How To Help

A Brainstorm of Ways You Can Help Your Loved One at Home

· Regular Visitation
· Regular Phone Calls· Grocery Shopping
· Food Preparation
· Help with household chores
· Assist with mail/bills as needed
· Take out trash/recyclables, empty wastebaskets
· Water plants
· Mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow
· Weed the garden
· Drop off/Pick up dry cleaning
· Fix small appliances/Handyman services
· Take the car for an oil change/gas/inspection
· Polish the silver
· Fill the birdfeeder (or provide one if there isn’t one!)
· Transportation to doctor’s appointments/social events/etc
· Cards/Notes from Children/Grandchildren
· Videotape Recorder w/videos of family, local & out of town
· Make computer literate for email, internet, games, correspondence
· Board Games
· Puzzles
· Organize a card or scrabble game w/friends
· Books & Books On Tape
· Create a music cassette of favorite/meaningful music
· Tape a church service if unable to attend and bring it home
· Send an audio letter if you live faraway
· Clip interesting articles from papers/magazines
· Organize family photos- create albums/collages/personalized calendars
· Create a scrapbook of memories “This is Your Life” and celebrate.
· Find any reason to celebrate something like “Happy Thursday!”
· Help write “The Book of My Life” for future generations
· Drop off magazines/periodicals/circulars of interest
· Take dictation of notes/letters and mail them
· Schedule your visit to watch a sporting event or video together
· Bring children to visit
· Bring pets to visit
· Call now and then with neighborhood gossip
· Take for a ride in the car
· Visit a zoo, park, mall, movie – wheelchairs are often provided
· Give a gift certificate for a manicure, facial, massage
· Give a gift certificate for long distance calling
· Create a coupon book as a gift with blanks for the fill-in of things you may not have considered
· Create a tradition of visiting at the same time each week to give something to look forward to
· Organize a social or church group to adopt seniors as secret pals and send cards, gifts, remembrances
· At gift-giving times, forgo the gifts and send a train/plane ticket to someone who wouldn’t normally be able to visit
· Set up a fish aquarium/bird cage and maintain
· Prepare a window garden
· Contact a local columnist to recognize the person for a special life achievement
· Help decorate for the holidays
· Create a visitation schedule/calendar so others know where the visitation gaps will be and plan accordingly (this is also a reminder how involved family and friends actually are)

· Have medical information handy so that visitors know what to do in case of emergency.

· Communicate with other family/friends/visitors when there is a need to be filled that comes up within the context of your visit.

· Stay alert, work together, support one another as a team would work together for the good of their mission. Help one another as needs arise so that you can continue giving to the issue(s) at hand.

· Take care of yourself.

Letter To Safe Harbour Middle School

This will warm your heart............... Just when you have lost faith in
human kindness...

Someone who teaches at a Middle School in Safe Harbor, Florida forwarded the
following letter. The letter was sent to the principal's office after the school
had sponsored a luncheon for the elderly. An old lady received a new radio at
the lunch as a door prize and was writing to say thank you.

Dear Safe Harbor Middle School:

God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent senior citizens

I am 84 years old and live at the Safe Harbor Assisted Home for the Aged. All of my family has passed away. I am all alone now, and it's nice to know that someone is thinking of me. God bless you for your kindness to an old forgotten lady. My roommate is 95 and always had her own radio, but before I received one, she would never let me listen to hers, even when she was napping. The other day her radio fell off the nightstand and broke into a lot of pieces. It was awful, and she was in tears. She asked if she could listen to mine, and I told her to kiss my ass. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.

Edna Walters

A New Approach To Residents' Rights

Gang of Friends

After 20 years as a social worker in long term care system, I stepped outside the system to create a geriatric care management program. The rules of the system have changed in two decades. Medicare and Medicaid are suffering and the effects are showing in residential and home care communities. The “system” often pushes people quickly and cost-effectively. These people have found themselves in nursing homes, residential care facilities and under the care of unfamiliar home health agencies. The true nature of those entrusted with their care is usually kind, attentive and caring.

The system does not financially reward it’s healthcare workers who, in turn, face hardships as a result of a lower standard of living. This viscous cycle takes it’s toll on the worker and eventually makes them a less effective caregiver. The system also promotes “burn out” in the most productive and attentive worker. Programs are severely understaffed and even at best will assign a half dozen or more nursing home residents to each aide. Support programs for employees are evolving slowly.

These years have given me a tremendous opportunity to work side by side with staff and residents in the long term care community. The professionals who have taken the time to build relationships and to set boundaries with their clients have succeeded in having a more satisfying career. Some have even remained in a job long enough to benefit from a long history of pay raises. The clients who have the ability and the desire to develop relationships with others have reaped the security of kindness and loving care.

The viscous cycle is replaced with a gentle cycle of caring, respect and understanding of what is important in relationship building. Age does not matter. Status does not matter. Whether you can pay your way or not does not matter.

What does matter is the ability to be accepting and to be unafraid to care for those who cross our paths.

Here's the program I initially designed to be presented as the Annual "Resident Rights Inservice" required by law at all NY State skilled nursing facilities. Every year the staff would grumble, having to take an hour out of their already overloaded schedule to hear more rules and regulations and to fill their own heads with guilt and the possibility that they will never be able to deliver the kind of service to appease the government! One particular year I took a different approach, creating an inservice that might tranform the hearts of those inherently good caregivers. Combining it with a video presentation of actual residents and music, you could have heard a pin drop and the kleenex box was being passed from row to row, person to person. I did not need to pass out questionnaires to see if this inservice made a difference; the difference was obvious and it was all well worth the extra time and creativity I put into the "show".
Now --

Take a moment to think about those in your life who you have found it easy to care for. Family members, friends, colleagues, clients, hired help, the family dog -- any relationship will do.

We have all known people who seem to rob us of every ounce of energy when it comes to caring for and about them. It takes a great deal of effort to give of ourselves with people who have this kind of affect on us. Sometimes these people are within our own families. Sometimes they are in our daily lives and we are forced to remain calm and pleasant even though it takes every ounce of self-discipline and creates a sense of sacrifice.

We also, if we are lucky, have known people who have brought out our best qualities. For these people we would drop everything in an effort to find a way to make life easier for them or to bring them happiness. These people naturally draw out our desire to help, to give of ourselves and to enjoy the process.

What makes one kind of person different from another? What qualities does the person possess who triggers our creative, attentive, giving nature? What IS it that energizes us when we thought we couldn’t face another hour in a bleak or stressful day? What is it about this person that brings us to life and makes us want to give more?

The answer follows.


There are four billion people in the world... and counting. If we all joined hands, we would stretch more than 150 times around the equator. We would go to the moon and back, sixteen times.

In those four billion people, we are each as different as nature’s snowflakes. We have different beliefs, come from different cultures, speak different languages and have different educational and class backgrounds. We differ genetically, physically, intellectually and spiritually. We range in age from one day to one hundred twenty years.

The most important things in life are the things that we have in common. Those things have to do with how we treat ourselves and how we treat others. It is about respecting one another no matter how different we may seem to be from each other.

For all of us there has been one person who has tested the limits of our patience and our tolerance while we did the best we could at caring for them and loving them. We remember it well. We also remember that person who graciously accepted our help and who also met OUR needs from time to time as we attempted to meet theirs. One who was interested in our well-being and gave us the gift of unconditional friendship; a sanctuary from the others who continually drained us of our energy.

Think back for a moment to those faces and personalities who touched you in this way. What comes to mind as you are asked to describe them? What unique qualities does that person possess? Think about that and tuck those thoughts away until just a little bit later..................

All people - simply by the virtue of being human beings - have inherent rights. We don’t need to buy these rights or bargain for them. These rights are part of the package of simply being a human being.

Every person has the right to love and be loved. To be accepted and cared for. The right to care is to be able to share, to be close and to know that one is unconditionally accepted by another.

All people need privacy....a private space where they can see their chose friends, pursue cherished interests and converse about what is important to them. It is in this space that people develop their personal talents, insights and strengths. Everyone needs private space in their life to be able to focus on themselves and to develop themselves. Without space, people tend to forget what is intimately important to them. Without space their being becomes clouded because they only see the parts of themselves the people they are living with bring out.

A right to privacy reflects a basic human need. A life without privacy is unthinkable. Some people need more privacy than others, but everyone needs time alone to sort out one’s feelings and beliefs. Everyone needs time to be accountable for oneself, to reflect on the past, feelings about the present and to determine the their personal path of the future.

People have a right to be trusted until they give others a reason to believe they are not worthy of that trust.

People have a right to be respected so long as they respect those around them.

People have a right to “speak their mind” and to be listened to.

People have a right to be accepted as they accept others.

People have a right to be tolerated even when they act foolish, immature, or self-centered. Those who need our love the most are often those who seem deserve it the least. People who act in these ways are often in pain, feel uncertain or are afraid.

People have a right to make mistakes and to change their mind. Those who have learned the most in life have made the most mistakes.

People have a right to seek happiness as they define it.

People have a right to be different from one another. How interesting would the world be if we were all alike?

Every person has a right to be himself - the person he is - the sum total of his feelings, thoughts, tastes, affections, dislikes and perceptions.

A person has a right to find himself - to discover where his strengths are, to apply himself and to seek the best opportunities for developing those strengths. Many people live their lives never knowing what they were capable of.

People have a right to look out for themselves, to keep other people from taking what is theirs, to stand up for their rights and to protect themselves in an argument.

A person has a right to believe in himself and to devote his life to making himself the best possible person he can be in the ways that fulfill him and make him happiest.

Any relationship which does not respect the rights of it’s individuals equally cannot be based on understanding. A relationship should be a place each member regards the others rights and feelings as his own.

If a person is unable to stand up for his own rights, it is best to give him the rights you would want for yourself if you were in his situation. No more and no less.

When we are forced to yield our rights against our will, we often secretly hold the other person liable for our losses and the pain that comes from giving away a part of ourselves that we need in order to feel like a complete human being.

People have a right to express their feelings. Many people, however, have learned that it is not okay to be angry - or helpless-- or weak. Everyone gets angry now and then and it is not good to hold it inside. Holding it in only allows anger to grow/fester until it surfaces, blown out of proportion and is expressed in all the wrong ways/places.

Holding anger inside uses up precious energy, leaving less energy for expressing positive feelings. Not to mention that holding anger inside can create things like cancers and ulcers and other chronic problems.

A long held, secret resentment over trampled rights becomes a silent, negative force that seeks expression. It can flow through a relationship, attach itself to trivial arguments, make little angers big ones, taint what is good, and angrily leak out everywhere. This causes conflicts.

Conflicts are everywhere. Conflicts in and of themselves are not so important. Most are trivial, little, seemingly unimportant things. It is how conflicts are used that is important.

People generally get angry when their feelings are hurt or when their personal rights are violated. When people allow their anger to grow without expressing it, they often begin to feel guilty over their anger and too much guilt leads to feelings of worthlessness and depression.

If you have listened to a person make the same point over and over again, but still don’t understand why he is so upset, ask him if maybe he might not be angry at something else... perhaps a longstanding hurt that he has not been able to talk about that still eats away inside of him.

Try to discover what is happening between you and the other person that suddenly makes this conflict so important. Somewhere there is an emotion that is using the conflict as a means of expressing itself.

If you do have a conflict, pick a time and a place where you can say what you need without embarrassing the other person.

If, during an argument, you feel overwhelmed or overpowered by the other person, just say so. Then ask for the courtesy of stating your feelings without being interrupted.

A person’s name is the most important word in communication. It is always good to use the other person’s first name frequently during conversation. Calling a person by name makes the moment more real and makes it a little harder to project your distortions and dissatisfactions with yourself on the other.

Using first names makes everyone act kindlier toward each other.

Keep in mind that you make an argument seem weaker by appearing impulsive and in poor control of yourself. As a result, the other person will feel freer to reject your opinion and will attach less value to what you are saying.

Threats and ultimatums assume that you have the right to control another person’s feelings. They also tend to portray you as a frightened and vindictive person and only makes the other’s case seem stronger. Sometimes I may be best to remove yourself from the situation for awhile.

If you have an argument that has been resolved superficially or one party has appeased the other, or frustrated the other into “giving in” will continually come back to haunt you until it is resolved.

Deal with angry feelings as soon as possible. the anger is relatively small/fresher then and more easily managed. Moreover, the hurt is still new and makes the anger seem more reasonable to both of you.

It takes a lot for two people to be honest with each other. It takes a feeling of acceptance from the other and the knowledge that one will not be rejected for admitting one’s errors. When this is missing, a person has no alternative. He will fight to the last, supporting ideas he may not even believe in, refusing to yield because the issue has now become a matter of honor.

Think of one of the worse days you’ve had. A day when you may have been an emotional volcano or wanted to cry at the drop of a hat. These days distort our views and affect our interactions with others. These days prevent us from using our strongest empathetic and sympathetic skills.

The strength of a relationship comes from the constancy of affection and the dependability of emotional support and understanding one for the other. The most important human experience is to be validated. To have someone see the most secret part of you -- the part you feel will be rejected if seen -- and to have that part be shared/accepted and understood.

We do not need another person to tell us what we feel or who we are, but we sometimes need another person who listens to and accepts our feelings without making judgments about us.

We need another who gives us unconditional love, described by John Powell as meaning:

“I am your friend. I will always be your friend. Not as long as or until anything. I’ll always be there for you....only then can we give up security operations, masks, roles and games... If a person could continuously offer unconditional love, the other would, in time, respond.”

To define ourselves as individuals we need to be able to open ourselves to another person. To entrust him with the story of our past, our feelings about the present and our wishes for the future. The one we trust must unconditionally reflect back to us that we are good, worthwhile and important. Without this, we only feel more isolated and alone.

Of all feelings, loneliness can be the toughest. To be lonely is to lack something else that gives your life meaning/ that makes you feel complete. Sometimes it is another person. Sometimes it is a higher view of yourself that gives you a feeling of being enough. Sharing our secret loneliness is enough to make us feel less alone.

To be happy simply means to be able to become the person you want to be. Only people who do not have this want more than this. They are unhappy with themselves and often try to solve their problem of emptiness by demanding more from those outside of themselves.

What makes a person feel devalued?

Not being listened to, not being cared for, not being touched, not being understood or respected. People feel devalued when they must always be the one to give in/compromise, when their opinion is not sought or when it is not considered to be as important as another.

People feel devalued when they are yelled at, physically injured or ridiculed -- publicly or privately.

People feel devalued when they are misunderstood, underestimated, or when it is assumed they have no future, no potential for growth or success.

People feel devalued when they feel unloved.

We need to get to know each other as people. Not as “the old complainer” or the “confused one” or the “aide with the attitude”. Not as “my wacky mother” or “the pain-in-the-neck boss”.

Think of the people whom you easily enjoy being with. It seems easier to treat them as people. Take time with the others to learn about where they have been and what they have done. Learn what is meaningful to them and you will learn what motivates them. Step into their shoes to try to grasp this understanding. You will find you enjoy them more and increase their self-esteem at the same time.

One of the best of all things is to belong to a family.

The way our families saw the world influences the way we come to see it. At best we are taught to see life as a challenge, full of wonders - a place where we can make our mark if we choose to and where we can find ourselves without having to be anything BUT ourselves to be loved.

You can never leave your first home behind.

Lots of times, those who react negatively or manipulatively are not reacting to the present. They are not reacting to you, although they may seem to be. They are reacting to past events which have taught them that they must manipulate others to have their needs met. They learned that they could not directly ask for what they wanted or what they needed without facing rejection.

Take a moment with these people to be sympathetic to the fact that during their life they may not have been offered love or affection without having to give something in return, or found they had to play a game in order to be touched or praised. They may not have been able to do anything out of the ordinary without having to explain themselves.

Manipulative people are often the ones with the lowest self-esteem...unable to share their true feelings and unable to directly ask for what they want or what they need.

Everyone we meet is growing or changing, no matter how stagnant people happen to feel or seem at any given moment in time.

The process of growth is lifelong and even death is referred to as the final stage of growth.

As we become adults we strive to find ourselves. Sometimes it takes the passage of many years for people to realize who they are and what they really want in life.

Unfortunately, growth for too many people seems to have been limited by others expectations of them./plans for them. These people, no matter what age - are really still children who are not yet living their own lives.

Most people only begin to know their needs and begin to solve the problems of their lives after they have made some of their biggest and often worst decisions. Generally they postpone dealing with needs: Until the kids go to school, until the kids get out of school, until retirement - the day seldom arrives in time.

Perhaps you are in a position of making a difference in helping someone through the frail phase of self-discovery towards happiness and self-esteem. Research shows that senility seems to be the result of useless and timelessness rather than of actual physical and mental decay.

Never underestimate the effect one person can have on another.

All it takes is offering unconditional love and encouraging people (as State health regulations state) to reach their “highest practicable level” of being.

Not only can we give and receive care, but we can in such a way that the other’s self-esteem is increased. This in itself makes everything easier and makes every interaction a potential gift.

It is yours to give. Give freely. That's what life is all about.

Old Age Is Like A Bank Account

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably coifed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual
description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

"I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied.

"Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged .. it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. "It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in.
So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing."

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2 . Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply. Trust God.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

How To Choose A Nursing Home

by Kate McGahan CSW

There have been a number of incidents publicized lately regarding specific issues of deficiency and neglect in local nursing homes. How do you find a "good" nursing home? Here are some tips to get you started:

1) The New York State Department of Health offers a good list of questions. However, since New York is a highly-regulated state, many of these questions will have the same answers from nursing home to nursing home. Fortunately the baseline for acceptable care is much higher than in other parts of the country.

2) Don't simply take someone's word for it. You wouldn't purchase a home without seeing it first. Don't go to a nursing home without touring it first and asking questions. Supplement your questions with good observations. Pay attention to how clean the facility is; how well-groomed the residents are. Listen and observe how the staff treats the residents. What is your gut feeling? Would you entrust these people to care for your friend or relative? Is the atmosphere the right chemistry to offer a sense of personal security and comfort?

3) Talk to a number of actual residents and their families. This is their home and they should be able to give you an honest assessment and most would appreciate the opportunity to do so.

4) Review the recent Department of Health survey results which will indicate any deficiencies and plans of correction. The results must be made available to any visitor of any facility and will provide you a good indicator of the facility's weak areas.

5) Learn which nursing homes have specialized programs. The "best" facility may not be the best for you if you have Alzheimer's Disease and they don't provide such specialized care. Some nursing homes are strong in Rehabilitation, for example, or Dementia or Respiratory Care and some are strong in providing good old-fashioned long term care to those who don't require specialized services.

6) Finding the right nursing home can be a very emotional process. Try to have faith that going to a nursing home doesn't necessarily need to be the "end of the road". There have been countless people who, as nursing home residents, have learned skills, made friends and developed talents they never knew they had. It can be a growth experience for all if treated as an opportunity rather than as an obstacle.

7) Keep in mind that no matter what the track record is for a particular nursing home, there is someone who would never go back and there is someone who would never go anywhere else.

8) Try to plan ahead. Most people don't begin to explore nursing homes until they are in crisis, when it is impossible to make a clear decision. If you are in crisis, meet with a geriatric care manager or other professional who has firsthand experience and knowledge of each and every nursing home.

9) You may not be ready to put nursing homes on your list of things to familiarize yourself with, but make the most of an opportunity to do so. If you have a relative or friend in a nursing home, go visit them. It will be good for them and in the long run will be good for you, for any number of reasons!

Good times at the Home

Is It Another 'Senior Moment' Or Is It Alzheimers?

Using Our Brains

By Kate McGahan LMSW

How often we are reminded that schools teach reading, writing and arithmetic, but not the lessons of the pure applications of life. They don’t teach us how to love, only that we love. They don’t teach us how to remember, just that we remember.

As we age, everything we have ever been creates an evolving identity of who we are, complete with our memories of the past, our place in the present and our hopes for the future. When we lose our connection to our past due to significant memory loss, we lose sight of everything we are. Our memory is essential to our growth as a person, as a family member and as a productive member of society.

“Uh oh,” we think “am I losing my mind? Is it Alzheimer’s?” when we forget a name or maybe a face. We prematurely experience what is called a “senior moment” or we become the butt of an old age joke. We remove the cold morning coffee from the microwave, forgotten in our mad rush to locate our keys. Where do we draw the line between mere forgetfulness and the problems that are the result of Alzheimer’s and other such disorders?

Every passing second of our lives we are receiving and transmitting information. The satisfied look of our golf partner, the disapproval of our boss, the ray of sunshine streaming through the window or a bird on the wing...the blare of the muffler that needs replacing, the roar of the alarm clock or the sweet sound of a symphony...the smell of your father’s aftershave or the feel of silk pajamas against your skin. Every sight, sound, smell, touch and taste is recorded in our phenomenal record-keeping center called the brain.

Every single experience has the potential of causing a physical neurological change in our brain. To this we owe the great success of music, art and aromatherapy to name a few. Every single message received by our senses goes through an intricate system of procedures. When we learn something or experience something, that “something” enters into a process that will file it according to what we will need it for. In other words, every experience will enter the brain, which will then decide if it should go to the short term memory, the long term memory, some storage area in between (a “recycle bin” of sorts, to be retrieved if necessary) or if it will be expelled as nonessential information.

It is our natural state to sort and file. A healthy brain does this flawlessly. Problems related to memory loss are not a natural state that comes with aging. It is said that we have 90 or so billion neurons and that with age they decrease in number. Neurons are naturally depleted with age by possibly a billion or so... hardly enough to affect our lifestyle.

What gets in the way? No matter what our age, we are affected by stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, malnutrition, overwork, hormonal changes and more. Exposure to influences such as drugs, alcohol, electromagnetic fields, medical illness and traumatic events can dramatically affect our memory storage and retrieval system.

Other than avoiding exposure to such things, what do we do to keep our memories on track?

1) The old standbys of eating right, getting enough sleep and exercise and trying to decrease stress is a good start.

2) Take some time to discover the growing industry of memory “wellness”. Hundreds of books, websites, school programs and courses are designed to help people to learn ways to adapt, compensate for and prevent forgetfulness. An array of alternative medicine remedies such as ginko biloba, vitamin E, lecithin and vitamin B12 are being professed as playing a part in winning the memory loss game.

3) Everything you experience, to a greater or lesser degree, creates a physical change in the brain. If you have had a negative experience in the past, don’t hang onto it -- because it will continue to affect you in negative ways.

4) Be sure you are doing the work you love and that you surround yourself with people who are supportive and nurturing rather than those who are critical or judgmental. You will absorb whatever others have to offer you – positive or negative.

5) Surround yourself with an aesthetically pleasing environment. Colors, sounds, textures, light can all have an impact on your sense of well being.

6) “Use it!” Don’t just play the memory games and take memory classes. It’s the things that you learn that you incorporate into your “being” that have the most profound affect on your memory. It’s looking at life in a whole new way, or looking at yourself with a new attitude. It’s having that internal light bulb go on that say’s ‘Wow, I never thought of it that way before.’ It’s the things that encourage you to take off the old shoe in exchange for new ways of doing and perceiving. It’s living in the moment. The positive experiences that stretch your creativity, your passions and your feelings will create an atmosphere in your brain conducive to optimal memory and cognitive health.

In a June 13, 2000 TIME magazine article, George Johnson writes in regard to memory loss: “(Research has shown that) canaries create a new batch of neurons every time they learn a song, then slough them off when it’s time to change tunes.” Don’t be afraid to change your tune once in awhile; it may be just what you need.

7) Don’t worry about your forgetfulness unless it begins to impact your patterns of routine, your behavior or your overall functioning. Not being able to find your keys is one thing. Not being able to find your car, well, that may not be quite so bad either. Not being able to find your way home is another story.

8) If you feel that memory loss is impacting your life or the life of someone you care about, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice. Many people procrastinate because they “don’t want to know” that they have a cognitive disorder. The fact is there are 100 or more reversible conditions that could cause memory loss. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can realistically get back on track.

In the meantime, you can join the rest of us who question ourselves from time to time. Just don’t let it prevent you from allowing your brain to grow from the experience of living life fully.

...And if you can say “Wow, I never knew that” somewhere during the course of this article, my goal today has been accomplished.

Boomers Need To Plan

By Kate McGahan MSW

They are called The Baby Boomers; The Sandwich Generation. They are the largest segment of our population and they were born between the years of 1946 and 1964. They have become the driving force of the marketplace and an issue of increasing magnitude for our society as a whole.

Greater longevity, lower mortality and diverse lifestyles are causing giant shifts in the demographics of our society. Some of us will spend as many years in retirement as we spent in our career. Some of us may spend as many years caring for our aging parents as we spent raising our children. Many of us will have the overwhelming task of caring for our children and our parents simultaneously.

Government has created new laws and has redefined the healthcare system in countless ways in an attempt to keep Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the taxpayers intact. Corporations now offer benefits such as Family Medical Leave and employee assistance programs which specifically address eldercare issues. Individually tailored work programs and pension plans offer increased flexibility to workers. More and more companies offer Long Term Care insurance as an employee benefit.

The year 2011 is the year the first born Baby Boomer will reach retirement age. Our government anticipates its approach, our employers are addressing the potential effects it will have on workers, and our communities are building the momentum to equip society with the programs that will help meet the needs of an aging population. Aging is inevitable. It is not something we like to think about, but loss or disability is certain to be an issue for each and every one of us. What have you done on a personal level to prepare for your aging and that of your family?

Creating and implementing a personal long term care plan is essential. It is not unlike creating and implementing a business plan. It has to do with identifying areas of need and weakness, creating a strategic action plan to meet those needs and deciding how to finance the whole operation. It is about hoping for the best and planning for the worst. People who see themselves as having an element of control always feel more secure and therefore are more resilient when changes take place. The primary purpose of the long term care plan is to ensure that an element of control always exists, no matter what happens. It is a planning tool as well as a communication tool.

Maslow's Hierarchy

There are six basic elderplanning areas that should be addressed in your long term care plan.
Medical: Preserving your health and wellness comes first and foremost. Be sure to have a trusted physician and a solid health insurance plan that meets your specific needs and preferences. Be accountable for learning and understanding the issues at hand so that you can take an active role in your own medical care.

Psychiatric: Have a plan for coping with the possibility of mental health issues such as clinical depression or substance abuse and addictions. Address competency and treatment issues and develop an awareness of support and treatment programs available to you. Take care of your ongoing emotional health as a preventive measure.

Physical: Be aware of options related to home safety, accessibility and residential and retirement living. Home safety is crucial to preserving ongoing independence. Accessibility experts can help to modify existing homes to accommodate disabilities. Creative residential options such as continuing care communities and special needs programs are regularly being developed to meet the needs of those who cannot or who choose not to stay home.

Legal & Financial: Legal and financial independence results from your ability to create a realistic plan related to your retirement goals and your preferences regarding medical treatment and long term care. This involves choreographing investments, your insurance portfolio, taxes, trusts, and your estate to work together to meet your projected retirement needs.

Social: This encompasses your hobbies, diversional pursuits and areas of passion and productivity. It is about connecting with others: family, friends, neighbors and community. It is about preserving individuality, complete with cultural and ethnic traditions. It is about learning and growing, no matter what age you happen to be.

Spiritual: This addresses the ongoing development of your understanding of what is important in life. This is the area where faith, hope and charity reside. It is where knowledge and forgiveness take place in the depths of your heart.

Involve a team of professionals to help you implement your long term care plan. This team should consist of a physician, an attorney, a financial planner and a geriatric care manager who can help you to pull the entire plan together. Your advisers will become an important part of the foundation that will help you to feel more secure and confident in facing the days and years ahead.


Managed Care Forces Growth

By Kate McGahan CSW

The absence of a national health policy seems to have created a black hole that has been filled with profit driven managed-care programs. While states such as California have been adapting to the managed-care concept for a number of years, New York is just beginning to feel the effects. Syracuse is a good example of community agencies working together to rise to the changes in demographics and in the industry.

The cost of running Medicare and Medicaid programs has been growing at nine percent per year. Experts say that, by the year 2030, Social Security, Medicare and Federal pensioner programs will exceed the federal government's revenues. The seemingly insurmountable task of trimming the budget seems to have come down to trimming the payments to the care providers. Massive state and federal cutbacks have severely affected hospital and health programs and the way they do business.

What does this mean to us? The managed care shift has had the tendency to refocus the healthcare industry toward business development and marketing efforts rather than customer service and patient care. The game has become "SURVIVAL". In the hierarchy of needs, physicians, hospitals, home care agencies, and other programs which rely on insurance to keep them alive have had to find a way to put food on their proverbial tables. This is a challenging task and makes it difficult to meet the more advanced qualitative needs of perfecting patient care.

Aggressive insurance procedures now affect providers on a multitude of levels. Insurance companies reward hospitals for treating patients with higher clinical needs. Medicare pays a certain rate for the treatment of a specific illness and the insurance companies follow suit. The more severe the illness, the higher the reimbursement. They also can refuse to pay for days a patient spends in the hospital on which a significant intervention did not take place. Subsequently, providers now find they need to perform surgery and diagnostic testing on weekends and after hours to promote reimbursement. This means paying additional staff for hard-to-fill time slots. It also includes paying additional staff to process the multitude of paperwork required for patient billing and reimbursement.

The "system" encourages the prompt discharge of less acute patients and begins a ripple effect that forces all parts of the healthcare delivery system to push a patient quickly toward the least restrictive, most cost-effective setting. This ripple effect causes nursing homes, rehab centers, home care agencies and others to need to be available off-hours and on weekends to do intake assessments, admissions, and crisis intervention. This new system presents an arena of discharge planning and case management considerations.

Because nursing home and rehab facilities are reimbursed for patients with higher needs, they also are eager to discharge residents who are more able to manage in a less-restrictive setting. People who one would have been permanent residents in nursing homes are now being encouraged to return home with services or to go to assisted living programs and special care facilities. The system has been forced to be creatively revised in the face of these new regulations. New residential and home care programs have arisen to compensate for the greater number of nursing home and hospital discharges. Some skilled facilities have developed subacute and short term rehabilitative services to capitalize on higher reimbursement levels. More and more independent living programs are offering a concierge of services.

Alzheimer's Disease is tragically one of the lowest reimbursable illnesses. It is one of the most common, of the longest duration, the most time consuming, and exhibits some of the most frequent repeated use of services in the system. The system does not financially reward providers for caring for people with such disorders.

How we cling to the status quo! Peter G. Peterson, in his book Gray Dawn, gives us a reality check: By 2015, most developed countries will have more elders as a share of their population than the state of Florida today. Caring successfully for older adults in the face of managed care will take a community-wide effort. The population is aging and managed care is here to stay.

Healthcare providers need to develop a positive attitude despite the lack of perfection in the system. This means making a shift from a sickness mentality to a wellness mentality; to prevention vs. cure. It's about having vision and defining a contributing role within a system that thrives on networking. It's about being proactive rather than being swept along with the tide of managed care; to begin to create and enhance programs, products and services and to become leaders in a system specialty.

Many US hospitals are forming partnerships with residential and rehab programs, home-care agencies, and primary care providers. Residential facilities are developing day programs and menus of services to expand their markets. Doctors are joining forces to meet the comprehensive needs of their patients.

There are many ways to partner - formally and informally- to meet the needs within the senior healthcare system. Formal alliances allow partners to share operating costs and collectively to meet the needs of the community. Clinical, financial, social, private, and public programs need to be available, accessible, and mutually beneficial to the older population. We need to learn how best to utilize one another to support the needs of those who need us.

Learn to see this as a challenge rather than as a problem. Exciting innovations are already occurring within the Central New York system. Follow the leaders of the community in developing unique programs to offset the negative consequences of managed care.

Loretto and St. Joseph's Hospital have partnered to meet specific needs which make programs like PACE/Independent Living Services- a program designed to prevent/reduce institutionalization and subsequent costs possible. Crouse Hospital and Community General Hospital together created The Alliance, which proposes to merge with VNA Systems to streamline the continuum of care for their patients. SUNY Health Science Center recently announced participation in WebMD - a full-service Web site for doctors and their patients --made possible by the combined efforts and funding or organizations such as DuPont, Microsoft, and CNN.

Competition is a driving force of the new system. Once we re-establish our equilibrium, we can allow competition to do what it does best: improve quality, reduce costs, and encourage providers to be creative in the marketing and delivery of their services. We must also work collectively to keep the continuum of care smooth and as user-friendly as possible.

The possibilities are endless. Growth doesn't just "happen" without people making a conscious change. If we don't promote change on our own, life will inevitably do it for us. It has pushed us to grow in challenging, sometimes frustrating and very exciting ways.

Be ProActive Not Reactive

Be Proactive, Not Reactive in Caring for Aging Parents
By Kate McGahan LMSW

We don’t like to think about aging and the potential issues of death, disability, dependence and cognitive loss. Because we don’t like to think about these things, we tend not to plan ahead for the inevitable.

Yes, the “system” has it’s own frailties. The “system”, however, is making dramatic strides to try to improve service delivery while at the same time, to reduce the tremendous costs of running federal and state programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The Managed Care system is changing health care delivery by attempting to reduce and eliminate unnecessary costs and treatments of medical health care. While far from perfect, this has in part caused a dramatic shift in the care and lengths of stay in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and nursing homes. Hospital stays have shortened, rehabilitation while nursing home facilities are now meeting more acute care needs of their residents. The newer residential concept of “Assisted Living” is now meeting the needs of many people who normally would have required nursing home care. Home care programs have been recharged to meet increasing needs of those who wish to remain at home.

Granted, there are many weaknesses in the system. Therefore, we need to be accountable for planning for our own future and the future of our aging families. Never underestimate the power of the “private pay dollar” when it comes to buying what you need and want in the health care system. That “dollar” buys your choice of caregivers, physicians, residential options and other preferred services.

How do you maximize the private pay dollar? By starting as early as you can to plan for your retirement. By saving and investing your money wisely. By maximizing your retirement income and pension plan. Have a solid health insurance plan that best supplements Medicare and a Long Term Care(LTC) Insurance plan that will fill the remaining “gap” of financing your long term care needs in the future.

Find out about medically-deductible expenses which can include the costs of nursing home care, home care, medications, home improvements due to a disability, insurance payments, copayments and a portion of your LTC insurance premium. You may qualify for a dependent-care credit if you are caring for a dependent parent at home and if you contribute to your parent’s medical expenses, those expenses may be deductible if you itemize.

Investigate the possibility of creative options such as a Reverse Mortgage or a HUD conversion loan which allow you to use the equity in your home to fund the costs of your long term care. Open a Medical Savings Account (implemented in 1996 on a demonstration basis) which allows you to invest your money and then reap your earnings tax free if applied to your personal health expenses. Look at your life insurance portfolio; you may want to borrow from your insurance to pay for your current needs.

Respectfully encourage your parents to plan for the future, if they haven’t already done so. Think about and implement Advance Directives such as a Living Will or Health Care Proxy. Establish a Power of Attorney and a legal and financial plan to attend to future needs.

Involve a team of objective, competent professionals to help you design a plan that is best-suited to your situation and personal goals. The ideal team will consist of an attorney, a financial adviser, an accountant, an insurance specialist and a geriatric care manager. The involvement of this team will help you in making sound decisions in the areas of financial, tax, estate planning and personal long term care planning.

Many Baby Boomers will find that they will spend more years caring for their aging parents than they did raising their children. Some will find themselves in the overwhelming situation of caring for both at the same time! Only 5-7% of our elderly population resides in nursing homes. The others are being cared for by families, home care agencies and informal caregivers. Many more are living active, independent lifestyles.

Gather your team of advisers, save and invest your money wisely and learn what choices are available to you. Communicate with your family and create a healthy lifestyle for yourself. When you have the support of those who love you and the advantage of good physical, emotional and financial health, you will find yourself surrounded with unlimited choices as you face the days ahead.

Counting Our Blessings

Many of us get preoccupied with the things we have lost over the years. How important it is to also remember the things we still possess. This is the text from an email attachment I received that reminds us how fortunate we are:

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone’s hand, hug or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer healing touch.

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing and you are more blessed than over 2 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Be sure to count your blessings as Spring arrives!

As we count our blessings, we thank the friends of Elderplanning who offer their ongoing support, confidence and assistance in helping those who need us to find us! The strength of our service is in the strength of the vast network of professionals and agencies in our health care community. We appreciate your referrals and your help in meeting the ever-changing long term needs of our local seniors and their families.

What You Can Do For A Loved One In A Hospital or Nursing Home

Here are a few ideas for brightening a day for someone who is confined or infirmed:
(From Nancy Keene/Rachel Prentice)
1) Send balloon bouquets*, funny cards, posters or humorous books. A cheerful hospital room really boosts spirits.
2) Send funny videotapes or come with a good joke. Laughter is a balm for the mind and the spirit and the body.
3) Bring puzzles, games, books, CDs, tapes or crafts.
4) Bring a basket of snacks or juices or favorite treats.
5) Offer to give visiting family a break from the room -- a walk outside, shopping trip, haircut or just some time for respite can be very refreshing.
6) Donate frequent flyer miles to out of town family member who have the time, but not the money, to help.

Sometimes in our work with seniors, the very fact that the family members are struggling and having a hard time with transitions and situations makes it even harder for the senior going through it. If you relax a little, so will the one going through it. Breathe! Try to put a smile on your face; it will help them and it will help you. ~Kate
*Also, did you know? If someone you love has a breathing problem or is on oxygen, it is the loving thing to do NOT to bring bouquets of fresh flowers. The decaying stems in the water emit toxins into the surrounding air that can be hazardous to someone who is medically compromised. Take a living plant or a balloon bouquet and leave the flowers in the garden!

Long Term Care Insurance: Tax Advantages


For Individuals...

~ Qualified LTC insurance premiums can be treated and itemized as medical deductions provided they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income.

~ Qualified LTC plan benefits received are not taxable income.
For Employers...

~ Employer - paid LTC premiums are treated like regular health insurance and are tax deductible for S- and C-Corporations.

~ Employers receive a tax deduction for any portion of LTC premiums paid for employees.

~ Employer contributions and paid benefits are excluded from employees’ income.

~ There are group rates available; medical requirements may be waived for employee-group plans.

Long Term Care Insurance: You Get What You Pay For By Kate McGahan LMSW

Don and his father sat in the office drawing up a plan of care that would address Don’s mother’s increasing needs. It was an emotional meeting because Dad had always taken care of Mom in their fifty-two years together. It was very hard to consider entrusting her care to someone else.

In a world where spouses can literally die taking care of each other, one short term planning goal was to find reliable professional caregivers to keep her at home as long as possible. They also needed to outline a long term care plan for when Mom could no longer remain safely at home. Mom had Alzheimer’s Disease, a progressively debilitating, cognitive disease which eventually robs its victims of memory and renders them unable to care for their most basic needs.

Together we outlined a menagerie of short term services that included home modifications, private duty and licensed caregivers, day care services and respite care. She remained at home safely for several years at which point she moved to a special care residence for the memory impaired and eventually on to a preferred nursing home. While these changes and transitions were painful for her family, the costs of her care could have been equally painful.

Fortunately, Don was a financial planner who had the foresight to sell his parents Long Term Care (LTC) Insurance prior to his mother’s diagnosis. That policy eventually would pay for every service rendered, including the cost of home modifications and the actual care planning process. She continues to live at a nominal fee, in the nursing home, thanks to her son’s proactivity. This family was lucky. They worked with someone who had their best interests at heart. The professional son knew his product and he knew how to choreograph it to be of the greatest benefit to them.

Not everyone is so fortunate. Take the elderly couple who took out a LTC policy in their 80’s – to the tune of nearly $9000 per year. They had done some planning already by setting up a trust ten years before to protect their assets. They had $30,000 per year in income and $6000 in personal savings. With nursing home rates in Central New York at $200+ per day, where would they come up with the additional $120 to co-pay the daily cost of the nursing home when the need arose? Answer. They wouldn’t. They would, however, pay that $9000 combined premium every year until one of them needed care, at which point they will apply for and be eligible for Medicaid. They were throwing their money away on premiums.

Then there’s the woman who had complete care of her husband with Parkinson’s Disease. She and her husband had purchased a LTC policy ten years before and it was now time to file the claim. As the situation progressed, the issue of Medicaid was addressed. They had purchased two “Partnership” Policies, LTC insurance plans specially designed to “partner” with the State of New York to provide Medicaid benefits once the claim period is exhausted (The strength of such a policy lies in the guarantee of the protection of assets, regardless of the amount of the client’s net worth at the time of the Medicaid application). When asked about Medicaid planning, she indignantly replied “WE’RE not EVER going on Medicaid”. This woman had no idea why she had purchased such a policy which would not benefit her in the ways in which it was designed.

Countless people have also purchased policies that “aren’t worth the paper they’re written on”. Many people are scared off by high annual premiums and they compromise on features to lower those premiums. Some insurance salespeople “undersell” to make the product affordable. Recently a middle aged couple were considering a policy that would pay them $80 per day for two years with a very high deductible and a simple inflation factor figured into it. They were willing to pay out $200 per month for the policy without considering the following factors:

-The average stay in a nursing home is 2.5 years

-The current costs per day are pushing $300. 24 hour home care can cost even more.

-When they retire and are on a fixed income, will they be able to come up with the $120 per day co-payment when it comes time to file a claim?

-When they are retired or on a fixed income, will they be able to continue to keep up with the cost of the premiums?

Many people have paid into insurance plans for years and eventually cancelled them because they could no longer afford them. Don’t take a plan out to begin with, if you suspect it may one day be out of reach.

Everything is a gamble, especially in the insurance industry, which is ruled by statistics. The son of an elderly woman inquired as to the cost of LTC insurance for his mother. She was nearly 80 years old and the costs were staggering. A policy that would meet her needs was nearly $8000 per year. He and his mother chose to invest in it. That was last April. Earlier this year she suffered a few setbacks and in March moved into a residential care facility at a cost of $40,000 per year. One more year of premiums (her "deductible") and her insurance company will take care of her for the next five years. The gamble worked in this woman’s favor.

LTC insurance isn’t for everyone. Be sure when you meet with an agent that they are reputable and have a sound understanding of long term care. Many of the people who sell ineffective policies are not dishonorable people. They have often been trained in products and annuities and investments, but they may not know anything about long term care. Be sure they have a solid understanding about care and service features. Ask them if they know about Medicaid and rules of eligibility. Know what you are paying for and remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

You may find yourself with a representative from one company offering you quotes including various plan features. Just like anything else, different companies offer similar products at different prices. Comparison shop for quotes from a variety of companies. The savings could mean thousands of dollars in the long run. Be sure to also work with a solid company that will still be around when it’s time to file your claim.

LTC insurance is the only way to fund the costs of long term custodial care. The right LTC insurance plan can protect you from the catastrophic costs of nursing home and other types of care. Have an expert review your current policy to be sure it is designed to meet your needs. Make an informed decision before buying a policy; it may be one of the most important investments you ever make.

How To Create A Business Mentality in a Service Business By Kate McGahan

For the Professionals In the Midst!
Reprinted From GCM Magazine

[For those of us in business there was a point where we made the decision to stop working for someone else. Some of us moved up the ladder to become CEO's and Administrators; some of us went off on our own to become independent consultants and business owners. Whatever route we have taken, we find ourselves immersed in the lives of people who need our services and/or products.]

After 15 years in the long term health care system, I founded a private geriatric care management firm. Leaving the comfort and security of 9 to 5, I was off to explore horizons whose vastness I couldn't comprehend at the time.

Now, two years after filing my DBA, I am more aware, more assertive and more involved in the community than I ever thought possible. Designing and implementing my care management practice has been my greatest and most rewarding learning experience yet.

All of us are somewhere along this continuum of learning. If we are just beginning, we have the excitement and fear of wondering "What's ahead?". If we're established, we can look back and see that this career that we have embraced has helped us to grow in ways we never imagined.

Most of us possess a human service mentality. That mentality can get in the way of running a successful business. Developing a business mentality is just as important in the service professions as it is in any other endeavor. Set limits. Establish priorities. Say "no" once in awhile. You can't be everything to everyone. Develop and maintain a business mentality and you will be a more effective service professional. You can do this in the following ways:

1) Immerse yourself in programs, books and magazines that will feed that mentality. Read magazines such as Fortune, Success and Entrepreneur. Subscribe to FORTUNE Magazine and your local business journals. If you incorporate these motivational materials into your life, you will internalize them and they will become a natural part of who you are.

2) Surround yourself with successful, ethical, growth-oriented people. They will provide you with role models and increase your expectations of yourself as you create your future.

3) Find a mentor -- someone who will objectively give you feedback, guidance and constructive criticism. There are no qualifications for this person except to be honest and forthright with the desire to see you succeed. Sometimes a mentor who is in a totally unrelated profession can be most helpful and objective. Look for chemistry and mutual respect in this relationship.

4) Regularly Update Your Business Plan. Set realistic goals for yourself related to your business and how you will accomplish those goals. Focus not just on a mission statement but on how you plan to meet your budget based on your earnings and how you plan to market your services. Measure client satisfaction and offer continually improved customer service based on this feedback.

5) Be organized! Have a good filing system. Don't waste time looking for phone numbers or sorting through piles of paper to locate something specific. Pay someone their hourly rate if you need help getting out from under the paperwork. It's amazing how much more organized your whole life will seem when your office in order.

6) Throw out the answering machine and get yourself an answering service. This improves your professional image and makes it easy for potential clients to feel welcome. If you shop around, you should be able to find a service that is friendly and reliable.

7) Hire a good accountant and seek other professionals when needed. Don't scrimp on financial or legal help. These professionals are all part of a healthy plan for your business to succeed and grow. Remember to plan for your own financial future. Don't lose this priority by your tendency to take care of others first!

8) Make yourself VISIBLE! Good marketing is the #1 reason businesses succeed. Much of this is done by becoming "known"; your person, your company, your logo, your name. Do this by public speaking and networking. Get your name in print by writing articles, press releases, even letters to the editor. Remind everyone as often as you can that you exist!

9) Network like a fanatic! There is no better business builder than being active in the community. Continually expand your referral base and nurture your best referral sources.

10) Have the discipline to balance work, play and family. Take time for physical activity and spiritual fulfillment. Balance is the key to lifelong success. Take care of yourself at least as well as you take care of your clients.

Most of us are in our preferred business for the same reason. We want to make a difference by creating a product or service that helps others. If we become successful by doing so, that's wonderful. If we become financially independent by doing so, that's wonderful too!

Many people will want to try to tell us how to run our business. The day will come when each one of us will realize that our profession isn't about running a business. It's about having a mission. That is the day we will find security in the knowledge that if we keep our heart in the right place, we will be given the tools to succeed. This is called leverage and puts us in the most enviable position of all.

Resident Rights: Part II

Psychologist Sol Gordon brainstormed a list of qualities a person possessed who also possessed self-esteem. They are as follows:

A sense of humor

Doesn’t exploit others

Has energy

Knows how to listen


Sensitivity to others needs

Tolerance to others changing moods

Learns to live with what they can’t change

Has enthusiasm

Exudes self confidence

Is capable of loving unselfishly

Knows when to take risks

Doesn’t insult others

Doesn’t pretend to have all the answers

Is optimistic

Is helpful

Capable of loving unselfishly

Appreciates the success of friends without feeling competitive

Is sympathetic to others

Is pleased to spend time with loved ones but doesn’t feel abandoned when that is not possible.

Again, Think back for a moment to those faces and personalities who touched you in this way. What comes to mind as you are asked to describe them? What unique qualities does that person possess?' Thus it stands to reason. If we provide each other with the tools to build self-esteem rather than to tear it down, we will be surrounded by people who energize us and who bless us simply by being healthy, responsive people.

A few final thoughts, a medley if you will, of quotes gathered from Thoreau, Leo Buscaglia, Arthur Peterson and Eleanor Roosevelt; all who have lived life to the fullest in their unique ways:

“Let the world be better for your having lived it.
Let those you meet day by day feel and know they are better for meeting and knowing and being with you.
Keep loving if you would keep young.
...To be sure, there are numerous stages of unfoldment, of development, but use what you know to do and you will be given the next step..
Those who seek to know themselves may find the way
And though the way be hard,
Those who find it become content and find
Joy, peace and happiness....

The purpose of life, after all, is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost.
To reach out eagerly and without fear
For new and richer experience.

Oh God, to have reached the point of death
Only to find you had never lived at all!

No one will ever get out of this world alive.
Resolve, therefore, to maintain a sense of values.
Resolve to be cheerful and helpful and
People will respond in kind.
Resolve to listen more and talk less
No one ever learned anything by talking.

Resolve to be tender with the young
Compassionate with the aging
Sympathetic towards the striving and
Tolerant of the weak and the wrong
Because some time in your life
You will have been all of these.

Accept and appreciate your unique self.
Value and appreciate your growth and discovery
And you will encourage others to do the same.
Live by taking advantage of all of your life-given rights,
Now and always.

Our contribution should be that of becoming all we can
become as a person and allowing each and every person that privilege. if we do this through love and caring and by being a nonjudgmental person, when we leave this place, as we all will,
it WILL be better because of our having been there.

How To Reduce Your Long Term Care Premiums

While long-term care insurance can be a great way to pay for a nursing home stay or a home health care worker, it doesn't come cheap. Annual premiums vary significantly, depending on your age, health, and the type of policy, but policies can run as high as $5,000 per year. In these challenging economic times, people have to make hard choices on their budget and priorities. Here are some ways to reduce your LTC Insurance costs if you need to take a serious look at your own:

Shorter benefit period. The most significant cost-saving step you can take is to not purchase a lifetime policy. Unless you have a family history of a chronic illness, you aren't likely to need coverage for more than five years. In fact a new study from the American Association of Long-term Care Insurance shows that a three-year benefit policy is sufficient for most people. According to the study of in-force long-term care policies, only 8 percent of people needed coverage for more than three years. By purchasing coverage for three, four, or five years instead of a lifetime, you can save thousands of dollars in premiums. If you do have a history of a chronic disease in your family, you may want to purchase coverage for 10 years, which would still be less than purchasing a lifetime policy.

Buy younger. Long-term care insurance premiums rise as you age, so the younger you buy, the cheaper your premiums. Be careful, however, because insurance premiums can, and often do, increase considerably from your initial purchase price. Even if you have a policy that is "guaranteed renewable," your premiums can still increase.

Shared care policy. If both you and your spouse are purchasing long-term care insurance, a shared care policy might be able to give you more coverage for less money. With a shared care policy, you buy a pool of benefits that you can split between you and your spouse. For example, if you buy a five-year policy, you will have a total of 10 years between you and your spouse. If your spouse uses two years of the policy, you will have eight years. A shared care policy may cost more than separate policies with the same benefit period, but it will allow you to buy a shorter policy, knowing that you have a pool of benefits to work with.

Longer elimination period. Most policies have a waiting period before coverage begins, typically 30-90 days. The longer you make this waiting period, the cheaper your premiums. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to pay for your care out of pocket until the waiting period is over and the insurance begins its coverage.

Reduce the daily benefit. Instead of purchasing the maximum daily benefit you might need in a nursing home, you can consider paying for a portion of the daily benefit yourself. You can then insure for the maximum daily benefit minus the amount you plan to pay. A lower daily benefit will mean lower premiums.

Inflation protection. Inflation protection increases the value of your benefit to keep up with inflation and is almost always recommended. But you can save on premiums by which method of protection you choose: compound-interest increases or simple-interest increases. If you are purchasing a long-term care policy and are younger than age 62 or 63, you will need to purchase compound inflation protection. This can, however, more than double your premium. If you purchase a policy after age 62 or 63, some experts believe that simple inflation increases should be enough, and you will save on premium costs.

You should also remember that your premiums may be tax-deductible. Premiums for "qualified" long-term care policies will be treated as a medical expense and will be deductible to the extent that they, along with other unreimbursed medical expenses (including "Medigap" insurance premiums), exceed 7.5 percent of the insured's adjusted gross income.

Did You Know?

Caregiver Statistics
"There are 22 million family caregivers to the elderly in the US. The majority of them are also employed full-time. 5% of them have taken an unpaid leave of absence; 50% have lost time out of work to fulfill their responsibilities." -National Caregiving Association

Welcome Message From Kate

Greetings and welcome to the first entry in our elderplanning blog! The purpose of this site is to post up-to-date information on eldercare and elderplanning so that you can have the information you need at your fingertips when you need it. This blog will also allow us to process information directly rather than pestering our webhost who takes care of our Elderplanning website. Of course we just set up this account this evening and wish that we could have everything on display for you pronto - but it will take time. But we are going to do our best to cover lots of bases here --- medical, emotional, financial and otherwise, so please come back again! We've been in business over a decade and I've personally been in the industry for 25 years --- it will take some time to document here what's in my head. But I'll try -- and I'll do it on a regular basis too. So please stay tuned..... Of course if you can't wait and have an issue that is pressing NOW, don't hesitate to contact our office. Please visit our website for contact information.