Caregiver

Happy Social Worker Month!

 

March is National Social Worker Month and I wanted to take a minute to thank all of the social workers in and around our community. The service that they provide is invaluable and is often underappreciated.  

Wikipedia states: “Social work is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups, and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. It aims to help people to develop their skills and their ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems.”  The impact that social workers have cannot always be measured tangibly. Our community would be far less without social workers. In my elder law practice, the work that I see social workers do with the elderly is truly remarkable.

Thanks to all of you who have undertaken the profession of social work, and view it as their passion in life. I applaud you and I am honored to know many of you personally and professionally.

Happy Social Worker Month to all of you, and thank you again.  

If you’re a social worker and interested in attending our upcoming Social Worker Boot Camp, click here to find out more and reserve your seat.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Here’s another Bellomo family favorite from Mom’s cookbooks.

Manhattan Clam Chowder – Makes 8 large servings [Mom would double or triple the recipe]

Ingredients:

  • 4 bacon slices, diced                             
  • 1 C. sliced onion (about 4)
  • 1 C. Diced carrots (about 4)
  • 1 C. diced celery
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parley
  • 1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes
  • 2 jars (11½ oz. size) clams
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 whole black peppers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 3 medium potatoes, pared and diced (3½ C.)
  • Corn (Mom’s special touch – as much as you want to add)
  1. In a large kettle, sauté bacon until almost crisp.
  2. Add onion; cook until tender – about 5 minutes.
  3. Add carrots, celery, and parsley, corn; cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Drain tomatoes; reserve liquid in 1-quart measure. Add tomatoes to vegetables in the kettle.
  5. Drain clams; set clams aside. Add clam liquid to tomato liquid. Add water to make 1½ quarts liquid. Pour into the kettle. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf, and thyme.
  6. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; cover, and simmer 45 minutes.
  7. Add potatoes; cover, and cook 20 minutes.
  8. Chop clams; add to chowder. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Serve hot.   
Tech support

Tech Support for Long-Distance Caregivers

Consumer Reports published an article on May 13, 2015, entitled “Tech Support for Long-Distance Caregivers, Devices that Promise to Help You Monitor a Loved One’s Health and Activity”. The well-reasoned article provided surprising statistics in regard to long-distance caregivers, such as the fact that there are about 7 million long-distance caregivers in the United States, citing the National Institute on Aging.

The purpose of the article was to inform long-distance caregivers of all of the technological advances that have been made that would allow long-distance caregivers to keep tabs on their loved ones. For example, there are monitors that would enable a caregiver from a distance to be sent information in regard to their loved one’s weight, blood pressure, glucose, and heart rate, as well as indications as to whether there any irregular heart rhythms or irregularities.

There are even pill dispensers that will provide reminders to the person to take their pills, and in the event that they do not, their long-distance caregiver can be sent a text message or other alert notifying them of the fact that the medications were not taken. Other advances are things such as tracking the loved one’s activity and steps, to their sleep patterns, and even the ability to put GPSes into the soles of a loved one’s shoes to be able to track their whereabouts.

I was also intrigued by some of the sensors and other monitoring that can be done – everything from carbon monoxide levels in the home to information being sent in regard to the climate of the home, and video and financial monitoring. The financial monitoring was intriguing, as any time the parent spends money, the caregiver can be sent a notice of exactly what was spent and on what.  

These advances are incredible, and certainly, there is value in them, particularly for a child who lives four to five hours away from a parent. However, there are significant privacy issues which must also be considered. By their very nature, some of these tools are quite invasive, so before anyone uses these technologies, a good exercise is to put oneself in the position of the elderly parent and evaluate how we would feel if these tools were used to monitor us.

Unquestionably, these tools are meant to be protections for our loved ones, and in the right circumstance, they can be extremely valuable. However, they also can be easily overused, and perhaps even be abused. As with so much of our technology today, we must walk a thin tightrope to find the balance, and avoid exploitation or abuse of seniors. Technology is developing so rapidly that it is outpacing the ethical issues which each new innovation raises.  

Open, honest, and complete dialogue between long-distance caregivers and their loved ones is always the best way to approach these issues. In most cases, these technologies should not be used as a first resort, or without the consent and advice of the senior; if the senior does not understand what they are agreeing to or what the implications to their privacy are, then the caregiver should always look for a less intrusive alternative, and balance the need against the loss of privacy.

Consider the issue from the senior’s perspective, and only go as far as is absolutely necessary for the protection of the senior. For example, if a parent is prone to wandering off, then it might make sense to employ a tracking device, but if he or she is not spending improperly, do you need financial monitoring technologies? In making those determinations, never lose sight of the ethical and privacy implications.

Good luck to all of you who are in this unenviable position!   If you have questions about your family situation and need support planning or caring for your elder loved one, contact us today!

 

Being with loved ones

How to Stay Happier in Hard Times

Financial stress, sickness, marriage issues, and other problems can seem to suck the happiness right out of life. However, you can feel happy even if it seems life is crumbling under your feet. Even when it feels like things are a little too heavy, there is always a way to keep your chin up.

Sometimes it just takes time and riding through the waves of life and time to really heal. We hope these next 5 tips bring you a little peace as you go through what you’re going through.

  1. Notice the little things to be happy about. It’s very easy to think that everything in your life is awful when you’re going through a rough patch. However, if you start noticing the little things, you’ll find that there are good things that happen every day. Little moments throughout the day can lift you up if you let them. Things like butterflies on the breeze, the bashful smile of a baby in the grocery store, or the beauty of the morning sun slanting through the window can give you small bits of happiness each day if you stop to appreciate them.
  2. Smile, even when you don’t feel like it. Scientific studies have shown a direct correlation between one’s facial expression and the way they feel. Sometimes we can prolong our own bad mood – without even noticing it – simply by an unconscious upset facial expression. When you are upset, try scrunching and relaxing your face to get some blood flowing. It can ease some frustration and help you let go of some of the extra negativity you are holding onto, just by releasing the tension. If you can crack a fake smile, even for a second, it can positively influence the way you feel.
  3. Find small ways to pamper yourself. When times are tough, finding just one small way to indulge yourself can lift your spirits. Whether it’s taking time to meet a friend for coffee, allowing yourself a leisurely soak in the tub, or even just sneaking a little piece of chocolate and taking the time to enjoy it can give you the mental breathing room to regroup and help face your troubles. If you can regularly plan out some future regrouping time, it can brighten things by giving you a nice thing to look forward to, even if you’re overwhelmed. Letting a little light in now and then and taking care of yourself can brighten your whole world.
  4. Stop and breathe for just a few moments every day. To combat the feeling that you’re drowning in problems, take a few minutes each day to just breathe. It can be like a life vest, helping you ride the waves. Meditation, prayer, or just quiet contemplation will help you keep your sanity when your schedule is overly full or when you feel overwhelmed.  You might feel like there’s simply not enough hours in the day to take a little “me” time. We’re all busy up to our eyeballs, so even taking a few moments before bed or when you wake up can do the trick. It will either end or start your day on a lighter note. As an added bonus, the better you feel, the better you can care for those who might depend on you.
  5. Vent and then let it go. Some people struggle by circling back to their problems over and over in their minds. If you feel stuck and cannot seem to shake these intrusive thoughts, find a trusted friend to whom you can vent. Don’t have instant access to someone close? Talk to yourself! Just saying things out loud can get your thoughts out of your head and may give you some clarity. If you’re speaking to a friend, remind them you’re not asking for advice or help; you just need to unload some stuff. Like talking to yourself, it can just make things a little more tangible, open, and clear.

When you unload the things that are taking up real estate in your brain, you might find that the weight lifts and you’re able to feel positive and refreshed.

Hang in there! Everything is temporary. Try to not allow the stress to paralyze you. People who take little steps towards lightening their issues tend to bounce back the fastest. You have the power to make the best of what you’re going through, so seize the day and do something just for you.

And remember the old saying, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” It may help you keep things in perspective.

Adapted from happierdaily.com.

Jeff Bellomo

To join us for one of our upcoming workshops just click here and RSVP!

Finance Record

The Importance of Keeping Good Financial Records

Whenever we meet with clients to create estate planning documents, one of the things we suggest they do is to begin keeping a rolling five years of financial records.

By that we mean that they should keep records of all bank statements, checkbook ledgers, statements for investment accounts, records of any gifts they make (though we generally advise against gifting as part of estate planning), sales or purchases of real estate, motor and other types of vehicles (boats, RVs, trailers, etc.) and other similar transactions, for a five-year period. It is rolling in that after the end of the sixth year, they can discard the records from the first year.

For example, if a client started the rolling records on January 1, 2019, then he or she would keep records for all of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, and 2024. On January 1, 2025, the client could then discard the 2019 records, and so on, leaving five full years of records.

The reason for this is that, if they or their spouse should need to go into a nursing home or need in-home care, then we can protect some or all of their assets, and qualify them for Medicaid reasonably quickly. (There are income limits to qualify for Medicaid provided in-home care.)

We have written numerous blogs on this subject, so the intent of this blog is not to rehash that information.

In order to be able to file a Medicaid application, the applicant needs to submit five years of financial records. We are well experienced in filing such applications for clients and protecting their assets and can do so reasonably quickly.

However, we can only file the application once we have all of the client’s required financial information and statements. That can take months for the family to collect, can often be quite costly, and delays our ability to file for Medicaid for the client. With nursing home costs in York County running between $10,000 and $12,000 a month, filing delays are very costly to the family, and will quickly reduce the assets which can be protected.

If, on the other hand, you begin keeping financial records now, and keep that rolling five years of records, if the time comes when you or your spouse needs to enter a nursing home, you already have all the records you need, and greatly accelerate the Medicaid filing process, thus saving your family significant time and assets.

Many people say to us that is a lot of paper to hold onto. That is true, but in this day and age, if you have a scanner (most computer printers today are also scanners), then you can scan those records into the computer as they come in. Just be sure to back the computer records up, or better yet, save them to a thumb drive/flash drive. Just don’t lose it!

If you begin this habit today, no matter how young you are, then you and your family will always be prepared in the event you ever have to go into a nursing home. Remember the Boy Scout motto:  Be prepared!

To join us for one of our upcoming workshops just click here and pick the date and time that work best for you!

Jeff Bellomo

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