| Mon, Nov 12, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Caregiver Corner: Extra Support for You and Your Loved Ones

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

describe the imageCaregiver Corner is designed for those who are helping their loved ones make informed health care decisions. Whether you’re a coach, main care provider or decision maker, Caregiver Corner can help you help your loved one.

Family caregivers matter! That’s this year’s theme for National Family Caregivers month in November. If you play the caregiver role for a family member, this is a time to thank, support, teach and empower you. Visit the National Family Caregivers Association’s (NFCA) website to learn more.

One area caregivers of Medicare-eligible family members might need a lot of support in is getting a loved one extra help when they need it. This can mean making some tough—but important—choices. Getting your loved one the extra care they need can improve their quality of life and help keep them healthy. As a friend or family member, it is important to know when a loved one might need extra help.

Know the Signs

Have you noticed some changes in your loved one’s lifestyle or behavior? Maybe things just don’t seem right to you. Follow your instincts as a caregiver and look for warning signs such as:

  • Grooming: Is their clothing stained or are they bathing infrequently?

  • Mood: Do they seem to get angry easily, or seem suspicious or paranoid?

  • Socialization: Is your loved one unwilling to spend time with others?

  • Depression: Does your loved show loss of energy or interest in normal activities?

  • Safety: Have you noticed stove burners left on, doors unlocked or other safety risks?

  • Money: Is your loved having trouble handling their own finances or paying bills?

  • Medication: Does your loved one forget to take medications or confuse doses?

  • Memory: Has your loved one been missing or skipping appointments or events?

  • Nutrition: Is your loved one showing changes in eating habits or nutrition?

  • Balance: Is your loved one having problems walking or keeping steady on their feet?

Support for You

The good news is, you’re not alone. There are many resources out there designed to give caregivers the help they need. [One such resource is Solutions for Caregivers1. This is a program offered by UnitedHealthcare® that gives caregivers support and information. And, you don’t even need to be a plan member! Solutions for Caregivers covers everything from the financial to emotional needs, with:

  • Nurses to visit your loved one and take a look at any areas for concern.

  • Resources to help you create a care plan and talk about other health care issues.

  • Help making choices about assisted living or nursing home care.

  • Recommendations for pain relief and hospice care.

  • Help figuring out what your loved ones needs mean for their Medicare coverage.

To find out more about how Solutions for Caregivers can help you and your loved one, visit their website or call 1-877-765-4473, TTY: 711, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.]

FYI: November is also National Hospice month. If you’re a caregiver, this might be a good time to research your loved one’s options for hospice care. With a little planning, you can help make sure your loved one will get the care they need when they need it most. That way, when the time comes, you can focus on spending time with your loved one without having to worry about making major decisions, too. [If there are young children in your family, there are resources for them, too. The activity book, Scarlet Says Goodbye, was written to help young children understand what it means when a loved one is entering hospice care. The book can be downloaded for free2 at: www.ScarletSaysGoodBye.com.]

Your role as a caregiver can be rewarding. It can also be stressful and demanding. It’s nice to know that when you need help the most—like when you have to make decisions about extra care for your loved ones—you’re not alone.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

[1 Solutions for Caregivers assists in coordinating community and in-home resources. The final decision about your care arrangements must be made by you. In addition, the quality of a particular provider must be solely determined and monitored by you. Information provided to you about a particular provider does not imply and is in no way an endorsement of that particular provider by Solutions for Caregivers. The information on and the selection of a particular provider has been supplied by the provider and is subject to change without written consent of Solutions for Caregivers.

2 Free book without obligation.]

Resources:

UnitedHealthcare® Solutions for Caregivers program (plan membership not required)

Medicare Made Clear video: Get the Right Care for Your Loved One

Medicare Made Clear blog post: Can Medicare Help with Home Health and Hospice Care? 

 

 

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