April 11, 2019

4 Ways to Choose the Right Type of Care for Your Aging Parents

Choosing the right Senior Housing

Courtesy of Emma Sturgis 

Selecting care for an aging parent is a concern shared by millions of children as their parents begin to have difficulties fully attending to their own personal and medical needs. There’s no universal right or wrong answer, but there is a best answer and right type of care based on the answers to some fundamental questions.

Give Your Parent A Voice In Decisions

Whenever possible, include your parent in his/her own care plan and decisions. Start talking about care sooner rather than when a health crisis actually erupts. A huge problem caregivers face, is resistance to care as their loved one is afraid, angry, and saddened by their loss of independence and privacy.

Numerous studies have shown that patient involvement improves both acceptance of care and care outcomes. The Mayo Clinic outlines some helpful tips to help manage resistance to care:

•Plan care talks when the parent is relaxed and open to the conversation.
• Ask their preferences and expectations.
• Describe care in a positive light, but outline the pros and cons of each option.
• Have answers to cost concerns.
• Enlist professional help from medical providers, lawyers, and care managers.

Some parents may be at a point where they’re mentally unable to contribute to care talks. If so, determine if they’ve ever created an advanced healthcare directive, such as a living will. Such documents give a voice to a parent who can no longer make their wishes clear. It also removes some of the decision burden off of care-taking children.

Consider Your Own Involvement In Care

Just as many caregivers forget to give their parent a say, some also tend to forget their own needs in selecting the best care for their loved one. It’s important to consider the following as it relates to your ability and time to attend to your parent’s care needs:

• Do you have children and/or a significant other vying for your time?
• Do you have professional obligations that keep you occupied at a set schedule, on-call hours, random or late hours?
• Can you mentally and physically attend the care needs of your loved one alone, with assistance, or not at all?

The answer to such question are often very different depending on what stage of life you’re in professionally, personally, physically, and mentally. It’s such answers that are often just as crucial as your parent’s state of health in determining the most appropriate source and type of care. Know what you can do, when you can do it, and what assistance you’ll need to do it.

Consider The Level Of Care Needed

Care for seniors can be met through an array of services and housing options. Which one is best will greatly depend on your parent’s mental and physical needs.

• Long-term Care Facilities

LTCs, also commonly called a nursing home, are available for structured, skilled 24 hour nursing care. These provide everything from medication and wound care services to daily routine group activities. As the name suggests, LTC facilities are designed for the long-term management of both acute and chronic disease process.

• Assisted Living And Independent Living

Assisted living and independent living facilities provide less structured care for those capable of attending the bulk of their activities of daily living. Assistance and guidance with things like medication reminders, transportation to and from appointments, housekeeping services, and laundry services are generally offered. The facility usually also offers community spaces for dining and group recreation. The communities are specifically for seniors, but different ones will offer different amenities.

• Memory Care Facilities

These are akin to nursing homes in structure, but they specialize in the care and security needs of people with cognitive diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s that often leave seniors physically high functioning and mentally low functioning. Note that many senior AL and IL communities are integrating separate memory and LTC facilities on the grounds to make the transition between levels of care as easy as possible for seniors and their loved ones.

• Home Health

This is a care option that can allow seniors to age in place longer. They will remain in the comfort of their own home (or a loved one’s home) with support caregivers that either provide services around the clock or come in at assigned times to perform specified duties. Home health services are vast and cover areas such as personal care, household chores, meals, medication reminders and administration, wound care, medical equipment services, and money management.

• Adult Day Care

This is a service akin to daycare for children. Skilled and semiskilled attendants attend to your parent’s safety, medical, social, and physical needs during the day. This is a good option for working caregivers planning to care for their parent at home.

Do A Trial Run

The options for care are vast, which is good for comprehensiveness of needs. However, the choices can nonetheless be overwhelming. It may take trial and error to ensure that your aging parent is both happy and receiving the level of care they need.

Start by making a list of all the must-have services. You’ll likely find multiple options for care are a fit. Narrow the list down by price consideration. Give the end list a trial run:

• Take your loved one to tour the facilities and/or meet in-home caregivers.

• Go for a meal at a facility and ask if you and your parent can sit in on a group activity.

• Ask for help from local agencies, such Area Agency on Aging, in gathering information about local options.

• Gather references and read online reviews for care service options and specific facilities.

• Since most facilities and services charge on a month-to-month basis, it’s easy to test the waters for a monthly trial.

In closing, these four check marks can help ensure your parent receives the best care possible. Just remember to give both you and your parent a voice in the decision process, understand what care is offered by what specific providers, and realize that you may have to test multiple waters before finding an exact fit.

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November 7, 2018

The Short Version of Veterans Aid and Attendance

By: Darleen Mahoney

This weekend, our Nation will reflect on the sacrifices that our Veterans and War Heroes have made over the years as it became a national holiday in 1938. As their sacrifices have provided safety, security and the freedom our country continues to enjoy, it’s important to know what benefits our Veterans may be eligible. Its important that they be aware and utilize what is available, especially if they find themselves in unexpected need.

According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, “Elderly Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans.”

What exactly is Aid and Attendance? Its super simple, the veteran must require help Veterans Benefitswith daily living or activities at home, assisted living, nursing home, or skilled nursing. Their need does not have to be related to any military service.

If you are applying for “Aid and Attendance” and would like benefits based on a housebound status, the Veterans Agency will allow some costs and annualized medical expenses if it’s for medical care. Those aging in place and using Home Health services do not have to be licensed. However, if the beneficiary or Veteran has been diagnosed with a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer’s, a physician’s statement must indicate that a protective environment is in place.

If you are seeking Aid and Attendance benefits while living or would like to move to an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility, the facility will be required to sign a statement verifying the type of care being given or what they are expecting that resident to receive.  You will also be required to submit a “Care Provider Report”.

How do you know if you may qualify? Here are a few simple indictors:

  1. Age: you or surviving spouse must be 65 or older or officially disabled if younger.
  2. Period of Military Service- you must be considered a “wartime veteran”, meaning that you have served a minimum of 90 days with only one of those days during wartime dates. You did not have to serve in combat to qualify.
    1. World War II: December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946
    2. Korean War: June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955
    3. Vietnam War: August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975
    4. Gulf War: August 2, 1990-Undetermined
  3. Discharge Status: you cannot be dishonorably Discharged

Applying and understanding these benefits can get very complicated, seeking the professional guidance and advice of a licensed, professional Elder Law Attorney is encouraged to help guide you through this process. If you can receive a referral from a family friend or your Trust and Estate Planning Attorney, this may help guide you in the right direction.

If you are needing additional funds to cover the cost of Home Health services, Assisted Living, or Skilled Nursing for you and your spouse, you may qualify for:

Living Veteran                                                  Monthly Rate

Housebound Without Dependents:                       $1,340

Housebound Without Dependents:                       $1,680

Aid and Attendance W/O Dependents:                 $1,830

Aid and Attendance W/ Dependent:                     $2,169

In October 2018, the VA made new rules to fiscally qualify for benefits. The new net worth limits of $123,600 became effective. They will look at the Veteran’s overall net worth in addition to income. There are also other rules that could affect a Veteran from qualifying, seeking professional guidance may be helpful.

If you believe that you or a Veteran loved qualifies for Aid and Attendance, it can always be helpful to speak to the Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing facility that you are considering, and they may have folks who are trained to assist you through this process as well.

If you find that you or your Veteran qualify, and you begin your process to apply, you are encouraged to get organized, make sure that all your paperwork and forms are completed. Above all, do not get discouraged.

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November 2, 2018

Skilled Nursing or Assisted Living, What’s the Right Choice?

By: Darleen Mahoney

Making the right decisions for an elderly loved can be overwhelming and confusing. Often you may find yourself not really understanding what your options may be or if you even have options when it comes to be the best care of your loved one.  Clearly, you want what is best for them and what is the best facility that can manage their skilled nursing or assisted livingneeds and provide the environment that your loved one requires. Many caretakers ask themselves if they should be choosing an assisted living community or a nursing home/skilled nursing facility?

When making this decision, its important to consider your loved one’s physical, social, mental, and health needs. These will be indicators on the level of care that each will be able to provide your loved one making them a better fit.

Let’s discuss a few of the differences to better assess what each facility will be able to provide your loved and the long-term goals that you are looking to achieve or financial options available to you.

Assisted Living Communities: Typically, the residents at these communities are still active and maintain their own privacy. They may not require significant medical care or constant monitoring, but still receive 24/7 care support. They will have assistance nearby if they do need help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and medication. Activity programs are provided, keeping residents active and social and thriving. Although, there are different levels of nursing and medical care offered at some Assisted Living Communities which you may want to explore on an individual basis.

PROS:

  • Home Environment
  • More Private
  • Amenities offered at many
  • Lower Cost than Skilled Nursing/Nursing Home
  • Long Term Care Insurance and Veterans Aids and Assistance may help with costs
  • Scheduled Activities
  • Outings/Transportation

CONS:

  • Does not have extensive Medical Care on Premise
  • Many are not covered by Medicaid or Medicare

Skilled Nursing/Nursing Homes: The residents rely on the staff to provide all or most of their daily living such as bathing, dressing, meals, using the bathroom. They are facilities that provide 24/7 skilled, licensed nurses on staff to provide medical care and assistance. Most of the residents have severe health and cognitive issues. They typically do not leave the facility unless they are being transported to a scheduled doctor’s appointment or hospital.

PROS:

  • Medicare and Medicaid may cover some or most of the cost
  • 24/7 Medical Care with licensed nurses and clinical staff

Cons:

  • Limited personal freedom
  • Hospital environment, including shared rooms
  • Less privacy
  • More expensive than any other Senior facility, but offers the most in subsidized funding

If you are just starting your journey in your search for either Assisted Living or a Skilled Nursing Facility for your loved one, visit SeniorLivingGuide.com . Visit each listing, taking notes on which one may offer your loved one what they need most, the costs and what insurance may provide before making an appointment to visit their location.

This may very well be the hardest decision you ever have to make, make sure that you have all the information and options available to you. Talk to your loved one if they are cognitive, know what their wishes would be for their own healthcare.  When visiting these facilities enter armed with as much information as possible and ask as many questions as possible to help you make the right decision on their behalf.

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June 22, 2018

Be In The Senior Housing Know: Assisted Living Facilities/Communities

Filed under: Alzheimer's,Assisted Living,Nursing Homes,Senior Housing,SeniorLivingGuide.com — seniorlivingguide @ 10:56 am

By: Darleen Mahoney

By definition, an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) or assisted living community is housing for the elderly or the disabled that provides nursing care, prepared meals, housekeeping, and other services.

What you can expect from an Assisted Living Care Facility is continuing care providing a combination of personal and health care services designed for individual needs. They offer daily activities, coordinate patients health care, supervise and ensure the overall well-being of their residents.Find Assisted Living on SeniorLivingGuide.com

While the facility may assist in arranging the healthcare for their residents, those residents typically choose their own medical and dental care providers.

Please keep in mind that these communities are intended to be the next step for those who can no longer live alone, but do not provide the same level of care that a nursing home would.

These communities can be freestanding communities or part of larger facilities such as skilled nursing homes, hospitals, continuing care retirement homes, or even part of independent housing communities.

The benefits of Assisted Living Facilities:

  • Maintain a patient’s independence while providing the help they currently need is the primary goal
  • Family relationships and engagement with the community is encouraged
  • Patients level of care is based on need, as their needs change, their care changes.

Most patients of Assisted Living Facilities are seniors, this includes those with memory challenges such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

You can rest assured that most states require certifications and licenses in order to register as an ALF.

What can you expect in your actual accommodations? These can vary greatly from one facility to the next. Some might have private rooms, baths, and kitchenettes, others might not. If you would like to see what is available in your area, visit us online at www.SeniorLivingGuide.com, click on Assisted Living at the top of the page, choose your state and city/area of interest, take your time, and see what they have to offer and what meets your needs.

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