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

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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.

4 Top Strategies for Finding Your Dream Job by Phyllis

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Originally Publish Date: March 16, 2017 https://www.aorn.org/aorn-org/surgicalexpo/conference-blog/find-your-periop-dream-job

 

I want to share some career coaching guidance with you:

1. Build a Strong Resume that Reflects Your Worth

Ensure your full name with credentials appears at the top in the header along with your contact information. The correct formatting is, name (middle initial optional), highest academic credential, RN, certification. For example, Mary A. Smith, MSN, RN, CNOR. A summary or statement of intent is no longer advised.

Your first section should be Academic Education. Start with your highest degree. If you’re still in school, it’s acceptable to note the date you started and an anticipated date of graduation. Next list your Professional Experience, Certifications & Memberships and Continuing Education & Computer Skills. End with Honors/Awards & Achievements.

If you find a job posting on the AORN Career Center site or other site, read it carefully and make sure that important phrases contained in that job posting language are also contained somewhere in your resume. This will increase the likelihood that the computer will recognize the language and select your resume, over others, for the recruiter to read.

2. Develop an Elevator Pitch

Once your resume is pulled, it is likely that you’ll get a screening call from a recruiter. This could be a make or break conversation. A successful screening conversation is the gateway to an actual interview. When the recruiter asks, “why did you apply for this position?” or “tell me about yourself?” you must be ready to share a ninety-second clear, passionate, and compelling answer that communicates you’re a serious candidate.

Take your time to form the exact four to five sentences that make your point. It may take an hour’s worth of revisions to get this just right but the return on your investment could be huge. You want to sound prepared but not rehearsed in your delivery. You may use your elevator pitch more frequently than expected. It’s always professional and polished to have it ready when networking and speaking with colleagues or vendors.

3. Invest in Your Own Resilience

Nurses downplay the need to take care of themselves so they can take care of others. Caring comes so naturally that we often forget that we cannot render quality, safe care when we’re physically tired or energetically depleted. Ensuring that we take good care of ourselves is actually quite generous. Building resilience allows us to stay fresh and available so we can deliver a consistent caring product every day.

Here are two suggestions for keeping your resilience well full. Incorporate some silent, still time into your life. Nurses are professional doers and always on the go. That may mean you take a walk and just experience the outdoors. It could mean that you discover meditation or yoga. There’s peace in stillness and we can all use a break from the endless noise of our thoughts.

Allow yourself to be cared for by others. Nurses are always giving and the only way to balance that is to allow yourself to receive. Lose the need for control and perfection by finding a way to delegate more at work and at home. Resist the urge to host every holiday and enjoy being a guest. Both of these practices will be hard at first but stick with it and notice the change in your energy level and yourself.

It’s been my honor to be the career coach for AORN since 2012. Each year at the conference, I have the opportunity to meet some AORN members for the first time and reconnect with members from past events. The most common question I’ve been asked over the years is, “so what is coaching all about?” This brings me to my final piece of career advice – career and personal coaching.

4. Consider Career and Personal Coaching

Career coaching is a great way to get individualized guidance and assistance with establishing your professional goals, making career choices, creating an academic roadmap, polishing interview techniques, and becoming skilled in marketing yourself. It often involves reviewing and revising resumes and learning how to increase your chances of getting your resume into the right hands once it’s uploaded to an organization’s career page. Sharpening your social media skills on sites such as LinkedIn is often useful as well.

Personal coaching is the process of supporting personal growth in a nonjudgmental manner. It can be challenging to remain clear and authentic about your goals and yourself as you try to navigate your life. Responsibilities, set-backs, and the demands of an adult life can overshadow your understanding of the present and cloud your vision for the future. Our human nature creates blind spots to options and solutions. Coaching provides vital support as one explores behaviors and attitudes that can short-circuit success in life and career.

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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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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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