By Betty Berry, Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Q: My mother is a caregiver and failing to take care of herself while taking care of her older sister. We are concerned, but she won’t listen to us. We think she may listen to an outsider. Do you have suggestions?

A: Many caregivers overlook the need to put their care first. Many feel they can do it all by themselves. And yes, I have a suggestion for you.

The Senior Concerns seminar series “The Caregiving Rollercoaster” will address the need for caregivers to take time to care for themselves.

“Caring For The Caregiver” will run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Senior Concerns Adult Day Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks.

Jane McCullick from the Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurses Association will facilitate the program. McCullick serves as a hospice chaplain and support group facilitator.

The program will address the need for nurturing the body, mind and spirit. There will be time at the end of the session for questions.

Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling Senior Concerns at 497-0189. Walk-ins are welcome if seats are available.

If you need respite care for a senior so you can attend the seminar, you can arrange for that care at the center when making your reservation. Reservations for respite care are required.

“The Caregiving Rollercoaster” will continue in April with “Balancing Family, Work and Caregiving” and end in May with “When It’s All Said and Done.”

Earlier presentations in the series have been very well-attended. Make your reservation today so you don’t miss out.

Q: A neighbor recently returned home from the hospital and needed assistance. I was told she had to pay for these services. Doesn’t Medicare pay for in-home care?

A: In-home care is a complex subject, and you are not alone in your thinking. Medicare pays only for “medically necessary” services and does not pay for “custodial” care.

Custodial care essentially covers assistance with meeting activities of daily living. It includes help with walking, getting into and out of bed, bathing, dressing, eating and going to the toilet.

It could include preparation of special diets and supervision of taking self-administered medication. It does not require the services of trained medical or paramedical personnel.

Home health care is skilled nursing care and certain other services received in the home for treatment of an illness or injury. Medicare covers this type of care in the home if the patient meets strict eligibility requirements.

To qualify for home health care, the patient must have a doctor order and present a plan for such care. The plan must show that either intermittent — not full-time — skilled nursing care or physical, speech or occupational therapy is required.

The patient must be homebound. This means the patient normally cannot leave home and that leaving home is a major effort. A patient who leaves home must do so rarely and only for a short period of time.

Last, the home health agency caring for the patient must be approved by the Medicare program.

Home health care can be covered under Medicare Part A or Part B. There are no deductibles or coinsurance associated with home health care except for durable medical equipment, in which case Medicare will pay 80 percent and the patient or other insurance will pay 20 percent.


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