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Aging Wisely December, 2011 | Aging Wisely

Top Caregiver Resources from 2011

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Throughout the year, we have posted articles about timely topics for caregivers and aging clients. We focus on topics that are in the news or those that come up frequently as we talk to families, or issues we see in our geriatric care management practice that most affect seniors. In reviewing our most popular content from 2011, here are the subjects and articles most often viewed by our readers, that might also interest you:

Medicare, Medicaid, and Financing Long Term Care/Caregiving Costs

2012 Medicare Fact Sheet

Long Term Care and Medicaid

Eldercare Costs: Dollars and Sense

Click here for more on how Aging Wisely can help with insurance choices, navigating your coverage and understanding Medicare, Medicaid and other senior care benefits.

Memory Problems with Aging, Alzheimer’s and Dementia

What is Sundowner’s Syndrome?

Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Sundowner’s, Old Age-What is it??

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Hospitalizations and the Elderly: Discharge Planning & Safe Transitions of Care

Problematic Transitions of Care: Concerns & Causes in Discharge Planning

Hospital Discharge Checklist for Families

Taking Control: What You Can Do to Ensure a Safe Discharge from the Hospital

Some other popular caregiving posts:

Assisted Living Options in Florida: Making Wise Choices

Gift Ideas for Seniors

A Caregiver’s Story: Interview with the Author of Mothering Mother

If you would like to receive regular updates from us with caregiving articles and important eldercare news in the coming year, we invite you to sign up for our blog RSS feed or monthly email newsletter.

Contact us for help today with caregiving issues, financial programs to assist with care, and comprehensive geriatric care management assessments and advocacy.

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Elderly Help: Top Caregiver Resources from 2011

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Throughout the year, we have posted articles about timely topics for caregivers and aging clients. We focus on topics that are in the news or those that come up frequently as we talk to families, or issues we see in our geriatric care management practice that most affect seniors. In reviewing our most popular content from 2011, here are the subjects and articles most often viewed by our readers, that might also interest you:

Medicare, Medicaid, and Financing Long Term Care/Caregiving Costs

2012 Medicare Fact Sheet

Long Term Care and Medicaid

Eldercare Costs: Dollars and Sense

Click here for more on how Aging Wisely can help with insurance choices, navigating your coverage and understanding Medicare, Medicaid and other senior care benefits.

Memory Problems with Aging, Alzheimer’s and Dementia

What is Sundowner’s Syndrome?

Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Sundowner’s, Old Age-What is it??

Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Hospitalizations and the Elderly: Discharge Planning & Safe Transitions of Care

Problematic Transitions of Care: Concerns & Causes in Discharge Planning

Hospital Discharge Checklist for Families

Taking Control: What You Can Do to Ensure a Safe Discharge from the Hospital

Some other popular caregiving posts:

Assisted Living Options in Florida: Making Wise Choices

Gift Ideas for Seniors

A Caregiver’s Story: Interview with the Author of Mothering Mother

If you would like to receive regular updates from us with caregiving articles and important eldercare news in the coming year, we invite you to sign up for our monthly email newsletter.

Contact us for help today with caregiving issues, financial programs to assist with care, and comprehensive geriatric care management assessments and advocacy.

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End of Year Planning: Eldercare and Aging Wisely

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As we begin to look forward to the new year, it is a good time to review and take stock. As Aging Wisely, we naturally gravitate to thinking about how individuals and families can better prepare for getting older and managing needs that come with health challenges and aging. Here are some of our best tips for being prepared!

•Meet with your attorney (or contact us to get referred to one) to review your estate planning and advance care planning documents. Key documents you need to consider (and possibly update if you have not reviewed in a while, or have had life changes): Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate (health power of attorney), Durable Power of Attorney, Will and/or Trust.

•Talk with your family member about the execution of these documents, especially those you have designated as possibly substitute decision makers.

•Make sure potential decision-makers have copies of the relevant documents, as well as know where your important papers and key information are located.

•Organize your paperwork for this year’s taxes. Make sure to include receipts from charitable donations. If you’re having trouble keeping up with paperwork, you might want to consider daily money management assistance. If you’re helping a loved one, pay attention to any difficulties with paperwork, forgetting about bills or surprising purchases as these may be signs that it has become difficult for your loved one to manage financial affairs alone.

•Organize your health records. This will save you time and stress at various doctor’s appointments, ensure better continuity of care and help any family members who assist you (now or in the future). Minimally, set up a health notebook or file, with: list of medications (current and discontinued), diagnoses, allergies, surgeries and other key health history (it may also help to make notes of family health history). Consider secure, online programs for managing this information and better access.

New Years resolutions for seniors

Make it your New Year’s resolution to do at least one thing to age more wisely! Whether it be a health and wellness goal, a “bucket list” item, reducing stress or preparing with the checklist above, make it your goal to do something that will positively impact your quality of life.

Sign up for the Aging Wisely newsletter for great tips and articles each month and contact us if you have questions or need assistance with caregiving matters or resources for wise aging.

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Eldercare and Aging Wisely: Planning Checklist

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As we begin to look forward to the new year, it is a good time to review and take stock. As Aging Wisely, we naturally gravitate to thinking about how individuals and families can better prepare for getting older and managing needs that come with health challenges and aging. Here are some of our best tips for being prepared!

•Meet with your attorney (or contact us to get referred to one) to review your estate planning and advance care planning documents. Key documents you need to consider (and possibly update if you have not reviewed in a while, or have had life changes): Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate (health power of attorney), Durable Power of Attorney, Will and/or Trust.

•Talk with your family member about the execution of these documents, especially those you have designated as possibly substitute decision makers.

•Make sure potential decision-makers have copies of the relevant documents, as well as know where your important papers and key information are located.

•Organize your paperwork for this year’s taxes. Make sure to include receipts from charitable donations. If you’re having trouble keeping up with paperwork, you might want to consider daily money management assistance. If you’re helping a loved one, pay attention to any difficulties with paperwork, forgetting about bills or surprising purchases as these may be signs that it has become difficult for your loved one to manage financial affairs alone.

•Organize your health records. This will save you time and stress at various doctor’s appointments, ensure better continuity of care and help any family members who assist you (now or in the future). Minimally, set up a health notebook or file, with: list of medications (current and discontinued), diagnoses, allergies, surgeries and other key health history (it may also help to make notes of family health history). Consider secure, online programs for managing this information and better access.

New Years resolutions for seniors

Make it your New Year’s resolution to do at least one thing to age more wisely! Whether it be a health and wellness goal, a “bucket list” item, reducing stress or preparing with the checklist above, make it your goal to do something that will positively impact your quality of life.

Sign up for the Aging Wisely newsletter for great tips and articles each month and contact us if you have questions or need assistance with caregiving matters or resources for wise aging.

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Checklist for Aging Parents: Eldercare Family Resource

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Our Aging Wisely care managers have prepared a quick reference guide and checklist that family members can refer to in order to plan ahead as parents age and as families move through various stages of caregiving and eldercare.

caregiver checklist download-eldercare-checklist

Preparing Ahead

As loved ones age, there are many things families can do in order to be better prepared.  Two areas are especially important in preparing.  One is communication and opening up discussions about care wishes, needs and any concerns that family members see.  The second is to begin to get organized, which will help you greatly if there is a crisis.

To get started with organization, check out the “document locator list” to locate and organize vital documents, in addition to creating a basic medical history/record and list of key contacts.

First Signs

Our  “Am I in Denial?” handout is a great place to start if you are wondering if you should be concerned about changes in a loved one.  This may also be an ideal time to consider a Caregiver Consultation, to get an independent, professional opinion on steps you can take to be proactive in protecting your loved one’s safety.

Deteriorating Health/Crisis

Aging Wisely is here to help if you encounter a crisis.  You can reach out to us any time for resources or a professional assessment.  When you have taken steps to prepare and have some basic resources/trusted professionals who you can call upon, you will find the crisis much easier to manage.

Is it Time for a Move?

Most seniors say they wish to remain in their own homes as they age (up to 98% in some surveys).  Home care assistance, home modifications and senior support resources can enable elders to age in place.  However, sometimes a transition to a new environment may be the best outcome for a variety of reasons.  It may make sense to have a loved one live closer if there is no local family, or a senior may thrive in an assisted care community.  We share some of the questions that may point to this consideration in our checklist.  Each situation is different and we find many families are surprised by how well a loved one transitions to a new environment, especially with the right planning and support.

As Things Progress

There are many stages to the eldercare/caregiving journey.  As your loved one ages and his or her health status changes, there is an ongoing need to assess how things are going and what other considerations and resources might be needed.  Our checklist gives you some ideas about later life considerations and end-of-life planning.

If you want to discuss your family’s eldercare situation or concerns about an aging parent, contact us for help. We also encourage you to sign up for our monthly email newsletter as a good way to stay educated on eldercare topics such as Medicare, caregiver resources and aging health.

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Eldercare Family Checklist

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Our Aging Wisely care managers have prepared a quick reference guide and checklist that family members can refer to in order to plan ahead as parents age and as families move through various stages of caregiving and eldercare.
caregiver checklist

Preparing Ahead

Encourage your loved one to meet with a financial advisor and estate planning/elder law attorney. Know who your loved one’s advisors are and encourage open communication.

Execute important legal documents such as: Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate/POA, Living Will, Will/Trust.

Know the location of important papers-see our “document locator list”.

Ask if your loved one has thought about what they would like to do if assistance is needed (educate yourself on basic options/costs, consider family situation and realistic alternatives). Discuss expectations and what is realistic.

Open up the lines of communication: the more discussions can begin prior to crisis, the better. It helps if you have basic understanding of the financial situation and talking regularly can alert you to concerns and encourage discussion.

Offer assistance with areas in which your loved one feels comfortable letting you help. Consider hiring a home caregiver to help with household tasks, transportation, meal preparation and other needs.

First Signs

See “Am I in Denial?” handout for signs to watch for in your loved one.

Other potential red flags to watch for: your parent takes multiple medications or visits several medical specialists, recent hospitalizations, falls or injuries, confusion/memory loss, difficulty with financial management or excessive concerns regarding finances.

Try to ensure family visits regularly and/or hire a professional geriatric care manager to do spot checks if you cannot be there.

Watch carefully for concerns regarding proper handling of medications.

Have a home safety assessment/evaluation of resources to maintain independence.

Begin keeping a health record by creating a file or using an online system to maintain basic records, medical contacts, records of surgery or interventions (consider attending key medical appointments or hiring a patient advocate to do so).

Research potential assistance in the area-know key numbers and what might be available now and in future.

Get contact information for key professionals (attorney, tax advisor, financial advisor, doctors), friends and neighbors and make contacts where possible. Attend meetings and establish relationships with these professionals as your loved one allows. These relationships can “multiply your eyes and ears” and ensure professionals have the permission to contact you with concerns.

Have a family meeting or conference call to discuss concerns, duties and how to approach the situation.

Offer assistance with items such as financial management-bill paying, Medicare/insurance, coordinating medical appointments or engage professionals where needed.

Offer help with shopping, errands, driving, housecleaning.

Begin a more in depth look at resources and discussion regarding options.

Deteriorating Health/Crisis

Call on trusted professionals and ask them about resources.

Hire a geriatric care manager to do a professional assessment, which can assist with the following:
>>Understanding your loved one’s income and asset picture and how this will affect care options/resources. Do they have sufficient income stream to pay for care at home/up until what point? Can they afford privately paying for care facilities? What are costs in local area? If limited resources, what public benefits are available and how do they intersect with needs? How scarce are public benefits? What planning can be done? What does their various insurance cover?
>>Understanding care options and levels of care.
>>Putting monitoring systems into place and managing medical concerns and care.

Take advantage of windows of opportunity (parent has a fall, becomes hospitalized, brings up a concern or need for help with a task–these are key times to discuss wishes, look at options, and bring in help).

Is it Time for a Move?

Has it become too difficult to manage at home?

Have your parents been scammed or become particularly vulnerable or easily influenced by others?

Is the care needed to stay safe at home too costly?

Could your loved one benefit from the socialization of a group environment? Is your loved one isolated or relegated to contact primarily with care providers?

Understand what is available to help in home/community based services so you will know when those options are no longer enough or inappropriate. Similarly, understand the levels of care and settings available in facilities.

Consider the emotions involved and what the best approach might be. Confer with siblings and ensure you are on the same page first.

Know the reality: have you or your loved one visited a retirement community? Put aside past prejudices by seeing what there is to offer today in your area.

Consider professional assistance in choosing the right facility. A care manager can pinpoint options that are appropriate, save you a lot of time and frustration, give you the background on the quality and levels of care provided, and help coordinate the process.

Other resources that may be needed: moving company, estate sales, realtor, junk removal, storage unit, appraiser, cleaning service, home staging company, property manager, attorney, etc.

As Things Progress

Revisit your loved one’s wishes and take a step back to consider them as decisions need to be made.

Confer with medical professionals on prognosis, treatment options, and expected results. Ask questions and prepare ahead for appointments. Make sure the medical specialists are the right fit.

Take time to process emotions, care for yourself, share memories, and be with family.

Keep in mind quality of life and its meaning to your loved one. Don’t overlook small things: the comfort of favorite pajamas, the dignity of having a nice hairdo, a homemade treat or favorite drink or meal, a book or newspaper, or someone acknowledging the person’s memories and accomplishments.

Inquire about options such as hospice and palliative care. Educate yourself and talk to medical professionals about options, even if they do not raise them.

Take some time to work on organizing and simplifying, to cut down on the stress of dealing with financial and estate matters during caregiving and after death.

Ensure funeral arrangements have been made or you have at least talked to your loved ones about their wishes.

If you want to discuss your family’s eldercare situation or concerns about an aging parent, contact us for help. We also encourage you to sign up for our monthly email newsletter as a good way to stay educated on eldercare topics such as Medicare, caregiver resources and aging health.

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Aging Wisely Wins Patient Advocacy Award

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patient advocate Orlando, FL (Patient Advocate Conference)-December 5, 2011

Aging Wisely, LLC was chosen as the 2011 winner of the Patient Advocacy Award in the category of “Patient Advocate Organization”. This award is presented by the Professional Patient Advocacy Institute, which is “a member organization and a community aligned around the common cause of providing advocacy for consumers as they strive to secure their healthcare needs and cover their insurance and financial matters”. These awards are intended to set the benchmark for recognizing those who provide leading patient advocacy on behalf of patients and their families.

Aging Wisely has been serving elders and a variety of clients and their families since 1998, providing care management and advocacy services. Aging Wisely serves clients in the Tampa Bay area, as well as consulting with families all across the country.

Aging Wisely not only assists clients and families on a daily basis with advocacy, but also reaches out to improve broader advocacy efforts in the community and improve overall healthcare and eldercare. Aging Wisely’s advocacy efforts also go beyond the local community and clients served. From an early stage, Aging Wisely focused on having a strong educational component in its website and other communications. Aging Wisely’s blog presents advocacy topics on a regular basis, which are also shared through social and traditional media to benefit consumers as well as professional colleagues. Aging Wisely’s blog and email newsletter were recognized as finalists in SeniorHomes.com “Best of the Web” last year, among many well-recognized national organizations. Over 2,000 people receive Aging Wisely’s monthly newsletter, keeping them apprised of recent healthcare news, eldercare resources and tips.

“We are proud that our team has been recognized for our advocacy efforts. As we have evolved as an organization over the years, we have strived to constantly improve and educate ourselves for our clients’ benefit. Our mission is all about ensuring quality of life in all aspects for the clients and families we serve,” says Linda Chamberlain, founder and President of Aging Wisely, LLC.

Contact us with questions or to learn more about Aging Wisely.

Visit Aging Wisely’s blog for advocacy and eldercare information.

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How to keep a loved one safe at home, and when it may be time to consider assisted living.




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Mission Statement

Our goal is to enable every individual we work with to live the most fulfilling life possible, with utmost dignity, focusing on their physical, mental, spiritual, family and financial wellbeing.