Home For The Holidays
North American Precis Syndicate
The next time you visit older relatives, take a good look at their lifestyle to determine whether they need help to stay healthy and independent. (NAPS)
(NAPSI)—With today’s technology, staying in touch with loved
ones around the country—and the world—is easier than it’s
ever been. We are connected to each other virtually day and night—from
cell phones and video calls to social media, texting
and e-mail. While we may rely on this technological closeness throughout the
year, the holidays offer a unique opportunity to sit and spend time with
family members, particularly older family members, whom we don’t see on
a regular basis. This face-to-face time provides a chance to connect, catch
up, and observe behaviors that may go undetected over the phone or through
e-mail. Certain changes in these behaviors from year to year may indicate a
need for long-term care.
While each passing year will show some changes in an older family member’s
capabilities and function, the list below provides common changes in behavior
to watch for to get a better idea of where your loved ones stand
functionally. It’s important not to focus on the behavior itself, but
rather the change in that behavior compared to what is considered normal for
that person. For example, someone who has always been quiet and somewhat
introverted would be held to a different standard than someone who is usually
very outgoing and conversational, but now seems withdrawn and isolated. Based
on the information you gather, it may be time to start thinking about your
family’s plan for long-term care.
The time to plan is now
Millions of Americans require long-term care at some point during their
lifetime. This type of care includes assistance with everyday activities,
like bathing, dressing and eating, or supervision due to a severe cognitive
impairment, like Alzheimer’s disease. Surprisingly, the type of care
needed to provide assistance with these activities can be expensive and is
generally not covered by traditional health plans or Medicare. In many cases,
taking care of an older relative often falls on family members or friends.
However, depending on the location of family members and friends, this
support is often not available or may be a bigger challenge than many expect
or are willing to take on.
Take a closer look
By paying attention to some common behaviors, you can begin to determine
whether a loved one is having difficulty performing everyday activities. Noticing
changes in behavior that may be due to an emerging physical or cognitive
impairment is an important first step.
Based on what you observe, the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program
(FLTCIP) may be worth considering when developing your family’s plan
for long-term care.
Cleanliness of the home:
Is there clutter in the hallways, stacked mail, uncleaned
Are they engaged with friends and family, getting out and about, and
continuing social interaction at their normal level?
Personal hygiene and care:
Are activities like regular bathing, laundry, grooming, etc., taking
Level of independence:
Has the level of reliance on a spouse or guest for various things
increased (e.g., getting a glass of water, answering the phone or doorbell,
Are bills piling up, being paid on time, etc.?
Is your loved one participating in conversations, staying up-to-date with
the news or favorite sports team, etc.?
Maintaining normal eating habits, food within “best by”
ranges, cupboards stocked, etc.?
How did you answer?
The best time for you and your family members to consider long-term care
insurance is long before it’s needed. Because the FLTCIP is medically
underwritten, it’s important to apply while you’re still in good
health to avoid the risk that a future illness or medical condition may prevent
you from obtaining coverage later. Also, premiums are directly related to
age. This means that premiums tend to be lower for younger applicants.
If you’re already a FLTCIP enrollee and recognize some of these
behavioral changes in a loved one, contact a FLTCIP care coordinator at the
phone number provided below to gather important information about the
different care options that may be available. A call to one of their licensed
health care practitioners can provide valuable information such as an
assessment of need, direction on developing a plan for long-term care
services, and access to discounted services and providers, where available.
The FLTCIP, unlike most long-term care insurance plans, provides certain care
coordination services to qualified relatives of enrollees at no cost.
Many members of the federal family are eligible to apply for coverage
under the FLTCIP, including federal and U.S. Postal Service employees and
annuitants, as well as active and retired members of the uniformed services.
Qualified relatives such as spouses, domestic partners, parents and
parents-in-law, and adult children are also eligible to apply. For a complete
eligibility list, visit www.LTCFEDS.com/eligibility.
To learn more about the FLTCIP, visit
www.LTCFEDS.com. For personalized
assistance, call 1-800-LTC-FEDS
(1-800-582-3337) / TTY 1-800-843-3557 to speak with a program consultant.
Consultants are available to answer any questions you may have and can walk
you step by step through the plan design and application process.
“Certain behavior changes in an
older relative may indicate a need for long-term care. If you’re a
FLTCIP enrollee, contact a FLTCIP care coordinator for information about care
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)