Long Term Health Care

May 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Articles, News

This is a portion of a good article on long term health care (LTHC) on Forbes.com (May 22,2008) under investments.

Long-term-care insurance may not be right for every situation. It may not be the answer for people who can rely on family members to provide care for them at home, says Michael Haubrich, a fee-only certified financial planner in Racine, Wis.

“Most of my clients have family members who are willing and able to assist in keeping them out of institutional care,” Haubrich explains. “In those cases, the most valuable asset is cash, not insurance. Having that cash will allow the family to be unconstrained by policy limitations that exclude payments to family members and unlicensed service providers.”

The flipside of this argument is that having long-term-care insurance alleviates the pressure on a spouse or family member to be the primary caregiver, says Don R. Campfield, the national sales director of Guardian’s long-term-care division. “This shifts the emotional burden,” he adds.

This is an interesting argument. My parents bought long term health care (LTHC) years ago because they did not want to be a burden. However, when they bought it people were not living as long. I have continually asked them to review the policy but they are convinced that it will meet their needs. Any of you who have looked into such policies know that they are expensive and they do not cover the length of time that many people spend with different illnesses and conditions. In an article in February, Forbes.com discussed some of the options for LTHC. I would love to hear your perspective on what policies and companies seemed best for your purposes.

Think of yourself as a “caregiver”

May 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Articles, News

One year ago when I arrived at my aunt’s house to care for her, I thought of myself as her niece and friend. I was there to help my aunt as she battled breast cancer. Around the house, she had some books entitled something like, “Rights of caregivers.” She had picked them up during her vigilant, 7 week, attempt at helping the hospital professionals work with her husband after heart surgery. In her words, ” he was not helping the professionals, nor was he helping himself recover.” He died just a few weeks before my aunt found out that her breast cancer had returned. During that time, she got 10 of those books for herself and her children and step children. In reality, she had been her husband’s caregiver for years and years. In all those years, she never verbalized her role as “caregiver.” From my discussions with people caring for family members or friends, most consider themselves someone helping the one they love in a time of need.

To those of us helping our loved one through difficult times, a caregiver is someone you hire to help if don’t have the time or skills to care for your loved one. I remember early on my aunt said, “have you seen or read the caregiver book I got during Bill’s illness?” Why would I need to read such a book, I was her niece helping her because I had the time and I loved her. I was not her caregiver. It really did not hit me until about 6 months in that I realized, but never verbalized, that I was her primary caregiver. I was there 24 hours a day. I slept with a baby monitor so I could her if she got up in the night and needed help. I had to make sure she ate and drank correctly. My cousins became her caregivers, more than her daughters. Not by choice, but by circumstance. It was not until my aunt died that I realized what a toll those 8 months had on me mentally and physically. Maybe if I had read the book on the Caregiver Rights and then looked up information about “caregiving” in general, and more specifically the role and demands placed on a “caregiver,” I may have taken better care of myself.

I believe that until those of us that take care of those we love begin to verbalize our role as “caregiver,” not niece, husband, etc., we will not receive the recognition as a powerful enough group to force legislators, policy makers, and insurance companies to address issues directly related to our needs and the needs of those we care for. More importantly, I have found there is not a group labeled “caregivers.” Instead there are autism caregivers, alzheimers caregivers, aging parents caregivers, spinal chord injury caregivers, and on and on. It is true that each of those categories of caregivers may have different challenges and rewards related to the difficulties that their loved ones face. However, I would guess that there are more similarities in how the specific tasks associated with the caregiving duties impact the mental, physical, and emotional well being of the one caring for their loved one; “the caregiver.” If we split up into factions of caregivers, no one will get enough resources to make a major difference. How many of you have had a difficult time using the term caregiver instead of husband, wife, daughter, friend, niece, etc. Yet, if we could bring ourselves to view ourselves as “caregiver,” we probably would take advantage of the services offered for caregivers and be able to identify and lobby for other services that we need to better care ourselves and our loved ones. What are your views on this topic?

Family caregiver legislation is introduced

May 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Articles, News

Today Senators Mikulski and Klobuchar introduced federal legislation called the AGE (Americans Giving care to Elders) Act and the Long Term Care Insurance Integrity Act . Check out the media release and Senator Mikulski’s web page. This looks like a good beginning because it monitors long term health care practices and offers a tax credit for elderl care. Any of you that have researched such policies know that it is very difficult to determine what is best for you because as health care prices and longevity increases there are so many variables to consider. Make sure your Congress people know that you are interested in legislation dealing with issues related to caregiver needs and long term health care oversight.

Potential reduction in Hospice reimbursement

May 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Archives, News

There is a possibility that Medicare will phase out an annual adjustment to the Hospice wage index in the next 3 years. I know that many of you have been blessed to receive services from Hospice. Read the response of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization to the Bush Administration’s proposal to reduce funds to Hospice Centers all over the U.S. Get in touch with your representatives from the Senate and Congress and let them know that you are against this proposal. For those of you that will be caregivers of terminally ill people in the future, you too need to protest because from my experience with Hospice it will be the best thing that happens to you and yours.