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What We're Following Today January 3, 2019

Today there is a bit more of a caregiving focus.

7 Positive New Year’s Resolutions for Caregivers

If you follow this blog, you’ll know there are multiple references to the Daily Caring website. This particular posting on their site / newsletter deals with 7 positive new years for caregivers. As many of you know who are living as caregivers, life can get hard to manage or can seem exhausting. As we fall into routines, we often neglect to take care of ourselves (our mindsets, our physical bodies, or relationships, etc.) because we are focused on the task at hand - we’re present, but out of necessity versus choice and it can lead to neglecting the things we need to do in order to keep our minds and bodies right so we can be the best caregivers we can be.

These seven tips might help someone think through some resolutions to keep our heads in the right space so that when we are “present” in a caregiver situation - it isn’t out of necessity but out of choice (for example, I am here and now with you consciously versus just being here and now with you physically, but thinking about 20 other things…).

The tips in here are really good. I don’t know that I would categorize them as resolutions rather than tools to make a resolution of approaching caregiving in a better way, but they are valuable tips to try and focus on. NO, we can’t always be Dalai Lama like and there will be days that we fail - in our patience, in our interactions with loved ones who we are more comfortable to be impolite with, and frankly when we just aren’t the good people we’re supposed to be. We are emotional beings and we will feel things, even when those things we feel are clearly not beneficial to our soul. It’s important to note and recognize those moments and seek help if its available; to try and get back into alignment. But if we take some time when we recognize when we’re not being our best selves, and try to work through them, we can become our best selves more quickly and therefore provide better care for ourselves and for those we take care of.

I do see most of these tips are mindset tips - but take a look at number 5 - make time to decompress. “Self-care is care too…” If you have a sibling who is a primary caregiver or know someone who is a primary caregiver, please offer to give them a break for some spells during the year, or offer to help with respite care, etc. Even if you can reach out and take their loved one out for dinner, and give them a couple of hours to do their own thing, you might be doing them a world of good psychologically.

Caregiving is an honor, but a tremendous responsibility that impacts the lives of an entire family unit. Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, such is life. But those families also deserve some time to decompress on their own (as couples to reconnect or as parents and children to reconnect as a family unit). Before the task of caregiving becomes a burden, try to make time to take care of yourself and/or others in your family. And find help - you don’t have to do it by yourself!

What Family Caregivers Need to Know About Medicaid

Here’s an amazing stat called out in this article in the National Law Review.

“Approximately 20% of adults in the United States provide care to their parents or other adult family members. These caregivers provide an astonishing 34 billion hours of unpaid care. The economic value of this care is approximately $470 billion.”

If you are caring for an elder adult then you need to read this. If you know someone caring for another elder adult, then you should SHARE this article with them. Pardon me for saying, but our current system is set up to bankrupt the individual and their families - medicaid kicks in when ALL resources have been drained and they have a fairly lengthy look back to make sure the system doesn’t get gamed, but they do have certain rules and policies in place that could help protect some assets or find out when one might qualify for medicaid reimbursement. Some things to remember - care for a loved one in a skilled nursing facility is expensive and hopefully the government will recognize that there may be long term savings to be made by making home care an option for families to provide care at lower than skilled nursing facility rates.

Here’s an example in this article about a man providing care to his mother in “her” home and who decided to apply for Medicaid support for aides when the level of care she needed surpassed what he could provide. He apparently didn’t submit an exception against a lien against the property, so when the time came, he no longer had the asset. In the article, it says,

  • ”First, depending on the situation, he may have been able to have the home transferred to him under the caregiver-child exception. This is a policy exception that allows for the transfer of a Medicaid applicant’s home if they provide a nursing home level of care for two years prior to application.”

This article talks about one example, but there are likely many things that we fail to recognize or fail to see because of how complex government institutions have become. The average person can’t be expected to know or understand how to navigate these systems for the greater benefit of his/her family. So if you are caregiving, I would suggest reaching out to a financial planner or estate attorney to help come up with the best care plan that can preserve the assets as much as possible and for as long as possible. We work hard in our lives to accumulate things that we hope to pass on or at least hope to be able to use throughout our lives, and I don’t think most of us want to become bankrupt in our old age, rather we’d like to pass on some of the fruits of that labor.

Video Series for Cancer Caregivers

Here’s a link to an article on that directs people to a video series created to help those caring for loved ones suffering from Cancer. It’s 16 short videos produced in collaboration between ACS and EMD Serono. This article outlines the background and impetus for creating the series (i.e., many caregivers not aware of resources and information out there about tips and best practices, etc.).

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