Usually, those of us who work in elder care find ourselves advocating with legislators to address needed policies and funding. It is refreshing to see a legislator take a leadership role as an advocate, as is the case with Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes.
I have just read his Letter to the Editor of the Suffolk News Herald on aging and family caregiving. In this letter, he cites data from the latest Caregiving in the U.S. report and offers recommendations to the caregivers of aging parents. I would suggest you read the article for more details, but I’ll briefly summarize his five points here, as they do make excellent points:
Create a caregiving plan. Such a plan helps deal with the day-to-day logistics of caregiving. Eldercare.gov is recommended as a helpful site for finding services for older adults.
Know your care options. One important point: be prepared for sudden changes in care needs.
Understand what services are covered. It’s critical to know what is billable under an aging parent’s payment plan; e.g., Medicare, VA, etc.
Make a plan for financial decisions. Don’t be afraid to discuss financial arrangements with family members. Address such topics as power of attorney and trusts, as well as general financial management.
Have needed legal documents ready. Such documents include a living will, an advanced healthcare directive, and a power of attorney.
In addition to his editorial suggestions, Congressman Forbes has created an Organizational Tool Kit, designed to help older adults organize vital documents. The tool kit can be downloaded at his website.
He has also introduced the Patients First Act, H.R. 2921, which promotes funding for such diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and uses his platform to encourage others to join organizations dedicated to fighting these diseases that affect older Americans.
We hope to see many other policymakers taking such strong advocacy roles on behalf of caregivers and older adults.