What Caregivers Need to Know About FMLA: An Article by Deb Hipp Originally Posted on Senior Living Blog

FMLA

If you’re a caregiver for an aging loved one, you’ll probably need to miss work at some point to help with medical treatment or unexpected emergencies.

In fact, the likelihood is so great that there is even a federal law, The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that protects your job if you need to take leave to care for a family member.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA helps workers balance their jobs with leave time for things like having a baby, major illness or acting as a caregiver for a family member with a serious health condition.

The FMLA has been used more than 100 million times since its enactment in 1993, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, not every employer or employee is eligible, and simply relying on your employer to keep you informed may not be the best choice.

“It’s amazing what companies don’t know about FMLA,” says Robert Ottinger, an employment attorney at Ottinger Law. FMLA violations are especially common at companies with fewer than 100 employees, which may not even have a procedure in place, he says.

That’s why you need to know about FMLA and know your FMLA rights, especially if you’re a caregiver.

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees with up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. Employers still have to provide the same group health insurance benefits at the same premium while you’re on leave, and when you return to work, they have to give you back the same or an equivalent job.

You’re allowed to take FMLA leave all at once or intermittently in blocks of time or even by reducing your work schedule. However, not everyone is eligible.

FMLA Eligibility

You’re eligible for FMLA if you:

  1. Work for one of these covered employers:
    • Public agencies; local, state and federal employers; schools; private employers who employ at least 50 employees for a minimum of 20 workweeks per year.
  2. Worked 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave.
  3. Work at a location where your employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles.
  4. Worked for the employer for at least 12 months, although the months don’t have to be consecutive.

Even though FMLA leave is unpaid, many companies offer paid or partially paid FMLA leave as a company benefit. Also, state laws in CaliforniaNew JerseyNew York (taking effect Jan. 1, 2018) and Rhode Island provide some form of paid family leave.

Once you determine your FMLA eligibility, you’ll need to find out whether your caregiving situation is covered as well.

Caregiving and FMLA

Don’t simply assume that you can take FMLA leave to care for any family member you love. For instance, you may think of your father-in-law as a second dad, but in-laws aren’t considered “immediate family” under the FMLA.

Qualifying Reasons to Take FMLA

Your employer is required to grant FMLA leave to eligible employees for:

  1. The birth of a child and to bond with the newborn.
  2. When an employee adopts or fosters a child, including providing time to bond.
  3. To care for an immediate family member, including a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition. Eligibility doesn’t cover leave to care for in-laws, siblings or grandparents. However, you might be eligible for FMLA leave to care for a grandparent who was once your legal guardian or if you are the legal guardian for a disabled sibling.
  4. When the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
  5. For qualifying urgent situations when the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call in the military or to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.

FMLA Compliance: A Two-Way Street

Both you and your employer must comply with certain requirements when it comes to FMLA. For example, you’re required to provide your employer 30-days advance notice when the need for FMLA is foreseeable. As a caregiver, it’s best to find out your options before a crisis.

“If an employee is concerned about having to leave work at the last minute, then it’s to that employee’s benefit to let human resources know, get approved for intermittent leave and find out the FMLA policy,” says Christina Thomas Mazaheri, an employment lawyer with Morgan & Morgan.

When it comes to unanticipated FMLA time, like rushing from the office because your dad was injured in a car crash, let your employer know as soon as practicable, says Thomas Mazaheri. Even if you have to call from the emergency room, make sure you don’t wait for days without providing an explanation.

“As long as your employer knows, they shouldn’t terminate you because their obligations under FMLA would be triggered,” says Thomas Mazaheri.

At the same time, your employer can’t intentionally delay paperwork or ask for unnecessary medical information. While you’ll need to provide certification of your loved one’s medical condition, your boss isn’t allowed to pry into your life.

“Employers don’t have carte blanche to ask personal medical questions unrelated to the need for protective leave,” says Thomas Mazaheri.

That means if you request FMLA leave for your mom’s cancer surgery, your supervisor can’t ask you to hand over your mom’s psychological records. However, an employer is allowed to ask for clarification if there is reason to believe an employee is being dishonest, says Thomas Mazaheri.

What If My Employer Won’t Grant FMLA Leave?

If your company illegally denies or interferes with your FMLA request, Ottinger recommends showing your employer a print-out of the federal law. If that doesn’t work, “It’s time to call a law firm to write a quick letter,” says Ottinger.

You can file a lawsuit for FMLA violations, and if an employer illegally retaliates by firing you or changing your work conditions, you can probably also add a retaliation count. To find an employment lawyer, search the directory at the National Employment Lawyers Association.

Knowing your FMLA rights can mean the difference between being there to help your aging parents or regretting that your job kept you from helping them when they needed you most.

Have you had experience with taking FMLA to care for a senior loved one? What was your experience like? We’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

Related Articles:

 

We Can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living. 

http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/what-caregivers-need-to-know-about-fmla/ 

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About the Author
 

Deb Hipp is a Kansas City, Mo.-based freelance writer who covers elder and caregiving issues and has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and writer. Deb began writing about elder care and aging after her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She hopes her writing can help others whose lives have been altered by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Her work can be found at: http://www.debhipp.com.

4 Steps to Prepare Your Loved Ones for Elderly Care: A Guest Post by Chris Palmer

Dementia

 

It is one of the most primary duty for us to think of our parents and their better care.  Parents are like blessing who sacrifice their wills to make our dreams come true. This makes us to be obedient and to be sincere with them for their best care in their old age. If you ever think about what parents are, your answer would always be love and affection. Parents are the ones who work day and night to make our future bright. They work tirelessly leaving all their happiness at one side for the sake of their children. So it is our job to find the best solution for their growing and weak age. The affection and the love of our parents must be fully repaid, and the expectations they have from us must be fulfilled. With the growing age of parents, they become both physically and mentally weak so to make them happy we should take some good step.

With the increase in the mental disorder in old age, it makes it very difficult to take a right step and to convince our parents for the best solution we have. But still, there are four steps to make it easy to let our parents spend their old age with happiness.

1- Brief conversation

It is a talk to be held with your parents and your siblings (if present) so that you can get an idea of what to do for the betterment of your parents. Before talking to your parents, you should speak to your siblings to get their idea about their parents and then to convince them to support you in front of your parents. After convincing your siblings, you should talk with your parents about their situation and should let them speak for what they want. Then you should try to convince them for the best solution you have for their care.

2- Getting your finance ready

For the better elderly care of your parents, you must have some budget for them. This budget can vary, it can either be high or low according to what your parents demand. If the budget is high you should plan for how will you earn the amount and in how much time it would be arranged. This amount should be privately stored and should not be used by you or anybody else to make it sure that you have the right amount at the right time.

3- Expert advice

Expert advice is a significant point to be taken in concern. Even if you have consulted with your siblings and your parents, you would still need an expert opinion as the experts have experience with situations like this. So they can tell you some things that you couldn’t have figured out.

4- Choosing of a care coordinator

At last, after following all the steps, you should even try to find a good care coordinator for your parents. You should try to leave this decision to your parents.

The thing which you must care for is the Carers Allowance it must be given to your parents.

Author’s Biography

chris

This article was written by Chris Palmer who regularly shares advice on elderly care. In particular dementia and supporting your elderly parent. You can find more by Chris on: https://www.agespace.org/.

Tips for Wearing Your Colostomy Bag A Guest Post by Gary Simmons

caughtinthemiddle

People want to be different, and they want to stand out of the crowd. Most of the time—but not when that difference is based on a health issue or disability. Then, people may fear to stand out, and sometimes withdraw from the company of others. The difference can lead to unhappiness.

People who wear colostomy bags may have some of these fears, whether they’re young or old, independent, receiving home health care or in a nursing facility.

Colostomy bags are usually placed in an obvious place, potentially visible when clothed and unclothed. They announce to the world a previous medical issue, and someone might feel they remind others of a bodily process we’d rather not have on our mind.

But maybe there’s a way to turn that bag into an asset, or at least make sure it’s not a liability. Here are some tips and ideas for making sure you remain a vibrant part of your community and can wear your colostomy bag discreetly and stylishly.

The Bag Itself

The location of the bag will influence what you can wear and how you wear it. Some stomas are at or above the beltline, while others are below it. If you have not yet had your colostomy, you do have some influence in where it will go. Speak with your surgeon before they operate.

Belts and tight clothing can interfere with the smooth functioning of your colostomy bag. Whatever style of clothing you wear, make sure you have a good flow into the bag.

Using the Bag

One way to avoid backsplash while emptying your bag is to sit “backward” on the toilet, facing the tank. You then can float some toilet paper on the surface of the water and on the seat. Empty down onto the paper itself. Backsplash can also be avoided by flushing just as you empty the bag.

Use an electric razor to trim any hair around the stomach. Most of us have a little hair on our abdomens and the hairs can either make sticking more difficult or cause discomfort when removing the appliance. An electric razor avoids cuts.

It’s more pleasant to change the bag without active output. Changing just after waking is the best time—you will have gone an extended period without eating, and the output will probably be slow enough to allow a change.

Changing your appliance while showering has several benefits. You may be able to shower bagless because if you shower after waking, output will be minimal (and washed away). You’ll also have a few more minutes without the bag, which can boost your mood.

There is a lot of ostomy appliances and equipment on the market. Don’t hesitate to accept free samples. Your ET nurse may be able to get you free samples as well.

Keep yourself and your bag clean. A washcloth and plain water or a sterile saline wipe will keep your abdomen clean. Avoid baby wipes—they may leave a film on the skin which interferes with your wafer adhering to your skin. Rinsing your appliance after emptying is probably a good idea. Squeezable bottles or even turkey basters are perfect.

Take advantage of opportunities to empty your bag—it will help with comfort. Also, remember the pouch itself is not the first thing people are looking for—many times people won’t notice it until you call attention to it.

You will find the right rhythm of living to take care of yourself with little to no extra fuss. Remember that everyone goes to the bathroom; you just manage that ordinary task a bit differently. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and no one needs to know what’s going on.

Stoma Guards

If your stoma is at or above the beltline, you might want to consider a stoma guard. Made of hard plastic, they provide protection from seat belts, tight pants and belts, and other impacts. Frequently, they will allow you to tuck the pouch inside your pants or skirt.

They’re probably not needed when you’re at home relaxing. They certainly will protect your stoma from sudden affectionate bumps from pets or grandchildren.

Pants

Both men and women may want to consider high-waisted pants. The stoma will be below the belt/waist, and thus not subject to pressure or flow constriction. You’ll have to decide if a high waist works for you—most folks probably don’t want to look like Pee Wee Herman or Urkel.

Women might want to consider maternity pants as an option. Because they have an elastic band across the front, they may be more comfortable than ordinary pants.

If you’re going to wear your pouch under your clothes, you might want to consider going one size larger with your pants (and shirts).

Suspenders might also be a stylish option with pants. Some suspenders clip onto the pant waist, while others button to the pants, especially for more formal ones. Most tailors can add suspender buttons to pants.

Underwear

The location of the stoma may influence your choice of underwear. A higher stoma will allow you to wear the underwear normally. Some underwear, for both men and women, is designed with an inner pocket to keep your bag away from your skin and in place.

Swimwear

There’s no reason to avoid going to the beach or pool with a colostomy bag. You’ll want to take steps to secure the bag and to make sure it can handle the water, but you’ll still be able to enjoy the water.

Men may want to consider high-waisted swim trunks, especially if your stoma is low. If the stoma is higher on your abdomen, high waisted trunks will not be as flattering—you don’t want the waist at your chest! You’ll want to consider an ostomy bag wrap to keep it in place, as well as ostomy bag covers to add a bit of flair to your beach attire.

Loud and Proud

One way of handling any issue is to look it squarely in the face, accept it and then have fun with it. Colorful bag covers are the way to go, regardless of where on your abdomen the stoma is.

Many businesses now sell a variety of pouch covers in all colors and patterns. Some, like C & S Pouchcovers, even include a set of patriotically themed covers, allowing you to celebrate all our national holidays in style.

Conclusion

People of all ages wear colostomy bags, and many have lived fruitful and adventurous lives. Even in retirement, you should not let your bag get in the way of enjoying life. Whether you’re living independently or have home health care make sure you discuss with those around you how you want to handle life.

And then enjoy it. Don’t let this be an obstacle to seeking out good times for yourself, or being with others.

 

 

 

6 Easy Ways To Stay Organized and Productive as a Caregiver A Guest Post by Maggie Drag

caughtinthemiddle

Being a caregiver is arguably one of the most noble professions out there – but it can also take a serious toll on your personal life. Here are 6 work-life balance tips to help you reduce stress, and ultimately make you the best caregiver for not only your clients, but for yourself, too!

1.) Plan Ahead

If you have multiple clients, or work as a live-in caregiver, keeping track of their favorite foods, interests, and medications may seem like a job in itself. Keeping a daily planner can help! If you’re constantly on your phone, try downloading an app like Fantastical, ReQall and Evernote. They are super easy to use and will allow you to set up alerts and various notifications in case you’d like to be reminded of their doctor appointments, and even your own appointments with your caregiving agency, for example. At the end of the day, keeping on top of your clients’ needs and preferences will save you a lot of stress and in the future.

2.) De-Clutter

From old receipts and grocery lists, you may have trouble remembering which documents belongs to who! Here are some easy ways to help both yourself and your client, and try doing it together and make it fun while you’re at it! First, organize your bills and clients’ bills in a binder for safe-keeping. Next, divide up your coupons into a handy coupon organizer for easy access. Finally, keep track of your own caregiving documents, from contracts, care plans and emergency contacts in a folder. Try organizing each folder by client if you have multiple, and keep a small notepad to jot down any other helpful information.

3.) Think Ahead

As a caregiver, you know that life as you know it may change in a second, whether it be your client’s health, a sudden re-assignment, and not to mention changes in your personal life. First, make sure you have a list of emergency contacts (including your agency) prepared in case you are unable to help your client or need to be relieved at any point. Next, be sure you have a plan set up for a medical emergency based on your client’s health history. Keeping track of their food allergies for one is a simple but critical step to preventing emergencies in the future.

4.) Reconnect with Loved Ones

If you’ve lost touch with a close friend, since you started another assignment, remember this: Caring about your job is one thing, but caring about your relationships is far more important in the long run. Call your distant relative via Facetime – you could even plan a day where you help your client Facetime their grandchildren after you connect with your own family!

You carry a great responsibility as a caregiver, and while your friends and family should understand that you are often very busy, don’t forget to show them some appreciation and keep in touch!

5.) “Me” Time

Being a caregiver takes a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding and allows you to build meaningful relationships and touch so many lives. However, as much as you may love your job, don’t forget to carve out some time for yourself each day– even if for only an hour, to do some gardening, watch some old movies, surf the internet, and even go out for a relaxing day at the spa. If you are a live-in caregiver, ask your client if they’d like to join in on the fun! This will help you stay productive and engaged in your assignment in a much more meaningful way.

6.) Take Care of Yourself

As much as you care about your job as a caregiver, don’t forget that the first step to being an amazing caregiver is taking good care of yourself. Keep up with exercise, eat a balanced diet but make sure you’re getting the necessary rest between assignments first and foremost- especially if you work overnight. Sleep allows your body and brain to replenish, not to mention stay alert on important assignments and throughout the day if your client needs extra supervision when taking medications, for example. Losing sleep can ultimately take a serious toll on your health in the long run, so don’t be afraid to ask your agency about rescheduling your assignments or for tips on how to manage your sleep schedule to help you be your best for your clients.

About the author:

Maggie Drag is the owner and founder of a homecare agency located in central Connecticut. With over 27 years of experience in the industry, Maggie shares her knowledge and tips about care at home.  Visit homecare4u.com  to learn more about Maggie Drag.

THANK YOU SeeSee. Florence “SeeSee” Rigney, RN is the oldest working nurse…!

 

Florence “SeeSee” Rigney is the oldest working nurse in the United States. Last May, a video of her 90th birthday celebration went viral. The recording captures her in blue scrubs and a bedazzled “happy birthday” tiara holding back tears among her cheering colleagues. For 70 years she’s worked on and off as an operating room nurse at Tacoma General Hospital. When she first started, she got paid $115 a month. These days, she gets a ton of attention for being a high-energy compassionate nurse who still moves down the halls of the surgical unit faster than women a third her age. In 2015, Rigney was on The Dr. Oz Show and nominated for a March of Dimes Nurse of the Year award. Her birthday video was shared by The Huffington Post, The Today Show and BuzzFeed. She admits she feels a bit like a local celebrity even though she’s bashful about all the publicity. “I feel very honored to think that all of this has happened to me just because I turned 90, and I’m still here!”

Make These Urgent Lifestyle Changes To Lower Stroke Risk: A Guest Post by Katrina Rice

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A stroke is not a medical mystery that strikes patients randomly. In fact, 90% of strokes are due to factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other medical risks which are all preventable. Even so, you do not have to train like a professional athlete, eat like a beauty queen or live like a monk to avoid this heart condition.

Whether you are a patient, a patient’s caregiver or simply a person concerned with this risk, by simply making modest alterations to your lifestyle and including wise health habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Below are some scientifically-based facts about how to improve your self-care and prevent this devastating brain attack:

Quit Being Sedentary

According to Dr. Hugo Aparicio, a neurologist at Boston Medical Center and also an assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine, it has been established for many decades that using leisure time to insert regular exercises such as going to the gym, taking long walks, or simply playing sports can significantly reduce the likelihood of getting a stroke.

Therefore, exercise should not be considered an activity mainly for the weekends and instead, it has to be an regular activity at least 30 minutes per day.

Lose The Excess Weight

As Dr. Aparicio points out in his “Framingham Heart Study”, the risk factors of a stroke are not isolated and in fact are all interconnected with the rest of your physical condition.. Exercising does not only reduce fat, it also helps increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin thereby creating a more efficient metabolism. A well-oiled metabolism is needed to prevent your blood sugar from soaring high and put you at risk of diabetes, which may lead to coronary diseases.

For morbidly obese patients, there might be a need to consider weight loss surgeries. And for those who can’t perform physical exercises due to mobility issues, a strict and regulated diet can help. Some people claim and stand by the coleus forskohlii benefits as an effective aid for people who need to lose weight quickly. Using supplementation requires a good amount of research so you ought to be cautious about it.

Apart from stroke and diabetes, this lifestyle change can also prevent other metabolic disorders, cancer and delay the onset of dementia among elderly people, and we all will get older, assuming we survive long enough.

Always Regulate Your Blood Pressure

According to Martin O’Donnell, the lead author of the published study in the medical journal “The Lancet”, you can easily stay on top of your blood pressure by using readily available equipment.

In developed countries such as the US, people have easy access to devices that quickly read their blood pressure, whether it be readily available at the supermarket or purchasing an inexpensive BP apparatus for home use. Individuals nowadays can also get a little help from doctors by simply asking for prescription to immediately help lower their blood pressure.

Eat A Healthy and Balanced Diet

Limiting red meat, avoiding processed food and eliminating fried and salty foods works best in preventing stroke. In fact, there are more precise dietary guidelines you can follow if you want to be very keen on preventing this deadly condition. A balanced diet comprised of low-carb vegetables, fruits, and fish – as protein is the most ideal. If much help is needed, seek a nutritionist’s expertise.

Aside from the vitamins and minerals your health receives from such whole foods, fish like tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines are great sources of omega-3, an essential fatty acid your body needs to prevent heart diseases. However, there are a number of individuals who can’t include fish in their regular diet so taking fish oil capsules as supplements is also an alternative prevention.

Quit Smoking

Smoking does not only affect the lungs and the liver, it also infects your heart. Smoking is one of the culprits of elevated LDL (bad cholesterol). Too much cholesterol in your bloodstream can create arterial obstructions and create blood clots.

These tiny clots – if left untreated, can travel to your brain and cause the stroke you were trying to prevent in the first place. So if you are making a lifestyle change, begin here. You can quit smoking by asking help from your physician. They can offer you alternatives on how you can successfully quit smoking.

Treat Existing Heart Conditions

Stroke and other heart diseases are somehow interrelated. One major risk factor is having atrial fibrillation – a heart rhythm problem that many Americans are affected with. With regular checkups, individuals who have this heart condition can get regular treatments and anti-clotting medications.

According to Dr. Aparicio, you don’t need to do everything all at once. It’s a matter of addressing the top contributors to the risk of stroke – such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and smoking. As soon as you can see minor improvements in your health, you can start incorporating exercises and other active physical routines.

There is this unrealistic expectation that you have to have the right body weight, the ideal diet and the life of a monk to prevent a stroke. But as what Dr. O’Donnell says, “The risk factors of stroke are a continuum. So if you can’t apply all the preventative measures, modest changes will reduce your risk of stroke”.

Bio of the Author:

Katrina Rice

Katrina Rice is a mom and a freelance writer. She strongly believes in the concept of holistic wellness through healthy and natural living, travelling and immersing one’s self in new activities. A self-proclaimed health enthusiast, she hopes to inspire more people to do the same.

 

 

 

Talks with Greg; Conversations In Caregiving – Sheila Warnock

 

For more than fifteen years, EmblemHealth has been a leader in the arena of family caregiving. Talks with Greg; Conversations In Caregiving is a video series designed to explore topics with experts involved for many years in caregiving. Every episode will have a new guest from a different facet of the professional caregiving world who has been a longtime partner with EmblemHealth.

OUR FOCUS IS EDUCATION

Caregiving will touch everyone at some point in life yet it often remains in the shadows of the public/media spotlight because it does not make for a picture that melts the heart but rather one to be avoided at all costs. Not so much because people are uncaring but rather frightened and uneducated.

Sometimes, friends disappear when illness strikes because they don’t know “what to do or what to say.”

And often the person needing support and their caregiver hide the fact and carry the entire burden alone rather than admit they could use help.

STC’s focus is on educating caregivers, patients and their concerned friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances about the profound personal benefits to everyone involved through sharing the care.

Because we find that family caregivers often tend to be isolated and therefore less likely to reach out for help, we target professionals, and faith communities. They see caregivers and patients on a daily basis and are best situated to identify those who could benefit from a STC group. We also seek to reach working caregivers through corporations.

https://sharethecare.org/

Tel: 212 991-9688

It Is My Pleasure To Introduce You To: Daughters Unite

 

 

Daughters Unite was created for caring daughters by caring daughters who face the challenges of being sandwiched between their spouses, kids and/or careers and the disabled and aging adults in their lives.

Share your story and help a fellow daughter reduce the chaos and craziness in her life! Send a quick “I’m interested” email to Tell My Story. We’ll get back to you within 24 hours with all the details about how to submit.

We love introducing our friends to one another. Daughters Unite meet Daughterhood. Founder, Anne Tumlinson has spent the last two decades working on improving how America cares for its frailest, most vulnerable older adults. Check out – www.daughterhood.org.

THINK ABOUT IT.

What if there was one trusted place where you were heard, where you were understood, where you were validated, where you were supported and where you could immediately get answers to the never ending questions that come up  when caring for an aging parent or other disabled adult loved one?

 

Direct Message Us on FB, Twitter & Instagram

Email us @ info@daughtersunite.com

Twitter: @DaughtersUnite

Family Caregiver Duties: Effective Financial Planning A Guest Post by Samantha Stein

Family Caregiver

Family caregivers are no stranger to financial issues. When you assume the role of your family member’s primary care provider, it includes tackling the costs of their care as well as their expenses and necessities. On top of this, you also have your own finances to contend with. This is why a significant amount of financial planning is necessary to become a successful family caregiver.

To help you get started, ALTCP shares an in-depth look at the issues that caregivers face as well as a comprehensive guide to financial planning.

Who Are the Family Caregivers Now?

According to the Caregiving in the US 2015 Report, the typical caregiver is a 49-year old woman caring for a relative (82%), with 49% caring for a parent or a parent-in-law in their late 60s. Although only one in ten provides care for a spouse, it is the higher-hour caregivers that are four times more likely to be caring for a spouse or partner.

An interesting change that we noted, however, is that the face of the caregiver seems to be changing as the newer generations step up to the plate.

Millennial caregivers or the individuals between the ages 18 and 34 are growing in numbers. Currently, this new generation of caregivers makes up nearly a quarter of the 43.5 million, as stated in The Millennial Caregiver by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute. Unlike their predecessors, these millennial caregivers are equally likely to be male or female. Typically, he or she is 27 years old and caring for a mother or a grandmother with a physical condition. Moreover, this age group works for 34.9 hours a week at their job, but they have not finished a degree. The average income also falls at $42,200, which is below the national median.

Also, millennial caregivers are also more likely to report their loved one’s emotional or mental health condition, which then leads to immediate care.

What Are the Services They Provide?

The demands of caregiving vary in each situation. The scope of the care you are providing is most likely different from that of someone else’s. However, the basic services include:

  • Assist in accomplishing at least two of the Activities of Daily Living (bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, toileting, and moving)
  • Perform house chores
  • Provide or prepare meals
  • Assist in addressing medical needs and reminders
  • Provide companionship

Essentially, family caregivers cater to the emotional, mental, physical, social, and often financial needs of their care recipients. And the length of time that they provide the care varies, as well. According to The State of Caregiving: 2015 Report, 57% of caregivers have been providing care for family members for more than three years. Among the top health concerns that caregivers deal with are Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In 2016, these conditions cost the nation a total of $236 billion.

The Financial Impact of Caregiving for Family

Although caregiving to a family member has plenty of positive effects, it can also cause significant blows in the different aspects of your life—that is if you are not careful. We all know that the cost of care is high, and it can surely cause a considerable change in your finances.

Let’s take a look at how it can affect your financial standing, and how you can take control of the situation.

Out of Pocket Costs

According to a survey conducted by AARP among caregivers age 18 and above, they were able to identify the financial strains that come with caregiving. Family caregivers spend on average approximately $7,000 a year on caregiving-related expenses. The amount then leaps to a whopping $11,923 for long distance caregivers who have to factor in travel expenses and even outside help.

These individuals spend approximately 20% of their income on caregiving-related costs. These expenses may include home modifications, insurance costs, and other medical expenses.

Effects on Employment

Some situations require not just the caregiver’s full attention but so much of his or her time as well. This becomes a predicament for family caregivers who are also full-time workers.

56% of family caregivers have shared that they have had to make adjustments at work because of caregiving. These include cutting back or adding more hours, working on different shifts, and even taking paid or unpaid time off. Other individuals have had to leave their jobs to become full-time family caregivers.

It is also necessary to highlight that family caregivers who keep their jobs are three times more likely to experience work productivity loss.

Addressing Your Loved One’s Financial Concerns

Part of the job of being a family caregiver is dealing with your family member’s financial concerns. It may feel awkward—like you are somehow overstepping—but it is necessary in most scenarios. After all, care sometimes means keeping them from financial abuse.

Taking Over Their Finances

If you are dealing with your parents’ money, then you and the members of the family should have a sit-down discussion about the current situation. Find solutions as a unit and delegate tasks. This way, every person will be involved.

More importantly, you have to make sure that all the necessary documents are in place. To be able to manage their finances effectively you must have legal authority, which in most cases, is granted through the different types of power of attorney.

Maximize Insurance Policy Benefits

Long term care insurance covers a vast range of services. It can cover the care in a nursing home, an adult day care center, and an assisted living facility. On top of that, these policies could include home care which would allow your loved ones to stay at home longer. For you, this could mean an extra pair of hands in handling all the needs of your loved one.

If your loved one is covered through long term care insurance, make sure to read all the specifics carefully. Some policies even provide compensation for family caregivers.

Medicare and Social Security Benefits

Retirees may be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits, so see if your care recipients are qualified for it. If not, then you may also look into Social Security disability benefits. Provided by a federal insurance program, these benefits allot income to individuals who cannot work because of a severe disability.

Medicare may also be a massive help in dealing with your loved one’s finances. In general, individuals can qualify for a plan once they turn 65 even if they are diagnosed. Just remember to apply during the time allotted (open enrollment period). Also, take into consideration the different supplement plans that can help with the costs. Be sure to consult with a specialist because these plans are quite complicated.

Tackling Your Own Finances

Family caregivers can take small steps to help keep their finances in check. To illustrate, we have found this video by AARP discussing the various financial tips in which caregivers can add a few dollars to their budget:

Let’s discuss further points:

Long Term Care Tax Deductions for the Family Caregiver

Did you know that family caregivers are entitled to long term care deductions? To do so, you must be able to claim that your care recipients are your dependents and that you are shouldering at least half of their expenses.  Refer to www.irs.gov for more information regarding this matter.

Do Not Touch Your Retirement Funds

One of the biggest temptations, when you are going through a rough patch, is to dip into your retirement funds. However, we urge you not to do so yet. These funds are present for your future, and you must find ways to keep it that way.

Being a family caregiver, you may have been given a glimpse of the difficulties that life can throw at retirees. You have a unique perspective on how difficult it can be for individuals in their retirement years, and this is why you need to keep your retirement funds intact.

Maintain a Source of Income

As mentioned above, many have had to let go of their jobs to meet the demands of caregiving.

Be that as it may, this does not mean that you should not explore other opportunities. A regular, 9-5 may not be an option at the moment, but you can look into various opportunities on the Internet. Many online jobs allow workers to work at home, which makes it a perfect setup for family caregivers. This allows them to be within reach to their care recipients, while simultaneously holding down a job that provides income.

Prepare For Long Term Care Now

Family caregivers know firsthand how the long term care needs can easily overtake one’s life.  As illustrated above, the costs involved ought not to be taken lightly.

This is why family caregivers are urged to secure long term care coverage early on. Providing care to loved ones can often lead a caregiver to neglect their own future needs. Often, their own retirement and long term care plans take the backburner in order to fulfill their role. Many assume that they will still have time to save for their own needs.

However, you must remember not to be lulled into a false sense of security. The cost of care in the country is expensive, and it appears to be increasing at a fast rate. Without a proper policy in place, your family members might have to cover most if not all of these costs.

To guide you in finding and selecting a suitable policy, you may request long term care insurance quotes from ALTCP. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments section.

Originally featured on Association for Long Term Care Planning

http://www.altcp.org/family-caregiver-financial-planning/

How Proposed Changes to Medicare Could Affect Your Wallet and Your Health Care: AARP Bulletin, January/February 2017 Issue

 

aarp

En español | MEDICARE WORKS WONDERS for millions of American families, providing affordable access to today’s most advanced health care. Poll after poll invariably confirms its popularity. But will Medicare continue to work for us and for the next generations? That’s the question that Congress and the Trump administration will be asking in the coming months.

At AARP, we continue to believe passionately in this program, which has allowed our citizens to age with dignity. In this special report, we detail what the state of Medicare is today and provide what you need to know about the upcoming debate in Washington over the nation’s most important health care program.  — Robert Love, AARP Bulletin editor in chief

A Battle Looms

by Bill Walsh

As Donald Trump was mounting his insurgent candidacy for president, he repeatedly set himself apart from the Republican field by vowing to protect the Social Security and Medicare Americans have come to know.

He assured older voters, who proved to be a decisive voting bloc, that those programs would remain intact and the benefits delivered as promised.

“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare. They want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that,” he said at a New Hampshire rally during the primaries. “It’s not fair to the people who have been paying in for years.”

Yet within days of Trump’s historic election, the guaranteed health coverage provided by Medicare was cast in doubt. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) revived his plan to replace it with a fixed-dollar subsidy that beneficiaries would use to buy private health insurance. Meanwhile, Congress is expected to move quickly to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which could have the effect of erasing the consumer-friendly Medicare benefits that the law created.

Stirring Fears and Uncertainty

As news of Ryan’s proposed Medicare overhaul spread, it stirred fears among the 57 million beneficiaries who rely on it to cover prescription drugs, doctor visits and hospitalizations. Democrats lined up to pledge their opposition. It also prompted an outcry from consumer groups, including AARP.

What remains to be seen in January, as Congress reconvenes and the president-elect takes office, is how Trump’s campaign assurances to protect Medicare will hold up against House lawmakers intent on revamping the popular health program.

Trump contributed to the uncertainty by announcing House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) as his pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services. Price has been an advocate of Ryan’s Medicare approach, which supporters call “premium support” and critics decry as a “voucher system.” Trump’s website further raised questions about his plans for Medicare. It says he wants to “modernize Medicare,” which is often seen as Washington code for the type of changes Ryan wishes to make.

Since the election, Trump has not made any comments about Medicare. But in an interview with ABC News on Dec. 4, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Trump “made it very clear in the course of the campaign that we’re going to keep our promises in Social Security and Medicare.”

The Ryan Approach

Ryan’s Medicare overhaul, a version of which passed the GOP-controlled House, would fundamentally change how Medicare works.

Since its creation in 1965, Medicare has been a “defined benefit” program, guaranteeing a certain level of health coverage. It now pays about 80 percent of costs associated with doctor and hospital visits. Beneficiaries are responsible for paying monthly premiums, copayments and annual deductibles.

57 million Americans rely on Medicare to afford health care

Ryan would convert Medicare from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” program. Instead of a guaranteed level of coverage, a dollar amount would be set for Medicare beneficiaries to pay premiums on insurance they would buy from private-sector companies (this is why Ryan calls it “premium support”). Ryan’s plan would also increase the eligibility age from 65 to 67.

A former chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan wants to limit how much the government spends on Medicare. In 2015, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of the federal budget, a proportion expected to grow as the number of beneficiaries rises.

“The reforms we’re talking about do not affect the benefits for anyone in or near retirement,” Ryan said last month. “But for those of us in the younger generations, it won’t be there for us if we stay on the current path.”

The Mounting Opposition

Consumer advocates also want to address growing costs in the health care system, including Medicare. But they contend that Ryan’s approach would erode much-needed coverage and shift costs to many who live on fixed incomes and continue to struggle in the shadow of the Great Recession.

While Ryan says the annual subsidy would be greater for low-income people, critics say it is unlikely to keep pace with the rising costs of insurance. The result, they say, is that beneficiaries would shoulder more of the financial burden — or go without needed medical care. Although Ryan also says people would be allowed to stay in traditional Medicare, critics argue his approach is designed to gradually increase out-of-pocket costs in the program and nudge beneficiaries into private plans with no guaranteed level of coverage.

Opponents also say that there are better cost-saving options available. One of the most popular is giving Medicare the authority to negotiate prescription drug prices directly with drug companies. The change would help the federal government control a cost that accounts for $1 out of every $6 Medicare spends. That idea was supported by more than 80 percent of people in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in 2015. As a candidate, Trump also embraced the idea, another potential point of friction with House Republicans, who generally oppose it, as does the pharmaceutical industry.

The Impact of Obamacare Repeal

What Trump and GOP leaders wholeheartedly agree on is that the first order of business will be repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Republican congressional leaders want a repeal vote in January so that a bill can be on the president’s desk right after he is sworn in.

77 percent of people say Medicare is a “very important” program

Although it has received little attention, a full repeal of Obamacare would eliminate Medicare benefits created by the law. Among other things, it improved Medicare’s financial outlook by slowing the growth of spending and clamped down on fraud, waste and excessive payments. It also enabled tens of millions of Medicare beneficiaries to get free preventive services such as flu shots and screenings for cancer and diabetes. And between 2010 and 2015, nearly 11 million Medicare beneficiaries saved $20.8 billion on prescription drugs—an average of $1,945 per person — because of the gradual closing of the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole.

While Obamacare remains controversial — in part because of its mandate to purchase health insurance and because premiums have increased for some plans—the Medicare provisions have proved popular with beneficiaries.

Medicare’s Enduring Popularity

Even in an era of hostility toward the federal government, support for some programs has remained strong. A Kaiser poll found that 77 percent of people say Medicare is a “very important” program, just below the level of support for Social Security at 83 percent.

Trump’s campaign assurances about protecting Medicare and Social Security undoubtedly played a role in his Election Day victory, especially among older voters. Those 65 and older supported him with 53 percent of the vote, compared with 45 percent for Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to the Pew Research Center. There will be a lot at stake for them when Congress reconvenes.

Also of Interest:

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