Sunday, January 3, 2010

Senior Home Care -Paying for Care-Lake County IL

Reverse Mortgage Loans

For many seniors the equity in their home is their largest single asset, yet it is unavailable to use unless they use a conventional home-equity loan. But a conventional loan really doesn't free up the equity because the money has to be paid back with interest.
A reverse mortgage is a risk-free way of tapping into home equity without creating monthly payments and without requiring the money to be paid back during a person's lifetime. Instead of making payments the cash flow is reversed and the senior receives payments from the bank. Thus the title "reverse mortgage".

Many seniors are finding they can use a reverse mortgage to pay off an existing conventional mortgage, to create money for a down payment for a second home or to pay off debt. Popularity is skyrocketing. Over the last five years the number of reverse mortgages nationwide has tripled. The uses of this untapped wealth are only limited by a person's imagination.
For those seniors who earn low incomes but own a home, a reverse mortgage can allow them to remain in the home by creating extra income. It can also allow for remodeling or repairs and when the time comes to sell, the investment in the home can make it more valuable.
False Beliefs about Reverse Mortgages

“The lender could take my house.” The homeowner retains full ownership. The Reverse Mortgage is just like any other mortgage; you own the title and the bank holds a lien. You can pay it off anytime you like.
“I can be thrown out of my own home.” Homeowners can stay in the home as long as they live, with no payment requirement.
“I could end up owing more than my house is worth.” The homeowner can never owe more than the value of the home at the time the loan is due.
“My heirs will be against it.” Experience demonstrates heirs are in favor of Reverse Mortgages.
Virtually anyone can qualify. You must be at least 62, own and live in, as a primary residence, a home [1-4 family residence, condominium, co-op, permanent mobile home, or manufactured home] in order to qualify for a reverse mortgage.

There are no income, asset or credit requirements. It is the easiest loan to qualify for.
A reverse mortgage is similar to a conventional mortgage. As an example:
The bank does not own the home but owns a lien on the property just as with any other mortgage

You continue to hold title to the property as with any other mortgage
The bank has no recourse to demand payment from any family member if there is not enough equity to cover paying off the loan
There is no penalty to pay off the mortgage early
When the loan becomes due, you can refinance and keep the house.
The proceeds from a reverse mortgage are tax-free and can be used for any legal purpose you wish:
daily living expenses
home repairs and improvements
medical bills and prescription drugs
pay-off of existing debts
education, travel
long-term care and/or long-term care insurance
financial and estate tax plans
gifts and trusts
to purchase life insurance
or any other needs you may have.
The amount of reverse mortgage benefit for which you may qualify, will depend on
your age at the time you apply for the loan,
the reverse mortgage program you choose,
the value of your home, current interest rates,
and for some products, where you live.

As a general rule, the older you are and the greater your equity, the larger the reverse mortgage benefit will be (up to certain limits, in some cases). The reverse mortgage must pay off any outstanding liens against your property before you can withdraw additional funds.
The loan is not due and payable until the borrower no longer occupies the home as a principal residence (i.e. the borrower sells, moves out permanently or passes away). At that time, the balance of borrowed funds is due and payable, all additional equity in the property belongs to the owners or their beneficiaries. If the heirs want to keep the home with the additional equity, they can refinance with a conventional loan.

There are three reverse mortgage loan products available, the FHA - HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage), Fannie Mae - HomeKeeper®, and the Cash Account programs. Over 90% of all reverse mortgages are HECM contracts.

The costs associated with getting a reverse mortgage are similar to those with a conventional mortgage, such as the origination fee, appraisal and inspection fees, title policy, mortgage insurance and other normal closing costs. With a reverse mortgage, all of these costs will be financed as part of the mortgage prior to your withdrawal of additional funds.
You must participate in an independent Credit Counseling session with an FHA-approved counselor early in the application process for a reverse mortgage. The counselor's job is to educate you about all of your mortgage options. This counseling session is at no cost to the borrower and can be done in person or, more typically, over the telephone. After completing this counseling, you will receive a Counseling Certificate in the mail which must be included as part of the reverse mortgage application.

You can choose 3 options to receive the money from a reverse mortgage:
1) all at once (lump sum);
2) fixed monthly payments (for up to life);
3) a line of credit; or a combination of a line of credit and monthly payments.
The most popular option, chosen by more than 60 percent of borrowers, is the line of credit, which allows you to draw on the loan proceeds at any time. The line of credit also earns interest which in essence is allowing the equity in the home to grow. For example $120,000 in a line of credit earning 5% would be worth almost 200,$000 10 years from now.
Keeping money in a reverse mortgage line of credit in most states will not count as an asset for Medicaid eligibility as this would be considered a loan and not a resource for Medicaid spend down. In other words, keeping the money in the line of credit will not disqualify you from becoming Medicaid eligible.

However, transferring the money to an investment or to a bank account would represent an asset and would trigger a spend down requirement and delay eligibility. Please note however that distinguishing between what portion of reverse mortgage proceeds might be counted as a loan and what portion as an asset is not a simple black and white decision. It is best to get an opinion from an elder attorney in your state.

If a senior homeowner chooses to repay any portion of the interest accruing against his borrowed funds, the payment of this interest may be deductible (just as any mortgage interest may be). A reverse mortgage loan will be available to a senior homeowner to draw upon for as long as that person lives in the home. And, in some cases, the lender increases the total amount of the line of credit over time (unlike a traditional Home Equity Line where the credit limit is established at origination). If a senior homeowner stays in the property until he or she dies, his or her estate valuation will be reduced by the amount of the debt.

At the death of the last borrower or the sale of the home, the loan is repaid from equity in the home. Any remaining equity (which is often the case) goes to the heirs.
Almost all reverse mortgages are the HECM loan which is guaranteed by FHA mortgage insurance. If there is not enough equity to cover the loan, the insurance satisfies the loan by paying the deficit. With a HECM loan, the bank will never come after the heirs to satisfy the mortgage obligation.

For more information or questions regarding a Reverse Mortgage, community resources, referrals or senior home care support services in Lake County IL please visit us at

Long Term Care-First Step in Care For Seniors-Lake County IL

Long Term Care -- An Impending Crisis for the Elderly
by The National Care Planning Council

If we were to ask an older person what his or her most important concerns or wishes for the future are, we would probably get a variety of different answers. But according to surveys frequently conducted among the elderly, the most likely answers we would receive would include the following three principal concerns or wishes.

Remaining independent in the home without intervention from others.
Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care.

Having enough money for everyday needs and not outliving assets and income
Although the elderly are definitely concerned about the need for long term care it is not high on the list of concerns. To address these concerns or wishes and maintain the quality of life wanted in the elder years, it simply takes a little preplanning. Unfortunately, as a rule, that is not happening.

For seniors the need for eldercare is probably the most catastrophic unexpected event that could happen to them. This is because the need for care typically removes any level of security an older person may have with the three major lifestyle concerns mentioned above.
With the need for long term care the older person:
Loses independence
Has experienced a loss of good health
Uses up remaining assets and income

No other late-life event can be as devastating to the lifestyle the elderly are so concerned about maintaining. No wonder many seniors, who are receiving eldercare, withdraw, become angry and suffer from severe depression.

Ironically, older people painstakingly scrape together $100-$200 a month to buy Medicare supplement insurance to cover a risk about equal to their yearly premiums. Or they will go without and sacrifice food, recreation and activities in order to hold on to the last few dollars in their savings accounts.

Yet very few elderly spend money or time to plan for the event of long term care. It seems a paradox that someone would be more concerned about buying insurance for a home fire when the risk of needing eldercare is 600 times more likely. Or what about the cost of insuring for an auto accident when the risk of long term care is 120 times more likely and is potentially 20 times more expense? Or why the overwhelming concern to buy Medicare supplement insurance when without it Medicare would still cover the bulk of their health needs after deductibles and co-pays? We're not recommending going without insurance coverage we're simply using it as an example of how people refuse to deal with the issue of long term care.

No one knows why people beyond age 65 are not more concerned about preparing for long term care. Perhaps they have seen it in their family or among friends and seen the effect that it has. Or because of the unsavory aspect of receiving long term care, perhaps the elderly prefer to ignore it rather than embrace the need for it. Perhaps they mistakenly think the government will take care of them. Or they are assured that family and friends will provide the care when needed, but don't know how difficult it really is for loved ones to provide that care when the time actually comes. Whatever the case, without proper planning, the need for eldercare can result in the single greatest crisis in any elderly person's life.

In addition, this lack of planning will always have an adverse effect on the older person's family. It usually results in great sacrifice or financial cost on the part of the spouse or children. Or for those with no immediate family, long term care can be a burden to extended family members.
We urge our readers who are planning for retirement or in their retirement years and who have not prepared for long term care to do so. As Benjamin Franklin so aptly put it "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
The National Care Planning Council is an organization dedicated to helping the American public plan for long term care.

For questions or information on Long Term Care, senior home care in Lake County IL, community resources, community referrals contact our Home Care Consultant by visiting us at:

Long Term Senior Care- Are You Prepared?- Lake County IL

by The National Care Planning Council

If we were to ask an older person what his or her most important concerns for aging are, we would probably get a variety of different answers. According to surveys frequently conducted among the elderly, the most likely answers we would receive would include the following three principal concerns or life wishes:

1. Remaining independent in the home without interventionfrom others
2. Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care
3. Having enough money for everyday needs and not outlivingassets and income
To address these concerns or wishes and maintain the quality of life wanted in the elder years, it simply takes a little preplanning.
Few people do this kind of planning.
It is human nature not to worry about an event until it happens. We may prepare financially for unexpected financial disasters by covering our homes, automobiles and health with insurance policies.

However, no other life event can be as devastating to an elderly person’s lifestyle, finances and security as needing long term care. It drastically alters or completely eliminates the three principal lifestyle wishes listed above.

The majority of the American public does not plan for this crisis of needing eldercare. The lack of planning also has an adverse effect on the older person's family, with sacrifices made in time, money, and family lifestyles.

Because of changing demographics and potential changes in government funding, the current generation needs to plan for long term care before the elder years are upon them.
Let us look at some facts.

The population of the "very old,"--older than age 85--is thefastest growing group in America. This population is athighest risk for needing care. (Statistical abstract of the United States,2008, population)

Medical science is preventing early sudden deaths, whichmeans living longer with impaired health and greater risk ofneeding long term care.
The Alzheimer's Association estimates the risk ofAlzheimer's or dementia beyond age 85 to be about 46% ofthat population.

It is estimated that 6 out of 10 people will need long termcare sometime during their lifetime.
Children are moving far away from parents or parents moveaway during retirement making long distance care givingdifficult or impossible.

Government programs--already stretched thin for long termcare services--will experience even greater stress onavailable funds in the future.
One of the important things for planning is how to maintain your lifestyle as you age. You may be healthy enough to stay in your own home with help provided for the following activities of daily living:

maintaining a home, providing meals, supervision, companionship, transportation and shopping services.

This type of care at home is non-medical and must be provided free of charge by family, friends, or volunteers or the care must be paid for out-of-pocket by the family.
Government programs, in most cases, will not pay for this kind of care. It is estimated that 80% of all long term care is non-medical, with 90% of that care provided in the home. It is most likely that your long term care will begin with home care.

It is wise to plan now how you will pay for care when it is needed. In evaluating your future income you may find it necessary to add some resources such as long term care Insurance to pay for assisted living or nursing home costs. Long term care insurance must be purchased while you are younger and healthy. Failing health, stroke or other aging issues will not allow you to qualify for this insurance.

A reverse mortgage will also help pay for home care if staying in your home is an option.
Consider where you may want to live in your elder years. Many assisted living facilities offer complete care alternatives with a nursing home wing if needed. Senior retirement communities also offer many amenities with some including home care options.

Now is the time to do estate planning. A professional estate planner will give you direction on how best to protect your assets for future needs and for Medicaid planning.
Do your paper work. Now is the time to create your trusts, will, medical directives in a living will and any other documents you want noted for future use. Gather Insurance policies and bank records where they can be found by family members in case you are not able to get them yourself.

We don’t like to think of our elder years in terms of health problems, but a sudden stroke, heart failure or onset of dementia could make it impossible to carry out our own wishes if preparation was not made ahead of time.

The process of long term care planning involves the following fourprinciples:
1. Knowledge and preparation are the keys to success.2. Having funds to pay for care expands the choices for caresettings and providers.3. Using professional help relieves stress, reduces conflict, andsaves time and money.4. Success is assured through a written plan accepted by allparties involved.

(The above excerpt is quoted from "The 4 Steps of Long Term Care Planning," National Care Planning Council)
The National Care Planning Council' s website -- -- provides over 700 pages of information for long term care planning and lists services of professional care providers in estate planning, long term care insurance, reverse mortgage, home care and many other important long term care services.

The National Care Planning Council' s book, “The 4 Steps of Long Term Care Planning,” provides information on what Medicaid and Medicare will cover as well as an overview of professional long term care service providers and how their services can help you create and execute your long term care plan. A check list of what to do to create a plan and forms for creating necessary paperwork are also included in the book.

For any information on supportive senior home care services in Lake County IL, qualifying for home health care services in Lake County IL, community resources in Lake County IL , referrals for senior resources in Lake County IL. Free assistance with researching, finding a new residence for you or a loved one or transitioning to a new facility. Our Home Care Specialist provides you with a FREE PHONE CONSULTATION to address your concerns personally and help you with your needs at anytime. Visit us at

Friday, January 1, 2010

Senior Care-Helping Your Older Parents-Lake County IL

Helping Your Older Parents Stay Happy and Healthy

by Robert Stall MD, Geriatrician

If you're fortunate enough to have one or both parents still living, you may have noticed a role reversal taking place in your relationship. Remember the days when Mom shuttled you to the doctor whenever you were sick? Now, it may be you who's driving her to her medical appointments. Perhaps you've become even more involved in managing her healthcare needs – serving as her healthcare proxy, moving her into your home to care for her, or even having to select a nursing home for her to live in.

Whatever the case, it's natural to feel challenged – and, yes, intimidated – in the role you've undertaken. But if you stay positive and proactive, you'll be in a great position to advocate for your parents' optimal care. And, really, what better way is there to say "Thank You" for all they've done for you over the years?

The following six recommendations will help you understand what may be happening to your parents as they age – and what you can do to help.

1. Stay vigilant to sudden changes. Typically, sudden changes arise from sudden problems. Your elderly father who becomes confused one week but was alert and oriented the week before, or becomes unsteady walking and starts falling, is likely experiencing an acute problem – an infection, medication side effect, or perhaps, a heart attack or stroke.

If you pay attention to your parent's baseline health and behavior, you'll be alert to sudden, and subtle, fluctuations. Being attuned to what's “normal” for your parent is critical in advocating for his care. By informing his physician of these changes, you help ensure that he receives a proper diagnosis and timely treatment – especially important in acute conditions.

2. Investigate the source of gradual decline. Several years ago, I met an elderly woman living in a nursing home. Her family, assuming she had dementia, had moved her there after she had gradually stopped speaking.

After performing a brief procedure on her, I asked how she was doing. “I'm OK,” she replied.
A miracle? Not exactly. I'd removed bullet-sized pieces of wax from her ears. She'd stopped speaking because her ears were too plugged to hear.

A host of conditions can cause gradual decline. Before jumping to the conclusion – as many people do – that Alzheimer's disease is the culprit, recognize that your parent may be experiencing an altogether different problem: a vitamin B12 deficiency, an underactive thyroid, Parkinson's disease or depression, to name a few.

When discussing your parent's decline with her physician, make sure the two of you consider all the possibilities. To prepare for the appointment, make notes detailing how her decline has manifested itself – loss of appetite, a failing short-term memory and so forth – and how long you've noticed these changes. That way, you won't leave anything out. To help you, I've created a free checklist that either you or your parent can complete at – make sure you print or email the “Test Result Details” at the bottom of the page to analyze your responses and give you advice based on your answers.

3. Know thy parent's medicine cabinet. Familiarize yourself with the medications your parent takes: what each one is for and how often he takes them. Make sure you notify each doctor your parent visits of all the medicine he takes, including over-the-counter products. Ask what side effects you might observe from each medication and whether it's potentially dangerous if your parent takes them together. You also want to tell the doctor whether your parent drinks alcohol or caffeinated drinks and whether he smokes, as these substances can affect some medications' efficacy and safety. To recognize which medications might cause the symptoms your parent experiences, check out .

4. Discourage ageist attitudes. Simply put, ageism is prejudice against the elderly. It exists in many forms but can be particularly damaging to an older person's self-esteem when it assumes that all of her woes are age-related. Here are a couple of ways of expressing ageism to an elderly parent:

“What do you expect at your age?” “You're not getting any younger.”
If you're ever tempted to utter something similar, remind yourself that by chalking up everything that ails her to her age, you sell your parent short. If she's depressed, it may have nothing to do with the fact that she's 80 and everything to do with a biological predisposition to depression. And remember that right-knee pain in a 90 year-old can't be just from age if there's no problem with her left knee.

5. Address not just symptoms—but emotions, too. There is disease and then there is “dis-ease” – that is, a lack of ease, security or well-being. “Dis-ease” can manifest itself as myriad emotions in an elderly person: fear, grief, boredom, embarrassment and sadness among them. The fact is, these emotions can be every bit as debilitating as disease.
Take the case of a parent who's incontinent. Too embarrassed to socialize, she cuts herself off from friends. Without companionship, she becomes lonely. Instead of allowing her to become a hermit, discuss with her doctor how to address the incontinence. Together, you can consider different solutions that will ease her embarrassment and reinvigorate her social life.

6. Strive to maximize your parent's quality of life. No matter our age, we all want to enjoy life to the fullest and have the capability to do the things we want to. Improving the enjoyment of life and a patient's functional ability are the cardinal goals of geriatric care. But you don't need a medical diploma on your wall to help your parent achieve either of those goals.

Being there to solve a problem or provide company are tremendously worthwhile services you can provide – no expertise required. Remember, as your parent gets older, his quality of life becomes more important to him than how much longer he lives. And he doesn't necessarily need medications or surgery to ensure that he's living the latter part of his life to the fullest.
If he enjoys books but has difficulty reading regular-sized type, check out sight-saving titles at the library. If he's grieving the loss of his best buddy, introduce him to new acquaintances at the senior center. If he's living in a nursing home, bring your kids there to share a meal with him.
Sometimes, it's the small gestures that have the most profound impact. As the child of an elderly parent, you are uniquely positioned to deliver these life-changing gifts.

Dr. Robert Stall is a geriatrician practicing in Tonawanda, New York and a clinical associate professor at the University of Buffalo's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He serves as medical director and attending physician at Beechwood Homes in Getzville and Blocher Homes in Williamsville.

For Free referral or information on community resources to help you or your loved one you can contact our Home Care Consultant at

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Senior Care - Caring for Yourself - Lake County IL

Caregiving Stress -- Hazardous to Your Health and Sometimes Deadly


A 2003 study of caregivers by a research team at Ohio State University has proven the off-repeated adage "stress can kill you" is true. The focus of the investigation was the effect the stress of caregiving had on caregivers. The team, led by Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, reports on a 6-year study of elderly people caring for spouses with Alzheimer's Disease. The study not only found a significant deterioration in the health of caregivers when compared to a similar group of non-caregivers but also found the caregivers had a 63% higher death rate than the control group.

The demands on a caregiver result in a great deal of stress. It is often observed in aging publications that stress can induce illness and depression. The resulting poor health can further decrease the effectiveness of the caregiver and in some cases, as proven by the study mentioned above, even cause premature death.

Stress can be defined as a physiological reaction to a threat. The greater the threat -- the greater the level of stress. A threat is a real or perceived action against our person. Threats may include the anticipated possibility of death or injury but may also include challenges to our self-esteem, social standing or relationships to others or a threat may simply be a potential or real disruption of our established routines. What is stressful to one person may not be to another. For example, bumper-to-bumper traffic might be stressful to the woman executive who is late for an important meeting but to the delivery man who has no deadline and is being paid by the hour, it may be a welcome respite to relax and listen to the radio.

Stress produces real physical changes. In some unknown way the fears in our mind, both conscious and unconscious, cause the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, deep in our brain, to initiate a cascade of hormones and immune system proteins that temporarily alter our physical body. This is a normal human physiological response inherent to the human body when a threat is perceived--real or not. It is often called the "fight-or-flight response" or the "stress response". The purpose is to give us clearer thought and increased strength as well as to activate the immune system to deal with potential injury and to repair potential wounds. When the perceived threat is removed, assuming no damage is done, the body returns to normal.

A team of researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center has found a chemical marker in the blood that shows a significant increase under chronic stress and is linked to an impaired immune system response in aging adults. The team, led by Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, reports in the June 30, 2003 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on a 6-year study of elderly people caring for spouses with Alzheimer's Disease. With the caregivers, the team found a four-fold increase in an immune system protein -- interleukin 6 (IL-6) -- as compared to an identically matched control group of non-caregivers. Only the stress of caregiving correlated to the marked increase of IL-6 in the caregiver group. All other factors, including age, were not significant to the outcome. Even the younger caregivers saw an increase in IL-6.
The study also found that the caregivers had a 63% higher death rate than the control group. About 70% of the caregivers died before the end of the study and had to be replaced by new subjects. Another surprising result was that high levels of IL-6 continued even three years after the caregiving stopped. Dr. Glaser proposes the prolonged stress may have triggered a permanent abnormality of the immune system.

IL-6 is only one cytokine--an immune system mediator protein--in a cascade of endocrine hormones and cytokines that are released when the brain signals a person is threatened with harm, injury, undue mental or physical stress or death. The hormones prepare the body to react quickly by increasing heart rate, making muscles more reactive, stimulating thought, altering sugar metabolism and producing many more changes that result in the "rush" people experience when they think they may be harmed.

The cytokine release is mediated by IL-6, which takes the role of directing the immune system to gear up to prevent infection, promote wound healing and repair organs and muscles from any injury that may result from the imminent danger. The release of cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, TNF and other proteins such as CRP (C reactive protein) also promote development of inflammation, which is essential for blood cells to home in on injury or infection. In addition, these chemicals promote development of various types of immune system blood cells in bone marrow. This response to harm -- either real or perceived -- is an important and beneficial life-saving activity of a normally functioning body.

The problem is if this response is initiated over and over again, frequently, and over a long period; it can have a dangerous effect on the body. This constant initiation of the stress response is common among caregivers -- especially those caring for loved ones with dementia. Providing supervision or physical assistance many hours a week and over a period of years turns out to be extremely stressful. This type of stress is often unrelenting, occurring day after day and week after week. And the long-term effects of this stress are more pronounced in middle-aged and older people who are precisely the group most likely offering long term care to loved ones.In most younger people, when the threat lessens or disappears, the body reacts fairly quickly to shut down the stress response and return things to normal. But numerous studies have shown, as people age, the chemical cascade from stress lingers. Over a period of time, this constant chemical stimulus impairs the immune system and results in early aging, development of debilitating disease and early death. In this altered state, the body maintains high, potentially harmful levels of IL-6. The body does not return to normal without intervention.
Prolonged high levels of IL-6 and the accompanying hormones and cytokines have been linked to: cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, frequent viral infections, intestinal, stomach and colon disorders, osteoporosis, periodontal disease, various cancers and auto immune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Alzheimer's, dementia, nerve damage and mental problems are also linked to high IL-6. Wounds heal slower, vaccinations are less likely to take and recovery from infectious disease is impaired. People who have depression also have high levels of IL-6. Depression in caregivers is about 8 times higher than the non-cargiving population.

This debilitating response to chronic stress is not unique to humans. Animals are affected as well. A 2004 PBS Scientific American Frontiers Special entitled "Worried Sick", explored the effect of chronic stress on animals. Observations in the field and experiments on animals exposed to chronic stress, uncovered the same phenomenon of debilitating disease and early death found in humans. Blood tests on the affected animals confirmed high levels of IL-6. The work of Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser’s team was also followed in the Special.

The information above should provide a compelling reason to eliminate or reduce the stress of caregiving. Following are some strategies to deal with caregiver stress.

Ask for help.Most caregivers are reluctantly thrust into their role without preparation because the need for care usually comes with little warning. Caregivers end up operating in a "crisis" mode--arranging medical care and living arrangements, scheduling care time, providing meals and household chores and so forth. Because they are so stressed and burdened, they rarely take time to find out what resources are available to help them. Ironically, caregivers often sever ties with family, friends and support groups about this time just when help from these people is most needed.

As a caregiver you must ask for help. The stress of going it alone is dangerous to your health. If it's difficult to ask for yourself, use an advocate--a sibling, friend or professional care manager --to arrange a meeting and get formal, written commitments from those people who are willing to help you. The extra help will give you breathing room to find all those resources that are there to help you.

Seek care management advice.A number of organizations and private companies will give you advice and guidance -- many for free. If your care recipient has a very low income, you might get free help from your local Area Agency on Aging. A lot depends on available funds. Go to for statewide lists of agencies.

A good source of free professional advice is the rapidly growing business of non-medical home care companies. Most will offer free consultations and these companies will also provide paid aides to help you with your loved-one…such things as bathing, dressing, shopping, household chores, transportation, companionship and much more. These people may also help you coordinate adult daycare or other community services. Go to for a nationwide list.You may wish to pay for a formal assessment and care plan from a professional geriatric care manager. Go to for a nationwide list of these valuable care specialists. Even though it may cost you a little money to hire a care manager, this could be the best money you will ever spend. Care managers are valuable in helping find supporting resources, providing respite, saving money from care providers, finding money to pay for care, making arrangements with family or government providers and providing advice on issues that you may be struggling with.

Take time off--find temporary substitutes.Taking a break from caregiving is just as important as taking a break at work or taking that long-awaited vacation. A care manager may be of help in selecting the best temporary help to give you a break. Or you may make arrangements with family or friends to give you a break from caregiving.

Make plans for funding future care arrangements for you or for a healthy parent.The analysis of data from three national surveys (Mature Market Institute, National Alliance for Caregiving and LifePlans, Inc) points out that employees caring for disabled elders who have long term care insurance (LTCI) are nearly two times more likely to be able to continue working than those caring for non-insured relatives. In addition, working caregivers of those with long term care insurance said that they were less likely to experience some type of stress, such as having to give constant attention to the care recipient or having to provide care while not feeling well themselves. Also, the group with insurance devoted more "quality time"--more companionship and less hands-on assistance--than the group without.

See if your healthy parent can still buy insurance. If he or she can't afford it, see if other family members might contribute to premiums. There are also useful strategies using a reverse mortgage to buy long-term care insurance and life insurance for your loved ones. You should also consider insurance for yourself so when you need care someday, it won't be so stressful on your caregivers.

Long Term Care at Home -Lake County IL

Putting Home Care in Perspective

The Evolution of Home CareIn the first century of our country's history there was no such thing as nursing homes or assisted living. Society was mostly rural and people lived in their own homes. Families cared for their loved ones at home till death took them. In the latter part of the 1800's because of an increasingly urban society, many urban families were often unable to care for loved ones because of lack of space or because all family members including children were employed six days a week for 12 hours a day. During this period many unfortunate people needing care were housed in County poor houses or in facilities for the mentally ill. Conditions were deplorable. In the early 1900's home visiting nurses started reversing this trend of institutionalizing and allowed many care recipients to remain in their homes. Nursing homes or so-called rest homes were also being built with public donations or government funds. With the advent of Social Security in 1936, a nursing home per diem stipend was included in the Social Security retirement income and this government subsidy spurred the construction of nursing homes all across the country.

By the end of the 1950s it was apparent that Social Security beneficiaries were living longer and that the nursing home subsidy could eventually bankrupt Social Security. But in order to protect the thousands and thousands of existing nursing homes Congress had to find a way to provide a subsidy but remove it as an entitlement under Social Security. In 1965 Medicare and Medicaid were created through an amendment to the Social Security Act. Under Medicare, nursing homes were only reimbursed on behalf of Social Security beneficiaries for short-term rehabilitation. Under Medicaid, nursing homes were reimbursed for impoverished disabled Americans and impoverished aged Americans over the age of 65. It has never been the intent of Congress to pay for nursing home care for all Americans. The nursing home entitlement for all aged Americans was now gone.

Over the last 40 years, there has been a gradual change away from the use of nursing homes for long-term care towards the use of home care and community living arrangements that also provide in-house care.

With Proper Planning People Could Remain in Their Homes for the Rest of Their Lives We are seeing a trend towards working conditions like those in urban America in the early 1900's where both husband and wife are working and putting in longer hours. We are also seeing a return of the trend in the early part of the 20th century where outside visitor caregivers are becoming available to replace working caregiver's and allow the elderly to receive long-term care in their homes. In addition there is a significant trend in the past few years for Medicaid and Medicare to pay for long-term care in the home instead of in nursing homes.

Given enough money for paid providers or government funding for the same, a person would never have to leave his home to receive long-term care. All services could be received in the home. Adequate long-term care planning or having substantial income can allow this to happen.
We only need to look at wealthy celebrities to recognize this fact. Christopher Reeve, the movie star, was totally disabled but he had enough money to buy care services and remain in his home. President Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer's for many years but received care at his California ranch. He was also wealthy enough to pay for care when needed. Or what about Annette Funicello or Richard Pryor? Income from their movie careers allowed them to receive care with their multiple sclerosis at home. We will be willing to bet that Mohammed Ali, who is severely disabled with Parkinson's disease, will probably never see the inside of a care facility, unless he chooses to go there to die. With the proper planning and the money it provides, most of us could remain in our homes to receive long-term care and we would never have to go to an institution or a hospital.

The Popularity of Home Care Most of those receiving long-term care and most caregivers prefer a home environment. Out of an estimated 8 million older Americans receiving care, about 5.4 million or 67% are in their own home or the home of a family member or friend. Most older people prefer their home over the unfamiliar proposition of living in a care facility. Family or friends attempt to accommodate the wishes of loved ones even though caregiving needs might warrant a different environment. Those needing care feel comfortable and secure in familiar surroundings and a home is usually the best setting for that support.

Often the decision to stay in the home is dictated by funds available. It is much cheaper for a wife to care for her husband at home than to pay out $2,000 to $4,000 a month for care in a facility. Likewise, it's much less costly and more loving for a daughter to have her widowed mother move in to the daughter's home than to liquidate mom's assets and put her in a nursing home. Besides, taking care of our parents or spouses is an obligation most of us feel very strongly about.

For many long-term care recipients the home is an ideal environment. These people may be confined to the home but continue to lead active lives engaging in church service, entertaining grandchildren, writing histories, corresponding, pursuing hobbies or doing handwork activities. Their care needs might not be that demanding and might include occasional help with house cleaning and shopping as well as help with getting out of bed, dressing and bathing. Most of the time these people don't need the supervision of a 24/7 caregiver. There are, however, some care situations that make it difficult to provide long-term care in the home.

Please note from the first graph below that a great amount of home care revolves around providing help with activities of daily living. Note from the second graph below that the average care recipient has need for help with multiple activities of daily living. Finally, it should be noted from the second graph that well over half of home care recipients are cognitively impaired. This typically means they need supervision to make sure they are not a danger to themselves or to others. In many cases, this supervision may be required on a 24-hour basis. (Graphs were derived from the 1999 national caregivers survey, courtesy

It is precisely the ongoing and escalating need for help with activities of daily living or the need for extended supervision that often makes it impossible for a caregiver to provide help in the home. Either the physical demands for help with activities of daily living or the time demand for supervision can overwhelm an informal caregiver. This untenable situation usually leads to finding another care setting for the loved one. On the other hand if there are funds to hire paid providers to come into the home, there would be no need for finding another care setting.
Problems That May Prevent Home Care from Being an Option Caregivers face many challenges providing care at home. A wife caring for her husband may risk injury trying to move him or help him bathe or use the toilet. Another situation may be the challenge of keeping constant surveillance on a spouse with advanced dementia. Or a son may live 500 miles from his disabled parents and find himself constantly traveling to and from his home, trying to manage a job and his own family as well taking care of the parents. Some caregivers simply don't have the time to watch over loved ones and those needing care are sometimes neglected.
The problems with maintaining home care are mainly due to the inadequacies or lack of resources with informal caregivers, but they may also be caused by incompetent formal caregivers. These problems center on five issues:

Inadequate care provided to a loved one
Lack of training for caregivers
Lack of social stimulation for care recipients
Informal caregivers unable to handle the challenge
Depression and physical ailments from caregiver burnout

In order to make sure home care is a feasible option and can be sustained for a period of time, caregivers must recognize these problems, deal with them and correct them. The responsibility for recognizing these problems and solving them is another function of the long-term care planning process and the team of specialists and advisers involved.
Adequate Funding Solves Most Problems Associated with Providing Home Care None of the problems discussed in this article would be an obstacle if there were enough money to pay for professional services in the home. These services would be used to overcome the problems discussed in the previous section. If someone desires to remain in the home the rest of his or her life, adequate preplanning could provide the solution.

This planning must occur prior to retirement. The most obvious way to provide sufficient funds for home care is to buy a long-term care insurance policy when someone is younger, healthy and able to afford the lower premiums. If insurance is not an option, then money must be put aside early in life to pay for care in the future. The only other option is to be rich.

Unfortunately, very few people address the issue of needing long-term care when they are older. This leads to a lack of planning and in turn leads to few options for elder care when the time comes. Lack of planning means most people do not have the luxury of remaining in their homes and must rely on Medicaid support in a nursing home to finish out the rest of their lives.
National Care Planning Council

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Staying Proactive In The Lives Of Our Elderly Parents-Hearts of Gold Senior Home Care

Aging is a natural process. We cannot reverse it or prevent it. It's another stage in our lives. Our retirement years are just another stage in our lives.
During our retirement years we undergo physical, mental and emotional changes. As your parents age you may notice these changes. This is the time to get involved in your parents lives. Taking a little bit of time to stay connected with our parents can ensure that they continue to live healthy happy lives.
When your mom or dad has a medical appointment, take the time to accompany your parent to the office visit. With your parent's permission ask questions regarding their health and any changes that you may start to notice. It maybe best to see a physician that specializes in geriatric issues.
Elderly people can at times become confused. When it comes to mom or dad's health, be proactive. This will help your parent cope better and feel that someone really cares about their situation.
As they age, often our parents tend to sit around more. If you notice mom or dad is less active find out why. Staying active is a vital key to remain in good health. Any form of exercise helps maintain bone mass, improves balance and strengthens muscles. Even small amount of exercise can make a world of difference in the way we feel. Exercise can help prevent falls that may cause injuries. Falls are the number one reason that elderly people lose their ability to live independently.
During a medical visit with your parent, address the issue of exercise. Have the doctor suggest simple exercise that your parent can partake in with the physicians permission. Encourage your parents to be more mobile if possible. A simple walk can be an enjoyment for both of you.
Staying in good health means eating a nutritious diet. Make sure that mom or dad is eating well-balanced meals. Assist them in preparing their grocery list. Help them prepare meals if they live alone. Help them purchase items that are nutritious and easy to prepare. Check their refrigerator and pantry for items that may be expired. Small things can make a world of difference.
Sometimes elderly individuals do not keep up with personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is very important. Maintaining personal hygiene makes you look and feel better. But most important, with the aging process our skin becomes much thinner leaving us open to cuts and ulcers. This is one of the reasons that in elderly people there is a greater need for good daily skin care.
Our sleeping habits also change as we age. We find that we need less sleep. If mom or dad has problems with sleeping you can discuss this with their physician. There are simple thing you can do to help them get a good night sleep. Encourage them to develop a routine at bedtime. Activity during the day can help a person sleep better. Make sure mom or dad is not sitting around all day. Have them avoid afternoon naps or caffeine. Reading or browsing through a magazine before bed can also help. Your parent's physician may have other suggestions for a good nights sleep.
As we age, staying mentally stimulated is very important. Books, crafts, gardening and other activities that your parents used to enjoy and can still do should be highly encouraged. Invite family member, friends and neighbors to stop by and visit. Remaining social can help mom or dad keep a positive attitude as well as stay in touch with the world around them. Elderly people seem to get more depressed. Staying social can cut down on depression.
As our parents guided us and supported us when we were growing up. Let us guide and support them through their retirement years. Always let them know though, that they are still in control of their decisions and their lives. Treat them with the respect that they deserve. After all, they did a good job of raising you. Who did we turn to in time of need? Our parents, of course. Let them feel now that they can always turn to us. Becoming proactive in the care of our parents can be at times very stressful and emotional. But it can be very rewarding as well. It is a time when we find that we can bond with mom or dad all over again. And really get to know them adult to adult.