11 miles…

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March 1, 2017

Road-weary traveler

Caring for the Caregiver / Respite Care

Almost daily someone comes into our practice looking like “11 miles of bad road.” Not to be insulting. We just have an idea of what this person is going through. It is clear that he or she is a designated caregiver for a loved one. And has put the needs of someone else above his or her own.

The role of caregiver is typically gained by default. That means there is only one family member willing or able to care for another aging or ill loved one. It is not uncommon for a wife to take care of her husband with Alzheimer’s for years at a stretch Doing too much with little assistance. Even adult children sometimes do not recognize all that one “well” parent does for the other.

The combined effects of physical and emotional stress and years of neglecting her own body take their toll. For these reasons, we know that caregivers die first over 30 percent of the time.

Even the professionals can burn out. It may seem counter-intuitive. But there are times when caregivers feel more stressed than the patients do. When they focus on others without practicing self-care, destructive behaviors can surface. Apathy and bottled-up emotions head a long list of symptoms associated with the secondary traumatic disorder now labeled compassion fatigue.

Our colleague Kevin Stowe, Director of Activities at College Square Retirement Community in Conway*, shared his observations and experience:

“When you’re on the clock and you’re devoting yourself to helping, you wear out. None of us can disconnect totally from our work, so we worry at home, too. Compound that with social media, the news, being ever-connected and whatever else in our family life. We simply run out of compassion. “My remedy for replenishment has been disconnecting from the social media scene, since that’s not my career.

Finding more quiet time without distraction. Putting more weekend stock in hobbies I’ve neglected. And, personally, investing myself in a Bible study at our church.”

Whether you are a professional or a family caregiver, maintaining your own health is just as important as caring for the patient.

It is estimated that family caregivers provide unpaid services valued at $450 billion per year.

Although family and home caregiving is not new to American culture. Its significance for the delivery of healthcare to our aging population is greater than ever before. Family caregivers have become the backbone of the nation’s long-term care system.

Respite Care is designed to provide a break for caregivers. Thus, allowing them to step away from the job to run errands, complete chores, go to church, visit friends or simply rest. At its most basic level, it can be a friend or family member sitting with the patient for a few hours. If you are a caregiver and are seeking assistance, some resources include:

• At-home care – usually the easiest on the patient. And it can be provided by a friend, family member or a professional non-medical home care provider. Professionals need to have a license and a good bond. Also any respite provider should go on a training. That is to know the appropriate actions to take. Or for people to call in case of emergency.

Respite Care

IMPORTANT: Normally you should not pay a close friend or family member for providing respite care. If you think the patient may need Medicaid assistance to help pay for future nursing home care. By doing so, it maybe an uncompensated transfer. And it could render the patient ineligible for Medicaid assistance. That’s until the expiration of the penalty period with the transfer causing it.

• Adult day care
• Hospital outpatient clinics
• Nursing home and hospice organizations

Many respite care resources and payment options exist. View our “Links” page (http://staging2.arkelderlaw.com/resources/helpful-links/) for quick access to websites you may find helpful. And please contact our office for additional resources if our recommendations do not meet your needs.

*Per Kevin, “College Square Retirement Community is an Independent Living Community. We don’t have any medical staff. In addition, we also aren’t really ‘caregivers’ in the same sense as most in the senior care field. But still oversee happiness! We go out of our way to provide a high level of customer service and care for 100 senior citizens every day.” http://www.collegesquareretirement.com/

Professionals, if you are willing to help educate our community of readers as to how you assist your patients and/or clients, send a brief description of your service to doug@arkelderlaw.com. Thank you!

At ELP, we work to protect you!

We work with people to do various types of estate planning. There is no one size fits all plan and no plan is categorically better than others. The key is to meet with your attorney (hopefully us!) to discuss your unique situation and have a plan crafted that is best for you. If you or your declining parent is not 100% sure of their beneficiary designations, please be proactive and give us a call before you (or they) lose capacity.

Without a properly flexible plan, how will you care for your declining Loved One, be there for your family, get work done, and pivot in the event of a crisis? What about cost? How will you pay for it all? If you make the Assisted Living Facility choice, how long will the money last? Together, we can craft a proactive plan! Lets get started protecting your assets!

Arkansas Newsletter

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ELP YouTube Channel

Speaking of trends, subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We have a few hundred videos there for your watching enjoyment. Videos are categorized by playlist. You should easily be able to find several videos that discuss exactly what you are looking for. The best part about this is not only is this some really good content, but it is free! There’s even a video specifically addressing Revocable Living Trusts!

Just click here to go to The Elder Law Practice You Tube Channel. Please remember to subscribe! When you click the notification bell, so you will be notified of our latest video launches. If you have video ideas, please type them in the comment box. Thanks for watching!

Disclaimer

We have covered some legal topics in this edition and as always, I want to emphasize that (1) the law is different in every state, so if you live in a state other than Arkansas, just know that the law may be totally different in your state; (2) your situation is unique, so one size doesn’t fit all – meaning what we discuss herein may not be right for you; (3) we have purposely over-simplified many of the topics above (otherwise this would be many pages long and unreadable because of all of the legalize). It is imperative that you meet with your attorney (hopefully us!) and get a plan that will work for you. Don’t try to plan based on what you read in this (or any) article AND don’t try to go it alone. Please consider this, get your questions answered and take action.

About the author 

Doug Jones

  • I was my mother’s pairmry caregiver to Alzheimer’s. And if I had heard someone suggest that I embrace Alzheimer’s while I was in the thick of care giving trenches, I would have quickly dismissed the advice as superficial and one-dimensional. But as a recovering caregiver, I realize the power of that statement. Unintentionally and unrehearsed, I did embrace Alzheimer’s during the early stages of this journey, and that very act fundamentally defined my experience, converting an otherwise stressful journey into a mindful and meaningful series of life lessons.In the beginning I’ll admit that I was afraid of the disease because I didn’t want to lose my mother to the tangles of this fatal disease. I simply wasn’t emotionally prepared to let that happen because it meant letting her go.So I did my best to keep connected to her, by doing what I could. I prepared homemade, single-portioned meals to fill her refrigerator. If she was going to lose her mind, I thought, let it happen on a full stomach. At the very least, it made me feel like I was still in charge. But during those quiet moments when truth becomes easier to swallow, I would admit to myself that my mother was falling apart before my very eyes and it would put me into a panic-stricken tailspin. Like anything in life, the more I looked truth in the eye, the less panic I felt.Gradually I stopped trying to teach her how to use the TV remote, heat up leftovers in a microwave, and hold a telephone. I stopped trying to squeeze her back into the reality that we had once shared because that approach ended up being a source of aggravation to us both. By leaving the ‘denial’ stage and embracing Alzheimer’s, I liberated myself from the fear that Alzheimer’s would steal my mother’s love. And if I still felt unsure or afraid of my mother’s disease, I would remind myself that ‘when life hands you Alzheimer’s, embrace it.

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