Older Americans Month Involves Much Needed Resources for Family Caregivers

Older Americans Month Involves Much Needed Resources for Family Caregivers

Since 1963, the month of May has been devoted to honoring and supporting the nation’s senior population. Older Americans are an indispensable part of our shared society and the annual May designation of National Older Americans Month formally recognizes their value. May is also National Elder Law Month, which is dedicated to promoting and providing legal support for a wide range of senior-related issues. 

Without the aid of family caregivers, however, millions of seniors could be at risk. Indeed, family caregivers are integral to year-round elder care. In honor of National Older Americans Month, National Elder Law Month and family caregivers across the country, let us share a few much needed resources on our blog.

1. Respite care. Caregiving can be a tremendous sacrifice in terms of time, money, and opportunity costs, especially if a senior loved one has a physical or mental health disability. Often, caregivers are at risk of developing their own health problems due to exhaustion and unmet needs. Respite care, however, can allow caregivers to take breaks and care for themselves.

2. Health Care. Older Americans need good health care. They also need to find a way to pay for it. Let us share a few resources with you that can help you and your family with both.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs. The V.A. provides a vast array of support services for qualifying senior veterans and their families, including a paid family caregiver benefit. The program is called Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services. Elder law attorneys are potent advocates for senior veterans’ rights and often help secure V.A. benefits if they are denied.
  • Medicare. Medicare is a massive federal health program for people aged 65 and older. Senior caregivers might not realize that Medicare covers home health and skilled nursing services in certain circumstances.
  • Medicaid. Medicaid is a federal-state partnership program that provides health coverage for people with limited income and assets. Medicaid can also pay for long-term care in nursing homes.
  • SHIPs. State Health Insurance Assistance Programs, or SHIPs, provide free support to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers.

3. Legal. You need a trusted advocate on your side at all times. Navigating the myriad of issues that Older Americans and their families face, is not always easy. Know that, at all times, we are here to help.

  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys — NAELA is a nonprofit association of lawyers and organizations that provides legal services for older adults and people with special needs. NAELA established National Elder Law Month as a way to acknowledge the elder law profession and provide critical support for the nation’s senior community.

We know that you may have questions based on these resources we are sharing with you. If you or someone you know would like more information or specific guidance on legal matters, do not wait to contact us today.

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 How Family Caregivers Can Avoid Family Conflict

Tips on How Family Caregivers Can Avoid Family Conflict

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.

Don’t Let Guilt Stop You From Hiring Quality Elder Caregivers

Don’t Let Guilt Stop You From Hiring Quality Elder Caregivers

At any given time, the majority of elder caregiving is performed by family members. Often, though, the elder’s health declines to the point that paid outside care services can be required for him or her. Whether due to an illness, like Alzheimer’s Disease, a debilitating injury or simply old age, the demands of elder health care can exceed even the most dedicated family caregiver’s capacity to give.

Shifting to paid care can be emotionally difficult, even when it is obvious that it is in an elder loved one’s best interest. A healthy transition can induce feelings of failure and guilt, especially if a senior loved one values his or her independence and resists.

Statements like, “I don’t need any help,” or, “I don’t want a stranger in my house,” can be crushing when you are trying to help. Just like a parent looks after the best interests of a young child, an adult child may need to look after the best interests of his or her elder parent.

Let us share a few suggestions for you to consider when launching into a paid caregiver dynamic:

  • Reassure an elder loved one that hiring help does not mean that you are going to abandon him or her.
  • Be present for initial meetings between the caregiver and an aging loved one to help establish rapport.
  • Show outside caregivers how to do things in ways that are familiar and pleasing to the senior adult to help them feel comfortable.
  • Tell an elder loved one that working with a care provider is something they can do to take part in his or her own care.
  • Include an elder loved one in the caregiver process by asking him or her to try it out for a week, and then listen to feedback.
  • When selecting caregivers, try to find a personality or cultural match to create a sense of common ground, although cultural differences also make for interesting combinations.
  • Once the relationship is established always check-in to keep an eye on things.

Above all, an elder loved one’s quality of life, and therefore, quality of care, is the most important objective in any caregiver relationship, whether family or paid. Feelings of guilt can be overcome in taking steps to achieve this important objective. We work with families each day to solve challenges just like the one described here. Let us know how we can help you and your loved ones today.

Caregiving Basics You Need to Know in the New Year

Caregiving Basics You Need to Know in the New Year

Every year, millions of American families face the difficult decision of how to help an aging parent who can no longer fully take care of himself or herself. For many families, the answer is to provide needed caregiving services themselves. While this seems like an easy solution at first, it is not.

There is much to know about caregiving, and several initial questions to consider, include:

Are you qualified to take care of an elder parent?

Some aging loved ones require assistance with meal preparation, bathing, and getting dressed. Others may need assistance taking medications and short trips to the doctor’s office. Florida seniors with serious health conditions or mental illness, however, may need professional care.

Are you financially prepared?

Caregiving is expensive, but there are ways to obtain financial support. Although most seniors expect Medicare to help cover the costs of aging, often it cannot.  Medicaid and veterans benefits, however, may be available as resources. Further, long-term care insurance, Social Security income, and various tax deductions for out-of-pocket expenses may also apply.

How will caregiving affect your emotional and mental health?

Providing care for elderly parents can be emotionally and mentally challenging, especially as loved ones continue to age and their health declines.

If you can affirmatively answer these questions, or are committed to developing healthy caregiving strategies, you may also want to consider:

Family caregivers can be paid. If an aging parent has the resources to pay for a family caregiver, there is no reason not to explore this possibility. The key is creating the right contract for your needs. Do not wait to meet with an experienced elder care attorney about this type of contract.

Sibling conflicts. Caregiving responsibilities usually fall on one adult-child family member more than any other. This often leads to sibling strife even in the most “functional” families, and especially over issues concerning money, fairness and important health decisions. Discuss ways to prevent these issues now, as things may get harder in the future.

Moving in. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are expensive. One cost-effective option, however, is to have your aging parent move into your home. As long as your relationship is healthy, it can be a rewarding experience for all involved and provide much needed care.

Taking care of yourself. The demands of family caregiving can lead to burnout and poor health. Often, we find these problems stem from putting an elder parent’s needs before your own. As a caregiver, try not to avoid your needs in this setting.

With over thirteen million Americans currently caring for their children and parents, we know you may need guidance on how to balance these responsibilities. We know this article also may raise more questions than it answers. Do not wait to contact our office to discuss your needs, and those of your family, today.

Do You Know the Ways You Can Say Thank You to a Caregiver?

Do You Know the Ways You Can Say Thank You to a Caregiver?

While many of us consider November and Thanksgiving the season of giving back, did you know that November is also National Family Caregivers Month? This is a great time to show your appreciation and gratitude to the caregiver in your life. Whether your caregiver is a hired professional that is considered part of the family or an unpaid family member who sacrifices his or her time to care for your loved one, being a caregiver is one of the most selfless roles there is.

Caregiving is a full-time profession that goes further than a typical nine-to-five job. Being a caregiver is a 24-hour, 7 days a week commitment that follows the caregiver home each day. Many caregivers share that because of the intense nature of the position, they frequently neglect to take care of their own health and well-being. This is why we want to share with you four ways to say thank you to the caregiver in your life this National Family Caregivers Month and into the remainder of the holiday season.

  1. Educate yourself about caregiver health.

Caregivers spend so much time taking care of your loved one, they sometimes neglect to take care of themselves. Becoming familiar with signs that your caregiver is overwhelmed and may be in need of some time off is one way that you can show your appreciation for your caregiver.

  1. Encourage respite breaks.

Respite care is an effective way of allowing the caregiver in your life to take a well-earned break. These programs provide a place where your senior loved one can go and interact with other seniors in a supervised facility, so you know they are still being watched over and their needs taken care of.

  1. Propose counseling or support groups.

Sometimes, the best gift is just having somebody to talk to. Your loved one’s caregiver may not feel like they can openly discuss their frustrations or feelings with you. Encouraging him or her to attend one-on-one counseling or a caregiver support group can provide an outlet for the caregiver to discuss their feelings and receive advice from people who can relate.

  1. Purchase a small gift.

You do not need to spend a lot of money to give your caregiver a meaningful gift. Purchasing a gift card to his or her favorite coffee shop for an afternoon pick-me-up, or offering to take the caregiver out to lunch can help put a smile on his or her face.

Above all, remember to say thank you to the caregiver in your life. A simple thank you can be especially meaningful and shows the caregiver that you recognize and appreciate the work he or she is performing. Do not hesitate to contact our office if you would like some more ideas on how to say show your appreciation to your caregiver this holiday season.