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.

10 Hobbies That Make Your Kids Smarter A Guest Post by Anthony Johnstone

Family Funtures

For most parents, having their kids play and learn is just part of growing up and there is the belief that they will develop naturally.
This may be true, however why not give your kids the best possible opportunity to develop through fun and in some ways exciting activities. We wanted to provide a colorful list of hobbies we believe will benefit your kids and assist with their development.

Some of these hobbies may be a bit trickier than others to convince your young boy or girl to take up. However, it would be invaluable to your child’s progress in growing and learning.
Further information your can contact Anthony Johnstone at: familyfuntures@gmail.com

10 Hobbies That Make Your Kids Smarter

10 hobbies to make your kids smarter
10 hobbies that make your kids smarter

A kid’s brain develops the most in the initial phase of his or her life. Therefore, it is your duty as a parent to make sure that you do your best to help that process. The good news is that it is not tough to help your kids grow their intelligence a bit further. There are proven strategies that you can use.

In this article, we are going to talk about 10 of the best strategies to help you make your kids smarter.

Music Instruments

Hobbies for smarter kids

A music instrument can do wonders for your kids. The result is never immediate but you will end up being happy after your child grows old. The reason is very simple behind that.

Music has a soothing power and learing any music instrument will create a mental state of balance for your kids. All instruments will require your kid to learn the art of beats and along with that, he or she will also have to think about the learning process. These things add up and helps your kid to become smarter.

Reading

Girl reading

Reading is considered to be the best method on earth to be more intelligent and imaginative. Not only for kids, this works great for even adults with developed brains. Reading is a habit and you will have to make your kids get into that habit.

Once you make that happen, you will find that your kid’s mind opens up a lot more to new ideas. Also, the habit of reading will help your kid a lot further in his or her education and career.

Exercise

Boys playing football

Exercise can do wonders and yes, one of the wonders is developing the power of the mind. There is a saying that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind and that’s exactly what it is. Also, if you let your kid get into exercise from the very early age, you will make sure that he or she keeps a fit body.

Make sure that you do not push your kid too much. Running and cardio is a great starting off point.

Brain Mathematics

What is brain mathematics? These are mental exercises that are both tricky and entertaining at the same time. Some people call them magic numbers. Simply use the power of Google and you will find a lot of them to play with your kid.

Though we have emphasized the mathematics part of it, you can actually go ahead and do this with almost every science subject such as physics, chemistry etc. Do they actually help your kid become smarter? They sure, do! These tools will help your kid’s brain develop the thinking power and the power to solve problems.

Meditation

smarter kids

It is tough to get your kid into meditation. Meditation is still a new phenomenon for older people so obviously, your kid is not going to like it. You have to make it fun for them and once they start liking the art of meditation, they will start enjoying it.

Go for small sessions and reward your kid if they are successful in meditating. Do not push it too much because your kid might not like the experience.

Habit of Writing

smarter kids

Writing is a great habit. Writing is considered as one of the best habits to have for development. It is not necessary that your kid has to become a writer. Writing is not only for writers but for everyone.

Encourage your kid to write a diary or a journal everyday if possible. You can also encourage your kid to do so by giving him or her starting off gifts, such as a good pen and diary. Having nice stationary would encourage the habit.

Traveling

traveling

Traveling doesn’t mean that you will have to go abroad every other year. Yes, if you can manage to do that then that would mean a lot to your kid but that’s not the only option out there.

You can actually take your kids to the local parks and fields. If you have time, try to go out of town once in a while. All these will result into something awesome for your kid. Traveling creates a lot of memories and improves the use of their imaginations.

Having a Pet

to make kids smarter

Having a pet helps your child to learn the art of responsibility. Kids love cats and dogs! You should let your kid have one too. But make it clear that it is their responsibility to take care of the pet.

Obviously, you will look after things behind the scenes however your kid will have to understand the power of responsibility. This helps a lot in making your kid smarter. Also, having a pet is great for your home. There is no denying that.

Self-Independence

develop your kids

The best thing that you can do for your kid is to make him or her Independent. Now, this is not exactly a hobby but if you can make it seem like one, this would workout best in the long run.

It starts with small things such as pouring a glass of water on their own and grows to be taking care of the family pet later on. Self-Independence is something massive and there is no boundary. You will do a huge favor to your kid if you manage to make this happen. This doesn’t only make your kid smarter, this also helps your kid to be a better person.

Coding

coding for kids

Did you know that your kid can become smarter if you help him or her learn coding? Coding is not easy but there are methods to make this interesting for kids too. There are lots of free resources these days that you can use to make your kid actually learn coding, not just copying the code.

This will not only help your kid develop the power of logical thinking, this will also encourage your kid to have a great career in the world of tech.

Final Word:

That’s our list for developing your kids, I hope this list helps to put you on the right track with regards to Making your kids smarter.

Nutrition and Meal Planning For the Hurried Caregiver a Guest Post by Breanne Fleat

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A caregiver has a vital responsibility of safeguarding their recipient, be it a family member, a friend or as part of their job. Diet and nutrition are some of the basic needs for people requiring such care, in an effort to keep the body strong and energetic. However, diet and nutrition isn’t just important for them, it’s important for you, the care provider too. With our current lives full of deadlines and schedules we usually don’t have the time to design a reliable meal plan or even stick to conventional eating patterns.

Looking after your own health is vital. Being in tip top condition will not only help you feel more energised but you will be encouraging your care recipients to wake up, shape up, eat up and try to live their healthiest life possible.

We all know how easy it is to skip meals, grab the first ready meal in the shop or neck back some energy drink because you just don’t have the time or energy. But, the fact is you will either gain excessive weight or completely ruin your metabolism and health from living this way.

Unfortunately, most conventional meals, do, require adequate preparation and cooking times, which may be almost  impossible in your situation. Fortunately, the following tips are here to help you maintain a healthy life, with consideration of your RDI (Recommended Daily Intake):

Nutrition Shortcuts
your aim is to get all the required nutrients in the day, within a tight schedule. This means that your choices have to be easily digestible and assimilated in the body. The issue you have is that foods such as bread, grains and some proteins require the body to be resting, in order to digest suitably and you just don’t have that time.

As much as I recommend eating whole foods where possible, you can get supplement snacks that contain either one or a combination of nutrients. Instead of picking up a chocolate bar and energy drink, why not head to your local health food store and pick up one of these healthier snacks instead? You may even be able to buy them online. Most meal replacement and supplement snacks are filled with nutrients, lots healthier than normal snacks and reduce the need for spending hours in the kitchen, combining meals.

Micro is Important
For a busy caregiver, you rarely have time to rest and recover. Throughout this time your body stands very high chances of catching infections and a strong immune system is needed. This is where micronutrients come in.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals which help keep your body ticking along as it should.  Minerals such as Magnesium and iron, and Vitamins E and C help to detoxify the body, reducing the intensity of fatigue and lowering your risk of infections.

Quick Micro Tip: Try replacing your morning coffee or energy drink with a multivitamin tablet, or better yet add spinach to your usual breakfast, for a hit of iron and vitamin c then have almonds as a magnesium and vitamin e filled mid-morning snack.
Smoothies and Juices
you only need a couple of minutes to create a vitamin packed smoothie consisting of bananas, avocados, strawberries or even melons. The best thing about them is that you can carry them around with you during the day.

In addition, one glass of fruit juice or smoothie can contain at least 3 of your 5 a day, making it a reliable source of micro and macro nutrients, which you need for coping with the day’s commitments.

You can even include fruits with exceptional benefits such as thorn melons, to boost your immunity, especially when attending to a person with communicable diseases.

Quick Smoothie Tip: Try adding spinach to your smoothies – it may sound strange at first, but it’s practically tasteless, yet filled with loads of nutritional benefits.

Meal Planning
Planning what to eat, when and why is hectic for anyone, let alone a caregiver. Not only do you have to try and plan what you and your family will be eating, but it’s highly likely you will have to plan something entirely different for your recipient.

However it’s important to remember the phrase “prior planning prevents poor performance” and don’t we know it. Planning helps you to eliminating the decision-making process, which, for me, ends up in opting for empty snacks or fast foods.

Quick Planning Tip: Buying raw foods in advance will create a reasonable timetable to help you organise around. Plan your fresh meals for the days post shopping trip and plan tinned or frozen foods in the run up to your next supermarket trip

Cook for Freeze
No matter how busy you are, there is ALWAY a little free time, whether it’s early in the morning, late in the evening or on the weekends. This is the best time for batch cooking.

Some people advocate for a cook one-freeze three concept, where you cook an excess of a particular meal and freeze the remainders (usually another 3 servings) while others will cook one main ingredient as use it for 2 or 3 different meals.

Quick Freezer Food Tip: Make sure you set a reminder to get food out of the freezer to defrost ready for the next day otherwise you’ll be more tempted by grab and go snacks.

Change how you cook
Just because you’re personal time is sparse, shouldn’t mean you have to give up on the things you love. Food is a necessity but it’s also there to be enjoyed. Just because slow cooking sounds time consuming, doesn’t mean it is.  Using a slow cooker is a great way to ensure your meal is thoroughly flavoured and cooked with minimal time or effort.

Don’t let your lack of time take away from the enjoyable experience of cooking and eating.

Quick slow cooker tip: There’s usually a slow cooker version of most meals – got something you particularly love? Look up how to slow cook, you may find you love it even more after.

 

Displaying Breanne.jpg

BIO: Breanne is a writer, blogger and chief editor, at ProteinPromo.com. She is keen on providing readers with nutrition and wellness hints and tips to ensure readers are living their healthiest possible life.

 

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!”

HerVoiceIsMyVoice: Celebrate the Women Who Inspire Us Every Day

The strength of individual women empowers us all. This International Women’s Day, we’re turning up the volume on female voices and honoring the impact they have on all of us. #HerVoiceIsMyVoice is a moment to celebrate and share the voices of inspirational women from around the world.

Show your support on social by sharing the voice of a woman who has inspired you using #HerVoiceIsMyVoice.

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.

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Senior Care: Balancing Marriage and Caring for a Parent A Guest Post by Samantha Stein

Senior Care

Caregiving can strengthen the bonds of relationships within the family. It can bridge gaps and heal decades-long conflicts through the connections that form during the care. However, it can also cause strains within the family. In marriages and relationships, no one really thinks of their partner caring for an aging parent until it starts happening. And in this day and age, providing senior care can put all kinds of stress that will shake the foundations of for better or for worse.

Marriages and partnerships already go through so many challenges that either strengthen or break the bond. For adult children stepping up to provide care for their aging parents, will the hiccups of senior care toughen up your marriage or cause it to crumble?

Impact of Senior Care in Relationships (Statistics)

Caregiving in relationships can have positive and negative effects. In a survey conducted by Caring.com in honor of Valentine’s Day, 300-plus spouses provided a valuable glimpse of what it is like to make a relationship work amidst the demands of senior care.

According to the study, 80% claimed that providing care to a family member has put a strain in their relationships. One caregiver expressed that strong marriage, including his or her own, can struggle and be tested by the demands of caregiving. He or she further explains by stating that the responsibility of caring for a family member can create an imbalance in a relationship.

Many find themselves “drifting apart.” This may be because of the change in dynamics that providing senior care brings. Couples shared through the survey that the lack of privacy and time to connect with each other often leads to diminished feelings of attachment.

Bear in mind that the effects are not all negative. Yes, the love and commitment that couples have for each other may be tested thoroughly. However, some caregivers and their spouses found that the presence of senior care in their lives has strengthened their bonds. Because of the high demands, some couples have found that this experience has brought them closer together. One caregiver shared that her spouse has become her source of solace and inspiration. Another confided that her spouse tells her that her mother will not be around forever and that she should do what she needs to do.

Key Factors that Cause Strain

Caregivers may be put in a tough spot when the stress of their tasks takes its toll on their relationships and marriages. It may even reach a point where it feels like you have to make a choice between your partner and your aging parent.

Understandably, no one wants to be put in a position such as that. But how can you avoid it? You can start by identifying the roots.

Financial Burden

Various articles, such as these posts by Investopedia and Shaw Family Law PC, cite financial strains and extended families among the top causes of divorce in the United States.

When a parent ends up needing care, adult children often feel obligated to step up and provide the help that they need. It almost feels like second nature to many. After all, why wouldn’t you care for the person who raised you, right?

However, providing senior care, especially when the care recipient does not have long term care coverage, can put a significant dent on any couple’s finances. Care services in the country have become too expensive for many to afford. And if you and your partner are still in the process of saving for your retirement, then adding senior care costs can surely make the situation more challenging.

Frustration and Fatigue

Providing care to an aging loved one can be time-consuming and energy-draining. There will be days when you will feel as if everything is piling up and you will feel overwhelmed. It will feel like nothing is going right or as planned and you feel frustrated and exhausted by it all.  When this happens, it can be too easy to turn to you partner and just release all those negative emotions on him or her.

Frustration and fatigue, if not vented out the right way, can be the foundations of a very unhappy environment. It can cause friction in marriages and can damage relationships.

Lack of Intimacy

Caring for a parent, managing your household, and co-parenting your children can be difficult to manage. Add the senior care to that, and it surely leaves little room for any sort of intimacy. The presence of a new person in a couple’s home, along with his or her care needs, can cause a change in the chemistry. The fatigue that may come with providing senior care can affect the relationship between spouses.

Intimacy is one of the key elements that strengthen relationships and marriages, and the lack of it can cause a severe blow. Individuals have shared that caregiving has had a negative impact on their sexual relationship.

However, bear in mind that intimacy does not always mean sexuality. Sex, though an important factor, does not fully encompass intimacy.

Shifting between Caregiver and Spouse

The perfect balance between being a caregiver and a spouse may be difficult to achieve, but it is doable. And like everything in relationships and marriages, this will require an immense amount of teamwork, understanding, and limitless patience.

Readjusting your lives to add another person into the equation may be difficult. And most times, it may feel like three is definitely a crowd. However, changing your perspective can save your relationship. Working together for better or for worse will be tested, and being reminded of your goals to work together can often save your relationship.

Addressing the Issues which Cause Marital Strain

Like any roadblock, these issues ought to be addressed together. These situations are exactly the right moments when communication between partners will be truly tested. It is important to be honest about concerns, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. It is also necessary to have an open mind when dealing with these instances as they can easily put a damper on your relationship.

Prioritize Your Spouse

This goes both ways. The caregiver and the spouse ought to find ways to show that they prioritize their partners, even if it means leaving them alone for a time. Often, some people need their space to recollect their thoughts and their bearings. Being there for your partner, especially when they are dealing with all that comes with caring for a loved one, could mean providing them with the space that they need to adjust to stresses on their own.

However, time together is also vital. Remember that having time for each other does not necessarily have to be extravagant or expensive. Find enjoyment in the little things. Love does not always have to be shown in big gestures. Sometimes, it is the seemingly insignificant acts of love –the ones that we often take advantage of—are the ones that mean the most. What matters is that you show your appreciation for each other, and that you do activities that help strengthen your bond.

Say Yes to Help

Handing over the reins to your parents’ care, albeit temporarily, may be a difficult decision to make. What if something happens while you are away? What if your parents think you are neglecting them?

So many possibilities can happen while you are taking a break that you end up not taking any for yourself. As tempting as it sounds to say no to anyone who offers help, you have to learn to do the opposite of what your gut tells you.

Validate and Address Emotional and Mental Stress

Emotional and mental stress can come to both the caregiver and the spouse. And often, whoever experiences it feels as if these reactions are selfish.

Bear in mind that having these feelings and going through these struggles do not make you less of a partner or a person. Whatever your role is in the equation, these emotions are real issues that need to be addressed. Talk about it with your partner, and if necessary, seek professional help.

Find Support Online

So many individuals are in the same boat. They face the similar challenges and struggle with the identical issues. Sometimes, these people might even understand you on a level that your significant other might struggle with.

So many caregivers have found support and guidance through online communities, and it would be all right for you to do the same. The communities provide a no-judgment platform where caregivers can share their frustrations and stresses and get the support that they need.

Finding Your Own Long Term Care Coverage

Now that senior care plays a significant role in financial spending, couples where one provides caregiving ought to find coverage for their own care. These costs can easily eat away at anyone’s savings, and would you really be able to say no to a parent in need?

Finding and securing a long term care insurance policy for you and your partner could ensure that your future care needs are covered without feeling like you are withholding help for your parents.  Our advice is this: look into shared care policies. These specific ones are specifically catered to couples—married or not—looking for long term care coverage.

Originally posted by Association for LTC Planningon  http://www.altcp.org/senior-care-marriage-caring-parent/  February 15, 2017