Welcome ...

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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Aging with Grace Welcomes New Expert

Elisabeth Schuler Russell is the founder and President of Patient Navigator LLC, a company dedicated to helping patients and families navigate illness and aging. In 2007, she became a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)® and in 2009, she received integrative oncology training from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. Elisabeth is a hospice-trained bereavement counselor and a charter member of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants. In her first career, Elisabeth worked 24 years as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State. She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University, and has lived abroad and traveled extensively. The gift of her daughter’s survival after a pediatric brain tumor led Elisabeth to her new calling as a patient navigator so that she can advocate, educate and solve problems for patients and families. Please visit her at www.patientnavigator.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Service Announced - AWG Veteran Benefit Consultants

Aging with Grace™ now provides veteran long term planning consultation services, which may include assessment of the client's needs, location and coordination of services and assisting veterans with understanding their benefits and how to receive them.

One particular program called Veterans Pension or more commonly known as the "Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit," can provide money to pay for care for veterans and surviving spouses. Aid and attendance can also be used to pay for home care, assisted living or nusing home care for a veteran or the veteran's spouse.

AWG Veteran Benefit Consultants provide information and pre-filing counseling about the aid and attendance benefit including:
• what the benefit provides
• who qualifies
• information and documentation necessary to file a fully developed claim.

AWG Veteran Benefit Consultants is not connected with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our consultants 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.

To learn more, visit the AWG Veteran Benefit Consultant web site or call for your free pre-qualification analysis 877-369-5418

AWG Veteran Benefit Consultants are proud members of the National Care Planning Council

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Working Caregiver Survey Results

Of the 4523 Working Caregivers surveyed from March 2009 through August 2009, 74.4% of the caregivers indicated they would utilize an eldercare benefit if it were available to them through their employer, what is your organization doing to address this rapidly growing issue? View results....

Monday, August 24, 2009

In honor of Grandparents Day (September 13th)

Warman Home Care is running a “Warman Fuzzy” photo & video contest!

Send us your warm and fuzzy photo or video that includes your grandparents or another senior that has touched your life. Please include your favorite memory with this person as well.

Finalists will be chosen based on the number of positive comments on each photo or video on our Flickr and You Tube accounts, so rally your friends to support your entry! Learn more ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Community Aging Services and Long Term Care

There are many private, religious and government organizations across the country that provide supportive services for older people. Many of these services center around helping people stay in their homes and avoid having to go to live in an institution or perhaps move in with family. Because of the emphasis on helping people remain independent, many community aging programs could be viewed as long-term care programs. In fact it's probably just a matter of semantics; long-term care and community aging services are just two sides of the same coin. Read full article ...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eldercare Funding Options - Part II

The following article is Part II in a series of V on Eldercare Funding Options by Patricia Grace

Life Settlements

Most seniors rely on equity in their homes to fund retirement and then assisted living and long term care. For those forced to sell their home today, the economy could be costing them money—if they are even able to sell in a time frame that can address their needs. For many facing a health crisis that requires a move out of the home; waiting months and months to sell a home in a down market might not be an option they can afford.

Seniors typically sell their homes first when looking to fund retirement living or long-term care. But today, values are down, so selling could translate into a loss-- or more money later if you wait. On top of that, selling a home is taking much longer now, sometimes more than a year.

This is sobering news for seniors trying to ride out the bad times and regain that value later. But waiting is not always possible, especially when assistance with activities of daily living is needed now, not three years from now.

According to a MSN Money.com Market Watch report (March 28, 2008) “a sixty five year old couple retiring now would need more than $300,000 set aside just to pay for health care costs over twenty years and would need $550,000 if they were to live into their early nineties.” Particularly alarming, according to the report, is the fact that these numbers, “haven’t factored in the costs of nursing homes, assisted living facilities or home health aides—and those costs are staggering!” The reality is that very few people will have half a million dollars to cover health care costs-- without even accounting for the costs associated with long term care and retirement living.

So what is someone to do if they want or need to move into assisted living, independent living or even a long-term care situation soon? One option might be a Life Settlement, quickly becoming a popular financial tool to fund senior housing options. A Life Settlement is an alternative way for seniors to tap into an existing asset to generate liquidity to cover immediate needs. The seller of the life insurance policy gets a lump sum payment—and since it is not a loan, the funds are unrestricted and require no repayment. The gains of a Life Settlement option are tax deductible if applied to retirement living or skilled nursing care.

The definition of a Life Settlement: the sale of a life insurance policy by the policy holder while still alive to an institutional investor that will pay a lot more for the policy than the cash “surrender” value. And, because life insurance values are guaranteed and disconnected from the economy, there is no fluctuation, as is the case with real estate and stocks.

“In the face of falling home and stock values, rising inflation, and depleted savings, many people we are meeting with are taking a close look at the Life Settlement option because it helps a family preserve long-held assets, such as a home, until it is more convenient to sell. It is not complicated with transactions often completed in 30 to 60 days,” explains Chris Orestis, President Life Care Funding Group, a firm that specializes in funding programs for senior housing and long term care. “With billions of dollars worth of life insurance owned by people older than 65 today—tapping into Life Settlements as an alternative funding option for senior housing and care is gaining serious interest,” he said.

Life settlements pay seniors an average of 300-500% more than the cash
surrender value of a policy. Since almost 9 of 10 life insurance policies
issued are lapsed or are surrendered, according to a leading international
actuarial firm, life settlements are a valuable option for seniors.

As seniors face losses in income and value because of declines in stocks
and home prices, many are not able to maintain their life policies.
According to Doug Head, Executive Director of Life Insurance Settlement
Association (LISA), "This legislation empowers consumers who would
otherwise lapse or surrender their valuable life insurance policies."

According to Mr. Head, "Life insurers are taking taxpayer funds while engaging in self-interested, protectionist conduct which deprives policyowners of their property rights in life insurance. In today's rough economy, consumers, not carriers, should gain the full value of policies." Established in 1994, the Life Insurance Settlement Association is the oldest and largest trade organization in the industry. Its goal is to promote the development, integrity, and reputation of the life settlement industry, and to promote a competitive market for the people it serves.

By Us for Us Guides

Submitted by: Laura Bramly

For quite some time now I've been meaning to pass along information about the "By Us For Us" Guides, a set of inspirational and informative booklets put together FOR people with dementia BY people with dementia. A group of talented and passionate people got together and created guides for people with dementia to pass along what they have learned about strategies for coping and living their lives to the fullest.

There are currently five booklets available for order for a cost of $1 each on the Murray Alzheimer's Research and Education Program (MAREP) Web site at http://www.marep.uwaterloo.ca/products/bufu.html. Detailed descriptions of each booklet are provided on this Web site.

The five booklets cover the following topics:

Memory Workout: An exercise guide for your mind based on activities that the authors found helped them to improve or maintain their memory and quality of life.

Managing Triggers: Triggers that people have experienced and strategies for gaining back control after becoming agitated.

Enhancing Communication: Different ways of communicating, hidden meanings, tips on communicating with loved ones and for expressing emotion.

Enhancing Wellness: Helpful tips for eating well, taking care of your body, being physically active, staying centered and connected with others, and living in peace.

Tips & Strategies: Ideas and suggestions for daily living with dementia, provided BY people living with dementia based on their own experiences.

Each booklet is full of helpful tips and strategies, all based on real life experiences of those with dementia and therefore tried and tested. The booklets are clearly laid out and easy to navigate.

Laura Bramly is a communications consultant specializing in education programs about dementia. She is author of ElderCareRead Life Scenes 1, a book for people with moderate to advanced dementia to read and enjoy. Learn more about Laura

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Elder abuse on rise

Theft by family members is more common than the violent crimes that tend to make the news, a prosecutor says

By Christine Donnelly

A Honolulu prosecutor says crimes against the elderly are "starting to snowball" and that the failing economy makes senior citizens even more vulnerable.

Two recent high-profile elder abuse cases -- against a nursing home worker accused of sexually assaulting dementia patients and a son accused of beating his ailing father -- put a spotlight on violent crimes allegedly committed by caregivers, but deputy prosecuting attorney Scott M. Spallina said financial exploitation committed by relatives is more commonly reported.

"The majority of perpetrators are family members. Maybe extended family, nieces, nephews, grandkids," said Spallina, who heads the city prosecutor's elder abuse unit. "There's a lot of property theft, burglary, stolen cars. The majority of seniors still reside in their own homes, so the majority of abuse happens there." Read full article ...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eldercare Funding Options - Part 1

Helping a loved one accept the need for senior care services is a big accomplishment, helping them to find funding to pay for those services is an even bigger accomplishment! How to pay for the monthly costs is in most cases the driving factor in determining what services you and your family will utilize.

The following is the 1st article in a 5 part series on Eldercare Funding Options. This series will explore funding options for senior care services, including in-home, adult day health and senior housing.

Senior Living Line of Credit

You know your loved one would be served better in a safe, yet stimulating community setting. But you aren’t sure how to pay for it. Often, families’ are confronted with the issue of how to pay for care until they sell (liquidate) a loved one’s asset such as home or stock or even CDs that need to mature. Before rushing to sell a home at the first low-ball offer, or selling stock when it may be far below a price you find acceptable in todays down market, take a minute to understand your senior living payment options which include:

1. Senior Living Line of Credit
2. Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit
3. Reverse Mortgage
4.Long-term Care Insurance
5. Life Settlements

Today’s article will focus on a Senior Living Line of Credit which is increasingly relied upon by families when a loved one moves into a senior living community. Thousands of communities across the country offer and accept this option. A Senior Living Line of Credit offers several unique features to families specifically in a senior living situation, making it a very worthy option especially when compared with what families traditionally had to do: sell a home at a lower than acceptable price because you are in a rush; use credit card cash advance checks which, while they may carry low teaser rates should you make a late payment, that friendly initial rate is now in the high twenty’s and not so friendly; or rely on putting your own home equity at risk without siblings’ support and after all, didn’t mom or dad take care of all of you and if so, why should one sibling carry the cost burden instead of the all siblings coming together to support mom or dad?

Let’s take the issue of selling a loved one’s home for example which traditionally many families relied upon to cover senior housing and care but in today’s environment, is a little more time-consuming and challenging. If you sold the home today as is, without making improvements, what price do you think the home can sell for? If you had time to remodel, clean, spruce up the yard and gardens, sort through important possessions, paint and stage it, would the home command a higher price? In many cases, the answer would be yes, but at the price of spending tens of thousands of dollars. A Senior Living Line of Credit can be perfect in this situation. Now let’s move on to the “what ifs”… What if mom or dad’s stock needs time to rebound? What if the siblings are arguing about who should subsidize mom or dad until that asset is sold? The Senior Living Line of Credit provides answers to the “what if’s.”

Benefits of a Senior Living Line of Credit

1. Borrow only what you need as you need it in a line of credit format
2. Smaller monthly payments on funds used while you wait for that house to
sell at a good price
3. Offers same day decision and fast funding (24 to 48 hours)
4. Typically unsecured, requiring no collateral in amounts up to $50,000,
5. Enables up to six persons to apply together so one sibling doesn’t have to carry the burden
6. Funds sent directly to the community each month to ensure the line is used for housing
7. Flexible repayment terms of three to five years, more than enough time to sell a home
8. Line of Credit documents make it clear this is for mom or dad’s housing and care

Typically adult children may need to co-sign with mom or dad which most families do not find to be an issue because they know an asset will eventually be sold to repay the line of credit. Thousands of assisted living and senior living communities across the country accept this growing option, which remarkably, few adult children know about. It is proving to be a helpful private pay option for countless families who want senior housing and care immediately and the convenience of smaller monthly payments. Ask the senior living community if they accept payment through a Senior Living Line of Credit. It could take stress off the entire family, enable mom to make the move, and give you the breathing room and time you need to get tens of thousands of dollars more for the house by making it look its best. We have a car loan, a student loan, a mortgage, which help us segment and keep track of our obligations. Now, a Senior Living Line of Credit can help a family keep track of mom or dad’s care expenses, and give your family a little peace of mind.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Lifetime of Perfectly Good Red Rubber Bands

By Rita Files

Early on in my career, I worked with a client, Mrs. Jones, who was responsible for teaching me a very valuable lesson when working with the senior population. This single experience gave me a clear understanding of the importance of helping older clients with not only the physical aspects of a later-life move, but also the psychological preparation for this transition, and what makes the downsizing process the hardest part of any move.

Mrs. Jones was quite feisty and a true believer of the school of “waste not, want not.” In addition to several mayonnaise jars full of buttons and every size screw known to man, she had a kitchen drawer full of at least 72,000 red rubber bands. It was an amazing amount of rubber bands in general, but that they were specifically red was astounding.

Since Mrs. Jones was moving to a senior living community, I assumed that she could not possibly be intending to take these with her and that they would go the way of the buttons and screws she had decided not to take. WRONG! “Of course I am taking them,” she said. “They are perfectly good, and I might need them someday.” Although she could not recall the last time she used one, she took comfort in knowing they were there should the need arise.

Considering the kitchen in her new apartment had only three drawers, and we needed every inch of space, this was not something we could even consider bringing. I knew talking Mrs. Jones out of her red rubber band collection was going to be a bit of a challenge. After some thought as to what approach to use, I proceeded to ask her, out of curiosity, where they all had come from. Most, she said, had come from bunches of vegetables, such as broccoli and celery, that she had purchased at the grocery store over the past 50 or 60 years.

This set her off down memory lane, telling me about all the different holiday dinners and events she had prepared for over the years, the traditions she meticulously upheld year after year for her children and then grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The memories came flooding back to her as she fingered the rubber bands with a twinkle in her eyes. As she spoke, I realized that they were not just rubber bands, but a link to some of the most memorable and happy events of the past 50 years.

When she finally took her eyes off the mountain of red rubber bands, she turned to me with a smile and announced, “I don’t suppose I will ever use all those rubber bands. Perhaps I will just take a handful in case I need them, and donate the rest.” I returned an enlightened smile and said, “Great idea! I will get a plastic container to put them in, so you can store them in the kitchen drawer in your new apartment.”

Many older adults making a transition have not moved in 30, 40, or 50 years and need to downsize considerably. From this brief encounter, I learned firsthand the importance of giving the older person the opportunity to “let go” of their belongings. Often this process includes sharing memories, especially if it is the house where they raised their family and spent a major part of their life. I learned that closure and saying good-bye to the home the senior is leaving is the key to a successful later-life move. Proper preparation, along with allowing enough time to get through the experience by sharing memories, can help immensely with this transition.

Medicare and Medicaid budget cuts threatens quality of care for seniors and negatively impacts local economies

Submitted by: Chris Orestis

The federal government plans to cut $16 billion of funding out of Medicare for nursing home care over the next ten years. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on cutting $45 billion out of Medicare funding as part of their proposed health care “reform” legislation. The combined impact of these cuts with the shrinking dollars in every state to fund Medicaid budgets is the greatest threat to quality of care for our nation’s seniors in history.

Seniors rely on Medicare to fund short term rehabilitation services provided by nursing homes, and many rely on Medicaid to fund long term residency in a nursing home. The amount of money these programs pay barley cover the true costs of housing and care, and nursing homes are forced to operate on dangerously thin margins. Further cuts to their budgets will have an immediate and negative impact on the quality of care that it is possible to provide. Nursing homes and long term care services are often large employers in local communities, and these cuts will also have a negative economic impact for towns across the United States.

Studies have shown that many people are unaware of the differences between Medicare and Medicaid and how long term care in a nursing home or assisted living environment is paid for. As government budgets continue to be stretched thin by shrinking tax dollars and a growing senior population, the burden to pay for the costs of housing and care for seniors will continue to be pushed back on the individual. The unfortunate truth is that as more and more baby boomers age and require long term care, their will be fewer dollars available to pay for these rising costs. Every family should take the time to understand how the system works, and put their own plan in place for how they will pay for themselves, or for loved ones when the time comes

Chris Orestis, president and a principal with Life Care Funding Group, is an acknowledged national expert on insurance and long term care issues. His Blog on senior living issues has become one of the more popular forums on the internet about the impact of the economy and politics on seniors and their housing and long term care needs. Learn more about senior funding alternatives and life settlements on the Life Care Funding Group web site.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What Is the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?

"Aid and attendance" is a commonly used term for a little-known veterans' disability income. The official title of this benefit is "Pension." The reason for using "aid and attendance" to refer to Pension is that many veterans or their single surviving spouses can become eligible if they have a regular need for the aid and attendance of a caregiver or if they are housebound. Evidence of this need for care must be certified by VA as a "rating." With a rating, certain veterans or their surviving spouses can now qualify for Pension.

The purpose of this benefit is to provide supplemental income to disabled or older veterans who have a low income or high medical costs. Pension is for war veterans who have disabilities that are not connected to their active-duty service. Pension is primarily intended for very low income veterans, but a special provision in how Pension is calculated can allow veterans or single surviving spouses with high income to also receive the benefit which may be as much as $1949 a month. This special provision kicks in for veterans who have ongoing and expensive long term care costs.

Aid and Attendance Pension benefit can pay up to $1949.00 a month for qualifying long term care needs such as:

  • Family members to provide home care
  • Professional home care providers to come into your home
  • Assisted Living or Adult Day services
  • Nursing Home long term care
  • Home renovations for disability

If the veteran’s income exceeds the Pension amount, there is usually no award given, however, income can be adjusted for unreimbursed medical expenses, and this allows veterans with household incomes larger than the Pension amount to qualify for a monthly benefit. There is also an asset test to qualify for Pension.

Veteran Benefit Consultants provide information about the aid and attendance benefit including what it is, who can qualify and what information and documentation are necessary in order to file a claim and ensure a timely decision and avoid potential denials. The consultant’s job is to evaluate family income, family assets and potential conflicts with Medicaid and provide information on the best strategies to pursue to maximize a Pension award.

Aging with Grace™ provides veteran long term planning consultation services, which may include assessment of the client's needs, location and coordination of services and assisting veterans with understanding their benefits and how to receive them. AWG Veteran Consultants are not affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and do not charge a fee for the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of a claim. Only consultants who are accredited attorneys or accredited representatives are involved in the actual processing of a claim.

To learn more about veteran long term care planning call 877.369.5418 or visit www.awgveteranservices.net.

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