November is National Family Caregiver Awareness Month, and there is no shortage of reasons to celebrate. Family caregivers make tremendous personal sacrifices, and provide an enormous social safety net for millions of people in need. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more than 43 million of these everyday heroes provided unpaid care to a dependent relative last year. On average, this same research shows they spend about 21 hours a week helping loved ones, with about one-quarter dedicating more than 40 hour a week.
While deserving of high-praise, it is worth noting that family caregiving dynamics can lead to family strife. Typically, the bulk of care responsibilities falls on one person, known as the primary caregiver. It is important for spouses, adult siblings, and other relatives to understand all that this entails including, but not limited to, diminished personal and professional opportunities, basing routine life decisions around the well-being of the dependent person, and high-levels of emotional stress.
When combining the rigors of assisting with daily activities, such as meal preparation, bathing and dressing, as well as transportation and medical support, caregiving can be downright exhausting. As a result, family caregivers often struggle with taking care of themselves and with having feelings of being taken for granted.
A primary caregiver, however, should acknowledge any resentments they have with siblings, spouses, and other relatives stemming from their choice to volunteer to provide dependent-care. Practical steps to resolve conflict can be taken once a basic understanding of roles is achieved. Let us share a few examples with you here:.
Family caregivers should share important medical and health information without oversimplifying or holding back.
Relatives should keep in mind that dependent loved ones may say things that are not necessarily true.
Family caregivers should be able to ask relatives for help, but without infusing guilt or anger. Caregiver relatives need to oblige whenever possible.
Commit to healthy, timely communication, and do not let stressful issues tear your family apart.
Even the most “functional” families bring baggage to the table when addressing important care decisions, especially regarding items like powers of attorney, financial management, and health care estate planning. We encourage you not to wait to meet with an elder care attorney who understands these issues. He or she can have the added benefit of serving as an objective third-party who is immune to emotional family disputes, while providing expert legal guidance on important matters. Do not wait to contact our law practice with your questions this November and throughout the year.
Did you know Baby Boomers are a designated group of people who were born between 1946 and 1964? In fact, 76.4 million people were born during that 22-year period. This group comprises about one-quarter of the U.S. population.
A Baby Boomer born before 1954 is at least 65 years of age and is accordingly entitled to Medicare medical assistance if he or she has received Social Security credits for 40 quarters of coverage. This means he or she has paid into Social Security for at least 10 years.
A person aged 65 and older who has not received credit from Social Security for 29 quarters of coverage has to pay a $437 per month premium in 2019 for Medicare coverage. An individual who has 30-39 quarters of Social Security credits must pay a $240 per month premium in 2019 for Medicare coverage. Persons of any age who have end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis can also receive this coverage at no cost. Likewise, a person who has received Social Security disability benefits or Railroad Retirement Disability Income for 24 months or longer is eligible for Medicare.
A person under 65 years of age is only categorically entitled to Medicaid medical assistance if his or her income is less $12,060 per year and his or her countable assets are less than $2,000. Fortunately, persons under age 65 with expensive health care needs may still be entitled to the Medicaid share of cost program. This is for people who make too much money to qualify for regular Medicaid but not enough money to pay for their healthcare needs.
This program essentially allows people to subtract their medical expenses from their income and qualify for Medicaid if and when their medical expenses reach a certain amount determined by the Department of Children and Families. The day a person’s health care expenses for the month exceed his or her share of cost, Medicaid coverage begins. From that day until the end of the month, the person has full Medicaid coverage. On the first day of the next month, a person is again without coverage until health care expenses exceed his or her share of cost.
These are critical considerations for both our Florida Baby Boomer clients and their loved ones.
Knowing just what health care coverage you are entitled to and what is paid for needs to be a priority, especially during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period. Remember, in almost all instances, there is a provider who will cover custodial long-term care needs. We can plan forward with you and your loved ones for these expenses. Do not wait to contact us to schedule a meeting.
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.
Baby Boomers are facing many of the same aging challenges that their parents, the Greatest Generation, once faced.
Among them, are falls.
It may seem like an insignificant problem that only impacts the elderly, but health statistics prove otherwise. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an alarming one-in-four adults aged 65 and over fall every year, and the resulting injuries are often devastating.
One way to prevent falls, is by recognizing early warning signs and taking appropriate actions.
1- Have you fallen in the past year? Bear in mind, research shows that those who have fallen, are likely to fall again.
2- Do you sometimes feel unsteady when walking? Balance issues can be reduced through techniques such as exercise, assistive devices, or even changing medications. Do not wait to talk to your doctor about this.
3- Are you worried about falling, beyond being unsteady? You may be worried for good reason. Make sure to talk to your doctor for advice.
4- Do you often need to rush to the toilet? Rushing to the bathroom, especially at night, causes an elevated risk of tripping. Is your home bedroom or hallway well-lit?
5- Do you take medicines that make you light-headed or drowsy? Bear in mind, medicines with certain side effects can be switched for safer alternatives.
6- Have you been advised by a medical professional to use a walker or cane? Prescribed walking aids are a clear indication that an older adult is at risk of falling. It’s important to realize, however, that walkers, canes and other mobility devices are safety tools that support senior independence, and not a sign of weakness.
7- Is stepping up on a sidewalk curb difficult? This could be a sign of leg weakness and lack of flexibility.
8- Have you lost some degree of feeling in your feet? Lower extremity numbness can cause stumbling.
9- Is getting out of a chair difficult? Muscular weakness and perhaps weight issues are major contributors to falling.
Did you know according to this institute, a minimum of three affirmative responses indicates a legitimate risk of falling? Know that falling is not a normal part of aging. Do not forget there is never a wrong time to address these issues or meet with your elder care attorney to develop a plan for your long-term needs now, and for the future.
How much do you know about Attorney Scott A. Selis?
Scott is the founder of Selis Elder Law of Florida, focusing on the Elder Care, Elder Law, and Estate Planning practice areas.
During his free time, Scott has been an avid participant in the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section, acting as Assistant Chair of the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section, and serving as both Chair and Co-Chair of the Florida Bar Elder Law Sections’ Legislative Committee from 2012-2017. In 2012, Scott received a public service award from the Florida Bar’s Elder Law Section. Four years later, in 2016, Scott was awarded the Florida Bar Elder Law Section’s Elder Law Attorney of the Year. In addition, Scott served on a statewide Task Force that advocates for the elderly and disabled.
Scott received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his J.D. from Stetson University’s College of Law. Scott has been married to Kimberly since 1984, and is the proud father of three children and grandfather of two grandchildren.
Do you know what Elder Law is?
You may be wondering what exactly Elder Law is and what it entails. Elder Law and Elder Care Law both focus on the legal planning, advocacy, and guidance you need as a Florida senior.
Elder Law is a broad area of law that encompasses a large amount of services. While Elder Law is not only relevant for seniors, its primary focus is on the handling of your assets while you are still alive and preparing for your retirement and end-of-life care. An Elder Law attorney helps you accomplish your goals by creating trusts, a long-term care plan for you, helping you obtain long-term care insurance, and applying for government benefits on your behalf to help you receive the benefits you deserve and may be entitled to.
Also, an Elder Law attorney is familiar with the specific challenges that a senior faces, such as senior exploitation and issues with Medicare, and can help you create a plan that ensures your assets, needs, and loved ones are protected as you age.
In particular, Selis Elder Law of Florida focuses on making long-term care affordable for people that do not have long-term care insurance by restructuring assets to qualify for government benefits.
Scott also handles probate, trust administration, and guardianship.
We encourage you to ask us your questions about the types of legal services you need and gain insight on the steps you need to take. Remember, we work with Florida families just like yours to help them find and obtain the planning they need for the future. Do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule an appointment for your Elder Law related needs.
Did you know that more than 130 million Americans are living with chronic illness, a quarter of which are between the ages of 65 and 74?
Unfortunately, chronic illness is more common than many think, and can affect any of us at any time. As unexpected and overwhelming a chronic illness diagnosis can be, it is imperative to begin, or modify, your planning process to account for the safety and protection of your loved one. To help get you started, let us share with you a few tips when it comes to planning for loved ones with chronic conditions.
First, we encourage you to learn all you can about your loved one’s chronic illness.
Take some time to research the condition, including the symptoms your loved one may present and the challenges he or she may face as a result of the condition. You may also wish to research treatment plans as well as ways to make your loved one more comfortable as the condition progresses.
Once you have a better understanding of your loved one’s chronic condition, the next step is to review any planning he or she has already completed. We encourage you to evaluate whether his or her current estate plan accounts for this type of unexpected situation, including any long-term care plans. Some important components to look out for include your loved one’s health care coverage, insurance, and whether he or she has a durable power of attorney.
When both you and your loved one feel ready, you may find peace of mind speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney to help guide you through this challenging time. Further, an estate planning attorney can advise you on the steps you could take to plan for a loved one with a chronic condition and account for his or her specific needs.
We encourage you to ask us your questions about this important topic. We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers and we want you to have the support you and your aging loved ones need. Do not hesitate to reach out to our office and schedule a meeting on this issue or any elder care concerns.