As people age, they often require care from a loved one to make their golden years as comfortable and happy as possible. Many people find themselves acting as a caregiver to an elderly family member who is on Medicare. The learning curve can be steep, and caring for a loved one can be stressful and difficult to deal with on an emotional level. There are several resources available to help caregivers prepare for the needs of their loved ones, and ensure that they take care of themselves, as well.

BenefitsCheckup.org

This is a free and confidential service provided by the National Council of Aging. Caregivers of Medicare recipients with limited income and resources can use BenefitsCheckup.org to find local programs that will help with the cost of prescription drugs. You’ll want to know which public programs the person you are caring for is participating in, veteran status, existing health conditions, current medications, and approximately how much is spent per month on medical expenses that aren’t covered by health insurance. You’ll also need the monthly income of the person you are applying on behalf of, and an estimate of any assets. This may seem like a lot of information to collect, but as a caregiver, you should have easy access to all of this data at all times. Keep a binder or folder of relevant documents, so you’ll have it all in one place.

The Cash & Counseling Program

Directed by The National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (NRCPDS), Cash & Counseling is a grant program that functions in 15 different states. Participants in the program are given a budget with which to pay the home care agency of their choice. Family members can act as a ‘home care agency,’ so caregivers can be compensated for their time and the personal assistance they provide. This program is available in several states under many different names. It’s also referred to as Consumer Direction, Participant Direction, and Self Directed Care. In many cases, taking care of an ailing individual can supplant a full-time job. Programs like Cash & Counseling make this a financially viable option for more families.

Eldercare.gov

The Eldercare Locator is run by the U.S. Administration on Aging, and offers a wide variety of information on local services for older adults and caregivers. From transportation to legal assistance, this website can direct you to the resources you need to be a good caregiver. It even offers online chat with an information specialist during the week, in case you have any questions.

Medicare

Medicare itself has several resources for caregivers, including a caregiver resource kit with videos, tips, advice, and practical information on caring for a loved one. It also has fact sheets on Medicare, stories about other caregivers, and explanations of billing terms that caregivers should be familiar with. Sign up for the caregiver e-newsletter to get updates on Medicare policies and learn about any resources you might be able to take advantage of.

Taking care of a loved one can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Make time for yourself so you don’t feel burned out, and use as much help as you can get. There are plenty of resources out there; you just have to take advantage of them.

As a caregiver, you’ll want to know exactly what an insurance plan provides for so you don’t get hit with any unexpected charges. At HealthMarkets, we help you find the plan that best fits the needs and budget of your loved one. We search thousands of plans across the country from nationally-recognized companies. We can help to make sure that the doctors you have been working with are in the network and prescription medications are covered. Best of all, we do it at no cost to you. If you have any questions about Medicare or health insurance, call HealthMarkets at (800) 488-7621, or visit us online.

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