Book Reviews: Plan Ahead: Tools for the Caregiver

planahead cover 200x300 150x150 Book Reviews: Plan Ahead: Tools for the CaregiverBook Reviews:

While there are many books for caregivers and senior care in general, few are able to distinguish themselves as part workbook, part resource and part guide.  The author, Walt Sonksen has done a nice job putting all three together in this easy-to-read caregiver workbook.  In this book, Walt shares life experiences, as well as those lessons learned  from the deaths of his own parents.  The book encompasses many aspects of family care…  Such as gathering personal information and wishes, transition planning, safety concerns, caregiving options, financial and legal issues, and community resources.

 This handbook is meant to be used before a crisis so the family and their designated caregivers can spend more quality time with their family member.

Plan Ahead: Tools for the Caregiver is a workbook that can be used and written in and is small enough to fit in a purse or tablet pouch.  This is a tool that you will use over time and will add to it as you go along the journey of caregiving. Some of the information is specific to Oregon and Washington, the author resides in the Northwest, however a reader who is resourceful will be able to access similar information for their own area.   The book is geared to the adult caregiver and is focused on senior care, but could apply to any caregiving situation (dependent children, etc…).  Throughout the book you will find checklists, tidbits, personal stories and encouragement.  Several well-respected leaders in the elder care field are also contributors to topics like senior living options, downsizing and moving, and mental health.

The book can be purchased on Amazon for a list price of $16.95.  Additional details and a downloadable Emergency Medical Packet are available at the website, www.planaheadtools.com.


 

November is National Family Caregivers Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and this caregiving stuff is hard work!  And it’s usually not funny… Until Jeff Foxworthy and caregiver  Peter Rosenberger teamed up with AARP to provide some comic relief on the subject.

Across the country 42 million people, primarily women, between the ages 40 – 60 are faced with the challenge of providing care to their older family members and friends each and every day.

These are the unsung heros of today.  These caregivers support the people we all love.  Caregivers take on a variety of roles as providing this care can come in all forms.   From taking mom to the doctor’s office, to managing medications, to total care of a loved one.  New research from AARP suggests that caregiver’s personal health and overall well-being can be greatly affected by the physical and emotional strain of caregiving, but many caregivers are reluctant to ask for help.  The Ad Council has released a series of new Public Service Advertisements (PSAs) that explore the many roles caregivers take on and provide resources to help them cope with their daily responsibilities.

Here are some resources to share to help recognize caregivers everywhere for the important work they do:

  • The new website, ThanksProject.org, where you can share a message of thanks with a caregiver you know and post it publicly alongside other messages from people across the country to illustrate the number of caregivers nationwide.
  • A new online quiz to help identify if you are a caregiver: click here for online quiz
  • If you or a caregiver you know needs support, a caregiver support group is imperative for the health and wellbeing of the caregiver.

If you are a caregiver, or you know someone who is, please be a part of this important campaign. Visit aarp.org/caregiving for more tools and resources.  And hug a caregiver today.

Five More Senior Care Experts You Should Follow On Twitter

In June we wrote a piece called “5 Aging Experts You Should Be Following On Twitter“.  It was a popular post and features some of our favorite eldercare advocates that you should be following on Twitter (if you’re into tweeting).   Today we thought we’d give you 5 more senior care experts that you should add to your list.  Drum-roll please…

#1) Dr. Kathy Johnson is the Founder and CEO of Home Care Assistance. She is a certified care manager, psychologist and caregiver, and tweets about a multitude of aging issues (and solutions).

#2) Lynn Wilson founded The Care Giver Partnership, which provides advice, services, resources and products to Caregivers and their loved ones.

#3)  Nanette Davis, Ph.D.  is a writer, speaker, advocate and life coach for caregivers.  She’s also a community educator who’s written several books including; “The ABCs of Caregiving: Words to Inspire You” and “Caregiving Our Loved Ones: Stories and Strategies That Will Change Your Life”.

#4) Beverly Parsons is a licensed clinical social worker who has 12 years of geriatric care management experience working with aging families.  Beverly is also a family mediator who helps families navigate troubled waters.

#5)  Dementia Journeys – John Belchamber founded Dementia Journeys with great inspiration from his mother Anne.  He found comfort sharing his feelings through writing AND sharing with others.  A very nice dementia resource.

 

We hope you enjoy the above senior care experts on Twitter.  Click here to find The Senior List on Twitter, we look forward to interacting with you on Twitter soon!

Also, make sure you follow us on Facebook today or just click the big “f” and then click LIKE.

  facebook2 app Five More Senior Care Experts You Should Follow On Twitter

5 Aging Experts You Should Be Following On Twitter

1. Keith Maderer is a financial and estate advisor who has some great posts about aging and estate issues. He’s also an accomplished author and speaker. Keith is from Western NY and has over 30,000 followers!

 

2. Barbara McVicker is a caregiving expert focusing on financial, emotional & physical stress of caregiving, (as well as elder care benefits & the work-life balance). She’s also a public speaker on the subject matter. Barbara is from Columbus, Ohio and has over 4,600 followers.

 

3. Denise Brown is a caregiving author, speaker and caregiving coach. She also founded CareGiving.com a website dedicated to assisting families with caregiver stories and solutions. Denise has over 12,000 twitter followers.

 

4. Carol Bradley Bursack is a columnist, author, consultant and speaker. She wrote the book “Minding Our Elders” (hey that would make a good twitter handle…) and has appeared as a resident caregiving expert in her many media appearances. Carol has over 2,900 followers.

 

5. Dr. Bill Thomas is an author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose life’s work explores the terrain of human aging. Dr. Thomas founded a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people. Our favorite quote pulled from his website ““What we need is a radical reinterpretation of longevity that makes elders (and their needs) central to our collective pursuit of happiness and well-being.” If that by itself doesn’t implore you to follow him… nothing will. Dr. Bill has over 3,000 followers.

Paying for Long Term Care- Are You Prepared?

canstockphoto6257634 150x150 Paying for Long Term Care  Are You Prepared?Americans are doing little to prepare for long term care and are not very concerned.  Maybe they don’t need to be concerned, but they should be terrified!  A recent poll released by AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and reported in the national media, verified a major factor contributing to the long term care funding crisis in this country: Two out of every three people over the age of 40, according to the poll, have made no plans regarding paying for long term care, and it is a topic they prefer to not consider.  The irony is that seven out of ten people will need long term care services once they pass the age of 65.  The poll also showed the continuing lack of understanding about how long term care is funded.  Misconceptions continue that Medicare will pay for anything more than 100 days of skilled nursing rehabilitation care.  Health insurance plans don’t cover long term care services, long term care insurance is limited and restrictive in coverage, and Medicaid will only cover long term care (primarily nursing home) once a recipient has spent-down their assets to below the poverty level.

The irony is that seven out of ten people will need long term care services once they pass the age of 65 - AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The growing population of Boomers retiring, and seniors requiring long term care services is creating enormous pressure on the system and an urgent drive to find new private pay solutions.  One private pay resource that is on the rise is converting life insurance policies into Long Term Care Benefits.  Millions of seniors own life insurance policies that they are in danger of abandoning without realizing they could quickly and easily convert the policy into a monthly Long Term Care Benefit Plan.  These Benefit Plans will pay for any form of long term care service including home care, assisted living, and skilled nursing care; and any type of life insurance policy will qualify for conversion.

Private Pay Solutions Emerge

The long term care industry has been quick to embrace this concept and today thousands of assisted living communities, nursing homes and home health companies accept this funding method.  Political leaders too have begun to realize the cost saving implications for their beleaguered Medicaid budgets by extending the time a person could remain private pay before becoming Medicaid eligible through the conversion of a life insurance policy as an alternative to abandoning the policy through lapse or surrender.

Medicaid is a government program designed to help cover health care costs for the indigent (poor), disabled and children and/or dependents.  The eligibility process is determined by asset and income levels that would measure an applicant as being below the poverty level.  One of the assets that will count against a Medicaid applicant is a life insurance policy.  The owner of the policy must surrender the policy for any cash value and spend it down on care, or if the policy has no cash value and the owner keeps it the estate will be subject to federally mandated asset recovery probate action against the death benefit collected by the estate to claw back all Medicaid expenditures.  Because of this reality, financial planners, elder law attorney’s and geriatric care advisers have provided seniors and their families with the default guidance that in the case of ownership of life insurance policy (not including funeral policy exemptions), a life insurance policy still owned by the senior inside the 5 year look back period should be abandoned.

Medicaid is a government program designed to help cover health care costs for the indigent (poor), disabled and children and/or dependents.

Political Support Arrives Just in Time

States are now coming to the realization that there is a much higher value found through the conversion of a life policy that can be deployed to extend private-pay as a Long Term Care Benefit Plan.  Any owner of a life insurance policy has the legal right to convert it into a Long Term Care Benefit Plan.  In 2010, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) passed a national consumer protection model law that would mandate life insurance companies must disclose to policy owners about their legal right to convert their life insurance policies instead of abandoning them via lapse or surrender.  The life insurance industry opposes anything that would discourage policy owners’ from abandoning their life insurance (because life insurance companies make huge profits off of seniors that have paid premiums for years and then abandon their policies in the last years of their life).

Since passage of the NCOIL national model law; legislation has been introduced in numerous states to empower Medicaid departments to educate citizens that the conversion of their life insurance policies is their legal right and a better option than abandonment of their policies.  As of May 2013, the states of FL, TX, KY, LA, and ME have introduced this legislation and numerous other states are preparing to introduce the same bill for enactment.  Over the course of this year and next, people will continue to become more aware of their option to convert a life insurance policy to pay for long term care.  All across the country the long term care industry and political leaders are looking for private pay options that not only help people pay for long term care, but save the tax payer money by delaying Medicaid eligibility.

Paying for Long Term Care: Three Clear Winners

1.     The policy conversion option is a clear winner for seniors and their families; providers of long term care services; and for tax payers in every state.  The policy owner and their family are able to convert a life insurance policy and use the proceeds in a Medicaid qualified spend-down to extend the time they are private pay before moving to government assistance.  This allows freedom to choose the form of care they want, as well as financial control and dignity for themselves and their families.

2.     Providers of long-term care services benefit because they are operating under extremely thin margins and private pay dollars translate into higher quality services for covered care.

3.     The longer a person can remain private pay before becoming Medicaid-eligible, the more budget/tax savings for the us tax paying citizens.

Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid Pants

navy safetybunns Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid PantsOne of our members at The Senior List on Facebook submitted an interesting article about her company called; Safety Bunns!  Obviously we had to inquire about them and found a really creative idea that offers seniors a safer seat at the table… This product offers safety grips on the back of the pant legs so a person doesn’t slip out of their wheelchair, dining room chair or any other slippery sitting surface.  This is a product that solves a very common problem… with a very simple solution!  Think of them as studded snow tires vs. snow tires.  Snow tires can do the job… but Studs give you a little bit more grippage, and a lot more confidence… icon smile Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid Pants  SafetyBunns2 150x150 Safety Bunns Offer Non Skid Pants

Barb Przybylowicz, (a nurse for over 33 years) developed Safety Bunns after caring for her ailing father.  Her many years of serving seniors (as well as her father) led her to identify a need, and she filled it.  Click thru to read more about Safety Bunns.

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A Letter From A Mother To Her Daughter

Sometimes you see something on social media that really moves you.  This is one of those pieces… You can find it here and there (on the internet) and on Facebook, but if you haven’t read it yet- it’s more than worth it.  These moving words are reportedly penned by Guillermo Peña, and translated to English by Sergio Cadena.  The photo is also reportedly taken by Mr. Peña.  Enjoy!
Mother Daughter A Letter From A Mother To Her Daughter

A Letter From A Mother To Her Daughter (by Guillermo Peña)

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me.
Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter. “

Original Text in Spanish and Photo by Guillermo Peña. Translation to English by Sergio Cadena

Caregiving During The Holidays

Holiday Surprise 300x198 Caregiving During The HolidaysThe year-end holidays are coming, and I want you to think for a moment about your plans to celebrate.  Rather than do your traditional celebrations, please consider alternative plans and reducing the burden to both honor and support your loved one.  People who are dealing with chronic ailments or who are in pain shouldn’t be expected to go through the holidays as they once did.  No matter how much you (or they) may want “the usual traditions”, you need to take into account reduced stamina and increase frailty.

Tips For Caregiving During The Holidays

Be sure you include your loved one in the planning process, this is very important.  They may want to do everything as it’s always been done… So you’ll need to help your loved one understand that there needs to be new traditions started (in order to account for the place you all find yourselves in now).  That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t celebrate!  It’s just a way of remembering that whatever you do, you need to take your loved one’s state-of-health into account.

Here are a few examples of how to reduce stress on your loved one:

  • Instead of a day-long cookie-baking extravaganza that will only exhaust mom, why not pre-bake the cookies?  That way mom can join in the shortened party to decorate them.  She’s still participating, but at a level she can handle.
  • Instead of the big traditional holiday dinner, why not down-size to a series of short events with much lighter menus.  A tea-and-cookies event, wine and appetizers, or even a bring your favorite soup party?
  • Folks who are frail and those suffering from dementia can be overwhelmed by even a handful of familiar faces.  It quickly becomes too much information to recall, too much energy to absorb, and your loved one may respond not with enjoyment, but with highly anxious behaviors.  It’s a good reason to keep your gatherings very small, maybe only two or three people at a time.
  • For the elderly, the process of selecting, buying and wrapping gifts may be too taxing.  Instead of doing a gift exchange, what not use the time to pull out the family photo albums, videos or 8 mm movies?  Other alternatives to spending time exchanging gifts would be to play board or card games that your loved one enjoys, or watch holiday-themed videos.  Our family holds a comic movie film fest.  Laughing together really makes for a great holiday mood.

You get the idea—think small and intimate.  You can still do all the holiday decorating, just have mom supervise from her favorite chair.  You can share and enjoy the music and food of the season.  Just keep your loved one’s state of health in mind and then make appropriate plans.

Blessings, Joanne

Photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Hearing Aid Market Growth

Siemens hearing aid Hearing Aid Market Growth

The Hearing Aid Market

There’s an awful lot of confusion out there about hearing aids.  This is a $6 billion dollar industry today and CNBC reports the hearing aid market growth could reach $8 billion by 2018!  Hearing aids can cost consumers between a couple hundred dollars to thousands (ya that’s a plural)!  The secondary market is also booming… Hearing aid adjustments AND service.  So where can you turn for reliable information about hearing aids?  As it turns out… Reliable information is hard to find.  It’s extremely clouded by marketing companies trying to make a buck.  The Senior List did find some quality articles that we’re happy to forward on.  Additionally, we’ll be looking into this market much more closely, and making some recommendations down the road.

Walkman & iPod Add To Hearing Loss Numbers

Just as we’ve watched (and reported on) the medical alert (and fall detection) market, we’re going to begin tracking the hearing aid market growth much more closely in an effort to help consumers navigate these confusing waters.  With millions of boomers and seniors already in the market for hearing aids, this industry is due to explode.  In a matter of years, those of us that experienced the “Walkman Revolution” will be in our 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.  Things didn’t just stop with the Sony Walkman… they drastically accelerated to Microsoft Zune and the ubiquitous iPod.  If hearing loss is an issue today (and it is a BIG issue) think about what the next decade holds!  This industry will boom in the coming years, and what’s needed is some focus and transparency here.  Opportunities abound for (legitimate) companies that gain the public’s trust and build their brand.  If the value proposition is there, this is one of those rare situations where consumers AND manufacturers will win.

“In a matter of years, those of us that experienced the “Walkman Revolution” will be in our 50′s, 60′s and 70′s.  Things didn’t just stop with the Sony Walkman… they drastically accelerated to Microsoft Zune and the ubiquitous iPod.”

Read More:  For now, here are some great resources to consider before taking the plunge.

Why Won’t They Get Hearing Aids?     The Hunt for an Affordable Hearing Aid     How to Buy a Hearing Aid

Driving Refresher Courses For Seniors

hand and car Driving Refresher Courses For SeniorsVision, hearing and reaction times begin to slightly lag over the years and coming to grips with this may lead to fear that one day you won’t be able to drive anymore. So, rather than living in denial and waiting for this to inevitably happen, be proactive and look for driving refresher courses for seniors!  Not only will this hone your skills as a older driver, it will also save you a lot of money on insurance rates, as it will prove that you have stayed on top of being a responsible driver.

According to CBS News, one in five drivers will be over the age of 65 within the next 15 years, so senior-driver improvement courses are going to become more common.

Taking Courses can Lead to Big Savings

Insurance companies offer a wide variety of driving refresher courses for seniors. Leading companies offer brain-training courses to seniors, and those who pass receive discounts on their otherwise higher premiums, as their elevated age is often considered risky. Various studies conducted by the state of New York have found that drivers in their late 70s have the same number of injury-involved accidents per mile driven as drivers in their early 20s.

Drivers who are 85 years of age and older are injured or killed in crashes more then any other age group — meaning they are more dangerous than a freshly licensed teenager in a sports car. These stats reveal the importance of driver-improvement courses. Those seeking senior car insurance have options to reduce rates and even earn discounts from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). A little research can unearth the knowledge needed to pursue the best possible insurance option.

Defensive Driving

Seniors can also improve their driving and insurance prospects through defensive-driving training. It’s the same as the defensive-driving test younger drivers take to keep points off their driving records when they receive a moving violation. The courses are regularly revised with up-to-date information about driving laws and techniques. Courses are available online for those who want to study in the privacy of their own homes. Face-to-face defensive-driving courses are usually located at classrooms with parking lots and traffic cones.

You can also just follow a few rules on your own to improve your driving as a senior. Driving at or just below the speed limit on surface streets will help to lessen your chance of getting into an accident. However, don’t drive too slowly — slow driving is a major cause of accidents. Sit high enough in your car to see at least ten feet in front of you and add a cushion if the seat won’t adjust high enough. Try not to drive at night very often, as your vision will be challenged.

The more you work on your driving, the longer and more safely you will be behind the wheel, enjoying the freedoms of driving a car.