Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alzheimer's Secret #2: Yes The Are After Your Money

According the Alzheimer's Association report for 2010, caregivers will have 172 billion dollars of expenses in 2010 alone. That’s 1000 super lotto's combined, and there are people that want a piece of that big juicy pie. Businesses are lining up to get your money, and with little exception they don't care about what is best for you and your loved one. I will explain that in detail on Alzheimer's Secret #3. For now, just know that Medicare and Medicaid attract a lot of bad people looking to make money off of you and our crippled health care system.
Remember "Caveat Emptor" (Buyer Beware). As a caregiver you are going be dealing with the following three businesses: durable medical equipment companies, home health care agencies and adult day care centers. Let's talk about them:
DME (durable medical equipment) companies sell things like hospital beds, scooters and wheelchairs, walkers, and shower chairs. All of these things are paid for by the government. A doctor writes an order for it, just like he writes a prescription, and they deliver it to your door. Great if you need it…but easy to bilk the government. For example, I know of a DME that was giving those expensive memory foam mattresses to people and charging the government! Yes, I am talking about those mattresses that you and I can't afford because they start at around $4,000. They were getting delivered to every Tom, Dick and Harry that had a doctor's order for it and sneaky devils were teaching the doctors what to write to justify it. Medicare eventually closed that loophole.
Nevertheless back to you; if you are thinking of getting a walker, hospital bed, etc., ask your doctor to write an order for it. Even if you want the nice walker with the handbrakes and the bench to sit on, it is covered by Medicare. But to be on the safe side, you may want to talk to a medical equipment provider (often a pharmacy), and ask them what the doctor's order should say so you can get the "good" walker. But do NOT go out buy one yourself until you have at least asked a doctor for it.
Home health care companies seem to be everywhere. There's a reason - they are making a killing off of you. If you are at home taking care of loved one, and you decide to hire help. Shop around! The price variation is wide, and when it comes to hiring help in the home, "you get what you pay for" rarely applies. The real trick to hiring home help is hiring at the right level. You should not expect a simple paid caregiver or companion to give medications, yet you should not hire a nurse or even a nurse assistant to give showers or take your parent to a medical appointment. If you are dealing with Alzheimer's, you should reevaluate your care needs at least every 6 months. A geriatric care manager can help you with this. And over time, it will save you a lot more money than you are paying the care manager.
Adult Day Care and Adult Health Day Care, sound the same, but are very different. Adult Day Care provides more of a social environment for your parent, and is less expensive. $25 - $70 per day. However both types generally offer a sliding scale payment, so it's worth negotiating. Adult Health Day Care on the other has added services. They can handle incontinence, they often have a licensed nurse on staff, and other medical professionals. They charge more money, but often Medicaid will pay for some or all your care there. But if you don't need incontinence are or diabetic care, then save yourself money.
However, if you are nearing the end of your rope and you feel that your parent can get better help and socialization in an Assisted Living community, and you can't afford a private geriatric care manager to find the best one for your circumstances there is a great free service from A Place For Mom: Free Referral Service
As an administrator for over a decade I have dealt with a lot of placement agencies, A Place For Mom is hands down the best. They are completely respectful of your time and your budget. Even if you are in the early stages, they will not rush you. They listen...which is a rare thing these days.
Here's link to their services:

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