Long Term Care Insurance - Using Your Policy

"Long Term Care" refers to individuals that need help with an illnesses/condition that require daily assistance over an extended period of time. The type of help needed can range from assistance with simple activities (such as bathing, dressing and eating) to skilled care that's provided by nurses, therapists or other professionals.

Employer-based health coverage and Medicare will not pay for daily, extended care services. To help cover potential long-term care expenses, some people choose to buy long-term care insurance.

Qualifying for Benefits

"Benefit triggers" are the conditions that must occur before you start receiving your benefits. Most companies look to your inability to perform certain "activities of daily living" (ADLs) to figure out when you can start to receive benefits. Elder Care Homecare can help ensure patients and families understand these needs.

Generally, benefits begin when you need help with two or three ADLs.  You should be sure your policy includes bathing in the list of benefit triggers because this is often the first task that becomes impossible to do alone.

Pay close attention to what the policy uses as a trigger for paying benefits if you develop a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer's disease. This is because a person with Alzheimer's may be physically able to perform activities but is no longer capable of doing them without help. There are Mental-function tests are commonly substituted. 

Additionally there are generally qualifying periods. Many policies require families to utilize services prior to policies activation for 30, 60, 90 day periods. This is critical for families to know in advance.

For more information or help utilizing your policy, feel free to reach out to the Elder Care Homecare team.

Four Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring A Caregiver

Depending on the type of care your parent needs, there are factors you need to consider. So if you’re considering hiring an in-home caregiver here are four common mistakes you should avoid.

Putting it off. There is a lot of evidence that shows using a professional caregiver improves the psychological well-being of nonprofessional caregivers (home health care, adult day care, adult programs). Studies in publications like the Journal of Aging and Health have found that people often seek professional caregivers to alleviate stress and depression that results from taking care of a loved one around the clock.

Not vetting the caregiver or agency. This process can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially if a friend or family member recommended a caregiver. But this is a big decision. Do not make caregivers a "commodity". The caregiver will be spending an extraordinary amount of time with your loved one. Ensure it is the right fit and the agency provides the support you need.

Not keeping everyone in the loop. If you have been taking care of a loved one, and you have siblings who are too busy, lazy or unfocused to help, it'll probably fall to you to hire a professional caregiver. But once you find a contender for your parent's caregiving needs, ask your siblings to sit in on the interview process, which may help you avoid contentious issues later.

Not staying involved. It's important to periodically ask your mom or dad how things are going with the caregiver in case needs aren't being met.  Consistent oversight is critical to ensure you and your family are happy with the care that is being provided.

This Fall - Innovations in Home Health

Companies are constantly trying to connect patients with care providers in a cost effective way. Pairing Nurses, Social works and Doctors with their patients remotely is the next trend.

While ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have certainly become common across the in-home care industry, the next trend is becoming "the on-demand" in-home care services. Giving power to care providers to control their schedules.

There are two exciting apps we found that can improve Home Health Care. First, applications such as Axxess or Optimal Care Coordinators pair nurses and social workers in the field with local needs. Nurses are able to identify clients that meet their schedule and ensure they are qualified to handle the patients needs. Secondly, telehealth services are becoming a great focus in the industry. Using digital health tools and telehealth platforms to better care for patients after they leave the hospital is critical. Technologies enable organizations to proactively monitor home care patients and provide in-the moment interventions that can make the difference between patients staying at home or being transferred to the hospital.

These technologies can not only help patients receive improved care, but also reduce the cost of health care to the system. Hopefully the industry will continue moving in this direction to improve care.

Latest Technologies to Reduce Hospital Re-Admissions!

Doctors and medical professional are constantly trying to stop hospital re-admissions and cut costs. But they continue to leave out that patients also prefer to have better care and faster recoveries. Reducing pain and going back to the Hospital should be avoided at all costs. Focusing on helping the patients and encouraging them to use a variety of platforms/solutions can hopefully help improve their recovery or care.

Makers of mobile apps continue to build platforms to gather data and improve care broadly. They claim that they can boost patient engagement and help hold down healthcare costs. Below see a few of our recommended Apps:

  • Propeller Health’s sensor and mobile app allows patients with COPD and asthma to track inhaler utilization by transmitting data to physicians about when and where the medication is used in an effort to help prevent an attack or exacerbation.
  • SeamlessMD’s mobile app system asks the patient to enter information about temperature or pain level to gauge warning signs of surgical complications. It also allows patients to submit photos of surgical wounds to share with a doctor.
  • The Vocera Care Experience is a system that allows nurses and caregivers to record audio and video discharge instructions for patients, who can access discharge information anytime using a phone, mobile device or computer.
  • Vital Connect’s HealthPatch MD is a biosensor that captures biometric data and can detect falls and allows providers to track a patient’s heart rate, respiratory rate, skin temperature and other data points. Patients can wear it for post-operative recovery care.

5 Tips to Reduce Aging Parents Loneliness

Many seniors prefer to age in place, but one of the risks is lack of social interactions.  Even with a caregiver assisting a loved on, there is still a lack of fun, excitement and connection to peers. Family members living at a distance may feel also add to the difficulty of how to help.

1.  Maintain frequent contact.  If you're used to calling Mom or Dad on a monthly basis, it's time to increase the frequency.  Significant events also require additional contact. If they lost a spouse or can't drive any longer, they need more contact.  You don't need any speecific reason,  just make it consistent and call often. 

2.  Visit in person at regularly.  Personal interactions are important. Not only is it better than a call because you can see what is going on, it is best for the senior to see you, get a hug from you and feel that you care. If distance and time make this a challenge, consider using video to make contact and stay involved in their life.  

3.  Check out community resources for elders where your parent lives.  Most urban and suburban areas have senior centers with  good opportunities to connect and make friends. Various types of entertainment and games are offered throughout the week at these facilities. You can even accompany your loved one to an event, arrange transportation or otherwise facilitate the process.  Many centers offer transportation services and a number of other benefits such as yoga, arts and crafts, bingo and many more activities. Committing to making connections with some support may turn a shy/lonely senior into a happier one.

4. For distance caregivers, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to check in on your aging parent at regular intervals.  You don't have to have a housebound elder to use a geriatric care manager.  These professionals are often nurses or social workers, experienced in matching the elder's needs to community resources for improved socialization.  They can find the activities, work out the logistics and go with the elder in your place if you are far away.

5.  Consider teaching your loved one to use technology.  Connecting with others through facetime and other means can be extremely useful. A computer with a camera is a bridge to anyone in the family.  Even an aging parent who has never touched a computer before can learn if willing.   If you're not good at teaching, perhaps a kind grandchild will do the job or you can get grandma to attend a first timer's computer class.  The effort is so worth it!

6 Ways To Reduce Risk to Your Heart

Improving our health and reducing the risk of heart disease is extremely important. Adopting healthy habits will keep our loved ones hearts healthy.

Here are a few habits seniors and caregivers should learn:

  1. Be aware of warning signs of heart disease, (fatigue, short of breath, indigestion, sweating, irregular heart beat). These are indication that often appear before a heart attack occurs.
  2. Learn from your blood work so you know what lifestyle changes will improve your personal health. Be aware of your numbers
  3. Take any prescribed medication correctly, according to the doctor’s orders.
  4. Consistency is key. Become more active by participating/performing an activity you love and will do regularly.
  5. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. This includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
  6. Stop smoking!

8 Ways to Stay Active

As our family members age it is always important to support them or encourage them to stay active. Below are 8 best activities we recommend

  1. Go for a walk. Keep a commitment to go for a walk a few times a week. Whether its to the park, down the block or in the back yard. Keeping the mind motivated and sharp is critical, and changing your environment as well as mentally pushing yourself to perform activities can make a significant difference.
  2. Schedule activities. Get your calendar out and choose 3-4 days that you (or your loved one) will feel comfortable performing an activity. Whether it be the advised physical therapy, additional walking or leg exercises, whatever it may be, make a goal and stick to it.
  3. Call or drop by your local Senior Center. Senior centers and local community centers have a variety of classes to participate in. Most offer daily exercise classes such as Yoga, Zumba, Water Aerobics, Muscle Conditioning, Line Dancing, Tai Chi and Meditation. Not only do we find group exercises help provide an additional place to stimulate the mind and body, but also as a great way to meet new friends.
  4. Go to the library. If you would rather exercise at home on your own time, visit your local library for exercise videos. Many libraries have large selections. If you have cable television, many on-demand features offer a variety of exercise shows.
  5. Spend time with family. Family time is critical and soothing. Making time for grandchildren and your family can help significantly. If you are the caregiver for a parent, make sure to bring your family and schedule time to see your loved one as often as you can.
  6. Workout any time. Strength exercises can be done any time. You can use household items to function as weights and do some repetitions while you watch TV or movie.
  7. Be realistic. Despite injury or limitation, there are a variety of options available. Chair-bound exercises are ideal for people with lower body injuries or disabilities, those with weight problems or diabetes, and elders looking to reduce their risk of falling. Any chair exercise can help alleviate body sores caused by sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
  8. Maintain the momentum. Don't keep it to yourself – talk to your friends, family and caregivers. Discussing your commitment will hold will increase your own commitment. Also communicating with friends and family may introduce you to new ideas, places, topics and hobbies that you may never have considered! Be open with your care team, they are here to help.

Care Giver To-Do List at Doctor Appointments

Whether you care for yourself or have a loved one acting as the primary care giver, it is important to follow these steps to ensure you get the most out of your Doctor's appointments. Being proactive with your health is critical.

  1. Make a list of your questions & concerns, and prioritize them. Be efficient with your time and jump directly into your questions.
  2. Be organized and take information with you. If you work with a Geriatric Care Manager, they will know every piece of information that is critical, but if you are on your own bring EVERYTHING. A list of everything you take, all your prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements, names and phone numbers of other doctors you see, and your medical records(if the Doctor doesn’t have them)
  3. Recommend bringing a family member or friend.  Having an additional advocate and loved one with you can be extremely beneficial (and avoid anything slipping through the cracks).
  4. Update your doctor. When you schedule your appointment with your Doctor, discuss everything that has happened or changed since your last visit. Any significant changes to your health, mention these right away (emergency room visits, surgeries, etc). Also be sure to mention any changes appetite, weight, sleep or energy level. And lastly, discuss any changes in any medications you take or the effects they have had on you.