Monthly Archives: December 2014

Are You Ready To Support Your Aging Parents

Are you concerned about supporting an aging parent’s assisted living needs? Have you had the discussion with them about financing in their elder years? See where you stack up statistically in this new survey.

Our nation’s senior population is expected to double from 2012 to 2050. While some general health care costs will be covered by government programs, independent and assisted living costs may fall largely on families. Yet, statistics show that nearly half of our population concerned about this need, are actually doing something about it.

What 42% of Americans Worry About, But Don’t Discuss

A recent survey revealed that 42% of Americans with living parents have not discussed anything at all with their parents about their potential need for senior care.

Ed Nevraumont, CMO of A Place for Mom states:

concern for senior health“Through our work with families, we find that it’s quite common for adult children to provide financially for their aging parents, but it’s not often clear if families had expected or planned to do so…”

The survey showed that just over one quarter (28%) of Americans with living parents either currently support, or feel they will need to support their parents financially in their senior years. As much as 86% of those people expressed concerns about their ability to do so according to a recent survey.

In an effort to quantify the readiness of families to provide care for their senior loved ones, A Place for Mom and The Mutual Fund Store® co-commissioned an online survey with Harris Poll of over 2,000 adults about their understanding and readiness to care for their aging parents.

Steps to Ease the Transition

Don’t be a part of the 42% of Americans who may be waiting until a life-changing, emotionally charged event before having to quickly learn about costs and care options for your parents.

1. Discuss With Family. The first step in planning for your long-term care is an open and frank discussion with family about where they can find your parents’ financial assets. Putting one’s affairs in order is as simple as sharing information about legal documents, bank accounts, savings and investment and professional contacts who can help the family gain access to your parents’ financial legacy.

2. Speak to a Senior Living Advisor. Whether you are seeking long-term care or not, speaking to a Senior Living Advisor now will help you understand the type of living situation that you want to pursue when your loved one is ready. A proactive measure here can save a lot of time and energy that you’ll need at a more critical period of decision making.

3. Talk to Your Financial Advisor. Most investment strategies will change after retirement, as well as when moving oneself or a parent into senior living. A financial advisor is a key professional who will help you understand the investment vehicles for generating retirement income, as well as those that will help pay for senior care. By having a healthy relationship with your financial advisor, you can avoid senior scams and feel confident that your financial priorities are being looked after.

4. Budget for Senior Care. Once you understand the type of living situation and care level you’re likely to require, you can set a budget and find sources of income to help pay for your needs. Investments and 401(k) money is one source, but be sure to consider all of the options available to you, including veterans benefits, long-term care insurance and government assistance such as Medicare and Medicaid, if eligible. Use our senior care calculator and senior living price index to get started.

The tough conversation does not have to be painful. By starting early, families can avoid planning mistakes and make knowledgeable decisions about senior living and long-term care when the time comes. Get your family talking and develop relationships with the professionals who can make this otherwise difficult life transition a confident and positive one.

Do you expect to support your aging parents financially? What are your expectations of your own financial needs after retirement? Share your thoughts and comments below.

Free Senior Living Planning Guide


When faced with a decision about senior living, many seniors and their families find themselves in a whirlwind of information-gathering that is more daunting than at any other time in their lives. We suddenly find ourselves needing to be experts on complex issues in a very short period of time.Free Senior Planning & Guide

Fortunately, there is help. A Place for Mom, North America’s largest senior referral service, pooled its years of expertise to create this e-book called the Senior Living Planning Guide. The guide walks you through the major steps of choosing assisted living based on your specific needs and priorities. Download the Senior Living Planning Guide and keep it with you at every stage of the process – from touring communities, to managing finances, to moving in. Here is what you’ll find in the Senior Living Planning Guide.

Senior Living Types Explained

The first part of the e-book guides you through the different types of senior living. It explains the differences between senior apartments, independent living, assisted living, memory care, and the entire continuum of care one may need. It also includes a glossary of common terms for your reference as you move through the transition into senior living. With this quick reference by your side, you can confidently discuss various living arrangements and take notes about which one suits you best.

  • For Active, Healthy Seniors – you’ll know the differences between 55 and over apartments vs independent living facilities.
  • For Seniors Who Need Daily Support – we compare assisted living, residential care homes, memory care and nursing homes.
  • For Seniors Who Live at Home – there are options for home care, respite care and adult day care

Understanding the fundamental differences between each senior living type will help you focus on more important issues, like location, amenities and services at any given community.

Paying for Senior Living

Paying for senior care is often the primary deterrent in making a decision – and with good reason. There are many things to consider, and often these issues are not discussed with other family members. The Senior Planning Guide helps you have those conversations.

What does senior living actually cost? Many people are surprised at how affordable senior care really is, particularly when comparing the cost of living at home.

How does one pay for senior care? Despite common understanding, there are many ways to pay for senior living. Here are some popular methods:

  • Income and savings
  • Support from family members
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Reverse mortgage and home equity
  • Life insurance policies
  • Medicaid

Keep your e-book handy and prepare your questions before calling your Senior Living Advisor. You can also use the online Senior Care Cost Calculator to compare costs.

Touring Senior Communities Checklist

Download the Senior Living Planning Guide
Once you’ve identified what your needs are and settled into your financial decision, your Senior Living Advisor will suggest several choices in your desired location that meet your requirements. It’s time to start touring. With the helpful Senior Living Planning Guide you’ll know which questions to ask. We provide a working checklist as your tour facilities so you can observe and compare important features. For example:

  • Safety features – How do they handle medical emergencies? Is there a visiting physician, or a doctor on staff?
  • Legal and financial questions – Will you need renters insurance? Are there move-in incentives?
  • General observations – Do staff call residents by name? Do residents appear engaged and happy?

Moving Into Senior Living

Making the decision is now much easier thanks to your Senior Living Advisor’s help, and the notes in yourSenior Living Planning Guide. Still, there is a transition period that your e-book can assist with, such as having a family conversation, supporting your aging loved one emotionally through this new journey, and what important documentation and keepsakes should be taken to your new home.

Don’t allow the emotional and logistical challenges of finding senior living overwhelm you. Use the Senior Living Planning Guide as your ultimate resource as you walk through the process of discovering your next home. The best decision you can make is a confident one once you’ve thoroughly researched all of your options. A Place for Mom is here to help you every step of the way. Download the e-book today and keep it with you as you work with your Senior Living Advisor to fine tune your search and find the perfect home.

A Geriatrician’s Perspective on Aging Parents

 

5 COMMON AREAS TO ASSESS WHEN HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

The holidays bring a crisp climate, home-cooked meals and of course family gatherings. Heading “home for the holidays” is an American tradition. Families scattered by circumstance and time are reunited to give thanks and celebrate. But sometimes the reunions can be ‘eye-opening’ to see how much Mom, Dad, or other aging loved ones have changed over the past months, or even, year. Sometimes it can be surprising how much our aging loved ones seem to need our help. A Place for Mom expert and geriatrician, Leslie Kernisan, MD, provides some guidance not only on how to spot common problems, but also identify which underlying health problems might be causing the issues. So while the holidays provide a wonderful occasion to enjoy quality time with your family, they also provide an opportunity to assess the wellbeing of your senior family members and make changes, if needed.

A GUIDE TO ASSURING SENIOR LOVED ONES ARE SAFE

Dr. Kernisan decided to go into geriatrics as she was interested in the policy and advocacy for primary care. The people who need primary care the most are seniors. She comments: “Geriatrics is really the rocket science of primary care, as building the relationships and collaboration with patient and family is important. People need to be informed and educated and look at the big picture. I chose this subspecialty of internal medicine because the work requires us to step up the most, as physicians.” Awareness to changes in your aging loved one is one of the first steps of the aging journey. During your visits this holiday season, Dr. Kernisan provides a quick start guide to help families check for common health and safety problems in aging. This can help you decide whether your loved one needs assistance. Based on her own work doing house calls, she groups common problems into five areas to consider, when watching your aging family members:

LIFE TASKS

Life tasks are fundamental self-care activities that need to be done, whether we do them for ourselves or have someone do them for us. Life tasks include two areas: Activities of Daily Living (ADLs):

  • Walking and getting around
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Using the toilet independently
  • Grooming
  • Feeding

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLS):

  • Finances
  • Transportation
  • House Cleaning and Chores
  • Shopping
  • Meal Preparation
  • Using the Telephone

Check the cupboards for groceries and watch your loved one interact with family members and friends. Are they getting around okay and is their personal hygiene normal? If you notice that something is off with the above life tasks, it may be time to have a conversation. Dr. Kernisan notes, “Be sure to get help understanding why your parent is having the problem. You have to understand why a problem is happening before you can get the right treatment or adapt their life. You need to clarify what’s going on in order to figure out what you can do in the present and expect in the future.”

SAFETY

Safety is a big one. But while safety may seem like a priority for families, older loved ones and family members may sacrifice safety or be in denial over the reality of the situation. After all, no one wants to see independence lost and the senior more than likely wants to remain autonomous. Here are the areas of safety to watch out for: Finances

  • Are there problems paying bills?
  • Are you concerned about scams?

Memory and Thinking

  • Have there been problems with wandering or getting lost?
  • Have there been issues forgetting about the stove or other appliances / home equipment?
  • Is there concern about poor safety awareness or poor judgment?

Driving

  • Have there been any accidents or close calls?
  • Do passengers feel worried?

Elder Abuse

  • Have you heard of, or do you have any concerns about emotional, verbal or physical abuse?
  • Do you have any concerns that someone is financially taking advantage of your loved one?

Health

  • Has your loved one had any falls?
  • Have there been repeated trips to the emergency room (ER) or hospital?

Instead of being in denial, it’s important to address safety concerns in a timely manner. “You may want to visit your loved one’s physician, or seek clinicians with experience assessing older adults,”comments Dr. Kernisan. “Track back to any underlying thinking problems you may have noticed as this could be related to many safety concerns.” There are ways to prevent falls in your elderly loved ones, as Dr. Kernisan has discussed with us in the past. But it’s important to first be aware of any safety problems before addressing how to deal with or avoid them.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Sadly, many seniors live with chronic health problems. But there are some problems that require your attention as they may be red flags or signs that quality of life is at stake or health may be at risk:

  • Have there been frequent ER visits or hospitalizations?
  • Are there obvious declines in health or strength?
  • Have you noticed weight loss or a poor appetite?
  • Has your loved one complained of pain or other uncomfortable symptoms?
  • Is there decreased involvement in life activities related to health problems?
  • Is there anything that worries your loved one about their health?

You may want to consider visiting your loved one’s doctor on the next visit or even do some online research about your loved one’s conditions to help you better understand the problems. Dr. Kernisan keenly observes: “I work with families and there’s this idea that we’re going to cure people and keep them healthy; but the truth is that people have chronic illnesses and disabilities when they age. You have to ask the question, ‘how do I make my loved one’s health the best it can be?’ If you can help improve their wellbeing and daily functioning, that’s what is important. Many seniors suffer more than they need to. It’s important for both seniors and their family members to get the right information. So be an advocate for your aging loved one and help them optimize their healthcare for better quality of life.”

MOOD AND BRAIN HEALTH

Does your loved one suddenly seem different? Is there a hint of depression or anxiety that wasn’t there before? Maybe memory problems are affecting their mood. Dr. Kernisan discusses things to watch for in this important area:

  • Does your loved one have sudden or frequent sadness?
  • Is there a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy?
  • Has there been a personality change?
  • Does your loved one have hopelessness?
  • Is your loved one experiencing excessive or unusual worrying?
  • Are there memory problems?
  • Have you noticed a difficulty in their learning new things?
  • Is organization a problem?
  • Are there new difficulties with mental tasks?
  • Have you noticed problems in driving?
  • Have there been mistakes with finances?
  • Is there unusual spending of money?
  • Is there a lack of social or purposeful activities?
  • Does your loved one suddenly seem or feel lonely?

Depression and cognitive changes can be common in older adults; especially if there has been a loss of a spouse or other traumatic event. Consult a doctor, look for a geriatrician, geriatric psychologist or geriatric psychiatrist for help in evaluating and diagnosing the problem. According to Dr. Kernisan, disengagement and change in behavior are big warning signs that something is off with your loved one. “I always think of the serenity prayer when it comes to helping people with aging: ‘Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Unfortunately, that last part is often hard to sort out when it comes to seniors, but getting help from people with geriatrics training can help. And family members are key to helping their loved ones sort through the challenges of aging.”

MEDICATION SAFETY AND MANAGEMENT

Last, but certainly not least, medications can play a crucial role in a senior’s life. They can be vital for keeping certain health conditions under control, but can also create side effects and a plethora of other health problems. Medications can also take a lot of time and money, so it’s important to be aware and proactive when it comes to your aging loved ones medication safety. Dr. Kernisan recently discusses key tactics to identify problems:

  • Can your loved one afford their prescriptions?
  • Are they having trouble taking all the prescriptions as recommended?
  • Are they refilling their medications regularly?
  • Are they skipping medications?
  • Are there side effects or worrisome symptoms related to medication?

Dr. Kernisan mentions that there are ways to eliminate unnecessary pills. If you take the medications and ask the pharmacist or doctor to simplify, your loved one can take pills fewer times during the day. Kernisan notes that there are also common problems, such as pain, depression and arthritis, that can be treated with non-drug methods. Asking your loved one’s doctor about non-drug alternatives, and being aware of some of the risky drugs for seniors, is also important.

WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOUR PARENTS ARE RESISTING HELP?

Problems in each of these areas listed above make your loved one susceptible to problems in other areas, so it’s important you ask questions and be your loved one’s advocate before things get worse. However, sometimes your aging parent or loved one doesn’t want your help. If this sounds familiar, there are steps you can take to help reduce frustration and stress for everyone involved. After all, when you’re home for the holidays it’s important for you to be prepared if you do notice any problems and be aware of potential communication issues. Being human and understanding will take you a long way. Sometimes cognitive impairments are to blame and sometimes stubborn family members are the culprit. Whatever the problem, it will most likely be a challenge; but it’s important to separate what you need from what your parent needs. If you and your siblings or family members are all on the same page, this is a huge help. Dr. Kernisan stresses the importance of caregiver coaching. “People don’t want to spend time getting training to be a caregiver. But the information is underestimated and can greatly improve the situation — especially for those with loved ones suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. If your family has the money, occupational therapists, such as Dr. Teepa Snow or others, can be a great help.”