Please consult with your physician to get a clear diagnosis for your family member or a better understanding of your situation if the diagnosis is not apparent. If a diagnosis is available, your physician may refer you to resources to familiarize yourself with the situation and diagnosis or resources that may assist in your caregiving. Also, you may refer to our website, fcscgero.org/calm-preview/calm-health-issues, or call us toll-free at (855) 872-6060 for additional information.

Due to the high level of importance of the legal aspects of family caregiving, it is essential that legal arrangements are made as early in the caregiving process as possible. Many of these legal aspects will establish very clear guidelines for the future management of your family member’s health, finances, and well-being. It is possible that, as your family member’s condition progresses, you may be disqualified from being able to make these arrangements. For any further information about any of the following topics, please call Bet Tzedek at (323) 939-0506 or us here at the Center at our toll-free number, (855) 872-6060.

  • Durable power of attorney: an appointed individual that has the responsibility to manage the medical, legal, and fiscal tasks of the older adult
  • Living will: a written statement identifying an individual’s needs and desires concerning medical treatment when he/she is unable to express end-of-life care wishes
  • Trusts: assigning one or more individuals to supervise property/assets for the benefit of another person
  • Conservatorship: a judge-appointed individual assigned to administer fiscal affairs of another person due to physical or mental constraint or old age.
  • Advanced Healthcare Directive/Healthcare Proxy/POLST: a legally binding document that identifies specific health care choices that should be honored if the older adult is incapable of deciding for themselves, due to degenerative health conditions or general decline.

Health insurance provides a degree of financial protection during a medical crisis and may alleviate the financial burden of regular appointments with physicians and other health care service providers and medications. This is why it is very important to understand your family member’s health insurance policy and benefits.

The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) provides individuals with free one-on-one Medicare counseling about supplemental plans, prescription drugs, Medicare Advantage plans, long term care, legal appeals, and more. Please call HICAP at (800) 434-0222 to set up an appointment with a counselor at a local HICAP office. If you are unable to go to an office, a counselor may be available to come to your house.

For a better understanding of Medi-Cal policies and benefits, please call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services at the toll-free number (877) 597-4777 or (866) 613-3777 for the customer service center.

If you have a private health insurance plan, please contact your health insurance provider for a better understanding of your health insurance policy and benefits.

Although family caregiving may be presently stressful, it is important that you begin planning for the long-term in order to avoid any unforeseen events and potentially ease the burden of the current situation. Additionally, different programs have differing eligibility requirements, and it is equally important to understand whether your family member is eligible to receive the benefits of a given program. Below are various aspects associated with long-term care planning.

  • Medi-Cal: Medi-Cal offers free or low-cost health coverage for low-income California residents through managed health plans. Eligibility can be determined by visiting the California Department of Health Care Services’s website, http://www.dhcs.ca.gov, or by calling the Los Angeles County Department of Public Services at the toll free number, (877) 597-4777, or the Customer Service Center number, (866) 613-3777.
  • In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS):  The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Program helps pay for services provided to low-income elderly or disabled individuals, so that they can remain safely and comfortably in their own home. These services may include housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, personal care services, and protective supervision for the mentally impaired. IHSS is considered an alternative to out-of-home care that will be discussed in the section regarding living options. Visit the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Social Services website at http://dpss.lacounty.gov for more information. For those within Los Angeles County, IHSS telephone applications may also be completed by calling (888) 944-4477.
  • Social Security Benefits: Social Security benefit payments are determined by the earnings generated during your working career and are provided to retired individuals or those who are unemployed or disabled. For more information about your family member’s Social Security benefits, call to toll free number (800) 772-1213.
  • Veteran’s Benefits: As a veteran, individuals and their dependents are eligible for benefits and services that provide financial and other forms of assistance through the Veteran’s Affairs. These services may include:

o   Compensation
o   Education and training
o   Home loans
o   Life insurance
o   Vocational rehabilitation

For more information, please visit the VA Caregiver Support House website, www.caregiver.va.gov, or call (855) 260-3274.

  • Long-term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is different than the traditional health insurance. It is designed to cover long-term services and supports, including personal and custodial care. Long-term care insurance plans reimburse a daily amount of a pre-selected amount for services to assist with the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or eating. For more details, please visit www.longtermcare.gov or call (202) 619-0724.

Although the best living situation for your family member may seem very obvious, it is important to consider the various advantages and disadvantages of the different living options to most appropriately decide. Below are the types of living arrangements available.

  • At home:  This option allows your family member to live in a home setting or within a family member’s house.  Older adults can opt to have hired home care professionals to assist with activities of daily living (i.e. eating, bathing, using the restroom, routine chores, etc).  Medicare may finance these expenditures if the older individual is both homebound and needs skilled nursing care or rehabilitating therapy.  These services, however, are only offered part-time or in the case of intermittent care. Medi-Cal also offers the same services as Medicare, but this program may also provide IHSS aid workers, case management services, respite care, and home modifications.
  • Residential Care Facility:  Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs), sometimes noted as assisted living facilities, retirement homes, and board and care homes, provide care, supervision, and assistance with various activities of daily living to individuals over the age of 60 or individuals under the age of 60 with comparable needs. Under certain circumstances, RCFEs may also provide incidental medical services.
  • (Skilled) Nursing Facility: Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) provide medical, nursing, and rehabilitative care. Residents often cannot perform one or more activities of daily living. SNFs must have readily accessible physicians for its residents. Some SNFs may be specialized to only care for individuals with a given disorder, such as psychiatric disorders.

Please call our toll-free number, (855) 872-6060, with any further questions.

Self-care involves attending to various needs of one’s being through exploring personal interests and hobbies. The different aspects to which one should pay attention and potential activities associated with each include:

  • Sensory: spending time outdoors, taking a warm bath, burning a scented candle, listening to music, paying attention to breathing, etc.
  • Pleasure: gardening, watching a film, creating art/craft project, journaling, etc.
  • Mental/Mastery: cleaning/organizing a messy drawer, trying a new activity, participating in a crossword puzzle or word search, read about a new and unfamiliar topic, etc.
  • Spiritual: reading poetry or motivational quotes, meditating, spending time in nature, listing a few things you are grateful for presently, etc.
  • Emotional: accepting your own feelings and write them down, crying and laughing when needed, practicing self-compassion, etc.
  • Physical: walking/running, stretching, trying out yoga or dance moves, bike riding, napping, etc.
  • Social: going out for a meal with a companion/friend, telephone calls with a friend, joining a book club or support group, etc.

For more information, please visit www.psychologytoday.com.

Family caregiving can be a very stressful situation, especially when being handled alone; therefore, it is important to develop a strong social support system. If possible, engaging your family members is often an effective initial step to developing a strong support system. Additionally, many family caregivers find emotional support from close friends, faith-based organizations, and support groups in order to further engage the community in their family caregiving situation and relieve some of the stress associated with caregiving. As discussed in the self-care section, it is important to find a community that will allow you to satisfy your own interests and hobbies as well.

Please call us toll-free at (855) 872-6060 or follow the link to our website, http://fcscgero.org/events/, to find out about our support groups. We offer in-person and phone support groups.

If you are unable to attend support groups in person, the Family Caregiver Alliance hosts an online support group. Follow the link to find more information about this group: https://www.caregiver.org/support-groups

It is important that you not handle family caregiving alone. Engaging in community and senior services is an easy and friendly way of developing a sense of community outside of your family caregiving situation.

While these lists are not necessarily all-inclusive, please contact the Los Angeles County Department of Community and Senior Services by calling (213) 738-2600 or by visiting its website, http://css.lacounty.gov/welcome.aspx, and City of Los Angeles’ Department of Aging by calling the Information and Assistance Services number, (213) 482-7252, or visiting its website, http://aging.lacity.org/, to locate the nearest community and senior centers.

african daughter pushing senior mother on wheelchair

 

Please call the USC Family Caregiver Support Center at our Toll-Free Telephone Number (855) USC – 6060 or (855) 872 – 6060
or visit our website fcscgero.org for more information.

This project is funded, in part, by the Los Angeles County Area Agency on Aging, California Department of Health Care Services, and the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology.