Caught in Between
(page 4 of 5)
Advice for the Sandwich Generation
By Jana Wolff
Have “the talk.” The unanimous advice of current caregivers and professionals in the field is to find out what your relatives want in specific terms, and do so while they are healthy enough to tell you. Make sure all the siblings hear it and get it down on paper.
Nail down paperwork. Executing an advance directive for health care and establishing a financial power of attorney will enable family caregivers to carry out a loved one’s wishes.
Know where things are. Keep a notebook with information about doctors, medications, insurance policies, taxes, etc.
Share the care. Dr. Lam Nguyen suggests that families organize and commit to a written schedule that includes respite time for the main caregiver. He also thinks it’s reasonable to ask family members living on the Mainland to contribute money if they can’t contribute time.
Consider long-term care insurance. When it comes to buying long-term care insurance, 50 is the new 60. For those who can afford it or who are offered it as an employee benefit, Robert Nogami advocates purchasing insurance at a younger age to take advantage of lower premiums.
Match insurance to needs. If you have a choice of insurances, don’t just focus on the feature they are marketing (such as drug coverage), but check to see if it covers what you’re at high risk for, like rehab, according to Judy Suzuki, RN, manager for Hospital Case Management, Straub.
Use available resources. There are a lot of resources in our community but no one central repository. Wes Lum suggests starting with the Elderly Affairs Division and the Aging and Disability Resource Center (www.hawaiiadrc.org). Look, too, for senior fairs held throughout the year and for special interest assistance from SagePLUS, the UH Elder La Program, and the Alzheimer's Association.
Talk about what’s going on. While many local folks cling to the traditional assumption that family care is a strictly private matter, talking is a great way not only to vent but also to share resources. Consider joining a caregiver support group.
Learn all about it. Kupuna Education Center at KCC offers an excellent family caregiver training series. AARP offers a good site for planning ahead: www.aarp.org/caregivers.
Consider hiring a care manager. Case managers develop care plans that coordinate care for an elderly person; some also specialize in placing residents into long-term care facilities. Look for “Home Health Care” in the Yellow Pages or contact The Hawaii Association of Case Managers for private practitioners.
Consider consulting a professional. According to Michelle Tucker, CFP, JD, CPA, family caregivers are taking on responsibilities that can have serious legal, tax and financial consequences. Seek professional advice from someone who specializes in elder law, estate planning, retirement or long-term care.
Lobby for change. By all accounts, Hawaii is ill prepared to help people age with dignity and assist those who care for them. The Hawaii Family Caregiver Coalition is a multi-disciplinary group working toward this end.
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