Wednesday, March 4, 2015

5 Important Legal Documents for Caregivers

This week, DailyCaring tackles important paperwork. Too often, legal decisions are put off, so make a plan to get your legal documents completed or up-to-date. Start today!

5 Important Legal Documents for Caregivers

Preparing legal documents benefits everyone
Eventually, your older adult won’t be able to manage their own legal matters and will rely on you to act in their best interests. Planning ahead allows your older adult and your family to have control of critical decisions. You wouldn’t want a stranger getting involved just because the proper legal paperwork wasn’t in place.

A starting point for caregivers
We’ve put together a list of the legal basics caregivers should be aware of. These topics don’t cover every situation and shouldn’t be considered legal advice, but it’s a good starting point for those tackling “the legal stuff.” Get to know these 5 important legal documents for caregivers.

1. Power of attorney (POA)
      This allows your older adult to authorize someone to make legal decisions when they are no longer competent.
      POA also covers authority to make financial decisions

2. Durable power of attorney for health care (also known as a health care proxy)
      This allows your older adult to authorize someone to make all decisions regarding health care, including choosing health care providers, medical treatment, and end-of-life decisions.
      This power only goes into effect when your older adult is unable to make decisions for themselves.

3. Living will or advance directive
      This allows your older adult to state, in advance, what kind of medical care they do and do not want to receive.
      This also covers what life-support procedures they would not like to have.
      This is used when a person isn’t able to make their wishes known on their own.

4. Living trust
      This allows your older adult (the grantor) to create a trust and appoint someone (a trustee) to manage the trust assets when they aren’t able to manage their finances.
      A person or a financial institution can be the trustee.

5. Will
      Your older adult’s will names an executor and beneficiaries.
      The executor is the person who will manage your older adult’s estate at the time of death.
      Beneficiaries will receive the estate at the time of death.

What happens if you don’t plan ahead
If no planning is done before your older adult becomes incapacitated, family members must ask a court to appoint a conservator or guardian. A conservatorship can be difficult for families because almost every action or decision on behalf of your older adult must be court supervised and approved.

Where to get started with legal documents
For legal matters, hiring a lawyer is always recommended. It’s also smart to do your own research so you understand what’s happening. In addition, you can usually seek advice on legal issues from social workers or clergy, free of charge.

This article is part of our Caregiver Beginner’s Guide series. For all 8 articles in this series, go to our Caregiver Guide Overview.

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff

Do you care for a senior? Try for practical advice on managing real-life challenges. It’s free, there are new tips every weekday, and it’s a quick read.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why Seniors Need a Backup Medicine Supply

Be prepared! Emergencies happen. Last summer, the CareLinx Team touched on emergency preparedness checklists, but this week's DailyCaring article really details why and how to have a handy backup supply of medications. Several members of our team are members of CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) and participate in emergency preparedness drills. Each drill includes volunteer "victims" playing the role of dazed and lost citizens that have no identifying information on them and/or not having the medication they need. 

Why Seniors Need a Backup Medicine Supply

Skipping medication is dangerous for seniors
Most seniors are on multiple medications to manage symptoms from chronic conditions. Skipping one or more doses can have serious consequences that could make them ill or land them in the hospital. Normally, you make sure they take their pills every day so bad things won’t happen.

But what happens if they can’t get a refill on time?

Emergency medication supply
If your older adult has extra medicine on hand as a backup supply, nobody needs to worry if something makes getting a refill impossible. This tip saves you from panic, headache, and anxiety! Having extra medicine also saves trouble if your older adult needs a travel supply.

Many things could make getting an on-time prescription refill difficult or impossible. Here are a few common situations:
      A severe snow storm, thunderstorm, or flooding makes going out unsafe.
      You have the flu and are too sick to leave the house.
      The pharmacy is temporarily out of stock of that medication.
      There’s a glitch in the system and insurance won’t cover the pills until things get straightened week.

DailyCaring Tip: Keep a close eye on the extra medicine or keep it with you to make sure nobody else can help themselves to things like painkillers.

Get extra medicine for free
It won’t cost anything extra to build up a backup medication supply!

Not everyone knows this, but most insurance companies (including Medicare) allow you to get a refill in 25 days, not 30 like you might think. The pharmacist will be able to tell you the soonest date you can get a refill under your senior’s insurance plan.

Picking up a refill 5 days earlier builds up an extra medication supply because you’re shortening the time between refills. That means you’ll have extra pills left over each month.

How does this work?
If your senior’s prescription is for 30 pills each month, you’ll have 4 pills left over each month when you pick up their refill 5 days early. Those extra pills add up fast! In 7 months or so, you’ll have a full month’s supply on hand as backup.

Bottom line
You never know what’s going to happen in life. Being prepared saves time, energy, anxiety, and sometimes even money. Help your senior build up a stash of backup medicine so nobody has to panic or suffer negative consequences when getting to the pharmacy is impossible.

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff
Image: Albany IVF

Caring for an older adult? Visit for tips on how to handle day-to-day challenges. It’s free, there’s fresh advice every weekday, and we keep things brief.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

CareLinx milestone: 6,000 Facebook LIKES

Today, Team CareLinx celebrates a social media milestone. Our Facebook page has 6,000 followers. Our goal is to provide gentle and uplifting messages and images in support of our thousands of caregivers and friends across the United States. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Ways to Improve Quality of Life for Seniors

Do you celebrate special occasions, big and small, as a way to celebrate life? Each evening at dinner, do you give thanks or raise your glass to something special that happened that day? There are so many ways to enjoy daily activities as well as special calendar days, and sharing a positive attitude throughout the day goes a long way! Here are some ideas from our friends at DailyCaring.

5 Ways to Improve Quality of Life for Seniors

Quality of life is important for health
It’s not enough to just be alive. Good quality of life is especially important for older adults. Feeling satisfied and fulfilled is just as important as getting regular check-ups from the doctor.

Having a positive view of life can help seniors have more energy, less stress, better appetite, and prevent cognitive decline.

5 ways to improve quality of life for seniors

1. Treat depression
Depression late in life actually affects 6 million people age 65+. It could be caused by stressful life events like retirement or losing a spouse. It could also be caused by a medical disease or medication side effects. It’s important to recognize the signs of depression and get help from a doctor or psychologist.

2. Feel useful and needed
From the very young to the very old, everyone wants to be useful. When you care for an older adult, do your best to make them feel like you still need their help and that they’re not a burden. Ask for help with tasks they can handle, such as:
      Folding laundry
      Organizing drawers
      Opening the mail
      Writing grocery or household to-do lists
      Clipping coupons
      Keeping you up to date on the news
      Prepping dinner - for example, trimming vegetables
      Going with you to help shop for groceries or run other errands

3. Stay physically active
Regular physical activity, no matter how mild, helps keeps both body and mind feeling balanced and positive.

Exercise keeps blood flowing to the brain, sharpening the mind. It also relieves anxiety, tension, and even depression! Overall, it just makes people feel better. Physically, exercise boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, improves heart health, improves strength and stamina, and more!

4. Stay mentally active
Crossword puzzles, sudoku, other brain games, reading, and writing are all great activities for mental stimulation. Having a sharp and active mind improves overall well-being.

5. Stay connected with family, friends, and community
Seniors who are isolated and lonely have shorter lives and are at greater risk for dementia. Prevent that by encouraging and helping your older adult stay connected with people. Here are a few suggestions:
      Arrange for family and friends to visit, eat with, or take them out regularly
      Arrange transportation so they can go to senior centers
      Encourage them to attend any parties - birthday, graduation, holiday, etc.
      Get them involved in a hobby
      Encourage them to volunteer with church, community, or charity organizations

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff

Caregiving is hard. Finding practical caregiving information shouldn’t be. Families caring for older adults use for useful advice. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Valentine’s Day Activities for Seniors

Team CareLinx loves this week's article from DailyCaring. We wish our readers all kinds of love throughout the year. Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine’s Day Activities for Seniors

Everyone can enjoy Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day isn’t reserved for young couples - anybody can celebrate! It’s a day to show love and affection for those you care about. It’s also a nice opportunity to spend time doing fun activities with your loved one.

3 Valentine’s Day activities for seniors
1. Have fun decorating together
Putting up decorations makes a holiday festive and more special. Why not make decorations together? You get the double benefit of saving money and enjoying a fun activity. Here are some simple decor projects:
      Festive garland - Cut pink and red colored paper into equal-sized strips. Make interlocking rings by pasting or stapling the ends together.
      Hearts everywhere! - Cut hearts out of colored paper and stick them up on the walls or cabinets.
      Stained glass window - Cut hearts out of colored tissue paper and stick them up on a light-filled window. Overlapping them makes beautiful patterns too.

2. Make homemade treats to share
Valentine’s Day and sweet treats go hand in hand. Have fun and celebrate by making Valentine’s cookies or easy sweets together. You can even make extras to give to family and friends! Here are a few recipe ideas:

3. Watch a romantic comedy or romantic movie together
After you’ve decorated and created some sweet treats, it’s time to relax with a fun or romantic movie. Here are a few ideas:
      When Harry Met Sally
      Love Actually

Bottom line
Valentine’s Day is for all kinds of love, not just for lovers! Spend time with those you care about and have a good time!

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff has practical advice for families caring for older adults. People even call us the “Reader’s Digest” of caregiving and aging info. The best part? It’s totally free.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Understand Your Caregiving Situation

Most new caregivers are thrust into the role of caregiver, and are not fully prepared for the new role or how to assess the situation. Please don't do it all alone! Caregiving is a long-term commitment. If you have family, discuss with them who can provide local support willingly, without compromising their own daily lives and livelihoods. This week's article is the first in a series of DailyCaring's Caregiver Beginner's Guide. CareLinx recommends that once a family assesses their caregiving situation and determines a need for part-time or full-time home care assistance, the next step is to call us at (866) 991-3655 or visit and use the "Find a Caregiver" button.

Understand Your Caregiving Situation

Step back and observe
It’s instinctive to want to address every one of your older adult’s needs, especially if you’re a new family caregiver, but first taking a step back and understanding three key areas can help you work smarter, not harder.

If you take on too much and burn out physically or emotionally, you can’t help your older adult or yourself.

1. Assess your older adult’s needs
Family caregivers can take on different roles based on your older adult’s physical and mental capabilities. The first step is getting a full picture of how much help your older adult needs with activities of daily living (ADLs). This will help you decide if their current living situation is safe and what level of daily help is needed - for them and for you.

2. Be realistic about your own capacity
While you want to do as much as you can for your older adult, you still have your own life to manage. Be realistic and understand what you can take on without burning yourself out.

For example, if you live an hour away and have existing work and family commitments, it’s not practical to commit to making your older adult’s dinner every day.

3. Get the help you need
Make a list of areas where you’re going to need help. As an example, getting help with cooking or cleaning for your older adult, or even yourself, saves a ton of time and energy. Investing in hired help or adult day programs can help you balance your older adult’s needs and your own time and energy.

When people ask how they can help, check your list for an answer before you default to “It’s ok. I’m fine. I can manage.”

Bottom line:  Taking a step back and understanding the overall caregiving situation will give you much-needed perspective. Be realistic and plan how much you can do yourself versus how much extra help will be needed. Remember, caregiving is a long-term commitment so you need to pace yourself.

This article is part of the DailyCaring Caregiver Beginner’s Guide series. For all 8 articles in this series, visit the Caregiver Guide Overview.

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff

Families who care for older adults should visit to get useful advice. People call us the “Reader’s Digest” of caregiving and aging info. The best part? It’s totally free.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Long Distance Caregiving: Does Your Parent Need Help?

Many children leave home, go to college and/or careers that take them far away, and then find they have a long distance relationship with family and friends. Whether long distance is an hour away or an airplane flight away, managing care for a loved one can be a challenge. The CareLinx Team works with many families who find they must manage caregiving from a distance, so we particularly appreciate this week's article by DailyCaring.

Long Distance Caregiving: Does Your Parent Need Help?

What is long distance caregiving?
Living an hour or more away from someone you care for makes you a long distance caregiver. Since you can’t be there in person, your caregiving tasks might include:
·       Helping Mom manage Dad’s health insurance policy, claims, and payments.
·       Keeping important legal documents like Power of Attorney, living will, and wills up to date.
·       Researching home care agencies and checking references so Dad has reliable in-home care.
·       Making sure Mom has regular companionship and cooking, gardening, or home maintenance help.
·       Working with a local geriatric care manager to make sure your parents stay healthy and safe.

How do I know if help is needed?
A top question from long distance caregivers is how they’ll know when or if their older adult needs help. We hear things like “Mom sounds fine on the phone and insists she’s doing well. How do I know if she’s telling the truth?”

Some seniors ask for help when they need it and will be truthful about their situation - “Cooking is getting harder because of my arthritis.” Others don’t want to be a burden and try to hide their needs as long as possible - “Everything’s fine! You worry too much.”

Long distance care tip #1: Play detective in a subtle way
If you can’t see your older adult in person very often, you might need to play detective to make sure they’re actually doing well and not just telling you what you want to hear. Here are some tips:
·       Call or video chat at strategic times - before meals, after they usually get up and get ready for the day, or after medication should be taken.
·       Ask casually about the meal they’re preparing “What have you got cooking for dinner tonight?”
·       Talk about your own plans for the day and ask about theirs. This lets you know what they’re up to, but doesn’t make it sound like you’re prying.
·       Say that you’re looking for tips on how to remember to take your vitamins. Ask how they stick to their medication schedule.

Long distance care tip #2: Recruit local eyes and ears
You might also want to develop relationships with your senior’s neighbors, friends, doctors, and local relatives. Ask if they’ve been worried or if they’ve noticed any recent changes in habits or behavior. Ask them to call you if they see anything strange or if it’s ok for you to call once a month to check in.

Long distance care tip #3: Learn as much as you can during visits
Get the most out of each visit by using this checklist to assess the situation and look for signs of trouble. It’s easier to spot problems when you’re there and it’s harder for your older adult to hide what’s really going on.

If you’re caring for an older adult, has practical advice you. Get tips to improve your care situation by signing up for our free email newsletter. Visit today.

By DailyCaring Editorial Staff