Helping a Loved One Manage Chronic Conditions

Six in ten adults live with at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, asthma, stroke and diabetes, while four in ten have multiple chronic conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While many adults are able to manage their own chronic medical conditions, as they age this can become a challenging juggling act, especially when there are multiple medical conditions being treated.

Knowing When to Help

Some people with chronic medical conditions develop tricks and habits to help them cope. These techniques may make it appear that they are managing fine, when in reality they are just barely getting by. A seemingly inconsequential issue – a minor cold, a missed trip to the pharmacy, or a skipped meal – may be all that it takes for disaster to strike. The trick for loved ones is to know when to step in with assistance.

older man looking into camera

Get Involved Early

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Offer to accompany your loved one to doctor’s appointments if your schedule permits. This will enable you to assess whether your loved one appears to understand the doctor’s instructions and is following his or her medication regimen and dietary recommendations.

Try to encourage frank discussions about your loved one’s condition. Encourage them to be honest about their symptoms, pain, and ability to function. Listen without judgment.

When More Help is Needed

If you feel that your loved one may need more help as their disease progresses, explore all of your options. The areas in which assistance may be needed include:

  • Personal care – bathing, dressing, washing hair. A family member may be able to assist with this, or a personal care aide can be brought in to help with these types of tasks.
  • Household chores – cooking, cleaning, laundry, minor household repairs. Again, a friend or family member may be able to visit the home to help with cooking and housework. Another option is for someone to deliver pre-cooked meals or for your loved one to travel to a senior center or local club for a hot meal. Often minor repairs can be outsourced to a local handyman; ask neighbors and friends for a trustworthy referral. If more help is needed, a personal care aide may be able to pitch in.
  • Medication compliance – pill boxes, alarms, phone calls and other technological devices can help remind your loved one about which medication to take and when to take it.

An Advocate can Help

When the juggling act of trying to coordinate the multiple aspects of a loved one’s care becomes overwhelming, it might be time to consider hiring an advocate. A healthcare advocate can help you determine what care options are available and put those services into place, accompany your loved one to doctor’s appointments, make sense of complex medical information and untangle medical bills and insurance documents, arrange for in-home care or nursing home placement as needed. To learn more about what an advocate can do, call us at 516-584-2007.

Do I Have to Pay This Bill?

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” To this list of life’s certainties attributed to Benjamin Franklin, we might also add bills. While the season of gift catalogs and holiday greetings is nearly upon us, our mailboxes are perennially filled with notices of balances due from utility companies, credit card providers, and medical offices, among many others.

When it comes to medical bills, there is often confusion about what we are responsible to pay, what should be covered by insurance, Medicare or supplemental Medicare plans, and whether other arrangements can be made.

Care Answered works with our clients before they have a medical encounter to ensure that planned services and providers will be covered by their insurance.  If you receive an unexpected bill after services are rendered by a healthcare provider, our best advice is to not automatically pay it before asking a few questions.

If you believe you received a bill for a medical encounter that should have been covered by insurance, contact your insurance provider and ask them specifically why they did not pay it. If the services provided are unclear, call the provider and ask for a detailed, itemized bill. If something listed on your bill is unclear to you, ask what it is.

Long-term skilled nursing facilities (A.K.A. nursing homes) should not bill patients who are covered by Medicaid. If your loved one has been approved for nursing home Medicaid and you receive a bill for their care, you may not be responsible to pay it.

Bills are generated by people working in billing departments; they are human and sometimes make mistakes so it always pays to check your bills carefully. If you feel you need an advocate because the billing seems wrong or if you want to make sure you don’t get charged before you go, contact Care Answered or call us at (516) 584-2007.

Untangling healthcare bills can be daunting, especially when you should be focusing on getting better.  We can help.