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Helpful tips for family caregivers

March/April 2015

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Making the right choice when ready to move

Moving out of their life-long home is probably one of the most difficult decisions seniors have to make.  Most seniors prefer to stay in their home and maintain their independence and lifestyle as they know it.  They don’t want to admit they need help.  They long to maintain control over an inevitable changing situation.


As our parents age, we their children, often have to step-in and help facilitate change.  It is not an easy process.  It takes time, patience and good communication.  It is probably one of the hardest discussions to have with your parent.  To explain that they are no longer safe in their home or that they are so isolated that they are becoming depressed and putting their health at risk can be a daunting task.  This is when hiring a care manager can be the smartest first step in this whole transition process.


A care manager works with families to provide answers at times of uncertainty.  Their expertise can assist families with making the right decision for their loved one.  Their goal is to ensure that your loved one has a quality of life at whatever level of care they require.  The care manager can save the family valuable time by referring you to the right community where your loved one will succeed.  Care managers are familiar with the community resources available to you and your loved one that will help make the move smoother.    For example, they are familiar with the various local companies needed to hire to handle the physical aspects of the move, i.e., the sorting, packing and disposal of years of accumulation into a more manageable environment in their newly selected home.  They are also available to provide ongoing support that will help reduce worry, stress, and time off of work for the adult children. Most seniors, once living at the appropriate level of care, adapt and admit that their quality of life has improved!

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Moving sooner is better than later

Sometimes you just know in your bones that you will have to move your loved one from his or her home one day. You may hope to delay that step as long as possible. But if a move is inevitable, it's best not to wait until poor health forces the issue.


Earlier action means your relative can

  • help select the new residence;
  • help make decisions about what to keep, give away, and discard.


Most of all, a move while still healthy allows your loved one to create a new social network. Having a family connection in a new town just isn't enough. It's too much pressure to expect family members to meet all the elder's social needs. And, let's face it, although you may love your family member, you may not like the same kinds of activities. Plus, if there is any family discord (as happens now and then, even in the most loving families), your relative could end up isolated.


Research suggests that activities with friends and a sense of belonging form the basis of a positive outlook in late life. Your parents' sense of well-being and self-worth are strongly affected by

  • their familiarity with local resources (where to shop, find nearby medical services);
  • feeling connected in the community; and
  • developing friendships with people of their own choosing.


The ideal, then, is to make the move when your relative is energetic enough to be out mingling and making new connections. Support his or her future by doing some research to find

  • options for medical services. Which local doctors are on the insurance plan?
  • stores of the kind your relative has liked. And transportation to get there.
  • hobby clubs and other interest groups. If he or she has enjoyed this in the past.
  • a new religious or spiritual home base.

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Tax breaks for family caregivers

Before you file this year, ask your tax specialist if you qualify for any of these tax breaks.


Claim your loved one as a "dependent." This requires that he or she

  • is related to you or lived with you all year. A "relative" is anyone in your family, including stepparents and in-laws;
  • had a gross income of less than $3950 in 2014. "Income" includes pensions and withdrawals from retirement savings and investments. It does not include Social Security or disability benefits;
  • is supported by you. You paid at least 50% of his/her annual expenses. Expenses include food, shelter, clothing, medical care, transportation, recreation, and other basics.

If several relatives shared expenses, you may need to file a multiple support declaration.


Get a tax credit for dependent care. This applies if

  • your loved one cannot care for himself or herself;
  • you must pay someone to provide care while you work;
  • he or she is your dependent or would qualify as your dependent but had too much income or filed a joint return;
  • he or she lived with you for more than half the year.


Take a deduction for medical expenses. You can claim this deduction for

  • yourself, your spouse, and your dependents;
  • anyone who would have qualified as your dependent but had too much income or filed a joint return.


To be eligible for deduction, the expenses must add up to more than 10% of your adjusted gross income if you are younger than age 65, or 7.5% if you are age 65 or older.


In IRS terms, a "medical expense" includes

  • dental care, glasses, hearing aids
  • bandages, medications
  • car mileage related to medical care
  • doctor visits, hospitalization, ambulance services
  • home improvements, such as grab bars and ramps

And, if a doctor says they are needed for health and safety:

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About Us

Senior Solutions: Providing Healthcare Guidance To Families For Over 24 Years


Navigating the complex maze of lifestyle and health care options and decisions facing seniors today can be overwhelming. Where do you turn when an aging parent, spouse, or loved one is in need of assistance? There is a multitude of options out there but which one is the most appropriate and affordable?  And how do you know which choice is the right one for you and your family?


According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) families require guidance that leads to actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off work for family caregivers. In addition families require assistance with the two most common causes of senior hospitalizations; Falling and Medication Mismanagement.


How does a family know that they need the services of a Professionally Certified Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) and how does the family find a GCM to guide their loved one that resides in the    Lehigh Valley?  The answer; when caring for an aging family member becomes overwhelming or if:

  • The person you are caring for has limited or no family support

  • You have recently become involved with helping the person & you need direction about services

  • The person you are caring for has multiple medical or psychological issues

  • The person you are assisting is unable to live safely in their current environment

  • Your family is either “burned out” or confused about care solutions

  • Your family has limited time and/or expertise in dealing with your loved ones chronic care needs

  • Your family is fighting about what care decisions should be chosen

  • Your loved one is not pleased with the current care provider and requires advocacy & advice

  • Your loved one is confused about their own financial and/or legal documentation

  • Your family needs education and/or direction dealing with behaviors associated with dementia

Finding a GCM is as easy as going to and typing in your loved ones zip code and when you do, your search will reveal that Senior Solutions of Allentown and Palmer Township PA not only has the most and the most experienced GCM’s but Senior Solutions introduced the Lehigh Valley to the concept of Geriatric Care Management in 1990.. Wanting only to be associated with the highest level of competency in elder care, Senior Solutions became early members of the then newly established NAPGCM. Senior Solutions 4 GCM’s hold themselves to that same standard to this day with 2 Registered Nurse GCM’s and 2 Master Level Certified GCM’s, including an MSW. As such the Senior Solutions GCM’s are continuing their tradition of excellence as NAPGCM members.


So what exactly can one expect from a Senior Solutions GCM or care manager? Senior Solutions founders’  would  described themselves as “surrogate daughters” qualified to provide services for beloved seniors such as ASSESSMENTS– evaluating them in their home environment – CRISIS INTERVENTION – responding to unexpected crisis situations – MONITORING – visiting seniors in their home or their community to maintain ongoing contact and medication management – TRANSPORTATION & ADVOCACY – arranging and accompanying seniors to doctors’ appointments, etc. - CARE PLAN DEVELOPMENT & PLACEMENT – providing a plan to provide the highest possible quality of life and evaluating alternative living options such as independent living, etc. HOME CARE ASISTANCE – assessing needs for homecare and assisting seniors in finding the right personal or companion care.


And although it is not always the case, many times Senior Solutions GCM’s do not have to look very far to find a non-medical home care provider as Senior Solutions has been providing home care since 1992. Non-medical home care is care provided in ones’ home or a senior living community, where the caregiver is not required to do medical procedures such as giving injections, treating an open wound, or administering intravenous medications, etc. however a Senior Solutions a caregiver can provide companionship, assistance with bathing, dressing, walking, wheelchair assistance, cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, and transportation to friends, family, church, shopping, hair dresser, and physician appointments. In addition Senior Solutions caregivers are specially trained in doing activities with loved ones who are dealing with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other specific diagnosis.  Also Senior Solutions employees are fully bonded and insured and pass a physical, criminal, and drug test.


What separates Senior Solutions from other non-medical providers are a number of very important factors: 1. Senior Solutions provides FREE in home assessments by a Registered Nurse (RN)

               2. Senior Solutions caregivers are trained and supervised by an RN

               3. Senior Solutions has been providing home care to families in the Lehigh Valley for over 22 yrs

               4. Senior Solutions can serve the entire Lehigh Valley with locations in Allentown and Easton, PA


 Therefore if you are looking for a healthcare professional who can act as a points of contact for out-of-town relatives, team with physicians, attorneys and facilities for coordinated care, assist with discharge planning after a hospitalization, provide nutritional assistance, facilitate socialization programs, act as mediators and even arrange for financial and legal planning, or are simply looking for companionship and assistance for your loved one in their home Senior Solutions Certified Care Managers and Home Care Services is your # 1 choice in the Lehigh Valley as we are your partner in caring for those you care about.



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Please Note: Senior Solutions does not specifically endorse the activities of any organizations mentioned here, but offers their information as a sample of the kinds of materials and services that are available.


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"I know we have to make plans to move mother out of her home, but where do I begin?""

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