Archive for the ‘Financial’ Category

Getting Your Affairs In Order

Posted on July 27th, 2014 by karen

Caregivers Get Organized

by Kim Keller

You can peek beneath or behind nearly any object in my mother’s home, and you’ll find a little piece of masking tape with someone’s name written neatly across it.

“This is from my great aunt, Mary Priest, who was a Methodist missionary,” Mom explained, cutting a piece of tape for a little carved coconut that’s been fashioned into a decorative container. I’ve always loved this item, so I made sure my name was on the masking tape. “Mary brought it back from Japan in 1881!”

My mom loves organization. Keeping things orderly gives her a sense of peace and comfort. She also enjoys knowing that, when it’s her time to go, she is passing along the things she loves in an orderly fashion.

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The Family Conversations You Shouldn’t Put Off

Posted on October 15th, 2013 by karen


by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC

Important conversations with your parents about their future can be really difficult. They have managed their lives very well without your interference, thank you very much! They may appear to be stubborn and inflexible, but in reality their attitude has an undercurrent of fear: fear of losing independence; fear of losing control; and, ultimately, fear of death. So it’s no wonder these conversations can be tense and emotional.

Nevertheless, you can all agree on at least one thing: the goal for the future is for your parents to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible. In the interest of achieving that goal, it is imperative that you talk with your parents about their future before there’s a medical, financial or emotional crisis. These conversations can never be too early but can easily be too late.

So here are 10 topics to discuss, and the sooner, the better. They are listed in order of least likely to be emotionally charged for most families, beginning with the simplest of requests, updating all personal information. Recognize that these conversations are a long-term process, not something to be rushed through or approached clumsily. Respect, affection and humor are excellent tools to employ when discussing such delicate matters, but resistance and disagreement should be expected along the way. The overall purpose, though, is to help your parents as they age and to make their late-life transitions as smooth as possible.

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Financial Planning: Understanding Medicaid

Posted on March 27th, 2013 by kim

"Money money money" by Andrew Horowitz

by Kim Keller

I never imagined my father would need to be in a nursing home. The idea was profoundly sad but Karen and I realized that our mother could no longer manage Dad’s care at home, not even with help.

But there was yet another looming disaster: how would our parents pay for this care? They had no long-term-care insurance plan. Their money would be gone soon, as a consequence of Dad’s medical bills. Where would that leave him? And where would that leave our mother who still had a lot of living left to do?

It quickly became evident that we needed to understand our options and develop some sort of financial plan, in case our parents ran out money.

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A Daughter’s Mission:

Posted on February 26th, 2013 by karen
Debbie Burak with Marine, Washington DC 2012

Debbie Burak with Marine, Washington DC 2012

by Karen Keller Capuciati

If medical expenses are straining your finances and your parent is a veteran, 65 years or older, then this is one blog you should definitely read.

Debbie Burak was in this very situation. When her elderly parents, already in poor health, lost their house to a fire, they moved into an assisted living facility rather than attempting to rebuild their lost home. Her parents, however, were not financially prepared to handle the cost of long-term care.

“We were overwhelmed by the expense of facility living,” Debbie explained in a telephone interview. “Our parents were living off of Social Security, which wasn’t nearly enough to cover their expenses. So we pulled from their small nest egg, and my aunt and my sister and I collectively chipped in to help each month, but it was exhausting to always be needing something extra, on top of just getting by with our own immediate family’s needs.

“New expenses would always come up,” she added, “be it a new medication for Mom’s kidney condition or a root canal for Dad. The financial stress kept us all on edge.”

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Save Your Pennies!

Posted on November 15th, 2012 by karen

by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC

In Connecticut, if a person can pay for nursing home care out-of-pocket for several months, or in some cases show enough assets to pay privately for a year, they can select the facility they want and reduce waiting time. If they have spent down their assets and are subsequently accepted by Medicaid, then Medicaid will select the facility, depending on wherever there is a long-term bed available. Thus, setting aside money to privately pay for nursing-home care allows people to make crucial choices they cannot otherwise make.

My 72-year-old client, Sylvia, was outliving her money. And her worst nightmare was inexorably unfolding.

Sylvia was recovering from a stroke and was about to be discharged from rehab when I was hired by the court-appointed conservator to manage her care. Sylvia desperately wanted to return to her nine-room home in one of Connecticut’s lovely shoreline suburbs, but she was ill-equipped to do so.

As a result of the stroke, her walking was impaired, though she could ambulate unsteadily with a walker. One arm and hand were weakened. Sylvia had already been experiencing some dementia, which was exacerbated by her stroke, leaving her judgment and ability to manage her money, her meals, her medications — her life in general — severely diminished. She also struggled with an unrelated life-long mental illness that resulted in hallucinations and delusions, which impaired her relationships with others and required careful medicating.

From a Geriatric Care Manager’s point of view, Sylvia was a challenge!

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Ten Tips For Financial Planning

Posted on August 6th, 2012 by kim

by Kim Keller

When our father became critically ill, Karen and I were forced to become actively involved in our parents’ finances. It became painfully apparent that there was real potential for financial ruin if we didn’t develop a program to deal with Dad’s mounting medical bills, for which there was no end in sight.

The sudden depletion of Dad’s hospitalization coverage, reported to us by the hospital business office some 16 days after the fact, was our startling wake-up call. Prior to that notice, we had absolutely no idea that Medicare could run out. We were taken completely off-guard. The situation could not have been more stressful or more dire. We needed a short-term solution and a long-term plan, and we had to find them both in a hurry.

Sadly, the long-term plan was rendered unnecessary when Dad died, just a few months after the onset of financial complications. Money should be the last thing on your mind when someone you love is so very sick, but it pained us, having to spend our time solving the financial burden when we wanted to be comforting our father all the time.

A lesson learned: Have a plan before you need a plan.

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Covering The Cost Of Care

Posted on July 9th, 2012 by kim

Cost Of Care on

by Kim Keller

The money worries began in earnest the day we realized our dad was going to need full-time care.  He didn’t have long-term care insurance and eventually the money would run out.  The worrying intensified when Dad’s Medicare coverage for skilled-nursing care (a.k.a. rehab) ran out.  We all knew that rehab was critical to his recovery, but after so many stays in rehab, Dad’s coverage was gone.

But the worries didn’t end there — it exploded into panic the day we found out that he had also depleted his Medicare hospitalization coverage.  This was now a full-blown nightmare.  What would we do?  Not only was Dad’s very life at stake, but our parents’ entire financial security was also at risk.  Money should’ve been the last thing on our minds, but we were now forced to divide our attention and focus on preventing our parents’ financial demise.  We had to make sure that Dad was receiving the best available care, while at the same time we needed to assure our parents’ financial security.

It was daunting, to say the least.

So who pays for long-term care?  Not Medicare.  Medicare generally only pays for short-term care for rehabilitation purposes.

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Downsizing For All The Right Reasons

Posted on March 28th, 2012 by karen

Downsizing For All The Right Reasons

by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC

At the age of 75, Sharon chose to move from her eight-room home to a four-room apartment.  While still in good health, she sold the mortgage-free house where she raised her three children and never looked back.

Sharon bought the house in 1963 for about the same price that a decent car costs today.  Forty-six years later, she got a bit less than her asking price but still a satisfactory amount.  She dutifully paid the capital gains tax and, with the help of a skilled, thoughtful financial adviser, invested the rest.

Then Sharon rented a brand new apartment in the next town, exactly seven minutes from her old home.  She rented a lovely space: two bedrooms, two baths, open kitchen with black granite counters, a loft for her library and TV, and a living room with large sunny windows.

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Long-Term Care Insurance — Who Needs It?

Posted on January 3rd, 2012 by karen

money decisions for LTC insurance

by Joan Blumenfeld, MS, LPC

So you think you’re well insured?

Think again.

You have life insurance, home insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, theft insurance and so on.  But there is more!  Long-Term Care insurance (LTC) pays most of the cost of nursing home and home care, should you require it.

Right now, nursing homes in Fairfield County, CT, cost about $130,000 per year, and that’s without any extras.  Care at home by trained aides runs about $18 per hour or $150 for 24 hours and can cost upwards of $60,000 per year.

So who needs LTC?  Everyone!  Unless you have many millions of dollars socked away in your retirement fund, you ought to consider protecting yourself and your family in this manner.  I understand, it’s hard to know exactly who will need extensive care in their old age, but then again, it’s also hard to foresee your house burning to the ground, and you insure that without a second thought.

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Staying On Top Of Medicare Coverage

Posted on December 14th, 2011 by kim

by Kim Keller

We found a terrific resource on the Medicare website that will quickly tell you what costs Medicare will cover and what costs it won’t.

The Medicare Coverage Database is simple to use.  You can either enter your Medicare policy ID number or you can select, from the respective drop-down menus, the appropriate state and coverage topics, which includes everything from occupational therapy to mental health care to surgical services to heart, lung, kidney, pancreas and liver transplants — it’s a huge list of options.

Then simply click View Results.  It’s that easy.

You’ll receive guidelines outlining the requirements for coverage, such as whether a doctor needs to approve the treatment, what percentage of the bill you’ll be responsible for, and who else you can contact for additional information.  The database explains the coverage situation for items such as hearing aids and wheelchairs; for tests like mammograms and blood screenings; and for services like surgery and emergency room visits.  It is a thorough database with easily accessible information.

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