September is a great month to get a fresh perspective and make plans for extra caregiving help and support.
- Do you have a plan in the event of a disaster?
- Get "Extra Help" with Medicare Rx Costs
- How is caregiving different for men?
Do you have a plan in the event of a disaster?
No one likes to dwell on the possibility of disaster. But we all need to prepare for one. Help your loved ones gear up for safety. Whether you live across town or across the nation, the action items are the same.
Identify contacts. Who should Mom or Dad call in case of disaster?
- Because local phone service may be down, choose an out-of-town contact. Also identify the address and phone number of a potential gathering place. This might be a friend’s house, or a church, school, or store within walking distance. Ask family members to leave a note if they are evacuating. Have it include date, time, and plan.
- Program “in case of emergency” (ICE) information into cell phones.
- Teach family members to text message. Text messaging is often possible even when phone service is disrupted.
Supply the house. Keep a box on hand with at least a three-day supply of necessities.
- The basics include one gallon of water per person per day, food, clothing, bedding, personal hygiene items, batteries, etc.
- Include prescription medications and a first-aid kit.
- Regularly replace medications so they don’t expire.
- Keep copies of health insurance cards and an up-to-date list of prescriptions, doctors, and any special needs.
Address special needs, such as oxygen or a wheelchair.
- Create a network of neighbors. Give at least one person a key to the house. Show everyone where to find the emergency box.
- Show them how to operate any special equipment. Put written instructions in the emergency box.
- Have your loved one wear an identifying bracelet if he or she has a disability or significant medical condition.
Register your family member with the city or county to receive special assistance in a disaster.Return to top
Get "Extra Help" with Medicare Rx Costs
Are drug costs a worry for your elder family member? This year, new assistance is available for many Medicare Part D participants.
Your family member may qualify for “Extra Help.” This program helps pay for a Medicare prescription plan. It trims monthly premiums and the annual deductible. And it shrinks the co-pay costs for prescriptions. The average annual savings is $3,900.
If your family member didn’t qualify for the program last year, apply again. There are new criteria this year. They make the “extra help” available to more people. Eligibility is based on income and financial resources. Specifically,
- Income must be less than $16,245 per year for an individual or $21,855 for a couple.
- This year, income does NOT include any help received from others for expenses such as rent, utilities, and food.
- Financial resources include bank savings, stocks, and bonds. An individual can have no more than $12,510 in such savings. A couple can have no more than $25,010.
- This year, life insurance policies are not counted.
You can apply online or call Social Security at 800-772-1213. Ask for help with prescription drug plan costs. They will send you the application.
Even without Extra Help, your loved one may get a rebate. The rebate is for individuals who fall into the Medicare Part D coverage gap. This is also called the “donut hole.” This year, everyone reaching the coverage gap will receive a tax-free rebate of $250. No application is necessary. A rebate check will be sent automatically to those who qualify. Next year, a 50% drug discount is planned for people who fall in the donut hole. The discount will apply to brand name drugs covered by the individual’s Part D plan.
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How is caregiving different for men?
It’s a little known fact: men represent at least one third of family caregivers across the nation. In some respects, they are more likely than women to face challenges. But they are less likely to ask for or receive the kinds of support all caregivers need.
Researchers report a number of issues that complicate the lives of male caregivers:
- Household tasks. Most men face a learning curve when they take over household tasks (things such as doing the laundry or cooking three meals a day). They have to learn on the job.
- Personal care. When it comes to bathroom activities, the intimacy of personal care is especially challenging for sons. But even husbands can feel inadequate handling daily needs, such as fixing hair. When possible, men tend to hire others to do these tasks.
- Identity challenges. The mundane chores of caregiving can seem emasculating. And the inability to “fix” a loved one’s disease may feel disempowering. In addition, men in the workforce report feeling they must hide their caregiving role. A caregiving man is considered less serious about his career.
- Emotional demands. As a rule, men prefer to keep their world steady by avoiding talk about emotional issues. Meeting an ill loved one’s emotional needs can be taxing.
- Emotional losses. Men traditionally get their emotional support from someone close at hand. But that very person may now be the family member needing care. Men tend to feel less comfortable turning to alternative sources, such as support groups.
It is for these reasons that male caregivers are especially subject to isolation. If you know a male caregiver, consider reaching out. Offer to do a household task together. Working together may lead to more personal conversation. At the least, he, like any other caregiver, will appreciate not feeling so alone with the job.
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