How to Get the Right Long-Term Care Insurance Policy

Don’t grow old without it …

Long-term care insurance is getting more expensive and complicated. It’s also harder to get.

The insurance is now not very profitable for insurance companies. People are living longer, which drives up costs. Interest rates on investments are low, which makes it harder for companies to profitably invest premiums.

Some insurance companies are no longer offering the insurance.

273/365: 09/30/2013. Money, Money, Money!

peddhapati / Foter / CC BY

It pays to shop around for long-term care. The American Association for Long-Term-Care Insurance says coverage that is nearly identical to a few years ago can cost almost twice as much today. For a $150 daily benefit lasting three years for a married couple age 65, one company charges $317 a month, while another charges $594.

Besides age and health, the three factors with the most impact on premiums are: the daily benefit, the length of coverage, and the inflation protection you choose.

One insurance broker says, “The new reality is, something is better than nothing. Get what’s affordable and sustainable.”

If you select $250 a day for three years, you would have an “expense pool” of $273,750 ($250 x 365 x 3). If you use less than $250 a day, the pool of funds would stretch longer than three years.

Insurance experts say inflation protection is the most crucial part of a policy. People in their 50s and 60s need to make sure their coverage keeps up with costs. Age 80 is typically when people make their first claims.

The most expensive and most widely recommended inflation factor is 5 percent per year. Your pool of $273,343 would grow to $726,343 in 20 years.

You can also choose cash and flexibility. A few insurers offer policies with cash benefits up to half your monthly allowance and require no receipts. You need documentation from the doctor saying you require help with at least two “activities of daily living.” With the cash option, you can hire family members to care for you or even move to a resort. Most long-term care policies will only pay for home care if given by a person with a nursing degree.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some retirees are turning to permanent life insurance policies and deferred fixed annuities packaged with long-term care benefits. They avoid the risk of spending their entire savings on nursing care. When the limits of long-term-care are reached, bills are paid from the life insurance or the annuity. Whatever is left goes to the beneficiary upon the policy holder’s death.

Alzheimer’s Took My Mother-In-Law

In this touching story from Leeanne Chames, she brings to light many of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease as exhibited by her mother-in-law. Enriched Life Home Care Services is passionate about creating awareness and educating families about this disease to help prepare them for the road that lies ahead.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed four years ago with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 74. Her mother had dementia and passed from it. They never did give her mother a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, but looking back, her journey and the journey of my mother-in-law was tragically similar.

We noticed changes in my mother-in-law long before her diagnosis. She stopped cooking much and didn’t make blankets and crafty things anymore. Those were the first signs that made us wonder what was going on.  She had always loved to do those things for her family. We reasoned it away, thinking that she was retired now, and was maybe just tired of doing all of that.

Then she started repeating herself, asking the same question over and over. That’s when we started looking at each other, those looks with your eyebrows raised, and you can’t speak, wondering, what is going on?

Soon after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  What we had been seeing over the last few years began to make sense.  My heart dropped, of all the things that could come into her life, a woman that was so fiercely independent and did so much for her family and others.  We all had a good picture of what lay ahead.

Memory-People-MO-ClipartEventually, she couldn’t even heat a cup of coffee, much less find the microwave, or even know what it was for. Everything was just more and more confusing day by day. It was like she was walking farther into a fog, disappearing from us a little more every day.

It was unbearable to see the pain on my father-in-law’s face as the reality of what she was becoming slowly hit him over and over. If I could beat something up, set it on fire, and send it straight to hell, it would be this disease, for what it was doing to our family.

That was some of the worst. There is a best. After her diagnosis I started researching the internet like crazy. I went online to find out how to help my family. I found many sites and a lot of information, but the most life changing discovery was an online support group that would become like my second family throughout this ordeal.

I found Memory People, an online Alzheimer’s and dementia support group on Facebook founded by Rick Phelps.  Rick is a patient who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease in June of 2010 at just the age of 57.  He knew there had to be others that needed support and information just like he did.

Finding Memory People changed my life and the lives of my family. I began to listen to others caught in this and realized that we were not alone.  It made all the difference. Reading the stories shared by patients and caregivers broke my heart, and they still do, but together we take another step.

The insight I received from the patients in the group made such a difference.  It helped my family and I understand why my mother-in-law no longer seemed to do well in a crowd, and why she got agitated late in the afternoon. When you have a better understanding of those things you can be a better caregiver, you can take steps into their world and meet them where they are. We learned that she could no longer walk with us in our world.

I soon found out what I would not want to know about this disease.  As a caregiver, you carry that knowledge always, that there will be an end.  I learned that this disease is in fact fatal.  No one escapes it, there is no possibility of remission or hopes that with the right medications they may be able to buy you a few more years.

You tuck that knowledge away in your back pocket.  You know that the end is coming, and you take it out every so often to remind you to cherish today.  The phrase, “One day at a time” took on a whole new meaning for me.

Alzheimer’s claimed my mother-in-law on September 12, 2012, with her husband of over 50 years and all of her children gathered at her side.  This disease took it all, to her very last breath.

In the midst of the anguish of losing her there was also a relief that her struggle and torment with this disease was finally over, she had finally found peace and rest.  Seeing her freed from it afforded my heart a measure of peace, also.

Today I am still at Memory People, still helping others as they walk this journey with dementia. To know you’re not alone means the world, even on this side of the journey.

Leeanne Chames is the Executive Director of Memory People, an online Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook.  She is also Rick Phelps’ Assistant.  Rick is the Founder of Memory People, diagnosed with Early onset Alzheimer’s disease in June of 2010 at just the age of 57. 

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join us at Memory People Facebook page.  We are patients, caregivers, and advocates, walking this journey together.

If you have any questions or comments please email Leeanne Chames at leeannechames@gmail.com. 

Bringing Awareness, one Person at a Time…

Seniors Confused Over Healthcare Changes

With all of the changes in healthcare it is hard for many seniors to keep on top of what’s changing and what is not. Lori-Ann Rickard brings clarity for seniors in this blog article. Lori-Ann Rickard, JD, CPC, CAC, is a health care lawyer with 27 years of national experience navigating the law for the benefit of physicians, health care providers, employers and patients.

Many seniors are currently confused about all the information being released on the Accountable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as ObamaCare. Much of this confusion is caused by the media constantly releasing information. Much of the information is simply not true.

confusedsenior-MP900442327Let’s look at the facts. First, seniors should know that Medicare is not impacted by the ACA or ObamaCare. Medicare remains intact and unchanged. If the senior has already qualified for Medicare, he/she will keep their Medicare coverage. Similarly, the age limit for Medicare has not changed. Further, many seniors believe the “donut hole” coverage gap has increased. This is not true. In fact, the coverage gap has actually gone down by $7 Million dollars according to government sources. Thus, seniors do not have to change doctors, medication plans, their budget, etc.

The enrollment period for Medicare remains the same: October 15 – December 7, 2013.  This enrollment period should not be confused with the enrollment period for the health exchanges for ObamaCare which begins October 1. During the Medicare enrollment period, seniors will be able to select their Medicare coverage. Most seniors have gotten very good at determining which Medicare coverage is best for them. If they are in need of assistance, many hospitals, community groups, etc. offer help selecting the right Medicare coverage. Additionally, many questions can be answered on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) website that is very user friendly and helpful:  www.medicare.gov

It is important to remember that seniors cannot enroll in Medicare in the health exchanges being set up for ObamaCare. If you are trying to enroll in Medicare, you need to be looking at a Medicare website or contacting Medicare directly.

Further, it is imperative that seniors should never give out their personal information to anyone soliciting their information. There is a growing amount of fraud surrounding all the confusion over healthcare and all seniors should beware.  If someone they don’t know contacts them for their personal information, they should immediately report it to: stopmedicarefraud@hhs.gov or call 1-800-447-8477. Similarly, if they receive a billing statement from a provider they don’t recognize, they should report it.

Healthcare is ever-changing and confusing.  We need to work together to demystify all of the information.  But most importantly: Medicare is not changing.

Enriched Life Home Care Services is grateful to Lori-Ann for helping clarify how these healthcare changes affect seniors. If you would like to read more about Lori-Ann or other topics please visit her health blog at www.larlegal.com/blog or Twitter: @larlegal

Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease – A Day in the Life of Rick Phelps

We have a special guest blog from Rick Phelps. Rick was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in June of 2010 at the age of 57. Rick is passionate about bringing awareness to this disease and is the Founder of Memory People, an Alzheimer’s and dementia support and awareness group on Facebook. We hope that you will take a few moments to read Rick’s story to learn more about this disease and how devastating the effects can be on anyone that suffers from it.

When you have this disease there are times when you know things just aren’t right. It’s very difficult to explain, but I remember when I woke up one day and could no longer understand the concept of time.

To say it was scary is an understatement. That day changed everything. Everything we do in our daily lives revolves around time. You know when to be somewhere, because your brain has this internal clock that is in the back of your mind telling you, I have to get the kids after school.

Or to lay something out in the morning for dinner that night. The list goes on and on how your brain tells you, “Hey, it’s time to check the roast.” or “I have an eye appointment tomorrow @ 9:00am.”

RickPhelps-photo

When I lost the concept of time I was sure there would be nothing worse that could happen. I was wrong.

For weeks now, slowly but surely I have noticed I can no longer recognize things. I look for whatever it may be that I can’t find, and found I can be looking right at it and not see it.

My brain no longer allows me to understand or recognize what I am looking for. I searched for the tv remote, looked everywhere. Took the cushions off our recliner, moved it thinking it may have fallen under it.

Looked all over the front room, and even some other rooms, thinking I may have had it in my hand and laid it down somewhere. Then hours later, for whatever reason, I seen it.

Right beside the chair I sit in, on the magazine rack right where it is always kept. It had been there all along and I did not see it. Or rather I seen it, but did not recognize it.

We are putting in our old counter tops from the kitchen in our garage, with the guidance of my Uncle who has been doing this type of work his entire life.

I can’t tell you the problems this has created for me. We wanted the sink, counter tops, and we are putting in a couple other shelves for storage. Will be very nice when we are done.

Problem is, I can’t find anything. If I am using my drill, and need to change from a drill bit to a Phillips head, I can be looking right at the case that holds the drill bits and never see it.

Every time I need something, a ruler, a screw driver, hammer, nail, pencil…things you would normally just look at and know it’s what you need, doesn’t work anymore.

This has been an issue for some time. Couple months. But like this disease always does it is progressing, getting worse. I finally broke down last night and told my wife, Phyllis June.

We don’t keep things from each other, but I had this because I knew it would just upset and worry her. I know there’s nothing that can be done. Deal with it, it is my “new normal”.

It’s just something I never really even entertained happening. Or if I did, I had forgotten. Not being able to recognize things is devastating. Not knowing where I put something last.

I can open the refrigerator to get the milk, but once I open it I cannot find the milk that is right there in front of me all along. My next doctor appointment isn’t till Oct., but with this revelation I am thinking of having Phyllis June call and see if I can get in earlier.

But then I think, why? There isn’t a thing he or anyone else can do. It’s just normal that when something like this happens you want to get it fixed. Find a pill or some procedure that will make it possible so I again can recognize what I am looking for.

Wanting things to be normal. That’s what we all want. Instead we have to deal with our “new normal” which is forever changing. I worry, I wonder, what could possibly next?

But deep down I know, that is the one thing I also dread. It is a form of denial. Knowing what is coming, yet saying I wonder. You simply must deal with what you have, or I should say what you used to have.

The worst thing about this disease for me is losing my mind, and knowing it is happening right in front of me. And not one person on earth can slow the progression or stop it all together…

Is it any wonder patients lose their composure? Become agitated over almost anything? Even become abusive, or recluse? I could imagine, except now I am living it.

Daily, hourly, every minute. It’s the disease, it’s always the disease…and some days I can’t take another second of it. Today is one of those days. With many more to follow.

We’d like to thank Rick for sharing his personal story to bring awareness of this disease to others. To learn more about Rick and his story you can visit his website at http://whileistillcan.net

If you or someone you know has been touched by dementia or you’d like more information, please join other patients, caregivers, and advocates all walking this journey together at the Memory People Facebook page at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180666768616259

 

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

We are excited to introduce Tanvi Patel, MA, LPC-S, NCC as our guest blogger. Tanvi is a licensed therapist and trained mediator. Tanvi has a wealth of expert advice on a variety of topics and presents helpful points for those that are currently caring for a loved one.

When I think of Elder Care, I think of my grandparents, I think of the future and what my parents might need, and I think of how I’d like to live out these so-called “golden years.”  Over the last decades, as Americans continue to push the average senior age higher and higher, a lot of focus has been turned toward seniors and all that is entailed.  Retirement funds need to be larger, healthcare funds need to be allocated, families join together to accommodate an aging family member, depression and existential crises need to be explored and when appropriate, treated therapeutically. The list goes on. But today in this piece, I’d like to focus on the role of the caregiver and helpful points to consider in caring for an elder loved one.

Family-Caregivers

Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes increasingly as many homes are two income homes and time is a scarce commodity.  Nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, social workers, home health care workers, sons and daughters, spouses, in laws, nieces, nephews, friends.  This list goes on too.  With so many individuals providing care for aging loved ones, it is important to keep a few things in mind to help clarify the role of caregiver, to help resolve any feelings of resentment and guilt, and to help manage stress and to help stay informed.

Helpful points in caring for an elder loved one:

  • Always take care of yourself.  You cannot adequately help others if you are not okay.  Stay healthy physically, emotionally and mentally.
  • Seek out other caregivers in similar roles to yours.  Share the struggle, it is not easy.  You are not alone. Create a group that talks over coffee or an online forum to stay in touch.
  • Manage stress when providing care.  It’s important to remember that the senior individual is not purposefully trying to make you angry or irritate you or single you out, etc.  In order to increase patience and efficacy in caregiving, find ways to manage your own stressors and leave them at the door when interacting with a senior.  This will also help decrease any feelings of guilt when losing patience with an elder loved one.
  • Cut yourself some slack.  Even though stress can be managed, the role of a caregiver is sometimes too stressful for one person.  Find help if you need.  This will only increase the care you provide and in turn increase the quality of life for the senior.
  • Stay in the loop.  Sign up for blogs, newsletters, mailing lists, etc. and become informed about any conditions that the senior you care for has.  This will help you separate symptoms from normal interaction with the senior, and help preserve the relationship.
  • Always remember to respect the full life this senior has lived.  Many times with diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s when seniors’ behaviors might mirror children’s behaviors it can be easy to slip into treating them as such.  Treating seniors with dignity will help improve care and the relationship you have with them.  And it’s the right thing to do.  This will also remove any guilt you may have for reacting to a symptom versus managing the elder’s symptom.

These may sound like simple points, but they can be crucial to the efficacy and well-being of the caregiver. In my practice, I see caregivers burn out, have increased anxiety, have feelings of resentment, guilt or depression, and are struggling to continue care of their loved one.  Following these points can help enormously and keep the caregiver in a healthy, functioning state of mind in order to provide the senior with the effective and compassionate care they need.

To learn more about Tanvi and all the services she offers, visit her website http://www.counselingandmediation.com

Disclosure:  If some of these circumstances apply to you and are interfering with your ability to continue providing care or living functionally, it may be time to seek professional help. 

We would like to thank Tanvi for providing these helpful tips for caregivers. At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we understand the crucial role that a caregiver can play in someone’s life. We are here to answer questions and offer home care solutions to help you provide the best care for your loved ones.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |   www.ELHCS.com

 

 

 

Benefits Available to Veterans for Home Care Services

Do you help care for a Veteran, spouse of a Veteran, or know someone that does? If so, you may be unaware of this benefit to help cover the cost of home care services.

The Veterans Aid & Attendance (A&A) Pension is a little known benefit that provides financial support for low-income veterans and surviving spouses needing care services. The pension can help cover the cost of home care assistance such as bathing, dressing, and eating.

Certain requirements must be met in order to qualify including:

  • Participation in Wartime service (or is Widow of Wartime Veteran)
  • Age of Wartime Veteran
  • Total cost of medical expenses
  • Need for assistance with 2 or more activities of daily living
  • Household income and asset limits

The chart below shows examples of pension benefits based on Veteran status: VA-ELHCS-homecare-infograph

The process to gather all required paperwork and complete the application process can be quite time-consuming. However, as you can see by the monthly pension benefits, it is well worth the effort.

At Enriched Life Home Care Services, we salute our Veterans and thank them for their loyal service to our country. Our case managers are here to provide compassionate and affordable home care to Veterans that need assistance.

For more information about the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension benefit contact the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |   www.ELHCS.com

You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling… Robots as Future Caregivers?

Caring, Loving, Compassionate, Considerate, Supportive, and the list goes on. These are just some of the adjectives that are commonly used to describe a caregiver. But in the near future there could be a robot that is used to provide care for our aging family and friends. Why? Because due to the rising age of the baby boomers there is concern that there may not be enough caregivers to provide care. How can you teach a robot to have feelings? I am not sure you can.

According to a recent study conducted by an article on CNN.com, by the year 2050 the elderly will account for 16 percent of the global population. In other words that is 1.5 billion people over the age of 65 (Population Reference Bureau). This is where caring for seniors whether it be physically, emotionally, and/or mentally will become an enormous task. Adding to the difficulty is also finding the properly trained, educated, and willing individuals for the job.

Robot caregiver

Many times seniors may just need conversation and companionship. A robot may be able to provide some dialog, but it’s not likely that a piece of metal will provide much by way of companionship. Then there is the ability to act as a reminder system for those who are suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s likely a robot could do that with ease. But, will it be able to create and foster that sense of love and compassion that is uniquely humane? For many families this may be the greatest question.

There are many positive benefits to the robot caregiver and many disadvantages as well. One thing that is for certain is that we must continue to provide the most compassionate and loving care for our seniors and those with disabilities that we can.

Important Home Safety Tips for Aging Seniors

Today, there are more and more aging seniors that want to stay in the comfort of their own home. For many, they are still capable of living on their own with minimal assistance. However, even the most independent person may need help sometimes making sure their environment is safe.

For example, many of us take for granted that we can easily check the batteries in our smoke alarm to ensure they are still working. Or we can just run to the store to replace a light bulb that burns out. Although some seniors are able to take care of these type of things on their own, many cannot. Not taking care of them could cause injury or possibly even death from a fire.

Here are a few home safety and fall prevention tips that could help keep your loved one safe while in their home alone.

5 Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors

CHECK ALL CORDS: Make sure any cords are out of the traffic flow to prevent trip and fall accidents. Also, take note of any furniture resting on cords that could cause them to be damaged and create a shock or fire hazard.

DEVELOP AN EMERGENCY EXIT PLAN:  Is there an emergency exit plan and an alternate emergency exit plan in case of a fire? Once a fire starts, it spreads rapidly. Since there may not be much time to get out and there may be a lot of confusion, it is important that a plan is in place before the unexpected happens.

CHECK RUGS AND MATS: Take a look at small rugs, runners, and mats. Make sure that they are skid resistant by applying double-sided adhesive carpet tape or rubber matting to the backs.

CREATE EMERGENCY CONTACT LIST: If an emergency happens, are there emergency telephone numbers listed? Take the time to make a list of numbers for the Police, Fire Department, and local Poison Control Center, along with close relatives’ and a neighbor’s number. Write the numbers in large print and tape them to the phone, or place them near the phone where they can be seen easily.

CHECK BATHTUB AND SHOWER AREAS: These are some of the most dangerous areas because they become very slippery when they get wet. Ensure that all bathtubs and showers are equipped with non-skid mats, abrasive strips, or surfaces that are not slippery. Grab bars can be installed as well to assist with getting in and out of the tub safely.

These are just a few common home safety measures that Enriched Life Home Care Services provides to families and individuals as a complimentary service. We want to make sure that the homes of our seniors and those who may need assistance can be comforted in knowing their homes are safe for them to live in comfortably.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  ELHCS.com

 

 

 

 

The Heat is On! Tips to Keep Seniors Cool in the Summer

HeatisOn

Staying cool and comfortable in the heat is sometimes easier said than done. It can be especially difficult for seniors living on their own and those with disabilities. During these hot humid days make sure that you check in on your loved ones regularly to make sure they are handling the heat properly.

 

Here are some tips you can use to help educate them:

Tip #1  Stay hydrated 

During the hot weather it is more important than normal for seniors to stay hydrated. The loss of excessive fluids from sweat can cause dizziness and fainting. The best way to prevent this is to by drinking a lot of fluids – especially water. If your loved one is on fluid-restrictions make sure to contact the doctor.

Tip #2 – Wear proper clothing and sun screen protection

Make sure that your loved one is wearing, light comfortable clothing during these hotter days of summer. A hat will also help to protect their head from sunburn and overheating. Applying proper sunscreen protection will also help to prevent a sunburn, and reduce body heat that a sunburn can cause.

Tip #3  Limit the amount of outdoor activity

When they are spending time outdoors for fresh air or light exercise, they should spend that time in the early morning or late evening when the heat is not at its highest point of the day. They should also look for shaded areas to stay out of the sun and provide a cool place for them to rest. If your loved one begins to feel sick or uncomfortable for any reason return inside and if it persists contact their doctor.

Tip #4  Enjoy Staying Cool Inside

Making sure that their home is properly cooled is important, and checking fans and air conditioners are properly working is important for their safety and well-being. If they do not have a fan or air conditioning, going to a local senior center, mall, or friends house may be a good alternative during the really hot days.

Tip #5  Never leave an elderly person in a parked car

When a car is parked, the temperature inside the car can rise dangerously fast. Even in cooler weather and with the windows cracked the temperature can become dangerously high in a very short time. It is never a good idea or safe to leave a person inside of a parked car.

We encourage you to use these safety tips to help your loved one enjoy the summer and stay safe at the same time. For more information, check out the CDC’s website on heat and the elderly for you to visit. We hope you found this information useful to help protect your loved one.

Enriched Life Home Care Services | www.ELHCS.com

Respite Care – A Much Needed Break for Caregivers

Are you the primary caregiver for an elderly family member? Do you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders sometimes trying to keep everything together? Well, you are not alone! With a growing population of aging seniors, caring for a loved one is coming more and more commonplace. And with most caregivers so focused on the well-being of the person they are caring for, they oftentimes neglect their own health and family’s needs.

For example, when providing care for a loved one who is aging and going through many different health related issues, it can prove to be a very difficult process to watch them lose their independence. This can eventually lead to a state of depression for the caregiver and the person being cared for. If there is also little or no family support, the caregiver feels that it is solely up to them. This will generally lead to extra stress, frustration, and also neglect to the caregiver’s own family and responsibilities.

In addition, if the caregiver is still a working professional it can lead to multiple days of work loss, or even in some circumstances loss of their job. This would lead to a loss of income, and ultimately cause a sacrifice in care.

Family-Caregivers

The good news is that there are support groups, and help available to families and individuals who find themselves in these very types of situations. With respite care, the caregiver is given a time of rest from their caregiving responsibilities from a professional company that specializes in Respite and Home Care. This gives the primary caregiver a chance to focus on their own needs, while having peace of mind knowing their loved one is being taken care of.

At Enriched Life Home Care Services we understand the situations that families and their loved ones are facing on a daily basis. We work with them to find a balance that will provide the greatest benefit to both the family and their loved one so that they can continue to care for the loved one and for themselves.

Enriched Life Home Care Services  |  www.ELHCS.com