Author Archives: idealh

Include End-Of-Life Planning When Anticipating Long Term Care
31 Mar

Include End-Of-Life Planning When Anticipating Long Term Care

A key deficiency in the process of planning for long term care occurs when seniors fail to provide for orderly distribution of assets at death and fail to let their family know what to do when the senior can no longer handle his or her own affairs.

Estate planning from a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney, a financial adviser who specializes in estate planning or a CPA planner, is the design of documents to provide the orderly transfer of assets and property to the next generation. Wills, living trusts and a myriad of other trust documents or business arrangements to avoid estate taxes, income tax and real estate capitol gains are some of the principal documents used. Estate planning also concerns issues of business succession or disability of a business owner.

Many estate planners are also adding final directive or end-of-life documents such as living wills, powers of attorney and special medical directives. But often these are considered secondary to the process of transferring assets or property. Unfortunately, these documents are much more important to family caregivers dealing with the needs of elderly loved ones.

Estate planners also need to become more involved in the planning process for long term care by helping in the production of a written long term care plan. This should also include meetings with potential family caregivers and instructions or checklists for these people. We call this Life Resource Planning. This important aspect of planning is often overlooked. Likewise the elderly or their families who are assisting them should insist on more careful planning for long term care issues when doing an estate plan.

Some advisers have recognized this need and have put together a team of experts such as attorneys, care managers and financial planners who provide a more complete and comprehensive approach to estate planning, long term care and end-of-life issues.

Here are some other important issues to consider for end-of-life planning:

  • Provide instructions, in the event of death, for guardianship of minor children.
  • Provide for disabled adult children, elderly parents, or other relatives.
  • Get your property to chosen beneficiaries quickly and determine in advance who gets what.
  • Plan for incapacity.
  • Minimize expenses of transferring property.
  • Choose executors or trustees for your estate.
  • Ease the strain on your family by making funeral arrangements and purchasing a funeral trust.
  • Create tax savings and leave money to charity.
  • Reduce state and federal estate taxes.
  • Provide a plan for an orderly transition of your business ownership to others.
  • Pre-plan for Medicaid
Osteoporosis – What You Need To Know
31 Mar

Osteoporosis – What You Need To Know

“Strong bones, strong body.” -Unknown. This is a quote I’ve heard hundreds of times and didn’t know how meaningful it is till I started researching Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease and is often caught only after a bone fracture or break.

What is Osteoporosis?

Your body is constantly replacing bone, the older you are, the slower the bone is replaced. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that happens when the body loses too much bone or makes too little bone. Bones become weak and those with osteoporosis can break bones from a fall or even something as simple as sneezing. Osteoporosis is a common and very serious bone disease.

Do I have Osteoporosis?

You cannot feel your bones weakening over time, so consulting your doctor is the best way to determine if you have Osteoporosis. You may have bone loss if you have had other major medical conditions such as but not limited to: Arthritis; Celiac Disease; Cancer; Stroke; Parkinson’s Disease; Diabetes; Scoliosis. If you have had one of these conditions, Osteoporosis should be a continuing conversation with your doctor. Osteoporosis can be determined by a painless x-ray measuring your bone density.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

Loss in Height

Curvature of the Spine

Easy bone fractures or breaks

Reducing the risk of having Osteoporosis

 

  1. Weight bearing exercise and activities that promote balance and good posture are beneficial, such as walking, running, jumping, dancing and weightlifting.
  2. Avoid excessive alcohol.
  3. Avoid tobacco use.
  4. Avoiding falls when possible. This may mean something as easy as hiding cords in your own home or installing grab bars in high risk place such as a shower.
  5. Calcium. Consuming calcium whether it be in food or supplements can be beneficial. Do not take supplements of more than 2,000 milligrams daily for those over 50 as too much calcium is linked to heart problems and kidney stones. [2]
  6. Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.

Treating Osteoporosis

Though Osteoporosis cannot be cured, it can be treated many different ways. Treating Osteoporosis can be as simple as lifestyle and diet changes up to taking medications which may include hormone-related therapy. Early detection of Osteoporosis may reduce bone loss.

Osteoporosis Statistics

“One in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to Osteoporosis.” [1]

Osteoporosis affects people of all ages and races but puts Caucasian and Asian women past menopause at the highest risk. [2]

Worldwide, osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. [3]

Osteoporosis is such a common disease that we all should know about it and yet, many of us do not think about the disease as we age. Osteoporosis can make aging physically agonizing. The importance of taking care of your bones starts now.

Estate Planning As Part of Your Long Term Care Plan
31 Mar

Estate Planning As Part of Your Long Term Care Plan

A key deficiency in the process of planning for long term care occurs when seniors fail to provide for the orderly distribution of assets after death or fail to let their family know what to do when the senior can no longer handle his or her own affairs.

Estate planning from a qualified estate planning attorney, a financial adviser who specializes in estate planning or a CPA planner is the design of documents to provide the orderly transfer of assets and property to the next generation. Wills, living trusts and a myriad of other trust documents or business arrangements to avoid estate taxes are some of the principal planning strategies used. Other planning might center around income tax and real estate capitol gains. Estate planning also concerns issues of business succession and consideration of eligibility for government sponsored benefits.

Estate planners need to become more involved in the planning process for long term care by helping in the production of a written long term care plan. This should include meetings with potential family caregivers and instructions or checklists for these people. This important part of the planning process is often overlooked.

Because long term care planning is often overlooked, elders or their families who are assisting them should insist on more careful planning for long term care issues when doing an estate plan. Some advisers have recognized this need for care planning and have put together a team of experts such as attorneys, care managers and financial planners who provide a more complete and comprehensive approach to estate planning, long term care and end-of-life issues.

Estate planning attorneys can also help draw up legal documents and provide additional legal input that might be necessary. As an example an estate planning attorney will help you with the following:

  • Give tax advice pertaining to estate issues
  • Perform probate services
  • Draw up wills and trusts
  • Design powers of attorney and other consent documents
  • Design special trusts or partnership programs to save estate or gift taxes
  • Design charitable gifting programs
  • Design programs to pay for estate taxes

The National Care Planning Council provides a list service of estate planning practitioners who are available in your area.

Caring for a Loved One at Home Can Be Challenging
31 Mar

Caring for a Loved One at Home Can Be Challenging

Informal caregivers are family, friends and volunteers who provide care and support for an aging loved one. These selfless individuals are rarely paid for their services and often endure a significant amount of stress while providing care. Health in Aging estimates as many as 43.5 million Americans care for older parents, grandparents, spouses and other older adults. Informal caregivers may provide services in a care facility, but most care takes place in the home of the aging loved one.

 

Challenges Informal Caregivers Face

Caregivers often face challenges providing informal care. A wife caring for her husband, for example, may risk injury (to herself or him) while trying to move him safely around the home to bathe, dress, eat and use the bathroom. She may also struggle to provide proper nursing care due to a general lack of training, especially when it comes to monitoring vital signs and serious medical conditions.

Financial hardship is another challenge and varies depending on the informal caregiver. Generally, a retired spouse suffers little to no financial impact as income and assets are not used to pay for care. If the same spouse offering informal care is employed and has to reduce his or her hours or quit employment entirely there can be a significant impact on the couple’s finances. A child, caring for an aging parent (generally the adult daughter), will often forego wages to make themselves available to provide care during critical times of the day. This can be a massive strain on the child’s personal finances and time.

Beyond the financial impact informal caregiving can create lies an often unseen burden placed on the informal caregiver. The emotional and physical health of a caregiver is often strained when caregiving. These stresses, which can cause anxiety, exhaustion, and depression, are numerous and vary by situation. Strains to the emotional and physical health of the caregiver can be caused by:

  • A lack of time, resources, or skills necessary to provide adequate care,
  • Supervision requirements for those with memory issues,
  • Traveling (time to and from the care recipient’s home),
  • Considerable or unrealistic physical or emotional demands made by the aged, or
  • Unwillingness of other potential caregivers to assist.

 

Caregiver Burnout

Any of the above can be significantly overwhelming and contribute to a serious condition called “Caregiver Burnout.” The Cleveland Clinic describes caregiver burnout as:

a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able — either physically or financially. Many caregivers also feel guilty if they spend time on themselves rather than on their ill or elderly loved ones. Caregivers who are “burned out” may experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression.

 

Make Caregiving Easier on You

To ensure informal care for an aging loved one is feasible can be sustained for a period of time, caregivers must understand the potential stresses outlined above, carefully avoid them, and in some cases correct them. It is important for every caregiver to be honest with themselves.

Here are some ideas, provided by the National Care Planning Council and WebMD, to keep burnout at bay:

  • Find someone you trust to speak with on a regular basis about your feelings and frustrations
  • Know your caregiving limits
  • Set reasonable goals, schedules, and boundaries
  • Realize you may need help from others
  • Educate yourself and set reasonable expectations about your loved one’s ongoing illness or condition
  • Set aside time for yourself. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it is a need
  • Talk to a therapist, social worker, or clergy member. They are trained to give advice on a wide range of physical and emotional issues
  • Remember to lighten up when you can. Use humor to help deal with everyday stresses
  • Stay healthy by eating right and getting plenty of exercise and sleep
  • Accept your feelings. It’s normal to have negative feelings such as frustration and anger

 

Use Professional Caregivers and Planners

Avoiding caregiver burnout can involve bringing in professional and formal caregivers for respite. This might include such services as adult day care, care management, professional and non-medical home care, mediation services or other long term care advisors and specialists.  Advisors might include Medicaid planners, assistance from Veterans Affairs (VA) Accredited individuals, or long term care planners. The responsibility for recognizing elder care challenges and meeting those challenges can be shouldered by any appropriate combination of the above.

 

Informal Caregiving Can Be Rewarding

Providing informal care for an aging loved can be difficult and rewarding. Remember, care for yourself during the process to avoid caregiver burnout! Use the resources above to get support for the service you do so you can provide the best care possible for your aging loved ones.