Long-Term Planning for the Caregiver

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Entwined with the emotional and physical challenges of caregiving are myriad practical issues that can overwhelm anyone not prepared for the task. Joy Loverde, author "The Complete Eldercare Planner," shared her advice on issues involving insurance, bank accounts, legal questions, and more when she was our guest on Oct. 28, 2004.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Support for this University course was provided by VistaCare.

MODERATOR: Welcome to Caregiver University: "Learning to Care for Someone You Love." Your instructor today is Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Which Questions to Ask, and How to Find Help . She joins us to discuss issues involving insurance, bank accounts, legal questions, and more.

Joy, in giving care, where do you start?

LOVERDE: I understand it's a looming issue because every elder is different, every situation is different, the numbers of family members are different, and of course the financial resources vary from family to family.

If there is anything that I can do to help put the issues in order of priority, they are as follows.

  • First talk about is who is going to pay for long-term care. That's No. 1.
  • Second, where are our elders going to live?
  • Finally, the issue is getting all the paperwork in order.

If you do nothing else, have a discussion with your loved ones on who's going to pay for long-term care.

MEMBER QUESTION: I'd like to start talking with my mom about these things, but am not sure how to begin the conversation.

LOVERDE: We've all been taught to respect our elders. If they perceive we are looking over their shoulders or trying to tell them what to do, they may shut us out. So there are different tactics we can take to help the conversations go smoother.

One thing we can do is ask for their advice. Maybe we can show them an article from a newspaper or magazine which is related to money, about how elders take care themselves financially, then we can ask their opinion about what they read. That's one way to get them thinking about a topic you'd like to have an answer to.

Another thing we could do is give them a homework assignment. More often than not, they have time on their hands to do research for us. Perhaps we could ask them to investigate the pros and cons of long-term care insurance. Again, the idea is to open up the lines of communication rather than tell them what to do.

MEMBER QUESTION: My parents are slowly having more health problems. How can I prepare in case I am suddenly faced with needing to take care of one or both of them? And what can I do to stay better informed of their health?

LOVERDE: Typically we all tend to keep our eye on the person who is receiving the care. You might, right now, be focused more on your father than your mother. Instead, pay more attention to your mother and her needs right now.

This does not mean take over her responsibilities, and I doubt she would let you anyway, but continuously ask her: "How can I help you?" or "Who lives nearby who could help you with some of these responsibilities -- do you ever get relief?"

Look to local resources that will support your mother's efforts in helping your father. You can start with the community programs that are available through the local church and the local agency on aging. I would be far more concerned about your mother at this time because she's overloaded. Your mom may even consider a support group. And if she attends a support group, there is a good chance she will learn about resources she didn't know were available for her right now.

Regarding staying better informed on their health, there is a new law that protects the rights of all patients. It is called the HIPPA law. You need to make arrangements with your father and mother regarding their health and their health care provider, the doctor, in order to be privy to their health care status. Do this right away. As far as living an hour away, make plans to visit as often as you can. Do the best you can, and that's good enough.

"If you do nothing else, have a discussion with your loved ones on who's going to pay for long-term care."

MEMBER QUESTION: Any suggestions about how to help my father get his papers under control without giving him the feeling that I am invading his privacy?

LOVERDE: Ask his permission if he would like assistance opening up his junk mail. Tell him you'll come over and you only want to see the things he's not interested in opening.

Make it a social event. Bring over some tea and sit around the kitchen table. Play some music and let him go through his important papers and you go through the junk mail. That is, if he says it might be a fun thing to do, a social thing. We always have to ask permission. If he says no, let some time go by.

Then ask him again. My experience has been they want the social contact more than they want help. You may have to be patient. If it is truly a privacy issue, sometimes hiring a professional, like a bookkeeper, may also be a choice he might consider.

MEMBER QUESTION: If you can afford it, is an attorney the best way to go as far as plotting out how a child will manage his/her parent's affairs and money?

LOVERDE: There are certainly many legal avenues to consider when it comes to the business of caregiving.

On a positive note, you may accomplish a lot more through the use of an elder law attorney, keeping in mind that our elders may see the professional as more of a word of authority, than us.

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