Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Tips on Avoiding Senior Scams

ABC News and USA Today report on the costs of caring for elderly parents.

When it comes to helping to pay for your elderly parents' expenses, should you spend down your assets before tapping into theirs? Hobson: Generally speaking, you should do everything possible to avoid tapping into your own retirement savings in an effort to defray your parents' costs. I cannot stress this enough -- you need to make your own retirement savings a priority. If you are not saving for yourself, it will create a vicious cycle for your family, continually shifting the burden to your children and their children and so on. As I have said before, there are no scholarships for retirement.

So, are there other ways besides tapping into your own savings to help pay for your parents' retirement and health care needs?Hobson: Yes. If your employer or your spouse's employer offers a dependent care or flexible spending account, you should sign up immediately. These accounts allow you to defer up to $5,000 in pretax dollars -- meaning your taxable income is lowered by the amount you contribute -- to put toward the costs of care for a child or other qualifying person. An elderly parent would qualify if they were physically or mentally unable to care for themselves and if they met certain other criteria similar to those for the dependent care credit.

You also say the Internal Revenue Service can actually help with elderly care?Hobson: They do, but it can get a little tricky. But, depending on your income and the income of your parent, the IRS can actually provide some financial relief. If you are caring for an elderly parent and you declare them as your dependent -- much like would any child who is living in your house -- you could receive a credit for $3,300.

Additionally, the IRS allows you to deduct medical expenses you make toward your parents' care as well as the cost for a caregiver. Again, there are a number of restrictions, so the best thing to do is go on the IRS Web site to learn more about the qualifications.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WorkingCaregiver Semi-finalist for Al Marks Inventive Mind Grant From Idea Cafe

WorkingCaregiver.com Semi-finalist for Al Marks Inventive Mind Grant From Idea Cafe

AUSTIN TX/EWORLDWIRE/July 23, 2007 --- WorkingCaregiver.com is a grant semi-finalists of IdeaCafe.com's $1000 Al Marks Inventive Mind Grant. WorkingCaregiver.com is a bright and innovative site delivering products, resources, and professional services to family caregivers juggling work, life, and elder care for aging parents.

Aging in America is driving employers' cost of lost production to over $33 billion, according to a MetLife study, due to absenteeism, work-day interruptions, and leave of absence. Family caregivers across America are arriving to work late, leaving early, or not showing up at all due to the stress and challenges of elder care demands. WorkingCaregiver.com's strategy is to help with the three hardest problems for family caregivers:

1. Finding time for self
2. Balancing work & family responsibilities
3. Balancing physical and emotional stress

The field of semi-finalists for this grant will be reduced to finalists and the winner will be determined by the vote of IdeaCafe.com's 32,000 members worldwide and announced online on August 15, 2007, Idea Cafe's 12th anniversary online. WorkingCaregiver.com plans to add more online functionality serving family caregivers, helping them find balance and support.

Learn more at 'http://www.workingcaregiver.com'.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tips Avoiding Senior Financial Scams

ABC News and USA Today report on the costs of caring for elderly parents.
Some good advice when warning aging relatives on senior fraud and scams that I read today:

A working family caregiver was shocked when she discovered that her 73-year-old mother gave away $300,000 to strangers who claimed she had won millions and simply needed to pay the taxes in order to collect the cash prize.

"My mom is a very, very strong, financially capable woman and has been all her life," Tanner said. "In my wildest dreams I would never imagine her to fall victim to a scam of this kind -- never."

It started with mailings and requests for small sums. Later, phone calls came -- four and five a day. The scammers knew her schedule, her accounts and even the very personal details of her life -- so much so that she'd end her conversations with them by saying, "I love you."

Finally, the bank called the working family caregiver. Her mother was trying to take out a home equity loan for $180,000, and the bank said she looked desperate.

Unfortunately, as in this case, the elderly are at great risk for financial scams. ABC News personal finance contributor Mellody Hobson answered questions and offered advice for seniors looking to protect their money.

What advice do you have for seniors to help avoid this from happening to them?

Hobson: According to the Federal Trade Commission, 80 percent of the victims of telemarketing scams are over the age of 65. Under no circumstances should you ever respond to a phone call or e-mail with any personal information. It is a good rule of thumb to ask for the caller's phone number and tell them you will call them back. Never respond to any solicitation that asks for a quid pro pro -- basically, for you to give them something in return for something. Legitimate financial organizations never operate this way.

More in a day or two, come back to get additional tips from Mellody Hobson!

Thank you, Carol @WorkingCaregiver.com

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Faced with the Challenge of Caregiving?

Some good advice if faced with aging parent/s - good tips to consider:

  • Keep your family member in their home as long as you can.

  • Get finances in order.

  • Find out about veteran's benefits and others from a good elder layer.

If you're the relative of a caregiver, support them and ask how they are -- not just the person who is ill. Respect the fact it is the toughest job in the world to care for someone you love when they are declining.Their is no greater gift a child can give their parent than to be there to walk them home to the other side. It's something you never regret. I was there when my mom took her last breath.. I held her tightly whispering, "you brought me in to this world, I'm here for your exit." A bitter sweet moment - one that I will never forget.

Look into home care, and senior center's transportation. Most important, don't be afraid to talk to family early on before the challenges begin. Remind yourself to have faith. That is all you can do. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to. Get help when help is needed. There are people out their to help you.

Thank you for visiting. Carol at WorkingCaregiver.com

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tips for Employees with Aging Parents

There are millions of us (employees) in the working world who have aging parents or relatives. Not many employers offer programs or benefits that help us out. So, it's up to us to make that happen to maintain balance at work and with our family responsibilites!

Look for ways to negotiate with your employer to take time off to care for family while also remaining productive on the job. It's a tricky balancing act but it can be accomplished.

Find out if your employer must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. If so, depending if your company has 50 or more employees, you're entitled to up to 12 weeks of umpaid time off annually to care for a parent with a serious health condition. Generally, that time can be taken in increments.

Find out if flexible arrangements are possible. These might include formal programs as well as informal agreements. The more you can make your work schedule fit your caring needs, the better off you will be.

Flexibility is vital for employees who are long-distance caregivers. Employees should find out if they can work remotely; work from the home of your aging relative when visiting or helping them, work on weekends to make up for loss time, or the evenings if necessary.

Other recommendations that help you plan for your parents' aging and caregiving help - get prepared now! Don't wait till there's a senior crisis and your left vulnerable. Also know there are quality services and resources that you can reach out for help.

For example, if you are long-distance or not, a good way to check up on mom & dad is to have security devices that either attach to them or placed around their home. Go to WorkingCaregiver.com - Caregiver Products to check out a few!

Always look for ways to balance your life and work. WorkingCaregiver.com is here to help!

Thank you for visiting. Carol at WorkingCaregiver.com

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tips for Working Caregivers Helping Aging Parents

When starting down the path of caring for aging relatives, the road is gets very wide. The number of resources available to you is great but the focus on "which ones first" can be confusing. That's why WorkingCaregiver.com strives to organize for you the most valued information first.

A few tips of importance that need attention: Put Powers in Place - If you're going to help your parents with financial affairs, you should consider, if possible, to be empowered to act on thier behalf. Talk with them about establishing a power of attorney. Get one that goes into effect once it's signed - as opposed to the "springing" type, which applies only after the doctor declares your parents incapacitated. I'm grateful for my parents Elder Care Attorney who did this for us years before dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. A Durable Power of Attorney is the way to go, according to their attorney.

And then there's the Medical Power of Attorney, which enables you to make decisions about your parents' health care. This gives you the ablilty to talk with your parent's doctors on their behalf and ger medical information about them, something that can be critical under the new patient privacy laws. If you have siblings, consider splitting financial and medical powers of attorney between you, so no one person carries the burden.

Thank you for visiting. Carol at WorkingCaregiver.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to Deal with Costly Medications

Medications and medical costs can rob your bank account! My mom's monthly charges for prescription drugs... over the top! I remember seeing her bills exceed $10,000/month.. that hurt. Those costs included high blood pressure and Congested Heart Failure medications. The CHF drugs were not for sore eyes.

Her visits to the Cardiac clinic for a drip medication were over $1000/visit. And she went there over several times monthly. I know.. I drove her.

To help save you costs in prescription medications visit Walmart - it may just be their online store - they're now offering a generic prescription program at $4.00 for a 30 day supply. The medications covered are high blood pressure, allergies, some antibiotics, cholesterol, diabetes and more. Here's the list in a pdf form: Click Here to view.

Switching from a brand name to generic prescriptions can save you money and always remember to ask your doctor for samples of medications he/she prescribes you.

Thank you for visiting, Carol at WorkingCaregiver.com

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Caregiver Stress Options

Reading information on "taking time out for yourself" can help with imbalances. Work/life responsibilities is one of the biggest imbalances we seek to mellow out. And yoga can help with us with that.

According to Timothy Burgin of YogaBasics.com says the key to weight management is to take time out of your busy schedule to create the right conditions to heal imbalances in your body, mind, or emotions that may be contributing to a weight problem and even stress. So to gain balance; keep your stress levels manageable, and creating mind-body harmony.

By completing the routines and practicing the breathing and visualization techniques on YogaBasics, you are well on your way to creating the right conditions. You now have a wealth of information and new stress-management skills at your fingertips. You can use these skills simply to lose weight, or to go beyond the immediate benefits of your weight loss. You can take these new skills into other areas of your life. More changes you might notice according to Mr. Burgin of Yoga Basics are:

  • Improved self-esteem as a result of changing unhealthy behaviors to healthy ones.

  • More self-discipline and willpower to help you maintain these changes in your long-term behavior.

  • The ability to de-stress your body, mind, and emotions by sequential stretching and rhythmic breathing.

  • The ability to think and act with calm self-assurance and ease.

Visit YogaBasics.com - it's worth your time to balance and chill.

Thank you, Carol

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A CheckList Every Family Needs

We prepared well in advance knowing where our parents current accounts and policies were located. That's something my dad insisted we knew about, just in case.

It's a good idea to ask your parents to prepare an inventory that lists all of their accounts and policies, along with locations, account numbers and passwords. They don't have to turn them over to you if they don't want to, and my dad did not, but he wanted us to know where to find them.

Life Insurance Policies
Long-Term Care Policies
Banking and Brokerage Accounts
Social Security Cards
Medicare and Insurance Cards
Doctor's Names and Numbers
List of Medications
Phone Numbers of Lawyer and Accountant

Do it Now! This is another good way to help your aging parents whether they're next door or a thousand miles away!

Thank you for visiting, Carol - WorkingCaregiver.com

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Dealing with Working Caregiver's Challenges

How far does the average long-distance caregiver live from his care recipient? MetLife study shows 450 miles. But whether you're next door or 1,000 miles away from the aging recipient, it can be tough to make sure everything is okay.

My first advice is don't wait till there's a crisis before you broach the topic of planning for the future with them. Helping out your aging parents is a process not an event. Believe me, when helping my parents, we waited too long to plan out how their lives would play out.. it all started with my mom's open heart surgery at age eighty!

An easy way to start a conversation with them about planning for their future is to take advantage of a comment or complaint. Are they starting to talk about the house and yard being a burden for them? That would be a good time to ask if you could help them take care a few things. Once your tackled that delicate subject, go on to the tougher ones like discussing finances. Suggest helping them pay their bills. It was difficult for my dad when reading the finer print so he would ask me to read them aloud. That's when I jumped in and offered to help pay his monthly bills too.

Or if you cannot visit them often have a trusted neighbor check on them, or hire a geriatric care manager to make home visits. Go to FindaCareManager.org, a website of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

These are a few helpful tips in the planning process of your relative's aging journey. They may not need your help this moment but as time passes, they certainly will.

More helpful tips coming....

Thank you for visiting.

Carol at WorkingCaregiver.com

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dealing with Working Caregiver's Challenges

Welcome back! Are you looking for ways to meet head-on the challenges of balancing work and caregiving?

What's helpful are the phone calls.. checking on mom and dad or calling Capitol Metro to pick my mom up for a doctor's appointment, or call a taxi for one of them. A good resource I've found and will continue to look for us... but there's a cab driver who's also a concierge and he wants to keep you organized. He lives in CT but that didn't matter to me because he makes phone calls - that's it!

Charles Wachtel is a motivation and life coach, who has driven a cab for nine years and understands how busy we can get... especially working caregivers! So, he wants to help us out by giving us a friendly nudge when there's a special occasion to remember or we need a wake up call, have a flight to catch, remember to call mom's doctor, check on mom and dad, or help us remember to pick up the medication.

Wachtel calls the service a mobile concierge; his business is the Empowerment Express. Concierge services are one of the fastest growing industries, Wachtel said. But he makes it clear he is not an errand buy. Eventually, Charles wants to stop shuttling people around and make a full-time business out of helping them organize and motivate their lives! Charles can be reached by cwachtel02@sprintpcs.com or call him at: 860-593-8233. By the way, I checked his references... raving reviews on service and character!

Anyone else wanting to offer a service? We caregivers need it! Let me know... I'll include it/you in the WorkingCaregiver.com member package, after checking references.

Carol, Founder, WorkingCaregiver.com - Thank you for visiting.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Working Caregivers, the Challenges

An interesting study funded by MetLife Foundation and presented by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP: The frequently reported unmet needs of working caregivers are:

34% finding time for myself,
29% balancing work and family responsibilities, and
29% managing emotional and physical stress is a burden.

When I was helping with mom in her care, the biggest issue for me was balancing work and my family responsiblities. This is the reason I cannot understand how a manager at work would comment about separating business from personal life! (REF: A quote in my last blog.)

It's merely impossible to disect one's life into compartments. But I found what we can do is find resources that help us find the balance we seek.

When searching for ways to find time for yourself, as a working caregiver, you may find services that help you make phone calls or provide transportation to run errands or take your elder loved one to a doctor's appointment for you. That would save me a couple of hours to focus on my tasks at work or simply free up some time for me to accomplish personal to dos.

WorkingCaregiver.com is putting together packages and products to help your solve some of these unmet needs. Check back here to read about more options and to find out when these packages are available.