The $pending of the Green

On this St. Patrick’s weekend, we seen green everywhere — even in the new leaves on the trees. But if you are a caregiver for someone with dementia, you’re probably preoccupied with a different kind of green — the U.S. dollar variety which can be consumed very quickly by dementia care. The next few articles on this site will discuss some factors that may help you stretch your resources.

Every day I thank the moon and stars that my mom planned her financial future with so much care. She was not a wealthy person, but she worked hard all her life and maximized her retirement savings. As her power of attorney, I feel that it’s my job to be a good steward of her resources and — with my sister’s help — I keep trying to anticipate her future needs as we manage current ones. A few basic factors can make all the difference between balanced financial management and disaster.

1) Long Term Care Policies — Our Mom bought a good one through AARP a long time ago. Thank heaven for that! We have been able to use those resources to pay for adult day services and the occasional caregiver break  for me. These funds allowed us to provide her with very good care at minimal cost for nearly two years. The same amount of money would have purchased just three months of care in a private nursing home. If dementia runs in your family, I suggest that you do some research on these policies now and consider buying one for yourself. But be sure you check out the fine print on benefit payments before you sign a payment agreement. If your loved one already has a policy, shop around and see what programs and services are covered. Do some projections to ballpark the long term costs.

2) Get the best, most specific diagnosis. The hardest aspect of financial planning is uncertainty over the duration of the disease. If your loved one has a straightforward case of Alzheimer’s, you may be providing care for a long time. You’ll need to forecast how much and what kind of care you want to buy. Other types of dementia, however, often have a shorter course of development, but may need more intensive services. The only way you can plan well is by getting a diagnosis that is specific enough to help you predict the symptomatic path of the disease. If you are just working with a family physician, you might want to start looking for more specialized diagnostic services at a regional Memory Center. It’s worth the effort to get a more detailed diagnosis. Medicare will usually cover diagnostic visits to a specialized dementia doctor. (But always check first!)

3. Settle your family business. If you are a member of a family — and who isn’t? — then you know that no matter how much people love each other, there are often disagreements about assets, who will control them, and how they should be used. Too many times people carry childhood grudges into adulthood. And families keep adding members all the time (grandchildren, in-laws, ex-in-laws, etc.) so there is literally no end to the potential number of disagreements that can be triggered by asset questions. Now is the perfect time to call a truce. And ENFORCE it! The more you can get family members to agree around a plan of care, the better off you’ll be. Get everyone to collect information about nursing homes, home-based care, and regional care options as a group. Then sit down and share the information. If decisions are made in haste by one person, some family members may get embittered because they’ve been left out of the process.  Try to find your common ground before the disease backs you into a corner.

The most important thing you can do as a family is work together on behalf of those you love. Property has a value that is vital to the care equation — but love is all you have left once that property is gone. Don’t squander it!



6 Responses to The $pending of the Green

  1. Thanks for this educational article. This info was precisely what I was hunting for. I have saved your website!

    • I agree not all seniors need to or shloud be in a home. It’s a very difficult choice at best assisted living facility, nursing home, SNF, with family, or?? My brothers and I struggled with it long and hard before deciding an assisted living facility was best in our case. The sad part for me, aside from mom’s condition and dementia, was seeing the other residents and how nobody came to visit them. It was as if they were being warehoused. I was close by and saw Mom a lot, and that made it better: I felt comfortable about her being there, she knew I was there, I saw what was going on and got to know the workers, and I talked to her gerontologist a lot.I like the idea of alert systems, and my parents had one, it’s that I worry they may provide a false sense of security in some cases. My mom and dad didn’t use it the way it was designed and because of that it was relatively ineffective. I worry caregivers and family will let the device do the work . I worry the alarm companies over promise and under deliver. I’m sure there are many stories of them saving lives and I’m glad for them.Thank you for your comment!!!Kirk

  2. salutations from over the sea. excellent post I shall return for more.

  3. I would rather be blunt and say that this is a major issue, and if your Grannie has deeintma or Alzheimers she will suffer a progressive decline and it will get worse. Firstly, I would recommend you take a current picture of her in case she does wander off. Next, I would meet with her family physician and see if you can have her referred to a psycho-geriatric resource person so they can assess her memory and mental functioning. It’s always good to document the times when your Granny’s behavior occurs and see if it happens at the same time of day because she could be suffering from a condition that is called sundowning . In the United States and Canada you can place a call to the Alzheimer’s society and see if they can help you. They are probably your best resource. Hope this helps.

    • Thank you for sharing your story in this woenurfdl book. I couldn’t put it down. My brother was diagnosed with LBD in September. He is 64 and a marathon runner. In the last 30 years he has run and finished in 170 marathons. Right now he can hardly walk. He knows that my mission right now is to find a cure for him. He is in a skilled nursing care facility and only up until recently was I able to stop crying. I know there are more tears, but for now I’m going to be strong. I have been giving him some Chinese Medicine (ganoderma lucidum) that has been around for 4,000 years that helps with dementia and the Parkinson’s like symptoms. I’m hoping this is the miracle I have been looking for. So far it seems to be helping. He is walking better and most days knows who I am instead of calling me Mommy! We are all here to help each other. It is so helpful to me to hear other people’s stories. Blessings to all who read this.

      • Would just like to commend you on your prgoarm the story came today and touched my heart in such a way that is so close to home. This past week on monday my father in law passed on at the age of 95 with a failing heart at the same time my husband is going through terminal liver cancer since last year he was given a diagnoses as only having 3 months to live by grace he celebrated his 60 birthday today I only wish that my father in law could of had contact with such a wonder source as you have offered unfortunetly my sister in law was his care taker but for years has had substance problem and my father in law was a widower after many years my sister in law lived at my father in laws for many years so took over after my mother in law died .You may ask why I didn’t try to intervine my father in law was a hard man to change and also deal with I have no one else except my 26 son and my brother in law who has been handling things who just retired this year so now he had to deal with this along with now what his brother my husband is having happen. I didnt mean for this to get out of hand on my comment but, my main purpose would again to commend you on your award along with your wonderful service Thank You for listening to me someday in the future maybe I can offer my service to you Thank You again claudia

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