Striking the Balance Between Work and Caregiving as Your Parents Age

Striking the Balance Between Work and Caregiving as Your Parents Age

It is a story as old as time. Our parents care for us when we are young. Many of us return the favor as our parents age. While it sounds simple in theory, that is seldom the case in reality, especially now as we find ourselves facing these uncertain times. In addition to Covid-19, one of the biggest challenges for millions of young caregivers is how to take care of their aging or ailing parents while juggling demanding jobs.

Did you know a recent estimate puts the number of unpaid caregivers in the United States at more than 40 million? The same estimate indicates that most of these family caregivers have difficulty coping with work and caregiving responsibilities. Unfortunately, there are two significant, but unintended consequences. The first is that a caregiver’s job performance often suffers, with work productivity dropping by at least 18 percent. The second is that these caregivers need to take time off from work, resulting in lost work hours valued at more than $25 billion.

Studies show that another, less reported, consequence of spending less time at work or quitting work to take on full-time caregiving responsibilities may include the loss of benefits. Examples of these benefits that are needed by young families may include not only a loss of a paycheck but health care insurance, company sponsored retirement plans, or all of it.

How can we help these families? In our firm, we work every day to help both Florida seniors and their adult children get the elder care support they need. In addition to what we recommend in our meetings, experts recommend the following to help young caregivers balance work and caring for a loved one:

  • Create a family calendar to track relevant appointments, delegate chores and manage medication
  • Seek support and guidance from your local agency on aging
  • Review your employee handbook to see which if any policies apply to your situation.
  • Try to limit caregiving tasks, such as scheduling medical appointments, to personal time as much as possible
  • Arrange for a coworker to cover for you if you have to leave work suddenly when possible

As a caregiver and employee, it is important that you are open and honest with your employer. By speaking with him or her about your situation, you may be able to create a plan that works for everyone. During your conversation, be sure to ask about:

  • When you can take paid or unpaid leave
  • The possibility of flexible scheduling
  • Job sharing
  • Respite programs
  • How to get help through Employee Assistance programs

Finally, be sure to ask your employer about your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. This is a federal law that allows certain American workers to take up to 12 weeks off of work per year. Under the law, eligible workers can do so without pay, but without risk of losing their jobs. To be eligible for time off under the FMLA, you and your employer must meet specific requirements. If you do not, all is not lost, however. You may have similar rights under applicable state laws.

We understand it may be difficult to have these conversations, so we are here to support you on this and any of your elder care concerns. Please do not wait until you feel completely overwhelmed to ask for help. Contact our law office to schedule a meeting with us today.

Tips On Understanding The Difference Between Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Tips On Understanding The Difference Between Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Growing old gracefully is easier said than done. Many of us often have trouble asking for help. Further, it is often difficult for Florida seniors to admit when they are having difficulties with things that once came easily, especially when it comes to understanding the difference between Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. 

This is just one of the reasons why having objective means for assessing their needs is so important. In the context of elder care these can include Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs, and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADLs. Let us share a few key differences that can help you and the Florida seniors you love in understanding the difference between Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living and navigating the challenges surrounding long-term care.

Let us start by answering the question: What are Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)? In all, there are six ADLs. They include: 

1. Walking, or otherwise being able to move from one place to another on foot, either indoors or outside. The clinical term for this is “ambulating.”

2. Feeding, or the use of fingers or utensils to move food from a plate or bowl into one’s mouth.

3. Dressing and grooming, or the ability to choose what to wear, putting clothes on properly, and shaving, brushing one’s hair, brushing one’s teeth and so on.

4. Toileting, or the ability to get on and off the toilet, use it properly, and cleaning oneself.

5. Bathing, or the ability to clean one’s face and body in the bath or shower.

6. Transferring, or the ability to shift  from one body position to another. This includes the ability to maneuver from a bed to a chair, or into a wheelchair. This can also include the ability to stand up from a bed or chair in order to access a walker or similar device.

When you enlist the help of a health care provider, the amount of assistance that the Older American needs with each ADL is also noted in assessment of overall function.

By contrast, let us share key insight into Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). While ADLs may be classified as basic life skills, IADLs are more complex. They can include: 

  • Household chores: Including dusting, vacuuming, doing dishes and so forth.
  • Laundry, including making sure that clothes and other items are washed or dry cleaned as needed.
  • Managing finances, such as paying bills on time, keeping track of bank balances and so on.
  • Medication management, which can include taking prescription medications as directed.
  • Making meals, which can include preparing and cooking or making food.
  • Shopping for food, and other lifetime necessities.
  • Transportation concerns which can include the ability to get from place to place by driving, or on public transit, moving from one residence to another and so forth.
  • Using communication devices which can include the ability to use the phone and computer to contact friends and family or call for help if needed.

It is important for you to begin to understand how ADLs and IADLs are used. Although assessments of  IADLs are not used to determine whether someone can qualify for public benefits programs such as Florida Medicaid, assessments of ADLs are. Specifically, Florida Medicaid states that to be eligible, someone must need help with two or more ADLs.

In general, health care providers use these tools to evaluate a person’s physical and mental capabilities as they age. By doing so, they can determine what type of care and supervision is warranted. As elder care lawyers, we also work with seniors and their loved ones each and every day to understand these issues. We know the challenges you face and we encourage you to schedule a meeting to discuss this and any other concerns you may have.

How Adult Children Can Protect Their Aging Parents from “Lonely Heart” Scams

How Adult Children Can Protect Their Aging Parents from “Lonely Heart” Scams

As Valentine’s Day approaches, people of all ages will begin to show much they love and care for their significant others. Flowers, chocolates, and romantic dinner dates are part of what Valentine’s Day is all about. Sadly, the occasion can be difficult for those lacking in desired companionship, and seniors are often among the most impacted. Aging adults suffer a higher incidence of loneliness and social isolation than other groups, partly because family members, friends and spouses have moved on or passed away. 

To make matters worse, scammers and criminals use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to take advantage of “lonely heart” seniors and exploit them financially. In fact, financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that law enforcement sometimes calls it “the crime of the 21st century.”  

Did you know there are ways adult children can protect their aging parents from “Lonely Heart” scams? There is no question exploiting seniors is appalling. It is also illegal, and adult children can help vulnerable parents by getting involved early. Let us share a few tips with you on our blog. 

First, teach an aging parent how to spot an online relationship scam. Let them know the following:

  • If someone seems too perfect, they probably are. 
  • Scammers tend to move quickly from expressing emotions to asking for money.
  • After meeting in a shared forum, like Facebook, scammers will often try to get seniors to communicate in a private online setting, like email, messenger apps, or phone. Instead, tell an aging parent to break off communication.
  • Warn elder parents about emotional manipulation. It is a serious red-flag, for example, if someone professes deep-seated love online and then starts pushing for personal information or money. 

Second, help them understand the Lonely Heart do’s and don’ts such as:

  • Never send money or credit card information online to someone you have never met in person. 
  • Never send personal information that can be used for identity theft.
  • If you are going to buy something, stick to reputable and secure websites.
  • Cut off contact as soon as someone online starts asking for credit card, bank, or government ID numbers.
  • Do your online research. Scammers like to steal photos to use in their profiles and use false information when grooming senior victims. 
  • If you feel your senior parent has been targeted, shut down all communication with the suspicious person and contact the police and the oversight function for the online forum.

These are just a few of the ways children can help protect their aging parents from “Lonely Heart” scams. If you believe a parent has been the victim of an online financial scam, do not wait to contact law enforcement and an experienced attorney to learn more about your rights, as well as, appropriate courses of action. We know you may have questions about this, and many other, elder care issues. Do not wait to schedule a meeting in our law office to have your questions answered.

Why Visiting Elder Loved Ones in Nursing Homes is so Important

Why Visiting Elder Loved Ones in Nursing Homes is so Important

Did you know taking the time to visit elder loved ones in a nursing home isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s also a way to support their health? Studies show that social isolation and loneliness have profoundly negative effects on the elderly that can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Nursing home visits can go a long way toward combating isolation, but there are also other benefits.

Nursing home residents typically love to receive visitors. Wouldn’t you? It gives them something to look forward to and keeps them engaged with the outside world. It’s also emotionally stimulating. Visits spark positive memories and lets elder residents know that people they care about still care about them. 

Remember, family members are not the only individuals who may visit. Friendly visits, from neighbors and local friends, not only offer opportunities for socialization but also offer opportunities to spot trouble. Nursing homes are supposed to be reassuring residential communities where aging loved ones spend their final years in peace and comfort. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The National Council on Aging estimates that about 1 in 10 seniors has experienced some form of elder abuse in a community setting, and as little as 1 in 14 cases are ever reported to the authorities. Always be vigilant when visiting an elder loved one or friend and make sure to look for signs of neglect as well as physical abuse. 

Another important reason to visit is that it is always a chance to gauge the elder person’s health. Busy staff members might not recognize subtle changes in physical behavior or mental acuity, and identifying early warning signs can help avoid emergencies, like a fall or stroke. It’s also helpful to discuss prescription medications and any related side effects that might cause discomfort or harm. Curious family members and friends may be the only opportunity where a senior feels comfortable to express his or her concerns.  

Finally, nursing home visits create new, enjoyable memories. Just because an aging adult lives in a long-term care facility doesn’t mean everything worthwhile in life is in the past. They can still bond with people who care about them, no matter where they are now living. There is also never a wrong time to answer questions and get the support you need in your local community. We work with Florida seniors and their loved ones each and every day, and encourage you to schedule a meeting to discuss this topic or any elder care questions you may have.

As Your Parents Age, You Need to Talk to Them About Updating Their Estate Plan

As Your Parents Age, You Need to Talk to Them About Updating Their Estate Plan

We often find that adult children and their aging parents will come to our office and present to us, their newly recommended estate planning attorney, a last will and testament that is at least twenty years old. This estate planning document nominates a brother or a sister as a guardian for the minor children. It also provides for the assets to be distributed on death to a bank trust company that is to retain the assets in trust until the children have attained age 21. 

One of the problems with this estate plan, which needs updating, is that the youngest of the children is now age 25 and the eldest is age 35. In addition, the bank nominated in the last will and testament to serve as the trustee is no longer in business. Further, if there was a trust agreement, it was never funded.

In this scenario, we are fortunate that the parents lived these many years and it was not necessary to use the estate plan, or even fund the trust. In situations like this, one of the ways we can help the parents is by drafting a new estate plan that corrects these issues. For example, the new trust agreement could dispense with the need for a guardian of minor children and name a trust company now in existence to serve as the trustee.

The parents, however, have aged to the point that a new estate plan alone is not sufficient for them. The parents need their own updated advanced directives in the event of a disability. Therefore, the parents will also need to consider signing, at a minimum, durable powers of attorney, health care surrogate designations, and living wills. 

Further, they need to consider long-term care planning.

An estate plan alone will not be sufficient to help them be able to afford the high cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility with memory care or a skilled nursing home. Medicare is also not able to help with the cost of the daily custodial care. The parents need an estate plan but also an elder care plan that can help them plan for how they will be able to afford long-term care and not lose their lifetime of savings.

We work with parents and adult children each day to tackle this difficult issue.

The key is to not put off this type of planning as time is of the essence. If you have questions on this or any issue, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting.

9 Tips for Seniors to Protect Themselves Against Elder Abuse

9 Tips for Seniors to Protect Themselves Against Elder Abuse

Every June 15th, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

This is an opportunity for all of us to learn about the mistreatment of Older Americans together with ways to prevent it.

Unfortunately, research tells us elder abuse continues to be on the rise across the nation.

Whether it is due to the increasing population of seniors in America today or from new ways to report it is happening, this is a potential epidemic we all need to be aware of.

How can you help your aging loved ones stay safe? How can you ensure they are safe inside and outside the home? Regrettably, over 60% of all cases start with a family member. Our goal is to help educate you on this critical elder care issue. In honor of this annual event, let us share nine ways the seniors you know can protect themselves.

1. Devise a plan in advance. Talk with family and friends, and anyone else you trust, about what to do if you ever feel you’re at risk of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

2. Keep in touch with your support system on a regular basis. Isolation is unhealthy, and it can also make you vulnerable to abuse.

3. Stay active within your personal network. This includes getting involved in senior-friendly activities and social groups. Forge friendships with those who would understand if you needed to share your concerns or experiences.

4. Continue to get more education. Learn about the different types of elder abuse, which can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature, but also may include financial exploitation and forms of neglect.

5. Try to avoid scams. Try to make it your practice not give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number over the phone or on the internet. Also, register your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce contact with telemarketers and aggressive sales people.

6. Ask for help. Again, when possible consult someone you trust before taking any actions involving your signature or large amounts of money. Do not allow yourself to be pressured or intimidated into making decisions.

7. Check in on your Florida estate planning documents. Your documents can ensure that a trusted individual can have legal authority to make decisions should you need help. For example, consider a durable power of attorney. This is a legal document that allows a trusted confidant to make decisions on your behalf, including when you are incapable of handling your own affairs.

8. Do your research. Anyone who is going to help you needs to be fully checked out. Make sure your caregivers have been properly screened, and criminal background checks have been completed.

9. Report abuse immediately. There are plenty of people who can help. Tell trusted family members and friends as soon as possible, and know that doctors, health care professionals, clergy, and others, have a mandatory duty to contact the authorities. Further, in Florida you can report to ensure that you can be kept safe under all circumstances!

We know this can be a difficult topic to discuss and even harder to manage. Do not wait to ask us your elder care issues. We are your local community law firm here to help you and your loved ones in the state of Florida.