As we look to care for our parents and grandparents as they age in Florida, we need to think about their current and potential long-term care needs. How will they be able to find good care should they need it? Where should they look for help? What is available in our community? How will they be able to afford the care they need should the time come?
Unfortunately, many Florida seniors do not begin to plan for the high cost of long-term care until it is too late. For a myriad of reasons, they did not plan forward to think about what they may need both now and for a future that includes an increased need for long-term care assistance. Most of us today simply cannot afford the additional thousands of dollars per month it would cost to have support from home healthcare or a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility without rethinking our finances and looking for help from public benefits.
While many Florida seniors turn to Medicaid and other local community programs for assistance, for Florida veterans, there are additional benefits available. They range from health care and funeral assistance to disability support and pension assistance. For many veterans the available benefits remain unused and hard to obtain due to the qualification that is required to gain access to them.
Perhaps the most beneficial program for the Florida senior veteran in need of long-term care assistance is the VA Pension program.
The VA Pension program is in no way tied to a service-connected disability.
In fact, the health care disability standard associated at the basic level is met simply by being over age 65. This a monthly, tax-free benefit that can increase based on the health care needs of the veteran.
The rules changed substantially for this program on October 18, 2018. This program is not an automatic benefit for wartime veterans and their dependents. They must prove, first, that the veteran served for at least 90 days of active service with one day during a period of war. Second, he or she must prove that he or she was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Now, to access this program, the new rules created a few more qualifications. For example, there is an asset limit for the veteran’s countable resources. Prior to the rule changes, there was no set amount in place. This year the veteran may have $126,240, excluding exempt assets, and this amount will change each year.
Further, through these rules the Department of Veterans Affairs created a “look-back” period. A “look-back” period is a period of time during which the Department may review assets to determine if the veteran has made gifts of his or her resources. A similar set up currently exists for the Florida Medicaid program. The “look-back” period will be for thirty-six months. If the VA determines this occurred the veteran may face a disqualification period.
These are just a few ways the VA Pension program has changed.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to get the answers you need for yourself and your loved ones.
Choosing to visit your aging parent during the holidays can be a great gift from you to them. It is during these visits, however, that you may learn that your parents are not physically or mentally able to care for themselves as well as in the past. You may determine during your visit that your aging parents are having significant problems dealing with activities of daily living and may need more help in the home.
We know how difficult this realization can be for you and your parents. As you face these challenges together, it is important for you to determine what strategies may best provide the support they need. Let us share seven tips for talking to your aging parents this holiday season that we share with our clients, friends, family, and local professionals in our community.
Are they having issues driving? As we age, driving becomes more difficult. It is not just the physical act of driving, but also, response times and observations. Be sure to let your parents drive you both short and long distances to determine how they are managing this task.
How is their day-to-day health? Observe your parents throughout your visit, taking time to see how they are doing throughout the day. Are mornings easier? Do they go to sleep after dinner? How quickly can they move between tasks?
Can they easily prepare meals? If your parents offer to prepare a meal, let them. Although many families go out to eat during visits or an adult child cooks, ask your parents to help. Be on the lookout for whether or not your parents have a hard time remembering frequently used recipes, where ingredients are placed, or remembering to turn off kitchen appliances, such as the oven.
How many medicines are they taking? Medicines increase for many Older Americans. Ask them to share their medication list and schedule for taking prescriptions. Are there duplications? Can your parents tell you why they take specific medicines? Is anything expired? Do they need help opening bottles? There are many pharmacies now that will organize medications by day and time. Talk to your parents about this type of service and if it would be beneficial.
What is the state of their house? If you can, stay at least one night in the home as you may not be able to observe the state of the house in a quick visit. Is it clean? It it well-maintained? Do your parents need help with organization or clutter?
Is their estate planning up to date? Ask your parents about their estate planning. The documents within their planning, such as the durable power of attorney, will be necessary in a crisis should you need to make decisions for them. What documents do they have included in their estate plan? Who is their decision maker? Is there an attorney you may talk to in a crisis?
Have they created a plan for long-term care? It is never too early to plan for long-term care. Ask your parents what plans they have created so far. Although this can be a difficult conversation to have, it is never too early to talk to them about what they want so you can both be prepared for the future.
We want you to know that we are here to help you answer these questions. We can work with your aging parents and you both now and in the new year. Do not wait to contact us to ask us your questions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We know that Florida seniors often find themselves in a difficult situation. As their health care and living expenses increase, their ability to work and generate income decreases. It is an unsettling scenario, but one that the Veterans Administration may be able to help with for those eligible for VA pensions.
A VA pension is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to low-income wartime vets who are either age 65 or older, disabled, living in nursing homes, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. An additional, and under-used, type of pension benefit that all impacted veterans should be aware of is called Aid and Attendance. This is available for veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans whose unreimbursed medical expenses exceed their monthly income. The purpose is to provide financial assistance for those who need help performing activities of daily living.
If you are not sure if you or your loved one qualifies, consider contacting an accredited VA attorney to help determine your eligibility or for information about how to access the VA Pension with the Aid and Attendance benefit. Remember, veterans whose income is above the limit for a VA pension also may qualify if they have large medical expenses that are not reimbursable. Your VA accredited attorney can discuss with you options to become eligible or how to find the long-term care support you need.
Aid and Attendance support is available for vets who served at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime. It is not reserved for those with service-related disabilities. Veterans, and their surviving spouses, are eligible if they meet the above criteria and if they need aid from another person to help them perform basic living activities, such as:
Assistance with personal care needs, like bathing, dressing and using the bathroom.
Living in a nursing home.
Are mentally or physically incapacitated.
If they are bedridden.
Suffer from extremely poor eyesight.
A second long-term care benefit tied to the VA Pension program is known as the Housebound Allowance. This underused pension feature offers an additional monthly monetary benefit for veterans who are significantly restricted to their homes because of a permanent disability. Eligibility rules may require a written statement from a doctor describing a qualifying vet’s needs and limitations and you will want to discuss this with your VA accredited attorney as well.
Finally, Aid and Attendance and Housebound Allowance benefits are paid on top of monthly pension payments. This means that they increase the overall pension amount, making people who are not normally eligible for a basic VA pension due to excessive income potentially eligible for these long-term care items.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. We encourage you to ask us your questions this Veterans Day or, at any time, schedule a consultation with attorney Scott Selis to get the elder care support you need.
Did you know aging adults with limited physical mobility are at the highest risk of contracting the painful sores? If left untreated, or if there’s a delay in proper care, bedsores can easily become infected and lead to serious health risks and even death. Unfortunately, bedsores are one of the most common injuries suffered by elder Americans who stay in nursing homes.
Outside of immediate medical attention once they’re discovered, the best way to deal with them is prevent them from developing at all. In reality, this may be harder to prevent than you might think. Seniors who are immobile for extended periods of time are extremely susceptible to pressure sores, often at no fault of any caregiving treatment they are receiving.
When you are caring for your aging parent, either personally or by overseeing the care they receive, knowing associated risk factors and direct causes is extremely valuable information. This can be important for anyone who may be thinking of committing an elder parent or loved one to the care of a nursing home, and especially relevant if they are already there.
First, it’s important to understand that nursing home residents rely on their caretakers to maintain their health. If a senior is considered an “at-risk” patient or resident, he or she should be regularly re-positioned with full-body assessments being performed. This is standard care for a senior to receive, not something extra.
A healthy diet and proper hydration are also major factors in preventing bedsores as they help maintain healthy skin. Research shows that when it comes to seniors, malnutrition and dehydration can be signs of neglect. Remember that medication can also impact the senior’s intake of food and water. Be sure to check in with the doctor and the facility to make sure the medication and diet are in line to continuously improve the senior’s health.
Further, regular movement is a critical preventative factor. Anybody, not just elderly people, can be at risk of developing bedsores if they stay in one position for too long. Medical professionals commonly refer to bedsores as pressure sores because prolonged pressure to one or more areas of the body will irritate the skin, and eventually rupture it. This is why regular movement is so important.
Another cause is known as “shearing”. This occurs when skin rubs one way and underlying bone moves another way. It often happens when an elder person is hastily or otherwise improperly moved. Friction can also lead to bedsores when an aging senior’s clothes are left on too long. If there are significant issues with movement that your elderly loved one has, do not wait to talk to the long-term care facility.
We know that you may have questions when it comes to the care that your elderly loved one needs. Do not wait to contact our local elder care law firm to get answers and to help you make your caregiver decisions.