Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Friend Wonders Where to Begin When Her Loved One Needs More Help

Dear Nanette,

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but my father-in-law has Alzheimer’s disease. My husband and I are working full-time with young children and can’t take on the responsibility for his care. Worse yet, none of my siblings can help with cash outlays. What do you suggest? Hope you are well.



Dear Lorraine,

Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options. If your father-in-law is not too medically disabled and doesn't require 24/7 nursing assistance, assisted living is your best bet. It's half the cost of a nursing home. And, here are a few ways you and your family can pay for it.

Did your father-in-law serve in the Armed Forces? Veterans' Benefits can definitely take a while to get going, but an assisted living facility may be able assist you with filling out the paperwork. If he qualifies for Veteran Benefits, a facility will take him in with his Social Security, and the government will pay retroactively if more money is necessary.

What about a life insurance policy or drawing on an annuity? If his house is paid for, you could go with a reverse mortgage, and he could be taken care of in his own home. Or, you could look at renting out the home, using the proceeds for his accommodations.

You might also consider an adult family home, which typically houses about six to 10 older or disabled persons. While they lack the staff, separate apartments and fancier d├ęcor of assisted living facilities, the cost is considerable lower. Dad's Social Security and rent from the house could cover this. Dad will be in a safe place (we have three in our neighborhood) and be taken care of in a family environment.

No family resources? This is typical. Avoid taking on the financial responsibility, even though the state sets us up to take on the whole enchilada. Now, in Canada, it's all paid for through taxes…what a concept, huh? No wonder you were feeling so anxious. If you've been working without any professional assistance, you must be feeling more than a little anxious…desperate even. We supported my late husband’s mother for over a decade in the late 1950s and 1960s. She was penniless. She always came before our own children in terms of her needs. There was absolutely no assistance at that time. Always the family; only the family.

One other option exists. If any of your siblings are unemployed, maybe they could take care of Dad in their own home, using their father’s Social Security money to help with costs.

Seem overwhelming? First, contact your local Area Agency on Aging for free help navigating through the maze of signing up for public benefits (if eligible). A geriatric care manager could also be invaluable in finding a suitable place for your father-in-law.

This must be such a sad time for you and your family. It seems to be happening everywhere we turn. Parents age, dementia sets in, and they're like children, and must be cared for by their own adult children. Who's prepared to take this one on? Well, no one really, to be perfectly honest!

But there you have it. When it comes time for one generation to take care of another, you’ll have to follow the old adage and “just roll up your sleeves and get on with it.”

Please let me know how your situation unfolds. My very best wishes—I'll vision you and your family finding the strength, courage and unity to give loving service to Dad —and may you all prosper!



Sunday, May 5, 2013

Guest Post: A Step-by-Step Guide to Your Entire Caregiving Journey

We know that family caregivers are the backbone of senior care in the US – providing more than 80% of all care to the nation’s 39 million seniors. We also know that caregiving often takes a significant toll on the health and finances of the caregiver, and often leads to poor health for our seniors. 

Why is this?  In more than 100 conversations with family caregivers, we found that caregivers had great trouble determining what to do for their loved one, when and how to do it, and identifying what resources were available in the community to help.  Furthermore, caregivers lacked technological aids to help make caregiving tasks simpler and less complex, and to give them the peace of mind that they were doing everything that they could to make their parent healthier and happier.

Hopefully, that’s all about to change with the launch of CareSolver, a free online and mobile care management tool that creates and delivers a step-by-step guide to the entire caregiving process, alongside the information and tools that caregivers need to provide better care with less stress.

CareSolver starts with a personalized care plan for the caregiver and their loved one. Based on the senior’s specific health conditions, CareSolver generates a customized care plan covering the health and non-health aspects of providing care, ranging from diabetes care to legal and financial steps. Each task comes with how-to videos, instructions and links to helpful information, and caregivers can browse a marketplace of local companies, products and services that can help with the selected task.

CareSolver also provides a host of doctor-approved health risk assessment tools, covering everything from dementia to falls, which screen for risks before they occur and update the care plan accordingly. CareSolver’s optional home monitoring base station collects readings from a range of wireless medical devices and transmits them back to CareSolver’s servers, updating the care plan and notifying caregivers of urgent problems. Finally, a host of other care management tools like medication management, calendaring, team task and note sharing, and budgeting make caregiving much easier. Through these capabilities, CareSolver is able to direct family members to provide high quality, low-burden care to their aging loved ones.

CareSolver is the first solution of its kind. Where other caregiving tools provide information to family caregivers but leave the caregiver to determine what to do and how to do it, CareSolver actually provides a personalized, step-by-step guide to providing high quality care along with the information, tools and links to service providers needed to take action. CareSolver takes the guesswork out of caregiving, reducing the time that caregivers must spend researching and taking action while improving the quality of care that seniors receive.

CareSolver is free to family caregivers, and you can easily set up an account within a matter of minutes. All data is securely and privately stored within a HIPAA-compliant, encrypted database.  Learn more about CareSolver here:

About CareSolver: 

CareSolver’s mission is to improve the health and happiness of seniors and their family caregivers by providing action-oriented content, tools and resources that will help caregivers provide better care with less burden. CareSolver was launched by two Harvard Business School students, Arick Morton and Shana Hoffman, and a serial entrepreneur, Grant Hamm, who share a personal history of caring for an aging Loved One. CareSolver has won the Harvard Business School Rock Center MVP Award, was featured in Business Insider, and was recently named a finalist in the Harvard Dean’s Health & Life Sciences Challenge.