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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In-Depth: Hidden Heaven

Published : Tuesday, 24 Nov 2009, 9:20 PM CST

MINNEAPOLIS - None of us knows if or when we will develop dementia. It is a devastating disease that can cause some otherwise kind and caring people to turn aggressive. You will see a revolutionary approach to eliminating that kind of behavior. Reporter Trish Van Pilsum takes you to a place some families call: a hidden heaven.

It's so hard to watch a mind slip away. “It’s okay daddy, if you forget I’ll remind you.” Daughter Kris Madson says. So hard to lose touch “I love you, can you wake up a little bit so you can visit with us?” Daughter Nikole Anderson asks her mother.

So hard to realize. Read full article

Friday, November 20, 2009

VA Aid & Attendance Benefit: Can be a Friend or Foe

By Rita Files

As much as the VA Non-Service Connected Pension Benefit (more commonly referred to as “Aid & Attendance”) is useful in offsetting the high cost of eldercare, it can significantly affect someone's ability to qualify for Medicaid in assisted living after their assets are exhausted. As welcoming as the additional income might be, it is NOT always in the best interest of the person applying, especially if they might need Medicaid before they need a higher level of care. Keep in mind, once the additional income is awarded the Veteran or surviving spouse cannot stop the benefit in order to qualify for Medicaid.

Recently an Aging with Grace Eldercare Specialist received a call from a frantic daughter whose mom was living in a Florida memory care assisted living owned by one of the larger assisted living providers in the country. Sixteen months ago, the assisted living provider paid an organization to assist the family with obtaining the VA surviving spouse aid and attendance benefit. This increased the woman’s monthly income to $2600.00/month and provided the additional funds, along with her 50K in savings, to move in into this lovely community.

Now with less than 10K in savings, she will be unable to continue to pay the $3850.00 each month. Even if this provider did participate in the Medicaid waiver program for assisted living, this resident would not qualify since the additional $1057.00 from the VA puts her over the state’s Medicaid threshold of $2022.00. Although long term nursing home care is not needed at this time, her income may leave her with no other alternative. In this particular situation, the benefit representative “hired” by the assisted living provider never addressed or recognized the possible need for Medicaid after her assets were depleted.

With independent and assisted living providers introducing the VA benefit to potential residents for additional monthly income, we are seeing more and more people in the same situation. Not only is it a violation of the federal guidelines for an "interested" third party (such as a provider) to pay a fee on behalf of a Veteran family for this type of service, the providers can and have found themselves in liable situations.

Federal Regulation 38 CFR 14.636: Payment of fee by disinterested third party. (i) An agent or attorney may receive a fee or salary from an organization, governmental entity, or other disinterested third party for representation of a claimant or appellant even though the conditions set forth in paragraph (c) of this section have not been met. An organization, governmental entity, or other third party is considered disinterested only if the entity or individual does not stand to benefit financially from the successful outcome of the claim. In no such case may the attorney or agent charge a fee which is contingent, in whole or in part, on whether the matter is resolved in a manner favorable to the claimant or appellant.

It is critical that our veterans and their families work with individuals who are knowledgeable about both the VA benefit and Medicaid with an understanding of the potential impact the additional income can have. Offering a free pre-qualification analysis, allows a consultant to determine a client’s potential eligibility and helps identify possible conflicts before applying for the benefit. Any fees paid by the Veteran family, are strictly for pre-filing consultation to assist them with assembling a well developed and supported claim. By anticipating all of the documentation requirements that are necessary and submitting them with the original application, the time from submission to a decision is shortened.

Certified veteran benefits consultants are private practitioners and are not connected with the Department of Veterans Affairs. They comply with federal statutes and regulations governing the preparation, presentation and prosecution of any claim for veterans’ benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

“An Age for Justice: Elder Abuse in America”

Elder Justice Now uses the power of video and the Internet to put a human face on elder abuse. Watch the new campaign documentary “An Age for Justice: Elder Abuse in America” or browse through compelling video stories from victims, survivors and advocates that build the case for passage of the Elder Justice Act. You can share the documentary or the stories with your friends or colleagues by using the buttons on the bottom of the page or your member of Congress by going to Take Action. Watch videos and learn more

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Now You Can Have a Cell Phone Your Aging Parents Will Use

By Kaye Swain

I remember when I used to leave my kids with a babysitter while my husband and I went off for a date for the day. (This isn’t an article about dates with husbands BUT may I say I HIGHLY recommend regular dates for all married couples . It will definitely help keep your marriage healthy!). We used to plan our little day trips to include stopping to eat, use the restroom and find a payphone to check on the kids. That was only 15 years ago. 14 years ago my husband got his first cell phone, accompanied by my concern that it was way overpriced and not really necessary. The very next date, when we were in the boonies and I could call and check on the kids without having to spend half an hour looking for a pay phone, made a believer out of me and we’ve never looked back. I got my own about a year later and now my cell phone has morphed into a smart phone and I love it even more. Read full article

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alzheimer’s Awareness: Why Bother?

by: Dennis Fortier

As we enter into National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, you may wonder why we should bother promoting awareness. Those who have been touched by Alzheimer’s are already aware and those who have not been touched can’t really help -- so what’s the point? After all, doesn’t it make more sense to skip the awareness effort and just focus all resources on a cure?

As it turns out, lack of awareness and education are major contributors to the burgeoning Alzheimer’s problem. And while the benefits of awareness may not be obvious, they are very real.

For example, do you know what you can do today to reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s later in life? If not, your lack of awareness is fueling the ongoing problem. Do you know how we can immediately improve the efficacy of those drugs currently approved for Alzheimer’s? Sadly, most patients and many physicians do not. How clear is your grasp of the relationship between a healthy heart and a healthy brain? For many of us, investing a few minutes to improve our understanding of that relationship could yield long-lasting health benefits.

The answers to these questions along with four other important perspectives are summarized in a short article on the Brain Today blog. The full article can be read in about five minutes and, with a couple of additional clicks, can be forwarded to your online networks.

In the spirit of National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, please visit the Brain Today blog and read the article and then encourage your social networks to do the same. In this way, you will become a part of the solution, doing your part to thwart Alzheimer’s through the simple act of awareness. Read full article

Dennis Fortier is President of Medical Care Corporation and Editor of the Brain Today blog . Brain Today is a non-commercial publication devoted to interpreting the daily news about brain health and distilling the true value of that news.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Caregiver Guilt is Good

by Vicki Rackner MD

Mary said, “I feel guilty all the time. When I'm with my father, who just went into a nursing home, I feel guilty I'm not with the kids. When I'm with the kids, I feel guilty about neglecting my husband. And when I take that occasional trip to the gym, I feel guilty about letting everyone down.”

Guilt is a common feeling in the landscape of caregiving. Guilt can propel you to be the best you can be…or it can immobilize you. Read full article

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Future of Dementia? Get Rid of the Stigma First

By Laura Bramly

I had the most extraordinary experience the other day...

I visited the Silverado Senior Living home in Scottsdale, AZ on Tuesday. With facilities in four states, Silverado provides assisted living communities for people requiring specialized memory care. If I told you that Silverado is the only memory care unit where I can recall hearing words such as "self-actualize," "purpose," "productive" and "success" in reference to seniors with dementia, I think you would begin to understand what makes Silverado different from many memory care facilities.

However, this is not a blog about Silverado. If you would like more information about Silverado facilities, I advise you to go to their web site, www.silveradosenior.com.

I was sitting with the administrator in his office. Silverado has an open door policy; all doors are open unless the open door presents a safety harzard (i.e. the door to the street!). The residents are free to wander in and out of rooms as they wish, including the offices of the staff. Read more ...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

MetLife Mature Market Institute Survey of Long-Term Care Costs

This market survey from the MetLife Mature Market Institute, conducted in conjunction with LifePlans, Inc., contains daily private-pay rates for private and semi-private rooms in licensed nursing homes, monthly base rates for assisted living communities, hourly rates for home health aides from licensed agencies and agency-provided homemaker companion services, and daily rates for adult day services across the United States. View or download report

Monday, November 02, 2009

Aging with Grace & Emeritus Corporation Partner to Launch Ask the Expert, a Complimentary Resource for Seniors and Their Loved Ones - FOXBusiness.com

Emeritus Corporation Launches Ask the Expert, a Complimentary Resource for Seniors and Their Loved Ones - FOXBusiness.com

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Prescription for Caregivers

By Richard Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S 17th Surgeon General of the United States

Being a caregiver for someone you love is one of the greatest gifts you can give, but it can also be very stressful. As you care for your loved one, there are resources that can help and things you can do to ease the strain on your own health and well-being.

Here are some ways to care for yourself while caring for your loved one:

  • Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or anxious. Signs that you may need help include crying more, sleeping more or less than usual, changes in appetite, and lack of interest in your regular activities.
  • Find out about sources of support and help in your community. Reach out to family members, friends, neighbors, your place of worship, your Area Agency on Aging or your workplace for help with caregiver tasks.
  • Realize that your health matters - it benefits everyone if you stay healthy and less stressed.
  • Be aware of the toll stress takes on your health. Try to find time for exercise, eating well and sleeping enough.
  • Learn about the condition your loved one is facing and how it may affect his/her physical and emotional state.

Caregiver Bill of Rights

Author Unknown

I have the right… to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my relative.

I have the right… to seek help from others even though my relatives may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

I have the right… to maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things just for myself.

I have the right… to get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.

I have the right… to reject any attempts by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt and/or depression.

I have the right… to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance from my loved one for what I do, for as long as I offer these qualities in return.

I have the right… to take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.

I have the right… to protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.

I have the right… to expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.

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Helpful Resources

Low Vision Therapy Services

Children of Aging Parents (CAPS)

Well Spouse Association

U.S. Administration on Aging


Nursing Home Compare

Senior Safety Online

Mature Market Institute

Connections for Women

50Plus Realtor

Alzheimer's Speaks

Official VA Website