More than 43 million Americans take care of someone over 50 according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. It’s a difficult job. I know it because I took care of my mom who died at 95-years-old recently, and I still take care of an elderly cousin.
And like me, most care caregivers are women. Gerontologist Faye Radding with the Met Life Mature Market Institute says their surveys show. We know the average caregiver is 44, likely to be a woman, likely to be employed and likely to be a caregiver for four years. Caregiving is a special challenge that leaves people feeling isolated. It takes them away from their friends and families and has them doing a lot of legwork finding service and delivering care.”
That’s why experts recommend enlisting help and joining support groups. Estate Attorneys, Social workers and geriatric care managers are often very helpful for both you and your parent. They know the territory and they can see things clearly. New York City based care manager Joanne Lehman explains, “We’re objective observers and we can help to sort out what’s important and work with the parent or relative to get the best services and the most help for them.”
The National Association of Geriatric Care Managers website offers a search tool to find someone in your area. State and local offices of aging are also good resources because the federal government provides grants to states to assist with some services for older people. BenefitsCheckUp.org is a great resource. It has an easy to use tool that let’s you search your state and locality for benefits.
The benefits often seem more complicated than need be. So here is an explanation of what’s available.
Everyone over 65 qualifies for Medicare health insurance.
Medicare Part A– Is free for most people.
It covers hospital stays. It also covers limited nursing home care if someone is transferred from a hospital for rehabilitation. It also pays for limited at-home care for rehabilitation and end-of-life hospice care.
Medicare Part B– Requires a Premium. Most pay $99.90 monthly, but the price rises with your income.
It covers a portion of doctors visits, outpatient services, medical devices and some home health services.
Medicare Part C– This is called Medicare Advantage. It’s managed by private insurers.
You pay a monthly premium,, and it covers some things Medicare A& B do not. It may cover prescriptions, vision and dental. But it restricts you to the health care providers in specific networks.
Medicare Part D-Covers prescription drugs. It’s run by private insurance companies. The cost varies depending upon the plan, the drugs and whether you use a network or the pharmacy of your choice.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance Plans– Cover what Medicare does not. It is extremely important.
You pay a monthly premium and you can choose your own doctor, or provider. You can also combine this with Medicare Part D to lower your monthly cost.
Medicaid is the back-up if you run out of money. But there are strict income and asset limits. Each state has different income and asset requirements. In New York State, for example, the income limit for one person is $14,250. In New Jersey it’s about $5,000.
Attorney Stuart Schoenfeld explains, ” Once you are able to establish Medicaid eligibility and go through the application process, your un-reimbursed Medicaid expenses will be paid. Medicaid pays for care at a nursing home, or you maybe able to get community based care in your home.”
Navigating this territory can be tricky and that’s why it’s a good idea to get advice from professionals who deal with the issues every day. It will reduce your stress level significantly.