consider before sending money, especially via untraceable methods like wire transfers or Western Union.

If you suspect that an elder in your life is a fraud victim, you can help by reaching out. A compassionate, non-judgmental approach can help to break the silence imposed by fear and shame. Loved ones can work together to support their family member and unravel the truth about a fraudster.

You can also take action by reporting the scheme to their bank; fraud departments are motivated to stop these schemes that cost banks millions. The authorities can also help. Adult Protective Services in your area is charged with protecting vulnerable adults. The local police also have a responsibility to investigate fraud, which is a serious criminal offense.

As a caregiver, your participation matters. In fact, your active involvement in a senior’s life helps fight fraud, because he/she will be less vulnerable to the emotional manipulation used in scams.


Dr. Stacey Wood, Ph.D., is a forensic neuropsychologist and one of the nation’s leading Dr. Stacey Woodexperts on financial elder abuse and fraud. She is the Molly Mason Jones Professor of Psychology at Scripps College and a licensed clinical psychologist in California. As one of the nation’s leading experts in the areas of forensic neuropsychology and geropsychology, Dr. Wood has vast experience as an expert witness in California and nationwide.

5 Ways You Can Plan for Long-Term Care Costs and Needs

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Photo: Courtesy of Unsplash

As we grow older, our health care costs tend to get a bit higher. When you or a loved one needs help from a nursing home or assisted living facility, the costs can be overwhelming. Here are a few ways you can offset those expenses and plan for long-term care before you even need it.

 Figure Out Whether Care Will Be Needed

When you are planning ahead for your health care, it helps to know whether long-term care may be needed. Statistics show the majority of seniors will need some sort of extended care at some point in their lives. Family history can have a lot to do with your need for care, especially if there is a history of Alzheimer’s disease on your mother’s side of the family. Falls can also cause seniors to need long-term assistance, so try to take steps to help yourself or loved ones age in place safely and avoid fall-related injuries. Finally, take care of your health by eating a clean diet and exercising on a regular basis.

 Use Medicare to Your Advantage

Medicare is a wonderful tool for seniors to rely on when it comes to their medical needs. But if you or a family member ends up needing long-term care, basic Medicare may not yet help you when it comes to covering the costs. The good news is, however, that there are several supplemental Medicare Advantage plans that can offer more help with prescriptions, vision care, and dental care, and by saving on these expenses, you can tuck more funds away to provide long-term care. if you are currently eligible for Medicare or are nearing the age of eligibility, it’s important to get a better understanding of how to navigate some of the vital Medicare open enrollment dates, so read up on those first and plan ahead of time.

Understand Long-Term Care Insurance

If you are only planning for long-term care needs, then you may want to look into information about long-term care insurance. Getting this sort of supplemental coverage can be a bit expensive, but it can give you peace of mind if you are worried about you or a loved one needing care. Long-term care insurance typically costs less if you are younger and in good health, so start planning for this coverage option early to get the best deal. Otherwise, your rates will go up as you get older, particularly if your health begins to decline.

Know How to Use Benefits and Other Insurance

For adults who have served in the military, long-term care costs may be covered by the benefits provided by the VA. Eligible veterans and spouses can cover their care costs through pensions and possibly by adding the Aid and Attendance benefit. You may also be able to use life insurance policies to cover care costs as well. Many policies allow you to cash out or sell your life insurance to get the cash you need. This option can come in handy when the need for care comes up suddenly.

 Look Into Home Equity Options

Another way to pay for unexpected expenses associated with long-term care is to use the equity built into a home. If you or your loved one will make a permanent move, the most beneficial option may be to sell it and use profits to pay for care. For individuals who need to remain in their homes, there are still viable options to get the extra funds they need. You can take out a home equity loan or look into a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages come with the added benefit of not having to make monthly payments, but the house will be turned over to the lender when the owner passes away.

If you or a family member is in need of long-term care, the last thing you want to think about is how to pay for it. Finding quality care should be your top priority. By planning for costs now, you can focus on getting the care you need without worrying about how to pay for it.

Post contributed by Dana Brown at HealthConditions.Info
Connecting You to the Health Information You Need Most 

Assessing and Planning for Long-Term Care Needs: Knowing Your Options

Assessing and Planning for Long Term Care

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The high cost of long-term care represents a serious threat to individuals as they grow older. It’s a problem that’s staring many baby boomers right in the face. The generation born between 1946 and 1964 is rapidly aging and many will need assisted living, nursing home and other forms of care.

Considering the costs involved, it’s vital you determine how likely it is that you or a loved one will require long-term care based on factors which can impact your health. It’s even more important to begin planning how you’ll fund the expense of long-term care. Taking action sooner rather than later can make a big difference in your health, lifestyle and financial situation.

Planning

The choices you make today can have a tremendous impact on your life 20 or 30 years from now. If your doctor has advised you to get more exercise and watch what you eat, following her advice can markedly improve your health and reduce the likelihood you’ll need long-term care. If your job is highly stressful, taking steps to deal with it, perhaps through exercise, yoga and meditation, may represent an important and positive lifestyle change. Anything that reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and other serious health care risks will likely help you avoid needing long-term care in the coming years.

If Alzheimer’s disease is common in your family or if there’s a history of heart disease or cancer in your genetic background, it’s probably in your best interest to begin planning ahead for long-term care. There are more options available these days, such as assisted living, home health services, adult day care, independent living and hospice care, and many ways you can prepare for assuming those care costs.

Paying

There are several factors to consider when it comes to paying for long-term care. If you’re in your 50s, consider taking out a long-term care policy (some financial planners advise doing this earlier). Or, if your employer has a health savings account (HSA) option, you can make contributions that are fully tax-deductible and use the earnings later to help fund long-term care. An HSA, unlike a flexible spending account, rolls over from year to year and its growth is tax-deferred. It is a savings account specifically designed to help you pay for medical expenses.

Many people use a reverse mortgage to free up money for long-term care. A reverse mortgage allows you to borrow against the value you’ve accumulated in your home, and your lender makes payments to you computed based on a percentage on your home equity. Credit requirements are modest, and you can remain in the home even if your debt exceeds the value of your home. Be aware of the pros and cons of reverse mortgages. For example, your debt will increase while your equity goes down. The equity that would become part of your estate will decrease as you receive payments, and you are not the owner of your home.

A life insurance policy that generates cash value can also provide you with a funding source. You can sell a policy to generate revenue for medical expenses, “surrender” it to your insurer for a cash settlement, or make advance use of your death benefit (any amount used will count against your beneficiaries after your death).

Learning your care and payment options early and preparing for long-term care is highly recommended by financial advisers. That means it’s important to assess your needs, financial situation and consider how you might fund long-term care.

Author

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

How to Transition From Part-Time Caregiver to Full-Time Caregiver

Article Courtesy of Kristen HellerThe Transitioning Caregiver

Taking care of a loved one is a job that is not to be taken lightly. For some, caring for their aging parents is an honor; while others may see the responsibility as a burden on their adult lives. This responsibility can come on quickly due to an accident or injury; but in many cases, caregiving can come on gradually as parents become less mobile and dependent on other people. If you find yourself spending more and more time caring for your aging parents and believe that full-time care is just around the corner, here are some ways to help you transition from part-time to full-time caregiver so that you can make the most of your time with your parents.

Review Your Routine

While your current caregiving situation might mean that you “pop in” to see mom or dad on the weekends, clean the house, and prepare some meals for the week, you might want to start adding additional time here and there. Rather than thrust yourself into a full-time caregiver, allow yourself some time to acclimatize to the changes that are coming and start slow. Start dropping in to see your parents a few times a week, spread out throughout the week. Change it up a bit with drop-ins at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, weekdays and weekends. This way, you’ll start creating space in your schedule for a new routine down the road.

Put Some Money Away

Taking care of a loved one is time consuming – it is time away from your job and perhaps even your own family. Because caring for a parent can quickly become a full-time job even before you intended it to be that way, it’s a good idea to start putting some money away now to help you cover your cost of living when you transition from part-time caregiver to a full-time caregiver. This is especially important if you parents don’t have savings or if they have no real means of paying for care to see them into their late years. However, if you do your homework before taking on the role of caregiver, you’ll find many programs, such as CDPAP, which are designed to help cover the cost of caregiving for seniors. You can get paid as a full-time caregiver with programs like this, so it’s best to research them early on in preparation for full-time care.

Keep Something for Yourself

If you find yourself having to give up your part-time or full-time job to start caring for your aging parents or family members, it is important to ensure that you continue to maintain some form of self-care so that you can stay healthy. After all, you cannot care for someone if you are sick. It’s important to remember to take time for your life. Make time to have coffee with friends, even if it’s just once a week. This way you’ll have a routine of your own and will be able to step outside the house to get breaks when you need them. Create a morning and bedtime routine for yourself that allows you some time to focus on your needs so that you can provide full-time care for your family when the time comes.
Plan for Backup

Despite your best intentions to provide full-time care for your aging parents, you will need some backup from time to time. For instance, you need to buy groceries, run errands, get a haircut, visit friends, go to your own doctor’s appointments, and so on. So it will be a good idea to speak to other family members, or maybe even neighbors to ensure that when you can’t be there, or you need a much-needed break. Speak with them about routines, schedules, and times when you might need a day off. You may need to offer payment to some people when they fill in for you so be sure to plan for that as well.

Start Slowly

When it comes time to make the move from part-time to full-time caregiver, gradually increase the number of days you spend a week looking after your loved one. Give yourself plenty of lead time to be able to take on the full-time responsibility. As for your existing job, you may be able to take leave in order to care for your parents, so be sure to discuss it with your employer and give plenty of notice to cover for your position while you are away.

Kristen Heller is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano.