Taking care of an elder relative can take its toll on anyone. But these tips can help make the process a little bit easier.
1. Be their strongest advocate! Ask a lot of questions. Be aware of medical procedures, accompany them to doctor appointments and be familiar with medications. If you can’t be there, make sure someone familiar with them and/or their care can be.
2. Learn about Medicare and Medicaid. What coverage do they have? What about Medigap? Copays? Out-of-pocket limits?
3. Have the difficult conversations. Speak with them about wills and DNRs, and consult an elder care attorney about legal documents, power of attorneys and heathcare proxys.
4. Consider hiring professional help, such as an advocate or care manager to help put together a care plan for your elder.
5. Watch out for financial scams. Financial abuse of the elderly is more common than you may think and is also preventable. Make sure your elder is protected from making hasty, poor financial decisions.
6. Explore free and low-cost public benefits. The National Council on Aging offers a helpful benefits checklist service or you can check out the government’s elder care locator. Also if your elder is retired military, be sure to contact the VA regarding the Aid and Attendance benefit to help with care.
7. Understand the cost of keeping your elder in your home compared to institutional care. Most people want to remain at home but sometimes that is not possible. For a detailed look at the cost of both, look at the Genworth Cost of Care study.
8. Be prepared, if needed, to deal with special needs such as memory loss, sundowners and depression. If this may be an area of concern, the Alzheimers Association can provide information on where you can take your elder for an immediate evaluation. They are experts in this area and can offer tremendous support and resources.
9. Utilize your smart phone. There are numerous apps available (some of which are free) to help manage care for your elder. Take advantage of these to lighten your load and gain a longer period of independence for your elder. My top picks are StandWith, Doctor on Demand and Lively’s.
10. Exercise consideration and respect. Remain sensitive to your elder’s needs and wishes. Allow them to take part in their care, living arrangements (if possible) and daily activities. Accept challenges that will arise, but remain positive about the future and always strive to do what is best for your elder, you and your entire family.
About the Author
Shannon Boles started Helping Hands Senior Care Advocates in 2007. Since its inception, the company’s services have expanded into home care, case management and senior advocacy services. Contact Shannon directly at 407-378-4190 or email@example.com.