April 26th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
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Medicare is reaching out to caregivers – Part 4 of 4

by Carol Bursack

Our nation’s caregivers, the very people who save millions of government dollars by providing care for their aging loved ones, are making a mark on the national conscience. One example of this recognition is that Ask Medicare, part of Medicare.gov, is asking for more of our stories. That’s right. The second most popular link on Ask Medicare is the link to caregiver’s stories.

Since telling our stories helps others know they aren’t alone, and many caregivers find it therapeutic to write about their experiences as caregivers, I’d like to encourage readers to write their personal stories and upload them to the Ask Medicare site. You can get information on the home page of Ask Medicare. Just click the arrow under “tell your story” that says “get started.” You’ll be guided through the steps.

Caregiver Topics

On the sidebar of Ask Medicare, you’ll see Caregiver Topics. Follow that link and you’ll find answers to many of your practical questions such as:

  1. Care that is covered by Medicare
  2. How to locate a doctor
  3. How to find the right hospital
  4. The Nursing Home Compare tool
  5. Payment options for nursing homes
  6. Alternatives to nursing homes
  7. How to locate a dialysis facility
  8. Learning about hospice

Under Services you’ll find guides and even, in some instances, interactive tools to assist in:

  1. Getting tips on staying healthy
  2. Learning about in-home health care services
  3. Finding home health agencies
  4. Learning about long-term care options
  5. Getting medical supplies

Other services

In addition to asking for caregivers to share their stories, Ask Medicare also provides a series of other resources as well.

Legal help.Under caregiver support you will find a link for legal assistance. This link takes you directly to the website of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. These attorneys are specifically trained to help you with sticky issues that can arise during your elder care journey.

Planning for long-term care.You’ll find a direct link to the National Clearing House for Long-Term Care Information. This website was developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services to provide information and resources to help you and your family plan for future long-term care (LTC) needs.

Finding community support.This link takes you back to the Eldercare Locator that we discussed in Part 2 of the series. You can type in your Zip Code, city or state and find services and care facilities in your own community.

It’s a team effort

During my pre-launch tour of this newly updated Ask Medicare site, the folks at Medicare encouraged all stakeholders–the caregivers and as well as the elders themselves–to have a part in the care plans and decisions. To me this is a huge step forward. While you won’t find working through the Medicare system as easy as chatting with your neighbor about care issues, you will find that there is currently a significant effort to include the caregiver, and the care receiver, in the care process.

A reminder: please sign up for the Ask Medicare newsletter. I’ve found that a useful tool for the last year or so, and it keeps getting better. There’s a place to sign up on every page of the Ask Medicare site.

Part I of this Ask Medicare series gave readers an overview of the newly updated site. Part II took a look at some of the features on the Eldercare Locator. Part III gave information on the Benefits Checkup site, financial options and condition specific help. We’ll end this series with this 4th part, however watch for many more posts on Medicare and this specialized caregiver site. I would have given a great deal to have had these resources when I started caring for my aging loved ones.

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