The Cost of Family Caregiving: Out-of-Pocket Spending Surprisingly A Guest Post by Christina Ianzito

Out of Pocket Caregiving Report

Our country’s 40 million unpaid family caregivers devote a large portion of their own money toward the care of their loved ones.

They’re spending an average of $6,954 a year — nearly 20 percent of their income — on out-of-pocket (OOP) costs related to caregiving, according to a new AARP study, “Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report.”

Hispanic/Latino and low-income family caregivers spend even more: an average of 44 percent of their total annual income.

And that’s on top of other financial strains many caregivers face, such as needing to cut back on work hours or take unpaid leave, says Nancy LeaMond, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer at AARP. “The strain can be enormous and may put their own financial and retirement security at risk.” She adds that passing the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act, which provides a federal tax credit of up to $3,000, “would give some sorely needed financial relief to eligible family caregivers.”

Cost Infographic

AARP also supports the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, which would require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers.

Here are some striking findings from the new AARP report, which determined the amount of money that family caregivers spent over the last year:

  • Family caregivers of all ages spend $6,954 in OOP costs related to caregiving on average.
  • Family caregivers earning less than $32,500 are under significant financial strain, spending an average of 44 percent of their annual income on caregiving.
  • Family caregivers for adults with dementia reported nearly twice the OOP costs ($10,697) than those caring for adults without dementia ($5,758).
  • Hispanic/Latino family caregivers spend an average of $9,022, which represents 44 percent of their total income per year. By comparison, African American family caregivers spend $6,616, or 34 percent; white family caregivers spend $6,964, or 14 percent; and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders spend $2,935, or 9 percent.
  • Long-distance family caregivers had the highest OOP costs at $11,923 compared with family caregivers living with or nearby their care recipients.

Family caregivers report dipping into savings, cutting back on personal spending, saving less for retirement or taking out loans to make ends meet. More than half of family caregivers reported a work-related strain, such as having to take unpaid time off.

Read the full report at www.aarp.org/caregivercosts.

Answers Your Top Medicare Coverage Questions A Guest by GoHealth

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Whether you’re a first-time Medicare buyer or a long-time enrollee, finding the right Medicare coverage can be confusing.

In an effort to help you find the right combination of plans, we’re answering the top consumer Medicare questions, including what your first step should be, your prescription drug coverage options, and much more.

Top 10 Medicare Coverage Questions

1. If I have Part A, how do I add Part B?

In order to complete your Original Medicare coverage and enroll in Part B, you must contact the Social Security office and actively enroll. Once you have both Parts A & B, you can complete your Medicare coverage with additional options.

2. What is a Medicare guaranteed issue right, and do I have it?

A Medicare guaranteed issue right is your right in certain situations to be granted a Medicare Supplement plan – or Medigap policy – regardless of certain other details concerning your health. In these specific situations, insurance companies must sell you a Medicare Supplement plan, cover all your pre-existing conditions, and not charge you more for a policy because of any health problems. Most commonly, you may have a guaranteed issue right if you lose coverage or your current health coverage changes.

3. If I only have Part A, what other types of Medicare can I get?

If you only have Part A, you are eligible to also get Part B. You cannot move forward with exploring other types of Medicare coverage until you have both Parts A & B.

4. Can I enroll in Part D without having Part B?

Unfortunately, you cannot. In order to move forward with additional Medicare options (including Part D), you must first have both Parts A & B.

5. What are my coverage options when it comes to prescription drugs?

If you need prescription drug coverage, you have a few different options. Once you get Parts A & B, you can choose to switch to Medicare Advantage, which sometimes offers prescription drug coverage. You can also choose to enroll in a Prescription Drug plan – or Part D – which offers different coverage options depending on which drugs you take.

6. How do I find my Medicare claim number?

You can call Social Security, and a representative there can help you locate your Medicare claim number.

7. How do I enroll in Medicaid?

You should call your state’s Medicaid department if you’re interested in Medicaid health insurance coverage.

8. What is the difference between Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage plans?

Medicare Supplement – or Medigap – plans help you complete your coverage. They can help you pay for health care costs that may not be covered by Original Medicare, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Medicare Advantage is a private health insurance option that is required to cover all the same benefits as Parts A & B, plus additional benefits, such as prescription drug coverage. You cannot have a Medicare Supplement plan and Medicare Advantage at the same time.

9. Why would I enroll in Medicare Advantage instead of Original Medicare? Aren’t they the same thing?

While they are similar, there are also differences between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare. By law, Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover all the same benefits as Original Medicare, or Parts A & B.

However, there may be some differences in how you pay your out-of-pocket costs with a Medicare Advantage plan, or you may have a smaller or larger deductible. There also may be some differences in the coverage itself. For example, while Original Medicare does not cover prescription drugs, some Medicare Advantage plans do offer that coverage.

10. How do I avoid gaps in my Medicare coverage?

There are many different types of Medicare coverage available to help you avoid any gaps in your coverage. It’s important to explore all of your options and coverage combinations with a licensed agent.

Call 1-877-568-1851 – TTY 711 to speak with one of our licensed sales agents. To enroll in Original Medicare, please contact your local Social Security office.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

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GoHealth Answers Your Top Medicare Coverage Questions posted by GoHealth

Guide to US Veterans Benefits An Article Originally Posted on A Place for Mom Blog

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ACCESS UP TO $2,000 PER MONTH IN VETERANS AID

The Veteran’s Aid and Attendance (VA&A) Pension provides benefits to veterans and their spouses to help pay for costs of care – both in-home care and senior housing. At A Place for Mom we work with many families who are not aware of the benefit and miss out on key financial support that help pay for senior living and home care expenses.

The benefit is anticipated to change next year and could impact the number of families eligible for this financial support. We encourage families to take action now to determine their eligibility.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE VETERAN’S AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFIT

LEARN MORE

VETERAN’S AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFIT OVERVIEW

2016 BENEFITS

  • $1,788 per month for a veteran
  • $1,149 per month to a spouse
  • $2,120 per month to a couple
  • $1,406 per month to a veteran with a sick spouse

ANTICIPATED CHANGE 2017

We anticipate the payout to be consistent with current level, however, we believe the eligibility requirements will change.

2016 ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

  • Veteran served during an approved war period and honorably discharged.
  • Reviews current income and assets when applying. Veteran must meet following requirements:
  • – $80,000 or less in total assets with the exception of one home and one vehicle.

ANTICIPATED CHANGE 2017

The VA has provided guidance that the eligibility requirements will change in 2017.

It is to your advantage to apply today.

VETERANS BENEFITS 101

Veterans benefits provide those who have served their country, as well as their spouses, financial assistance during their retirement years. Veterans who are at least 65 years-old* and who served during war time (though not necessarily in actual combat) may be eligible for financial assistance through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) that can be used to help pay for care. Spouses and surviving spouses of wartime veterans are also often eligible. Veteran’s benefits can make all the difference for families who struggling to pay for care.

For further reading:

http://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-care-resources/articles/guide-to-us-veterans-benefits?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTnpRME1HVTJZVGhqTjJRMyIsInQiOiJlYmpaNmVGNlhcLzJqU2o2ZUJoS1dQWEpZZkorK0lXWU5qRkhvZDR5ZDk1bzh3ZSt5dVlsaU9EWEc3TFhNTGRvZVRhRCsyRTNoUzhJbkVKSmpiQ28rZEptVWJldDhxQTRma1NCODRzUzZiWGM9In0%3D

 

How to Escort Seniors to the Voting Polls A Guest Post By : A Place for Mom Staff

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Originally Posted in the Senior Living Blog: Posted On 24 Oct 2016

The United States has a proud democratic tradition dating back more than 200 years, and that tradition is based on the right to vote. Unfortunately, many older people who are receiving care at senior living communities aren’t always able exercise that right.

Seniors may be intimidated by the thought of getting to the polls and potentially waiting in long lines. Some might even wonder whether, as long term care residents, they’re still allowed to vote. Learn more about how to escort seniors to the polls during this election.

Escorting Senior Loved Ones to the Voting Polls

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, U.S. citizens will vote and determine the direction of our country.

This year, senior advocacy organizations are making sure senior living residents’ voices are heard and votes are counted:

  • The Senior Citizens League put together a checklist to follow to ensure seniors are informed and ready to vote, which includes:
    • Knowing your district, registration and voting method, to researching candidates and issues, and finally, making your voice heard.
  • Worldwide Programs for the Elderly promotes escorting seniors to the voting polls through a program, which provides escort and transportation to ensure that age and mobility does not limit a senior’s right to vote.
  • Voting by absentee ballot is another way for seniors to make their voice heard if they are unable to go to their local polling place on Election Day. Be sure to research the set of rules regarding the specific requirements and qualifications for absentee voting in your state.

How Senior Living Providers Can Help Residents Vote

Senior living and other long-term care providers can help residents vote, by:

  1. Distributing sample ballots to familiarize residents with voting procedures.
  2. Helping residents get absentee ballots to vote.
  3. Helping residents register to vote.
  4. Hosting debate watching events.
  5. Hosting political discussions.
  6. Posting reminders about registration deadlines.
  7. Providing information on upcoming candidates and elections.
  8. Provide transportation to the polls.

We applaud these efforts and believe it’s vitally important that every citizen have the opportunity to make their voice heard.

If you are concerned that a senior loved one who lives in senior living may not be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote, contact your local Long-term Care Ombudsman for assistance.

For more information about polling locations and other election related matters where you live, visit the USA.gov Voting webpage.

Do you have experience escorting senior loved ones to the voting polls? Do you have any tips that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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