Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Does Long Term Care Insurance Cover?

Long-term care insurance is an important aspect of future planning for many families. In fact, it is advised that individuals who believe their loved ones may need long-term care seek out a plan that fits their senior’s anticipated needs. Long-term care, including home care, is a medical necessity for which some families struggle to pay. By planning ahead and taking out a long-term care policy, you can protect your elderly loved one and the rest of your family against the financial complications that such care can create.

While long-term care is certainly recommended by elder care professionals, it is important that you and your family understand exactly what the policy will cover. Because each policy varies, it is important to speak with your senior’s insurance professional to understand precisely what expenses will be covered or reimbursed; however, here are some basic facts regarding the services that a long-term care plan may cover.

  • The purpose of long-term care policies is to cover daily needs that are not met by health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid. For this reason, the policy is most likely to pertain to assistance with activities of daily living, including grooming, personal hygiene, dressing, eating, etc.
  • Some medical conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, often require the supervision of a senior care professional; however, these services are not always covered by health insurance despite the fact that they are necessitated by a medical condition. Long-term care policies frequently cover such supervision, allowing elderly individuals to continue aging in place despite Alzheimer’s disease or other illnesses.
  • A long-term care policy may also cover skilled services, such as the treatment provided by physical, respiratory, and speech therapists.
If your family is unsure whether or not to invest in long-term care insurance for your elderly loved one, it is important to take the opportunity to consider the future needs of your senior. Additionally, it is recommended that you consult with an insurance professional to determine if a long-term care policy is the right move for your family. While no one knows exactly what the future holds, an insurance policy can help protect you and your loved ones against the unexpected expenses that may arise as your senior ages.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family Caregiving Stats: How Many People Are Caring for an Elderly Loved One?

Senior care is an important part of life, one that allows elderly individuals to continue aging in place with dignity and independence. In fact, remaining in their home for as long as possible is extremely important to many seniors. To make this happen, family members often step in to provide the home care assistance that their loved ones need in order to stay out of an assisted living or nursing facility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled a list of facts regarding family caregiving. Here are some of the highlights from these statistics, which shed light on just how important senior care is to families that have elderly loved ones.

  1. As of 2008, over 34 million unpaid caregivers offered services to seniors.
  2. Approximately 21 percent of households within the United States feel the repercussions of caregiving responsibilities.
  3. It is estimated that 90 percent of the long-term care provided to elderly individuals is performed by unpaid caregivers, which are typically family members. In fact, 83 percent of all unpaid caregivers are those who are offering their services to a relative.
  4. Women provide the majority of unpaid senior care. The CDC cites that the average caregiver “is a 46 year old woman with some college experience and provides more than 20 hours of care each week to her mother.”
  5. Caregivers are often responsible for the expenses associated with the care of their loved one. The website reports that those caring for a family member who was 50 years old or older in 2007 spent an average of $5,531.
  6. As of 2008, an estimated 37 percent of unpaid caregivers had to quit their jobs or reduce the amount of time they spent on the job in order to meet the needs of their elderly loved one. 
Home care professionals know that taking care of an elderly loved one can be stressful. This is why they are trained and ready to step in whenever you need someone to take over care—either permanently or temporarily. Elder care providers can offer a variety of services, from respite care to in-home care, that can make caregiving a bit easier for the millions of family members who support their elderly loved ones.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Supporting Caregivers Facing Burnout

Caregiver burnout is a common occurrence in the senior care industry. In fact, burnout in any field is frequently experienced by professionals who spend a great deal of time at work. But caregiver burnout is a bit different because it can directly impact the quality of care that elderly individuals receive. If you have a friend or family member who is worn out or experiencing full-blown burnout, it is important to support them and assist in any way possible, as their emotional and mental wellbeing are crucial to their ability to provide the best care to an elderly loved one.

What are the signs of caregiver burnout?
The stress that caregivers experience is often intense, and it can affect them in a wide range of ways. From simply overloading them with responsibility to launching them into a depression, this stress is dangerous if not addressed. This is why, when your friend or family member becomes worn out, it is important to step in and support their wellbeing.
The signs of caregiver burnout are similar to those of depression, and the signs of the stress leading up to burnout are less severe versions of these symptoms. Some of these include withdrawing from social activities, feeling sad, not engaging in familial activities, and becoming disinterested in activities and topics that an individual was once passionate about.

How can you help?
The best thing to do for a friend or family member who is stressed by their care giving responsibilities is to support them emotionally and physically. This means being there to both talk them through their problems and being there to physically assist with their daily responsibilities, if possible. In fact, stepping in to provide respite care to a loved one will give your friend the chance to take some time off and recharge.

One crucial fact to remember is that there is no shame in caregiver stress or burnout. Providing home care to an elderly loved one is an emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding job. Oftentimes, caregivers simply need a few days off to relax and rebalance their lives to overcome the stress that care giving can create.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How Do I Start My Parent’s Long Term Care Insurance Benefit?

Long term care insurance helps many families with seniors pay for the care of these elderly individuals without suffering a financial strain. Long term care insurance prevents these families from having to wipe out savings accounts or bear a financial burden that they can’t necessarily handle. If you’re like Nancy of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and have invested in long term care insurance, you want to make sure you know how to use this coverage when the time comes.

When do long term care insurance benefits kick in? 

As the AXA Equitable website explains, many long term care insurance policies have a waiting period before benefits begin, even after elderly individuals have been judged medically eligible.  These periods vary between insurance companies. Some are twenty days, others are thirty or sixty days. However, some insurance policies have no waiting period at all, and seniors are eligible to start receiving benefits on the first day they need care. It’s important to know the details of your loved one’s policy so you’re aware of the waiting period involved, if there is one.  During the waiting period, you’re responsible for paying for the patient’s care yourself, whether your senior is in a nursing facility or receiving care at home.

How do I file a claim to receive benefits?

You should know how to file a claim before you’d like your elderly loved one to receive long term care insurance benefits. In most cases, filing a claim requires submitting a written letter to your insurance company. In the letter, you’ll probably need to include a proof-of-loss form (which your insurance company can provide you) as well as relevant medical records. Some insurance companies require you to verify the person’s condition in writing every 30 to 90 days. You may also need to have verification from a doctor who has evaluated the elderly individual. These policies vary between insurance companies, so check with your agent to make sure you know the details of the claim submission process.

Long term care insurance is extremely beneficial to the families of elderly individuals. If your senior is in need of long term care, it’s important to research their insurance company’s specific policies to guarantee that you’re able to receive the benefits of the policy as quickly as possible.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Asking for time off of work to care for a parent

For people with aging parents, it’s often necessary to take time off from work to stay home and provide care to these elderly loved ones. Asking for this time off can seem like a daunting task. You may have questions about what you’re legally guaranteed from your employer. John, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, felt great anxiety when he knew he needed to approach his employer and ask for time off to care for his elderly mother. Before you discuss your situation with your place of employment, it’s important to know a few things about the right you have to care for your senior:

  • Health Insurance Online explains that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires employers to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for certain family-related reasons. During that time, the employee’s job is protected. An employee is eligible for this leave if they have worked for a covered employer for at least a year, have worked at least 1,250 hours over the past year, and if the company has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius.
  • FMLA requires companies to grant unpaid leave for an employee who must care for a parent with a serious health problem. The employee might need to provide advance notice about this leave, and may need to show a doctor’s note confirming the situation.
  • If you have an elderly parent who requires care, it’s important to talk with your boss about the steps necessary to get time off. Some companies are more demanding than others when it comes to offering employees leave. While some may require documentation and advance notice, other companies are more flexible and can work with you based on your individual situation.
If you believe you’ll need time off to care for your elderly loved one, it’s important to know what rights you’re guaranteed. Look into national and state policy, as well as the rights your own company has put into place. Don’t hesitate to have an honest dialogue with your boss about your situation. Your supervisor can guide you in the right direction and help you care for your family and manage your career at the same time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stages of Being a Family Caregiver

Caring for elderly family members is an important task, and it is one that you can prepare for by understanding the several stages through which this responsibility evolves. By anticipating the care you will need to provide for your loved one in the future, you can better offer the senior care that your elderly family member needs.

Rachael, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is preparing to care for her mother. Still living on her own, her mother is able to maintain most of her independence; however, she needs a bit of help with daily tasks. The doctor has told Rachael to prepare to step in and provide assistance within the next six months.

Preparation for such a task is emotional, mental, and physical. From juggling schedules to emotionally preparing to take care of a parent, it is important that caregivers are ready to take on this responsibility. Here are the six stages of care giving that Rachael has studied.

1.       Need for care is approaching: You know that your loved one will need assistance in the near future. You research ways to help your elderly loved one. 

2.       Need for care begins: You begin to care for your loved one, providing assistance with bills, errands, and daily tasks. During this stage, you learn what your loved one needs and what you can offer.

3.       Care is provided: For two to five years after beginning care, you provide daily assistance to your loved one. You may begin to feel the strain of care giving, but are happy to help.

4.       Care continues to be provided: After five years of care giving you enter this stage. You have experienced the ups and downs of being a caregiver and understand your loved one’s needs.

5.       Role as caregiver changes: Either you have decided to hire professional care providers or your loved one’s health is declining. Your role is changing, and your services as caregiver are no longer required to the extent that they once were.

6.       Role as caregiver ends: You reflect back on your experiences and strive to assist others in building successful care giving situations.
Rachael is preparing to care for her mother and, using her knowledge of these stages, will be ready to take on anything that her role as caregiver throws at her.