The Amada Senior Care blog discusses all things senior care - including in home care, assisted living, health and wellness, nutrition, long-term care insurance, and veterans programs.
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Each year, 44 million Americans provide 37 billion hours of informal care for an aging parent. While this can be a rewarding experience for both a senior and an adult child, often times it is a situation that leads to stress and burnout for the caregiving family member. According to Today’s Caregiver, families in the US provide 80 to 90 percent of in-home long term care for seniors. Many of these families are headed by adults that are part of what has come to be known as the “sandwich...
Each year, 44 million Americans provide 37 billion hours of informal care for an aging parent. While this can be a rewarding experience for both a senior and an adult child, often times it is a situation that leads to stress and burnout for the caregiving family member. According to Today’s Caregiver, families in the US provide 80 to 90 percent of in-home long term care for seniors. Many of these families are headed by adults that are part of what has come to be known as the “sandwich generation” – middle-aged adults that care for an aging parent while still caring for their own children.
The Sandwich Generation
According to Family Caregiver Alliance, the typical “sandwiched” caregiver is a woman in her mid-40s who is married, employed and cares for her parent (usually mother). However, the number of men caring for aging parents continues to grow. Nearly 60 percent of caregiving family members work full or part-time, and caring for a senior often affects their work performance. Due to time constraints, they may not be able to take that big promotion. The rising needs of senior parents may force an adult child to work less hours. This cycle will continue to create stress and financial strains on the sandwiched adult. Many of these adults live in rural areas that often have geographic barriers to professional resources; which isolate them from other caregivers or family members.
In most cases, the senior living with an adult child needs assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) – simple, routine tasks like getting dressed or bathing. Along with this, many families also help their aging parents coordinate medical needs, administer medication, and provide financial, emotional and spiritual support. If these services were provided by the national healthcare system, the cost would be nearly $250 billion per year (source: Today’s Caregiver).
In addition to financial and emotional strain, caring for an aging parent can also cause relational strain on many levels. According to a survey by Caring.com, 80 percent of family caregivers said that caring for an aging parent put a strain on their relationship or marriage, and 48 percent said it was causing them to “drift apart.” Children of sandwiched adults may not understand that their grandparents need care, too, and may come to resent the aging senior. Even if they do understand, an aging senior will likely use up more of the parent’s time, causing the parent to miss out on bonding with their children. Many times, the parent-child relationship between the senior and sandwiched adult is strained due to reversed caregiver roles. Friendships can be lost due to lack of spare time, and any of these relationships can be damaged due to the sandwiched adult “lashing out” because of stress.
Reaching Out for Help
When do I find time for myself? For my marriage? How do I split my time between my own children and my aging parent? Where can I find resources to help me?
The heavy load carried by the sandwich generation brings about common stressors that leave adult children asking these questions and more. Not being able to accomplish everything will usually cause guilt. Since the average time that the adult child will care for their aging parents is 8 years, the stress that builds up and the difficulty of the situation may eventually force the child to a realization: it’s time to reach out for professional help.
Just having this thought can make an adult child feel guiltier, but it is important to remember that one can provide quality care for someone only if they are taking care of themselves. In many cases, some needs are better met professionally. Hiring an in-home caregiver or placing a senior in the right assisted-living community can provide many new opportunities for the senior and adult child.
An in-home caregiver will allow an aging senior to remain in a familiar environment in the adult child’s home, or to “age in place” in their own home. An assisted-living community is a great intermediate step for those who need assistance with ADLs but do not need the 24-hour medical care of a nursing home. These communities also offer social stimulation, exercise, nutritional guidance and transportation. At the same time, the senior is able to maintain a sense of independence. The combination of all of these can improve the quality (and longevity) of life for a senior.
By relieving the stress of meeting a senior’s caregiving needs, an adult child can better focus on his or her own needs and the needs of other family members. Peace of mind will come with knowing that the senior is receiving quality care. That said, many feel that the most important aspect of this arrangement is that the time spent with an aging parent can truly be quality time. Instead of being pulled in all directions at once, sandwiched adults will have more time to cherish the relationships they have with spouses, children, and their aging parents or loved ones.
You may have noticed your world has recently become significantly pinker. Stores are carrying more pink merchandise, your friends are adorned with pink ribbons, and even NFL players are flaunting pink attire. This pink phenomenon is not in your head. The sudden onset is an effort to support an important cause – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What is Breast Cancer? Breast cancer is a disease where malignant (cancerous) cells form in the breast. Although these cancerous cells start by...
You may have noticed your world has recently become significantly pinker. Stores are carrying more pink merchandise, your friends are adorned with pink ribbons, and even NFL players are flaunting pink attire. This pink phenomenon is not in your head. The sudden onset is an effort to support an important cause – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease where malignant (cancerous) cells form in the breast. Although these cancerous cells start by growing and invading healthy cells in the breast, they can eventually make their way to other areas of the body by entering blood vessels or lymph vessels. When this happens, and the cancer cells begin damaging other tissues the process is then called metastasis.
The Importance of Raising Awareness
One of the biggest reasons raising awareness about breast cancer is important, is that the disease affects too many women. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and it is second leading cause of death among women. More shocking, a woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes.
Most of us have at least eight women in our lives we care about. These women could be anyone from your mother, to your sister, wife, or friends. What if we told you one of them is going to be diagnosed with breast cancer? While that may be difficult to believe, statistics suggest that one of them WILL be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. And as the age of these women goes up, so does the likelihood they will develop breast cancer.
These statistics are not meant to scare you. They are provided to help you understand the reality that breast cancer affects more than just the women who are diagnosed.
Breast cancer affects more than just the women who are diagnosed.
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Early Detection and Symptoms
The good news is treatment is possible especially when done early. Here are two ways you can be proactive about your breast health.
The most common way to detect breast cancer is through a mammogram, which is basically an x-ray of the breast. Doctors recommend women should start getting mammograms when they turn 40 years old. Women between the ages of 45-55 should receive them annually. After they reach 55, women have the option to reduce the frequency of their mammograms to every other year (depending on their family history).
Senior Care Providers
Most senior care providers, such as home health providers, assisted living communities, and memory care communities can provide free exams.
Even though a mammogram often can detect tumors or cancerous cells before they become physically observable, many doctors still encourage women to perform self-examinations. A self-examination can be performed by doing the following:
- Using a mirror, let your arms hang by your waist. Look for signs of bulges within the skin, the nipple either inverting or extruding abnormally, and redness or rash agitating the area.
- Raise your hands above your head and look for the same signs.
- Observe in these two tests whether any fluid is excreting from your breasts.
- While laying down, either extend outward from your nipples in a circular motion, or go from top to bottom linearly, and try to feel all the tissues of your breast. Be on the look-out for any abnormalities.
- You can perform this test while sitting down or standing up.
It is important to realize not all breast lumps are cancerous. Some are ‘benign’ and it is unlikely they will spread to other tissue. Despite this, they can still serve as a warning sign for an increased risk of breast cancer. Regardless, they should be examined by a specialist.
Winning Breast Cancer
October was deemed National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the intention of not only educating people about the disease’s prevalence but also to recognize those who have been/are affected and to acknowledge the progress that has been made in efforts of making breast cancer a thing of the past.
In 2018, over 250,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of those who have been diagnosed, breast cancer wins nearly 17% of the time. Despite those numbers, it is important to acknowledge the 83% of women that DO WIN. We like to call them survivors. Today, there are over three million breast cancer survivors in the United States. By raising awareness, we can help create a world full of survivors by ensuring women win every time.
“National Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” by Nick Schaller, Senior Directory, LLC.
National Breast Cancer Foundation, INC
American Cancer Society
Amada Senior Care is committed to enriching the lives of seniors, and we believe the following three things are vital to seniors living happier, healthier lives. 1. An Aging Plan Most seniors take steps to ensure they have a will in place should anything happen to them. However, only 25 percent of Americans have recorded their end-of-life medical wishes in a legal document. The problem with this is that more than half of patients are unable to participate in end-of-life decisions when they...
Amada Senior Care is committed to enriching the lives of seniors, and we believe the following three things are vital to seniors living happier, healthier lives.
1. An Aging Plan
Most seniors take steps to ensure they have a will in place should anything happen to them. However, only 25 percent of Americans have recorded their end-of-life medical wishes in a legal document. The problem with this is that more than half of patients are unable to participate in end-of-life decisions when they need to be made. The solution to this is creating an Advance Directive for healthcare, which can easily be completed by a healthcare professional.
An Advance Directive will ask an individual to address whether they want to accept or refuse life-saving treatments such as CPR, breathing machines, and feeding tubes. It also allows a person to detail whether they’d like to receive pain medications and whether they prefer to donate organs or tissues. It can serve as a power of attorney for healthcare, and allow a person to appoint an agent on their behalf. If a patient is unable to make a decision at the time of treatment, an Advance Directive gives the doctor a road map that allows them to know the patient’s wishes and who to talk to about treatment decisions.
When creating an aging plan, you should consider your financial options. At some point, even the healthiest seniors will likely begin to have trouble performing activities of daily living (ADLs). Being financially prepared for the cost of long-term care can be a lifesaver; otherwise a senior’s (or their loved one’s) life savings can be quickly exhausted, creating more financial troubles. At Amada Senior Care, expert senior advisors can assist you or your loved one in navigating the options available for funding care. We can help you unlock a long-term care insurance policy, apply for veterans’ benefits, and more.
An aging plan should also include housing options. Many seniors say it would be ideal to “age in place” in their own home; however, it may not always be the safest option. While it may be convenient and cost-effective for a senior to move in with a family member, the caregiving responsibilities can quickly become a burden physically, mentally, and financially. An in-home caregiver from Amada allows a senior to age in place at home and receive assistance with ADLs. Another option is an assisted living or skilled nursing community for those needing more medical care or round-the-clock assistance. Amada offers senior housing advisory services to help seniors find the best living options for them.
2. A Healthy Lifestyle
As seniors age, the number of health risks they face increases. Heart disease – including hypertension, vascular disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease – is the most widespread condition for seniors and the number one cause of death for those over 60. Other top health risks for seniors include cancer, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s or dementia. These health issues may be due to old age or heredity, but often times they can be prevented by a healthy diet and exercise.
It’s never too late for someone to start eating a healthy diet that includes high-quality protein, lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, and high dietary fiber. It’s also important to avoid processed foods with excess sugar and bad carbohydrates. Exercise has been proven to not only improve physical health, but also mental health. Seniors should include exercises that improve endurance, strength, flexibility and balance in their regimen, while being careful to modify any exercise that is painful or too difficult. Regular exercise will help seniors maintain independent lifestyles. To maintain energy, seniors should remember to drink plenty of water and get adequate amounts of sleep (seven to eight hours) every night.
Many seniors visit the doctor when they are sick to get healthy again, but it’s just as important to schedule regular preventive care visits. Preventive care includes regular exams, check-ups, vaccines, and screenings. While regular doctor visits may seem costly now, they more than pay off in the long term by saving money, worry, and time in the future. Any warning signs of disease can be caught early with preventive care, and vaccines protect seniors’ weakened immune systems against harmful infections and viruses.
The effects of aging can make it difficult for seniors to get out and stay socially engaged with friends and family. Isolation can have devastating effects on not only emotional health, but physical health as well. Some of the risks of social isolation include loneliness and depression, being less physically active, high blood pressure, and a greater risk of death. While some cases cannot be avoided, dementia and depression can be avoided by keeping the mind stimulated with social interaction. A recent study from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center found that seniors who are highly social have a 70 percent lower rate of cognitive decline than their less social peers.
There are several ways for seniors to stay socially engaged besides maintain close personal relationships with family and friends. Senior centers offer clubs, classes, and many other opportunities for seniors to socialize with each other. Seniors who like to travel can find a senior-friendly travel package. Finding a new hobby or rediscovering an old one can give you the opportunity to meet others. Finding a job or volunteering in the community is great for socialization, and can also give seniors a sense of purpose. Staying socially engaged almost always requires that seniors and their loved ones be proactive and look for opportunities, but the physical and mental health benefits are worth it.
“Three Things Every Senior Needs,” Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.
Kathy and Sarah decide to spend the afternoon visiting their elderly mother, Margaret, who has been living alone since her husband passed just two years earlier. With a vase full of fresh lilies, Margaret’s favorite flower, they knock on her front door. They hear the barking of Margaret’s dachshund, but otherwise there’s no sound inside. They think nothing of it, as their mother suffers from hearing loss, so Kathy uses her spare key to open the door. They call out to let their mom know...
Kathy and Sarah decide to spend the afternoon visiting their elderly mother, Margaret, who has been living alone since her husband passed just two years earlier. With a vase full of fresh lilies, Margaret’s favorite flower, they knock on her front door. They hear the barking of Margaret’s dachshund, but otherwise there’s no sound inside. They think nothing of it, as their mother suffers from hearing loss, so Kathy uses her spare key to open the door. They call out to let their mom know they’ve arrived, but get no answer – except the ambient sound of a television playing somewhere in the house. They follow the barking dog around the corner where Kathy drops her vase of lilies in shock. Margaret lies unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.
At the hospital the next day, the doctors tell Kathy and Sarah to say their last goodbyes to a mother who is suffering from traumatic brain injury and severe internal hemorrhaging. In tears, they struggle to believe that someone as lively as Margaret was could be gone so soon. One slip on a rug led to a fall down stairs and injuries that ended her life at 83. In the following years, the “what-ifs” run through their minds over and over. What if someone had been there with her? What if they had found her earlier? What if they had made sure the house was safe for her?
Falls are the most prevalent mobility problem, and the leading cause of injury death, for those over 65. Things like lack of physical activity, poor vision, and environmental factors – a loose rug or poor lighting – are all common causes of falls among the senior population. With increasing age, falls often result in broken bones that take longer to heal, as well as painful bruises. Even without serious injury, an older person may have trouble getting up from a fall, or may become fearful and inactive to avoid falling again. Mobility loss in seniors increases their chance of falling. The following is a list of sobering statistics about the millions of elderly falls that occur each year:
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
- Each year, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
- Over 700,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
- Each year at least 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- Adjusted for inflation, the direct medical costs for fall injuries are $34 billion annually. Hospital costs account for two-thirds of the total.
Recognizing the red flags that signal mobility loss can protect you or your loved one from falls that may have devastating consequences.
Signs of Mobility Loss
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham discovered that the most common factors leading to mobility loss were old age, low physical activity, obesity, impaired strength and balance, and chronic disease. Depression, cognitive impairment, and recent hospitalizations also lead to a greater risk of mobility loss.
Suzanne Salamon, a geriatrician and instructor at Harvard Medical School, said that signs of mobility loss are often overlooked in seniors due to what seem to be more pressing health issues, like heart or lung problems. However, untreated mobility issues can lead to further health problems, and can ultimately determine whether a senior can continue living independently.
“If you’re unable to get out then you can’t go shopping, you can’t go out with your friends to eat dinner or go to the movies, and you become dependent on other people to get you places,” Salamon said. “So you become a recluse, you stay home, you get depressed. With immobilization comes incontinence, because you can’t get to the bathroom, you can develop urinary infections, skin infections. The list goes on.”
The good thing about testing mobility is that you don’t need a doctor to do so. Salamon suggests an exercise that she calls the Get Up and Go Test. Simply observe the senior getting up from a chair, walking about 10 feet away, turning around and returning to the chair and then sitting back down. The things to look for are how long it takes and how steady the senior is while doing it. You can also just observe how quickly a senior walks to see if there are any signs of mobility loss. A normal rate is travelling one yard per second or faster. Anything slower than that can mean gait problems and an increased risk of falls.
If you suspect mobility loss, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggest asking two questions: Do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walking a quarter of a mile? And, have you modified the way you climb 10 steps or walk a quarter of a mile because of health reasons? If you answered yes to either question, a doctor can help you find the cause of the problem and recommend treatment before a loss of mobility occurs. The good news is that, when caught and treated early, mobility loss can be avoided with different types of therapy. There are also many types of devices like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs that can improve mobility, which can significantly improve a senior’s life and well being.
Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.
In honor of Healthy Aging Month, Amada Senior Care would like to offer a few tips for healthy aging. “The more you do in middle age to prepare yourself for successful aging, the better,” said Sharon Brangman, spokeswoman for the American Geriatrics Society. Whether it be physically, mentally, or socially, seniors have the power to take responsibility for their health and change it for the better. Ditch Unhealthy Habits It’s never too late to kick a bad habit to the curb – especially...
In honor of Healthy Aging Month, Amada Senior Care would like to offer a few tips for healthy aging. “The more you do in middle age to prepare yourself for successful aging, the better,” said Sharon Brangman, spokeswoman for the American Geriatrics Society. Whether it be physically, mentally, or socially, seniors have the power to take responsibility for their health and change it for the better.
It’s never too late to kick a bad habit to the curb – especially if it’s a dangerous one like smoking. Studies show that even in seniors who have been smoking for decades, health improvements begin within hours of quitting. Replacing cigarettes with a healthy snack or a new activity will help you avoid temptation and quit for good.
Follow a Nutritious Diet
A healthy diet is one of the best tools for preventing or managing the symptoms of chronic diseases like stroke, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s/dementia. Since metabolism slows with each year after age 40, monitoring the types and amount of food you eat is key to maintaining weight and avoiding obesity, especially for those seniors who aren’t able to exercise as much. A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and fiber is a basic template for any senior. Certain nutrient-rich foods – including salmon, blueberries, avocados, green tea, and more – have been shown to boost brain function.
You may think that as you get older, it is better to take it easy rather than continue an exercise routine. However, regular exercise will help prevent chronic conditions – such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure – that are common in seniors. According to the CDC, older adults should get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. To get the most of your exercise routine, be sure to include a combination of not only strength and endurance exercises, but also flexibility and balance exercises, which help protect seniors from dangerous falls.
Seniors may notice their sleeping patterns changing as they age. Some changes include sleeping for less time, taking longer to get to sleep, waking up more often during the night, waking up earlier, feeling sleepier earlier, and increased napping during the day. Limiting naps during the day and avoiding stimulants like caffeine can help seniors stay on schedule and get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep every night, which is essential to physical and mental health.
Significant memory loss isn’t a normal part of aging; in fact, the brain can generate new cells at any age. Mental exercise and stimulation such as memory exercises, crossword and jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, or learning new skills will help seniors remain mentally young. Finding time to relax and eliminate stress will also improve mental health. Stress will “disturb cognitive processes such as learning and memory, and consequently limit the quality of human life,” Jeansok Kim of the University of Washington said.
Keep Up with Preventive Care
Why wait until you’re sick to see your doctor? Preventive care (regular exams, check-ups, vaccines, and screenings) not only protects a senior’s health, but also saves them worry, money, and time in the future. Since the elderly are more susceptible to illness and certain medical conditions, seniors should be sure to stay up-to-date on things like seasonal flu vaccines, Shingles vaccines, heart and lung screenings, and cancer screenings.
Stay Socially Engaged
Social engagement is as crucial to a senior’s health as diet or exercise. Isolation leads to a greater risk of depression, lethargy, heart problems, and death. The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center reported that seniors who are highly social lowered their rate of cognitive decline by 70 percent. There are endless ways to engage socially, but it’s important to be proactive. Sign up for a class at a senior center, join your local walking group, find a part-time job, volunteer, and connect with friends on Facebook to build relationships and ward of isolation.
Are you prepared for the likelihood of needing long-term care? A long-term care insurance policy is one of the best tools for avoiding financial crisis due to costs of care. It’s also smart to have an Advance Directive for healthcare, which is your written wishes for accepting or refusing life-saving treatments in the event of an emergency (it also allows you to name an agent to speak on your behalf). Being prepared for the unknown will give you and your family peace of mind.
Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.
When you first noticed that your parent’s age was limiting them, what questions came to mind? Did you struggle to accept the reality of their aging or worry about their wellbeing? Did you wonder what preparations were in place for their needs? Besides the questions you may have asked yourself, there is one question you must ask your aging parent: “Do you have a long-term care insurance policy?” After a health crisis, anyone may find they need long-term care. But since...
When you first noticed that your parent’s age was limiting them, what questions came to mind? Did you struggle to accept the reality of their aging or worry about their wellbeing? Did you wonder what preparations were in place for their needs?
Besides the questions you may have asked yourself, there is one question you must ask your aging parent: “Do you have a long-term care insurance policy?”
After a health crisis, anyone may find they need long-term care. But since senior citizens especially are at a higher risk for debilitating health problems, they are more likely to need it.
Long-term care provides assistance with activities of daily living, or ADLs. These include bathing, dressing, meal preparation, medication reminders, housekeeping, shopping, toileting and other non-medical assistance. In the future, forecasts say that 70% of people over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lifetime. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, 30%, or 1.5 million people of the older population already have substantial long-term care needs.
The cost of long-term care is rising. Imagine what you believe your parent would pay for a room in a nursing home. In a 2015 survey, Genworth reported that a private nursing home room, which is the priciest option for care, now costs $92,378 annually. This is a 19% increase since 2011.
How should your elderly parent pay for the monumental cost of long-term care? If you are fortunate, your parent may already have the answer to that question. He or she might have a long-term care insurance policy. Long-term care insurance (LTCI) is a valuable tool to protect assets and finance long-term care. If your loved one has purchased a policy, you may be reading this article to find out how to navigate it with them. If they do not have a policy yet, this article will help you navigate LTCI for your parent nevertheless.
Long-term care insurance is an investment to consider before it is needed. Without LTCI, long-term care’s costly expenses are paid using either Medicaid (if you qualify for it) or out-of-pocket savings (if you can afford it). The middle class is in limbo between having too much wealth to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford long-term care on their own. Long-term care insurance is meant to be a solution for them.
If your parent is in good health, between the ages of 50 and 65, and able to make decisions about paying for long-term care before they actually need it, it is time to shop for an LTCI policy. Some children of adults this age may be too young to take the lead in their parent’s financial matters. Yet at this time, your parent is in good shape to secure their policy because insurers will base costs on:
- Type of benefits desired
- Family History
If your parent is in poor health, around or above the age of 65 and in need of long-term care, their situation can fork into two directions.
If your parent does not have long-term care insurance, they may deplete their personal savings or depend on family to pay for or provide care. For seniors who have exhausted these options whose needs still aren’t met, they may have to resort to Medicaid; a health insurance option for low-income seniors.
If your parent has a long-term care insurance policy, funding for care is within reach. Your parent may not remember that they have LTCI. So ask them the crucial question, “Do you have a long-term care insurance policy?” This is an important starting point for the process ahead.
The Health Crisis
The unfortunate turn of events that typically prompts people to need long-term care is a health crisis. A health crisis can occur at any age and to a person in any state of health. Accidents and terminal illnesses are just a few health crises that handicap healthy people for the rest of their lives. Senior citizens are at risk for these crises in addition to common debilitating ailments, such as cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, falls, influenza, pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In the midst of fretting over the health status of your parent while they are treated in the hospital for these common health problems, it may be impossible for you to even consider thinking about what lies ahead after discharge. But following successful treatment of a serious health problem, senior citizens undergo dramatic changes in their lifestyles when they go home. They may have a sudden need for constant, dependable care. To continue the progress of your parent’s health, there must be a way to pay for it.
Families hope to feel relief after their elderly loved one’s discharge from a hospital. However, if they suddenly find themselves short of the resources to provide care for the senior’s needs at home, stress compounds on top of the health crisis. If your parent has an LTCI policy, this is where it brings you a solution.
After the health crisis, a senior with an LTCI policy can only activate their policy as soon as they qualify for care. Observe your parent to determine whether they are:
- Cognitively impaired
- Unable to bathe, dress or eat
- Unable to move on their own
- Unable to toilet independently
These are just a few signs for your parent to activate their LTCI policy, with your help.
Activating the Policy
There are several things for you and your parent to know when activating their LTCI policy. Know how long the elimination period is for the policy. The elimination period is essentially a time-based deductible where you are responsible for paying the full portion until coverage begins. Elimination periods can range from 0-100 days. If you were preoccupied with your parent’s health treatment, this detail may have escaped you. It is frustrating to suddenly need immediate long-term care after a health crisis, only to find that you have to wait for your LTCI policy to kick in its coverage. Knowing the elimination period ahead of time not only informs your parent of what policies to choose in the first place, it also cues you to prepare out-of-pocket resources for care during its time span.
Know the policy’s maximum daily benefit and maximum lifetime benefit. The maximum daily benefit is the amount a policy will reimburse for each day of long-term care. Look out for inflation riders on the maximum daily benefit, which can significantly increase it over time.
The maximum lifetime benefit is the total amount of time or money up to which benefits will be paid. Policies can state the maximum lifetime benefit in either days or dollars. Know which one your parent’s plan uses. Also look out for a Restoration of Benefit, which allows your parent to restore benefits if they are not fully maximized.
Although your parent has already chosen what benefits to receive if they’ve already purchased a long-term care insurance policy, it helps you to know what specific benefits their plan covers. The Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey outlines all types of long-term care that seniors can get, as well as their costs. Research the types of care covered by your parent’s plan and be assertive in commissioning the best companies to provide them. If your parent is like most American senior citizens today, they may prefer long-term care at home. Securing this care entails knowing the coverage the LTCI policy will afford, what services to go to for the care and monitoring the professionals who come to your parent’s aid.
Knowing all of this, you are ready to initiate the activation of your parent’s LTCI policy. These are things for you to do:
- Call your parent’s insurer and request a claim packet.
- Fill out the claim form and send it in.
- Make sure to list the information of the company providing care and their tax ID.
- Check to see if the policy requires a doctor to fill out a form documenting your need for care.
- Check to see if your parent needs an assessment from a registered nurse (RN).
Once the claim is approved, you want your parent’s benefits to be maximized under the reimbursement they receive. Achieving this takes constant attention to detail and monitoring invoices and notes your insurer needs to keep the claim active. Ensure that each invoice you receive from providers, like caregiver agencies, is submitted to the insurer. Each invoice must have notes documenting that assistance with your parent’s ADLs is provided each day.
Aside from all the work that goes into purchasing and activating it, long-term care insurance is sometimes disappointing when the grant of coverage is unpredictable. What if your parent never qualifies? What if the claim is not approved? What if it is, but the insurer decides your parent no longer qualifies later on and cancels it?
Your Trusted LTCI Partner
You and the rest of the children who try to navigate long-term care insurance for their aging parents are not alone. Amada Senior Care is the one-stop shop for long-term care insurance advocacy. Amada Senior Care locations across the U.S. provide a Concierge LTC Resource Center of experts who help policyholders understand and verify their long-term care insurance benefits. Our senior care advisors will guide you through the process of reviewing and filing a claim so that you can start receiving your benefits as soon as possible. Our advocates will:
- Identify and analyze the requirements of your policy, including elimination periods, daily maximum, lifetime benefits and coverage.
- Assist policyholders in completing the necessary forms to file a claim.
- Bill the LTCI carrier directly at policyholder’s request.
- Aid in the responsibilities of payroll taxes, benefits, scheduling, bonding, workers’ compensation and general and professional liability insurance.
Amada Senior Care has established relationships with multiple LTCI carriers and third-party administrators to make the claims process easier. The Concierge LTC Resource Center will not only assist you or your loved one with the details of your policy but will also coordinate and deliver care – providing you with the peace of mind and the time to share happy, healthy wellbeing with your elderly parent.
“Navigating Long-Term Care Insurance for Your Parent,” by Michelle Mendoza, Amada contributor.
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