Home Instead Senior Care, Birmingham

Tips to Help Caregivers Navigate the System

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One out of every four persons – or more than 65 million people in the United States – serves as informal, unpaid caregivers, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Providing assistance to another person who is ill, disabled or needs help with daily activities can be physically and emotionally draining. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia offers these tips to help caregivers navigate the system on behalf of their parents, grandparents and others:

• Gathering information: The first step is to gather as much information as possible about the loved one’s health and health benefits. While a loved one might be reluctant to share this information at first, experts recommend caregivers remain patient.
• Getting permission: While the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects patient privacy, it also can be an obstacle for caregivers. It’s critical caregivers file the proper paperwork with their loved one’s health benefits provider.
• Enrolling in a chronic disease program: Eight out of 10 Americans age 65 and older have some chronic illness. Those enrolled in a Medicare plan may have access to free programs to help them manage their diseases.
• Knowing your rights: Once the disclosure/authorization papers have been filed, caregivers can speak to a customer care agent on a beneficiary’s behalf and access information online.
• Investigating ‘extra help’: Extra help may be available to low-income people with a Medicare prescription drug plan through the Social Security office. Even if the senior doesn’t qualify for this extra help, other state and community resources may be available.
• Caring for yourself: The final and perhaps most important tip is for caregivers to take care of themselves. Get enough sleep, go for a walk, take an occasional day off, and maintain a sense of humor.

See full article here.

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