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Attention Grandparents: Watch out for phony debt collectors

My grandma kept an eye out for cheaters. (No, not that kind.) Back in the day, if a salesman knocked on her front door, she waved them off. Before caller ID, she hung up on telemarketers. But a call from a phony debt collector? She might have fallen for that one. Especially if the debt collector said she was responsible for her grandchild’s debt.

 

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PROGRAM ON SATURDAY, APRIL 27 FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS

Navigating Legal Issues for Family Caregivers

This session will attempt to answer legal questions common to all family caregivers in the hope of assisting you avoid legal pitfalls. Questions to be covered are:  “What are the duties and authorities under a Power of Attorney for Property, Power of Attorney for Healthcare, Living Trust or Living Will?”; “What options are available in planning and paying for long-term care?”; “How can family caregivers can utilize Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance and personal care contracts to maximize another’s quality of life?”

Presenter: Janna Dutton, JD, and Rebecca Lerfelt, LCSW,  Assistant Director of PLOWS Council on Aging.

Date:  Saturday, April 27, 2013

Time:  10:00 A.M. – Noon

Location: Orland Park Public Library, 14921 Ravina Ave.,  Orland Park, Illinois

Registration: There is no charge to attend this program. However, advanced registration is required.  Please call PLOWS Council on Aging at 708-361-0219 or click here.

PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR SPRING 2013

TRUSTS :What They Are, How They Work, and How They May Help You or Someone You Care About

Presented by: Kathryn C. Casey, JD.

A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a “trustee,” holds legal title to property for another person, called a “beneficiary.” There are different types of trusts (revocable, irrevocable, testamentary, and special needs), and each type of trust serves a different purpose. Katie’s presentation style and vast knowledge on this subject make her the perfect person to speak on this important topic.

Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Program: 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

Location: Kenneth Young Center, 1001 Rohlwing Road, Elk Grove Village, Illinois

Registration: There is no charge to attend. However, advanced registration is required. click here to register

Continuing Education: This program will award 1.5 clock hours to Illinois Social Workers and Counselors.

Elder Law and Ethics, 2013

Please join us for an interactive presentation and case studies of elder law & ethics topics such as:

  • Determination of decisional capacity
  • Risk factors for neglect, abuse, exploitation, and undue influence
  • Solutions for helping those at risk
  • Changes to Medicaid

Presented by: Janna Dutton, JD

Date: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Registration: 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM

Program: 9:00 AM – 12 Noon

Location: Covenant Home, 2720 W. Foster, Chicago, IL 60625

Continuing Education: This program will award 3.0 clock hours to Illinois Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Nurses. This program satisfies the Illinois social worker 3 hour ethics requirement.

Registration: Registration is closed. This session is full.

Elder Law and Ethics, 2013

Please join us for an interactive presentation and case studies of elder law & ethics topics such as:

  • Determination of decisional capacity
  • Risk factors for neglect, abuse, exploitation, and undue influence
  • Solutions for helping those at risk
  • Changes to Medicaid

Presented by: Kathryn C. Casey, JD

Date: Friday, April 19, 2013

Registration: 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM

Program: 9:00 AM – 12 Noon

Location: The Admiral, 929 West Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60640

Continuing Education: This program will award 3.0 clock hours to Illinois Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Nurses. This program satisfies the Illinois social worker 3 hour ethics requirement.

Registration: There is no cost to attend. However, advanced registration is required and seating is limited. Click here to register.

Legal Ability Planning – How To Prepare For and Prosper In Adulthood

Adequate legal planning for living with a disability, whether your own or your loved one’s, involves more than writing a will. It requires legal documents designed for living. Attend this session, led by an attorney practicing disability and elder law, as she discuss important topics including health care planning and coverage, financial and health care surrogate decision-making, long term care, and other important planning tools designed to protect your physical, mental, and financial health, or that of someone you care about, during life.

Presenter: Janna Dutton, JD

Date: Thursday, May 9, 2013

Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: Jewish Community and Family Services, 5150 West Golf Road, 2nd Floor, Skokie, IL 60077

Continuing Education: This program will award 2 clock hours to Illinios Social Worker and Counselors.

Registration: There is no cost to attend. However, advanced registration is required and seating is limited. Click here to register.

Are You Prepared to Serve All Seniors? Think Again.

As professionals, we are very aware of the challenges faced by our aging population, especially those who are frail or ill. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals facing a health crisis, the challenges are often magnified. Out of fear, both real and perceived, many LGBT seniors delay or avoid getting the care they need.

This training, offered through the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and sponsored by Dutton & Casey, the Senior and Community Resource Center at St. Alexius Medical Center, Center on Halsted, and Elderwerks, will provide you with information and resources to best serve LGBT older adults and address the unique challenges faced by this community. The training will include group discussion, interactive small group activities and break-out sessions.

Presenter: Britta Larson, M. NH, Senior Services Director at the Center on Halsted

Dates: Monday, April 22, 2013 or Monday, September 23, 2013

Registration: 8:00 AM – 8:30 AM

Presentation: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Location: St. Alexius Medical Center, 1555 Barrington Road, Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Continuing Education: This program will award 4.0 clock hours to Illinois Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Nurses.

Registration: There is no cost to attend. However, advanced registration is required and seating is very limited. Click here to register. for the April session. Click here to register for the September session.

Legal Planning for Family Caregivers: What Social Service Professionals Need to Know

As social services professionals, you are often the first people who families turn to for answers to their questions. Attend this session, presented by Kathryn Casey, an attorney who concentrates in elder law and disability and special needs planning, to assist in having these answers. Questions to be covered include: “What are the duties and authorities under a Power of Attorney for Property, Power of Attorney for Healthcare, Living Trust or Living Will?” “What options are available in planning and paying for long-term care?” “How can family caregivers utilize Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance and personal care contracts to maximize another’s quality of life?” And… bring your questions!

Presenter: Kathryn C. Casey

Date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Registration: 8:30 AM-9:00 AM

Session Time: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM

Location: St. Alexius Medical Center, 1555 Barrington Road, 4th Floor Conference Room B, Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Registration: There is no cost to attend. However, advanced reigstration is required. Click here to register.

Scam Alert

12-5-12          

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Commerce Commission alerted utility customers to a recent scam targeting residents in the Chicago area in which someone claiming to be a utility employee asks for immediate payment of a bill either at a customer’s door, over the telephone or by e-mail.

 The ICC has received complaints from utility customers about scam artists claiming to be utility representatives, telling customers that their service will be disconnected unless payment is made directly to the scammers. The scammer may direct the consumer to purchase a prepaid credit card, “Cash Card” and to call them back with the personal identification number (PIN).  The stories can vary, for example, with the scammer saying that the customer’s billing cycle has changed and payment must be made immediately, that the account is past due and payment can be made to them directly to avoid disconnection of the utility service, or the customer’s previous payment was rejected or never received.

 “If someone appears at your door claiming to be from your utility company and asking for immediate payment of your bill, I would slam the door in their face, call the police and contact your utility company directly. Utility companies do not go door-to-door collecting payments,” Madigan said. “Any consumer who has provided their personal information to make an on-the-spot payment to someone claiming to represent a utility company should contact my office’s Consumer Fraud Bureau with the details.”

 ICC Chairman Doug Scott urged consumers to always ask for identification from those who knock on their door offering a “service.” “Scam artists are good at what they do, so arm yourself with information before doing business with anyone who comes to your door or calls you on the telephone.  Ask for identification and if doesn’t look right to you, it probably isn’t.  You don’t have to do business with anyone who shows up at your door or calls you asking for personal information,” Scott said.  “Contact the utility and check it out for yourself.” 

The Attorney General and the ICC offer these reminders to utility customers:

 *Never provide personal information to anyone who comes to the door or calls you claiming to be a representative of the utility.

 *Contact the utility at the phone number listed on your bill to confirm the caller or the representative at your home is a verifiable employee of the utility.  Do not call a different number suggested by the potential scammer.

 *Utility field personnel in Illinois do not take payments from consumers. Be on guard with anyone who asks for your personal information, or says you must pay immediately and suggests a method to get the money quickly.

 If you suspect you have been scammed, have a suspicious incident to report or have questions, contact the Attorney General’s office at 1-800-386-5438 or the ICC at 1-800-524-0795

The New Illinois Power Of Attorney Act And How It May Affect You

On July 1, 2011, the new Illinois Power of Attorney Act will go into effect. Existing properly executed Illinois powers of attorney will remain valid; however, one may want to consider revising existing powers of attorney to make the most of the amendments to the Act. For any adult 18-years-of-age or older who does not have in place properly executed powers of attorney, this is a good time to obtain them.

Medicare D

Just a reminder, Medicare beneficiaries have until December 7 to enroll in, or change, Medicare D coverage.

For Resources on Medicare D, please go to www.medicare.gov; www.medicareinteractive.org; www.insurance.illinois.gov/ship

Who Are We?

Dutton & Casey, PC (Elder and Disability Law)

Advocates for Elders, Persons with Disabilities, and their Loved Ones.

The law firm of Dutton & Casey, P.C., is committed to serving our clients with the comprehensive and personally tailored service they need and deserve. With 50 years of combined legal experience, we have acquired the depth and breadth of knowledge necessary to address the full scope of elder law and disability issues. 

Our Areas of Concentration:

  • Medicaid Eligibility
  • Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation Litigation
  • Estate and Disability Planning
  • Guardianship
  • Litigation
  • Mental Health Law
  • Probate Administration
  • Public Benefits
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Trust Administration

* Full Time Social Worker/Certified Care Manager On Staff

Office Locations:

Arlington Heights, Chicago, Skokie, and Vernon Hills, Illinois.

Phone / Video Conferencing  Appointments are also Available.

Contact Information:

Telephone:      312-899-0950 or 847-261-3584

Website:          www.duttonelderlaw.com 

 

-please click here for a flyer on the law firm.

Internet Scams

The Family Caregiver Toolbox

Don’t Become the Victim of a Scammer ToolBox

If you have a telephone or an e-mail address, you have no doubt been the target of a scammer. No one is immune from these criminals, who are using more sophisticated techniques every day. Some e-mail scammers have even learned how to make their correspondence appear as if it’s coming from a trusted government source, such as the IRS. The victims of Internet crime alone lose millions of dollars each year.

You can protect yourself and your loved ones. A variety of reputable agencies and organizations have compiled resources and tips that are a must-read for anyone who uses a telephone or computer.

A new toolkit from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), produced in partnership with the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation — “Savvy Saving Seniors: Steps to Avoiding Scams” — is helping to educate older adults and their caregivers about how to protect themselves from financial abuse and scams. The toolkit includes a list of signs for caregivers to look for when concerned about their loved ones. Go to www.ncoa.org/assets/files/pdf/Steps-to-Avoiding-Scam-Handbook-10-12-11.pdf.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center, provides helpful “Internet Crime Prevention Tips.” Go to www.ic3.gov/preventiontips.aspx#item-16. View more tips at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud.

for more information on resources for family caregivers, go to thefamilycaregiver.org

Family Caregiving and Ambiguous Loss

   
 
 
 
Caregiving and Ambiguous Loss
 

Introduction

Caregiving for a loved one can cause stress in many ways. To manage the stress—which we know can be dangerous to a caregiver’s health—we must first know what the problem is. Surprisingly, many caregivers of individuals with memory disorders or dementia report that the main problem is not the illness itself, but the ambiguity and uncertainty it causes.

It’s a difficult challenge to care for someone who is here, but not here—here physically, but gone mentally and psychologically. You feel alone, and in some ways, you are. For many caregivers, it’s as if there’s a stranger in the house.

Adding to the stress, disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or traumatic brain injury cause unpredictable memory loss that comes and goes—one moment here, the next moment gone. This roller coaster of absence and presence is a very stressful kind of loss—what author Pauline Boss calls ambiguous loss. Unlike death, there is no closure, no official validation, and sometimes little community or religious support. You feel you are left to cope on your own; even the strongest caregivers feel anxious and depressed. The challenge is to learn strategies to cope with this ambiguity that is so much a part of memory loss.

 Symptoms of Overwhelming Stress

Caring for someone with a cognitive impairment—and the ambiguous feelings that arise—can create a constancy of sorrow that can immobilize caregivers. For example, decisions are put on hold, tasks pile up, chores delayed. Doubt, confusion, helplessness and hopelessness set in, and caregivers can feel anxious and depressed. Friendships are in limbo as caregiving takes more and more of your time. Conflict increases with spouse, children/stepchildren, siblings. Family gatherings and rituals that were the glue of enjoyable family life are cancelled or changed. When a caregiver feels increasingly isolated, the possibility of depression, anxiety, abuse, guilt, shame, lack of self-care, illness or substance abuse increases.

 Tips for Coping with the  Ambiguity of Memory Loss

To manage the stress of caregiving, try to connect with other people: if possible, join a support group either in person or on the Internet, attend a book club, social event, or faith-based group. Here are some ideas, questions and tips to help: 1. Name your problem.
Know that one real culprit causing your stress is the ambiguity from a loved one being here, but not here. Call it “ambiguous loss.” It is neither your fault nor the patient’s. It is caused by an illness.

2. Practice both/and thinking.
It helps to think “both/and” rather than in the extremes of “either/or.” Instead of thinking the care recipient has to be either here or gone, think of him or her as both here and gone. This means balancing two different ideas at the same time—present, and also absent. Both/and thinking is less stressful than continuing to search for an absolutely perfect solution.

Here are some examples:

“I am both a caregiver—and a person with my own needs.”
“I take care of both him—and myself.”
“I both wish it was over—and that my loved one could keep on living.” 
“I am both sad at my loved one’s illness—and joyful with my new grandchild.”
“I am both sad about my lost hopes and dreams—and happy about some new plans and goals.”

Now add your own examples. “Both/and” thinking may come faster if you practice with another person.

3. Know your “family” and community information and support systems.
You need predictability (not ambiguity) about whom you can talk to and count on for help. Have some other people become “like family” to you? Does your community offer help and social support? Spiritual support? Recreation and respite? Information support? Talk with your Caregiver Resource Center about what help is available to you. Check the web—a quick online search for “caregiver” offers a wealth of information and online communities. If your biological family offers no help, perhaps you can create a “psychological family” that will be there for you when you need help. Talk about how to divide up the work among a “care team.” Make a written plan to know who will do what and when. Who will come once a week so that you can take some time off to do as you wish? Who will come for a week twice a year so that you can take a vacation from caregiving? Several websites can help you establish your caregiving community (see Resource list below).

4. Continue—but revise—family holidays, celebrations and rituals.
Do not cancel, but rather, simplify the gatherings with the people you care about to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and religious events and rituals. Families, friends, and communities connect to celebrate life’s transitions. Human connection can help lower your stress in times of sadness. It can help you and a person with dementia feel the spirit of life around you. This is essential to staying strong when the person you care for is not able to connect fully with you. Think and talk about this: what family rituals did you celebrate as a couple or family before the memory loss? Now? How can you simplify your family rituals and celebrations to fit the circumstances now? Young people can be especially helpful in answering these questions, because of their strong imaginations and new perspectives.

5. Revise family roles.
To manage the stress of caring for someone with severe memory loss, alterations are needed in what you and other family members previously did. There are changes in family roles as a result of the memory loss. What tasks are you now responsible for? What tasks have you lost? How do you manage these changes? What would help? Is there agreement in the family about who should do the caregiving? Are you resilient enough to change or do you feel you have to do  it all as before? Talk about who plays what roles in  the family.

Finally, based on roles, think about how you see yourself now. You might ask: Is it right for me to take time off to go out with friends when my spouse is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease? Do I still feel like a son or daughter or more like a parent to my parent? If my spouse has memory loss, do I still feel married? How should I act?

6. Be aware of family rules.
 Who is allowed to do what in your family? Is there a team approach or are you expected to do all the work alone? Become aware of your family’s rules and question them. They can change. Do your family’s rules about race, religion, class, age, or gender get talked about? For example, is there an unspoken rule in your family that only females can be caregivers? Are certain people excused from helping? Why are they excused? There may need to be a new family rule about “teamwork” so that caregiving does not fall to one person alone. Include children and teenagers in the circle of information about the illness, its effects, its unclear prognosis, and your need for help and teamwork.

7. Understand that anger and guilt are normal, but avoid harmful actions.
While mixed emotions are an understandable outcome of memory loss, the negative feelings can come out as anger or, worse yet, abuse—and that is not acceptable. Talk with someone—a professional or another caregiver—about your negative feelings to prevent acting out your anger. Remember, feeling angry about the ambiguity in memory loss is normal, but acting out that anger against the patient or yourself is not.

8. It seems contradictory, but imagine something new to hope for.
To stay healthy, everyone needs hope. When your loved one is ill, and you are tied to caregiving, you must discover new hope. It helps to talk about this with other people—and again, with young people. They might help you imagine new dreams for your future—new connections, new hobbies, new travel plans, new skills, new relationships.

Given the stress from caregiving and the ambiguity of memory loss, what can you plan for the future that is clear and certain? How about an outing, a firm date for dinner with a friend, a hobby that has clear outcomes, a TV program that you clearly enjoy? New hopes and dreams will emerge when you can balance the ambiguity with some activities that have clear outcomes, no matter how small.

9. Check on your own health.
Seek professional help if you:

  • Feel depressed, physically sick or hopeless.
  • Feel like hurting yourself or hurting or yelling at the person you care for.
  • Depend too heavily on alcohol or recreational drugs.
  • Fight with your spouse, children, stepchildren, or other family members and friends.
  • No longer take care of yourself.

When you are a caregiver for someone with memory loss, the stress of ambiguity adds to the usual pressures of caregiving. You have a duty and a right to take care of yourself.

 Summary

This Fact Sheet is a caregiver’s guide to managing the extra stress from ambiguous loss. To sum it up, think of managing the ambiguity as learning to walk in the fog. Keep moving forward, despite the stress of not knowing what lies ahead. But at the same time, reach out for support and human connections to stay resilient and strong.

 Credits

About Ambiguous Loss. See www.ambiguousloss.com/about_ambiguous_loss.phpBoss, P. (2000, paperback). Ambiguous loss. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Boss, P. (2006). Loss, trauma, and resilience: Therapeutic work with ambiguous loss. New York: Norton.

 Recommended Readings

Bayley, J. (1999). Elegy for Iris. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

McKeithen, M. (2006). Blue peninsula: Essential words for a life of loss and change. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Schulz, R., & Beach, S. (1999). Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality: The caregiver health effects study. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282(23), 2215-2219.

Sparks, N. (1996). The Notebook. New York:  Warner Books.

Film adaptation: Cassavetes, N. (Director), Harris, L. (Producer), & Johnson, M. (Producer). (2004). The Notebook [Motion picture]. New York: New Line Cinema.

TeleCaregivingsm Workshop Audio Archive

Here but Not Here—Finding Hope When Your Loved One Has Memory Loss (Podcast)
http://caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=2061

Caregiving and Depression
http://caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=393

Caregiver Health
http://caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=1822

Caring for Adults with Cognitive and Memory   Impairments
http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=392

Dementia
http://caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=569

Grief and Loss
http://caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=404

Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family  Caregivers
http://caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=847

 Resources

Family Caregiver Alliance
180 Montgomery St., Ste. 900
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 434-3388
(800) 445-8106
Web Site: www.caregiver.org
E-mail: info@caregiver.org
Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) seeks to improve the quality of life for caregivers through education, services, research and advocacy.

Identifying Family Caregivers

Identifying Family Caregivers

Suzanne Mintz
2011-NFCM-Sm

There are more than 65 million family caregivers in America. Some are just beginning the caregiving journey while others have been providing care for five, 10, 15, even 20 years or more. It’s hard for those who are just beginning to help Mom and Dad with a few activities each week to relate to those of us who are providing more than 40 hours of care a week to a spouse/ partner, child, or parent who is severely ill and/or disabled, who lives with us, and who needs help with virtually all the ordinary activities of daily living such as dressing, toileting, eating, etc.

Those at the beginning of the journey don’t interact with the healthcare system as much as “high-burden” family caregivers — those of us who are putting in more than 40 hours a week helping a loved one. I fit into the latter group and I suspect that most of you reading this article do too. When there is talk about family caregivers needing help, about the nation’s most vulnerable citizens — and those who require the most resources — we and our loved ones are the people being discussed.

Within the caregiving community, advocates, scholars, researchers and others have all lamented the fact that as a rule, family caregivers don’t self-identify and that is the reason it is so hard to reach us with information and support. People at the beginning of the family caregiving journey are less likely to self-identify as family caregivers and that may be OK, but it is very important that high-burden family caregivers self-identify, or are identified as such by others.

The other day I had one of those “I should have had a V8” moments. I realized that it is less important for family caregivers to self-identify than it is for healthcare providers and the healthcare system to identify who are family caregivers. How can our healthcare system provide patient- and family-centered care, as we are told it should, if it doesn’t identify half of the equation? It doesn’t make sense really, and it certainly isn’t respectful. I have an idea about how family caregivers can be identified through their interaction with the healthcare system, an idea that is easy to implement and will cost virtually no money at all.

We’ve all filled out countless medical intake forms that become part of the medical record. They ask about our health history and even that of our parents, but they never ask, “Do you provide care for a family member or friend who is chronically ill and/or disabled?” or, “If you have a chronic illness or disability, is there a family member or friend who provides care to you or helps you manage your illness or disability?”

How can doctors, nurses and others pay attention to us, find out what care we provide at home, and keep an eye on our own health if they don’t know who we are? It’s important that they know exactly what type of care we provide our loved ones.

Do you do any of the following: take a loved one to the doctor regularly, manage his/her medications, or help him/her get in and out of bed and to the toilet, or eat or dress? How long have you been providing care? Do you have chronic back pain or feelings of depression? Knowing this type of information can impact the plan of care that healthcare professionals recommend and it can alert them to any problems you might have as well. While in some cases it’s obvious that there is a family caregiver, if it isn’t in the record, it isn’t official; consequently, we are truly invisible to the healthcare establishment, the government, and private insurers, despite the rhetoric to the contrary.

Given all the talk about patient- and family-centered care, not identifying family caregivers is at best an oversight and at worst hypocritical; either way, we need to correct this glaring omission. It’s important to inform healthcare professionals, key healthcare decision makers, the government, and private insurance companies that “family caregiver” is not just a term to pay tribute to, but, rather, that we are real people who provide long-term care for millions of Americans.

What you can do to ensure that family caregivers are identified in medical records:

  1. Attach a piece of paper to every intake form you fill out for yourself or your loved one. Put your name and your loved one’s name at the top and then write: “I am John Smith’s wife and his primary caregiver,” or, “My daughter, Nancy Dale, is my primary caregiver,” or a similar phrase. List the top five to 10 tasks you do and note the impact on your health and well-being (chronic back pain, depression) and your life (having to cut hours at work). Save this information on your computer and print it out each time you take Mom to the doctor or visit your own.
  2. Talk about the idea with your pharmacists, nurses, or others you come in contact with who have some connection to the healthcare system. They have probably never thought about the idea of identifying family caregivers on medical records.
  3. Write to your insurance company. Tell them that knowing who among their beneficiaries are family caregivers, and/or who have family caregivers, will provide them with an opportunity to find new ways to improve care and cut costs.
  4. Use social media to spread the idea. Talk to family, friends, and even clergy.

The goal is to create a buzz so that family caregivers and everyday people, as well as providers and decision makers, realize that something is missing on medical records: information about whether someone is or has a family caregiver. November is National Family Caregivers (NFC) Month. Let’s make NFC Month 2011 the time we began the movement to identify family caregivers in medical records.

 Click here for more information on the National Family Caregivers Association.

Family Caregivers: How to Avoid Holiday Traps

Family Caregivers: How to Avoid Holiday Traps

Caregivers can rewrite the holiday rulebook to reduce stress, increase joy

From Vicki Rackner, MD, 

Holidays, meant to be a celebration of shared joy and connection with family and community, can quickly become a time of burden and a reminder of alienation and loss.For caregivers, holidays can bring an extra measure of activities and caregiver stress1. “I wish the calendar would flip directly from November to January,” said Fern, 67. “We just got settled into a routine now that Mom moved in with us, and all I see are a longer to-do list and disrupted schedules.”Holiday celebrations can destabilize any family, and family caregivers know this better than most because people who attend to the needs of aging parents, a sick spouse or family friend already live on the edge of a delicate equilibrium. As Gary, 59, so colorfully said, “Since Dad had his stroke, my life is held together with rubber bands and bubble gum. I’m concerned that Christmas will herald its collapse.”

For self-preservation, many caregivers let go of rules about how holidays should be celebrated. “Being a caregiver for my sick wife offers many gifts,” said John, 73. “Maybe the most important is the invitation to look at our life in a new way. Almost out of necessity, I stripped down our holiday celebrations.”

5 Holiday Traps for Caregivers
There are several common holiday traps that family caregivers fall into, but they can be avoided. Just follow a simple concept: Free yourself from ideas about what shouldhappen, and give yourself permission to celebrate holidays in a way that works for you and your family.

    • Trap #1: Planning for the worst. Many caregivers think, “This could be Dad’s last Christmas, so I want to make it really special.” Wouldn’t it be great if we came into the world with an owner’s manual that included the expiration date! We do not. I have seen patients defy all medical odds and laugh about the doctor who gave them six months to live—20 years ago. Then there are the tragic untimely deaths. We should all celebrate as if this is our last holiday season!
  • Trap #2: Creating Norman Rockwell scenes. The idea of a picture-perfect holiday has an emotional tug that’s particularly seductive to family caregivers who may long to return to earlier, carefree days of health and vitality.While there is no perfect holiday celebration, you can create holiday rituals that are perfect for your family. Say at a family meeting, “Our lives are different this year, so we need to think about how our holiday celebration will be different. What are the two or three things that make the holiday special for you?” For most people, it’s the little things that make a big difference, like the Russian Tea Cakes, the special hand-embroidered tablecloth, or playing board games. Create a montage of your family’s perfect holiday.
  • Trap #3: Buying your way out of guilt. For people in the sandwich generation2, caring for both children and parents, the guilt that someone is getting shortchanged looms large. Who doesn’t wish for more hours in the day so that children and friends, even the person in the mirror, would get more time and attention? The life of a caregiver leaves big gaps. If you try to fill the gaps with gifts, you will undoubtedly find that it does not work very well.All family members, including children, need to know they are loved and treasured. Gifts are one way to say this, but what most kids of all ages really want is more of you. Consider a different kind of holiday gift, like a coupon for 10 minutes of undivided attention each day, a trip to the ice cream store, or a visit to the zoo.During a holiday dinner, how about shining a “spotlight” on each person at the table, with each guest offering a story that demonstrates why this person is special? You could write the comments on 3×5 cards and give them wrapped in ribbon or mounted in a collage.

    Consider inviting your kids to give rather than receive by touching the lives of those less fortunate. Serve a meal at a shelter. Invite a lonely neighbor to your house. Look for a chance to give a stranger a $20 bill, or whatever you can afford.

  • Trap #4: “Smile!” This instruction, given before every photo, captures the tone for holidays. Over and over, we’re told there’s a right way to feel during a holiday, and that’s happy. Family caregivers have a spectrum of feelings that rise to the surface during holidays, like sadness or anger or disappointment. It is sad that it’s not safe for Dad to live alone any more, so set aside some time to acknowledge those dark feelings. Suppressing the feeling does not make it any less real, and adds to your holiday burden. [Note: For help with handling feelings of grief and loss, see 5 Steps to Help You Through the Grieving Process3]
  • Trap #5: Party On!If you are an extrovert—someone who gets recharged from being in the presence of others—you are in your element during holidays. Party on!For introverts who get recharged by spending time alone, or those who have limited pep because of illness, holidays can be emotionally depleting. There is still hope for a joyous holiday celebration, it just requires some advanced planning.Plan a social calendar that’s reasonable for you as a caregiver and for your loved one. Be realistic about your energy limits before you make endless commitments, and ask family members to do the same. If either you or your loved one is an introvert, it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to some invitations with, “Thanks for the lovely offer. Unfortunately, we have other plans. I’m sure you’ll have a terrific time, and I’m sorry to miss it.” The host does not need to know that your other plans are a nap.

Your life became different when you became a family caregiver, and it’s time to do things differently. Free yourself from the idea that there’s a right way to celebrate a holiday. Look at your family and decide how to make holidays work for you, and then adjust the family expectations. That’s the recipe for celebrating the blessings in your life, and the joy and love you share with others.

Vicki Rackner, MD, FACS, is a surgeon who left the operating room to help patients and family caregivers enjoy better health. A noted expert on the doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Vicki serves employers through Medical Bridges4, and welcomes everyone to join her Caregiver Club5.

Alzheimer’s: Early Planning Critical to Financial Health

In a recent article in Reuters Magazine, Alzheimer’s: Early Planning Critical to Financial Health, working with a certified elder law attorney is an important step in planning for the future.

Janna Dutton, founder of Dutton & Casey, is one of only 8 certified elder law attorneys in Illinois.

Click here to read the article.

For additional information on how Dutton & Casey can assist you, or someone who you care about, please go our website.

Warning about a Scam

Warning about “Living Well” Grant Funds Scam

The U.S. Administration on Aging has alerted the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP programs) to a phone scam in which the caller tells the call recipients that they are eligible for a “Living Well” grant. The caller then instructs the recipient to complete a grant “application,” provide a cell phone number, and wire money through Western Union. The recipient is told that s/he will be contacted on their cell phone when it is time to pick up their “grant” funds at Western Union. 

This is definitely a scam. The Administration on Aging provides “Living Well” grants to several states, but those grants do not have anything to do with calling individuals or requesting money. If people receive calls like this, they should report the incident to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office consumer fraud hotline at one of the numbers below:

 (800) 386-5438 (Chicago)
(800) 243-0618 (Springfield)
(800) 243-0607 (Carbondale)

 Consumers are also encouraged to report calls like this to the Federal Trade Commission: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

 The Federal Trade Commission has information available on their website about fake government grants scams like this one: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/phonefraud/government.shtml

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The Law Firm of Dutton & Casey, PC., is dedicated to serving older adults, persons with disabilities, and the people who care for them. Please go to www.duttonelderlaw.com for more information on our services and for additional resources.

Family Caregiver Training in Arlington Heights Illinois

Training Tips for the Caregiving Marathon, Speaker: Daniel Kuhn, LCSW

May 18, 2011     7:00-8:30 p.m.

Arlington Heights Senior Center, 1801 Central Road, Arlington Heights, IL

 Please call Kathy Peck at (847) 253-5500 ext. 375 to reserve your seat

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For assistance with the legal planning that is involved with being a family caregiver, please contact the law office of Dutton & Casey. Kathryn Casey is an experienced elder law attorney who sees clients in our Arlington Heights office. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.duttonelderlaw.comor email us at contact@duttonelderlaw.com

 

YOUR Elder Law Connection… From Dutton & Casey

The April, 2011 issue of the newsletter from the Law Firm of Dutton & Casey was published today.

Please take a few minutes to read the newsletter… it contains many helpful articles and resources focusing on older adults, adults who have a disability, and the people who care about them, including family members and professionals.

Should there be any questions on the newsletter, to learn more about the many resources that the attorneys and staff can provide, or/and to schedule an appointment with a firm attorney, please go to https://www.duttonelderlaw.com/

Elder Abuse: What do you do if you suspect it?

It’s difficult when you suspect that an elder you care about is the victim of elder abuse.  While the majority of reported elder abuse concerns financial exploitation, abuse may be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature, or may take the form of neglect.  In addition, some elders simply do not have the capacity or ability to properly care for themselves and may fall victim to self-neglect.

Elder abuse does not discriminate between sex, ethnicity or social status.  Between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006, the Illinois Department on Aging received 9,191 reports of elder abuse and, sadly, the majority of abusers were family members of the victim.

What do you do when you suspect that someone you love or care about is the victim of elder abuse or neglect?  If you suspect that someone you know is in immediate or life-threatening danger, first call 9-1-1.  Otherwise, to report suspected abuse, exploitation or neglect of an older person you may make a report to your local police department.

You may also call the Illinois state-wide 24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-866-800-1409, 1-888-206-1327 (TTY).  Under the authority of the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act (320 ILCS 20/1 et seq.), the Illinois Department on Aging administers the statewide Elder Abuse and Neglect program.  Reports of elder abuse are investigated by elder abuse caseworkers at one of 44 provider agencies around the state.  These case workers are trained and certified by the Department on Aging.  You may also call your local elder abuse provider agency directly.

Anonymous reports are accepted and the identity of the reporter may only be disclosed with written permission of the reporter or by court order.  Under the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act reporters who act in good faith are immune from civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action as a result of the report.

For more information on Elder Abuse or to schedule an appointment to meet with an attorney visit our website or contact us at 312-899-0950.