We recently wrote a blog about digital health resources that seniors might consider using, but what if you have recently taken on the role of caregiver for a loved one? This can be daunting, especially since it comes with a lot of information you need to organize. Sunrise Senior Living recently wrote an article, “How to Organize a Senior’s Medical Information”, with tips on how to organize all the medical information and successfully conquer your new role as a caregiver.
According to the 2019 report from the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million American’s have Alzheimer’s. This report also shares that the risk for Alzheimer’s at age 45 is 10.3% for men and 19.5% for woman. It also shared is that, “According to one study using data from the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (EPESE), approximately 487,000 people age 65 or older will develop Alzheimer’s dementia in the United States in 2019” (19). The general nature of Alzheimer’s is something most are familiar with, but understanding what it is like caring for a family member who suffers from it is less common.
Last month we discussed the financial costs of caregiving, so I thought this month I would share what it is like to be a caregiver firsthand, and since there are 5.8 million families out there caring for a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s, I reached out to my mom to get her advice and insight on caring for someone who has this disease. It’s been six years since we lost my grandmother, Ramona, to Alzheimer’s, and my mom, Ann, was one of the primary caregivers for her mother in law.
As parents age, the thought of how they will be cared for will start to cross your mind more and more. As their child you likely feel that you know what’s best for their care and you are who they would be more comfortable with. Caregiving is truly a labor of love and is a way many children give back to their parents after the years of raising they did for you. Yet, as you debate whether you want to be a primary caregiver for your parents versus helping them move into an assisted living community, there are some hidden expenses to consider as discussed in Sunrise Senior Living’s article, “The Hidden Costs of Caregiving”.
Have you check out Mass Gov’s senior or elder sections? There are a lot of great resources on there if you haven’t. We wanted to take a moment to point you to some of the resources there for elders and caregivers.
There are a number of services on Mass Gov’s senior section. Things like prescription drug assistance, in-home services, how to report elder abuse, etc. One thing that would be helpful for your aging parent, is the bank training for preventing elder abuse. There are a couple brochures on financial exploitation and there is a training manual that is quite lengthy, but if you scan through there are some scenarios that institutions need to look out for that can give insight into the types of scandals that could take place. Educating yourself and your aging parent on these scams can help you spot them sooner or even prevent them.
When adult children suspect that one or both of their parents may be suffering from the early symptoms of dementia, it’s a good idea to sit down with an experienced elder care attorney to start planning for the legal issues that will follow, says The Roanoke Times in the article “What to do in absence of advance directive.”If the parent is unwilling to cooperate, the attorney will be able to refer the family to a social worker or other professional who may be able to assist. In addition, a geriatric evaluation consultation with a board-certified geriatrician will help to clarify the medical issues.
It’s wise for anyone older than 55 to have advance directives in place, should they become incapacitated so a trusted agent can fulfill the patient’s wishes in a dignified manner. Think ahead and plan ahead.
Advance planning for incapacity is an unpleasant topic. However, not planning for it can lead to a serious situation for the entire family. This is particularly true, when one parent is in charge of financial matters and refuses to recognize that their decision-making skills have deteriorated.
Forbes’ recent article asks, “What Can You Do When A Stubborn Aging Parent Refuses To Give Up Control?” The article explains what it took one family to get an aging parent out of the position as trustee and to permit the successor, the adult daughter, to take over.
The family saw signs of dementia and a family member’s financial abuse.
The trust provided that the parent could be removed as trustee, if two physicians declared him to be incapacitated for handling his own finances. In that case, a judge’s decision wasn’t required. The doctors verified that the elderly parent was incapacitated to safely handle his money. However, all this takes time and there is no guarantee that the doctors will find someone “legally incapacitated”.
Senate Bill 901, which is called “Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Act” was introduced in late March by a number of Senators who crossed party lines to support the amendment to the Older Americans Act. According to McKnight’s Senior Living’s article, “Bill would aid those with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease,”Senate Bill 901 was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the committee, Senator Bob Casey, ranking member and Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). In the House of Representatives, the bill H.R. 1903 introduced was introduced by Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Pete King (R-NY), David Trone (D-MD), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Chris Smith (R-NJ).
Nutritional programs, supportive services, transportation, legal services, elder-abuse prevention and caregiver support have been available through the OAA since 1965. However, under the current law, only individuals over 60 are eligible.
“These programs would make a huge difference in the lives of individuals living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, who don’t have support services available to them,” said hearing witness Mary Dysart Hartt of Hampden, ME, a caregiver to her husband, Mike, who has young-onset Alzheimer’s.
About 200,000 individuals aged less than 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease, according to hearing witness Clay Jacobs, executive director of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, North Abington Township, PA.
If you watched the funeral of the former President George H. W. Bush, you may have noticed how smoothly everything went. Every detail was planned out with nothing left to chance. Few of us have such a large funeral, but we will all have some kind of funeral, and planning in advance can make everything easier for those we leave behind.
Hometown Life’s recent article, “Planning your funeral can help ease loved ones’ burden,“ explains that the first issue when it comes to planning for when we’ll no longer be here, is to make certain we have an up-to-date estate plan. You will want a trust and will, and you should ask your estate planning attorney to help you keep your estate plan current and to make sure all your assets are retitled, aligned, and funded consistent with your plan. Remember that a variety of family events can impact your estate plan and your assets. If you don’t have an estate plan, you need to get one!
Turning 50 used to mean that it was time to begin thinking about retiring. In today’s age, that is not the case anymore, now turning 50 is about becoming a “modern elder” as Chip Conley puts it in his book Wisdom at Work. A recent article, “The New 50s: Far From Retirement” from the New York Times, discusses some stories and wisdom from people who are finding new ways to be a “modern elder” in the workforce today.
According to Conley, being a “modern elder” means balancing sharing wisdom with embracing new ideas and ways of thinking. Part of this is figuring out how to stay relevant and keep skills up to date while remembering humility. It can be tough to stay motivated in the work environment because of how valued the younger generation is, how in tune they seem to be with new technology, and how each new wave of what’s popular doesn’t seem to faze or overwhelm them.
Looking into potential nursing homes or other senior care facilities? or thinking ahead about the process? One aspect you will want to consider is whether or not the facility is a for-profit or not-for-profit. In an article from U.S. News, “Nonprofit Versus For-Profit Senior Care – Is There a Difference?”, it is suggested that you might want to take this into consideration.
According to David G. Stevenson, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, studies have shown that the typical not-for-profit senior care facility is higher quality than a for-profit which typically more poorly perform. That is not to say that there are not wonderful for-profit facilities, but data does show that when considering senior care locations a good place to start is looking into not-for-profit, as they tend to have better outcomes.
The downside is that the majority of senior care options are structured around for-profit which can make it hard to find a not-for-profit in your area. While it is important to consider the ownership status of a senior care option, there are several other aspects to examine when doing your research.