Comprehensive Planning. Lifelong Solutions.

Reducing caregiver stress helps prevent elder abuse

By Hook Law Center

Elder abuse has long been associated with the stress caregivers experience when providing care for older loved ones. Reducing caregiver stress is a key factor in preventing the abuse and neglect of elders.

As much of health care moves out of hospitals and into homes, caregivers are charged with providing care to increasingly ill loved ones in increasingly complex ways. At the same time, caregivers experience emotional stress from seeing the physical or cognitive decline of a loved one.

Anyone can be a caregiver, but caregivers are most likely to be middle-aged women who work and who may also be the primary caregivers for their children. The time commitment and physical commitment of providing care can be profound. In some cases, this mounting stress can be a contributing factor to the abuse or neglect of an elder.

Self-care is a key factor in reducing caregiver stress. Caregivers should develop healthy coping skills, such as taking time away from the elder, exercising, socializing or participating in hobbies.

A person’s family and community can also help reduce caregiver stress. For example, community respite programs can give caregivers a few hours to spend on their own needs. Family members can pitch in by becoming secondary caregivers and reducing the load on the primary caregiver.

One complex factor that can contribute to elder abuse and the stress of caregiving is the caregiver’s historical relationship with the elder. If the caregiver was abused by the elder as a child, the caregiver may experience a great deal of stress and complex emotions when caring for the elder now. The same is true for parent-child relationships that were marked by antipathy or apathy in previous years. For such individuals, professional assistance or other options for care may be best.

Posted on Monday, December 29th, 2014. Filed under Long-Term Care.

What is covered by Medicare in a skilled nursing facility?

By Hook Law Center

Many people on Medicare assume that the program will cover any medical costs they encounter, including the cost of care in a skilled nursing facility. However, coverage for care in a nursing home is actually quite limited, and it is only provided under certain circumstances.

Medicare only pays for care in a nursing facility if a patient is admitted to the facility within a month of having been admitted to a hospital for at least 3 consecutive days. In addition, Medicare requires physician certification of the fact that the necessary care can only be provided by an inpatient facility. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must have approved the facility.

For Medicare to cover care in a skilled nursing facility, the patient must need the facility’s rehabilitation services five days a week, or its skilled nursing services seven days a week. If the care could be administered at home by a nurse on a less frequent basis, Medicare will not cover the care in a facility.

Even when care in a facility is covered, Medicare only pays for 100 days of care. For the first 20 days, full coverage is provided. From days 21 through 100, co-payment is required. After 100 days, the patient is required to pay privately until they have exhausted their resources and are eligible for Medicaid.

Medicare charges are monitored by Recovery Audit Contractors, who work for the CMS. These contractors receive a commission for detecting and recovering overpayments, so doctors and hospitals are very motivated to avoid charging Medicare for expenses that are not covered.

Posted on Sunday, December 21st, 2014. Filed under Long-Term Care.

Avoiding retirement planning pitfalls

By Hook Law Center

Although most people are aware of how important it is to plan for retirement, it is easy to fall into retirement planning pitfalls that have significant consequences down the line.
One of the most common pitfalls is money itself. Many people simply do not save enough early
enough. It is recommended that people save enough to have 40 to 60 percent of their pre-retirement income after retiring, depending on their planned lifestyle. The later a person starts saving, the more they need to save each year. In 2015, individuals will be able to contribute up to $18,000 per year to their 401(k)s.

The money saved for retirement should be earmarked only for retirement. A 401(k) is not an
emergency savings account; it is a retirement account, and withdrawals before the age of 59 1/2 are subject to penalties and income tax. To avoid the temptation to take early withdrawals, one may wish to keep emergency savings in a money market account.

Avoidable financial fees can have a substantial impact on a person’s retirement planning efforts. According to, the average American spends about $155,000 in unnecessary fees over the course of a lifetime. Fees that are easily avoidable include ATM fees, credit card fees, overdraft fees, late payment charges and termination fees.

Finally, missing out on a healthy lifestyle can lead to a less robust retirement. Being in good physical shape allows one to enjoy those golden years to which all that retirement planning has been leading. In addition, the financial cost of health care for preventable diseases can be substantial. Eating a diet rich in unprocessed foods, exercising several times a week, and visiting the doctor for routine check-ups can all help secure a happy, healthy retirement.

Posted on Tuesday, December 16th, 2014. Filed under Estate Planning.

Seniors and their families should apply good judgment in considering nursing home placement services

By Hook Law Center

Nursing home placement services, which offer to help find the perfect housing for seniors, are a growing trend in elder care. These services are offered for no charge, and they claim to demystify the world of elder care facilities. However, seniors and their families should use good judgment in choosing a nursing home placement service.

Senior placement services are completely unregulated, and they do not require licensing or training. This means that anyone can start one, and that quality is not guaranteed. All nursing home placement services stay in business by working with a network of nursing homes,
assisted living facilities or retirement communities. These facilities pay a commission to the placement service when a senior moves in.

The quality of services offered by a nursing home placement service can vary widely. There are some national and franchise operations that work entirely over the phone or online. Often, the consultants at such companies have not actually been to the facilities they are recommending. These companies tend to simply provide a list of communities for the senior to visit.

There are some gems. Small, local companies are often home to experts in senior care who provide a more hands-on service. At these companies, consultants work with seniors in person, take seniors and their families on facility tours and have the expertise to identify a senior’s individual needs. A highquality firm will spend ample time with a senior and follow up once the senior has been placed.

Due to the risk of being misled by a nursing home placement company, seniors and their families should do their research before settling on a company. The company should offer in-person services and be embedded in the local community. Often, but not always, small firms provide better service.

Posted on Friday, December 12th, 2014. Filed under Estate Planning, Long-Term Care.
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