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How to Manage Your Caregiving Duties

Independent Living expert Elinor Ginzler hosts an online chat and answers your pressing questions

If you missed our live online chat with Elinor Ginzler, former AARP vice president for health and current senior director for supportive services at the Jewish Council for the Aging in Rockville, Md., read the below transcript of the conversation.

Comment From Marisol: Who can I turn to to help me sort out the interconnected financial and medical decisions I need to make to care for my infirm mother — decisions that also require a keen understanding of government programs (Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and Disability)? Do I need a financial adviser, elder attorney and a geriatric care manager?

See also: Important resources for caregivers.

Elinor Ginzler: You are so right to describe these decisions as "interconnected." They really are — you might not need all the professions you mention — the most important thing is to find an elder care professional that you can relate to and that you trust. The bar association for your area can provide names of attorneys who specialize in elder care law. Geriatric care managers are often a good place to start — check with the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers to find one near you. They not only understand aging issues, they also often have good contacts with other professionals.

Comment From Terrie: I am absolutely baffled on how to deal with my husband's wandering. He suffered a brain injury, but is physically fit. When he starts to wander, no amount of cajoling, distraction, logic or authoritative approach work. Last night, I found him walking at 4:30 a.m., barefoot and shirtless in the rain on a major road. I am concerned for his safety, and that of motorists. Please Help. 

Elinor Ginzler: You are certainly dealing with a very difficult situation — how scary it must be for you when he wanders. If this only happens at night, consider talking to physicians about some medication to help him sleep and keep him safe. If locking doors does not work at your home — it might be time to consider alternative living arrangements. You cannot stay awake and alert 24 hours a day — other living arrangements (such as an assisted living residence) have an array of staff on duty to cover all the hours of the day and night. 

Comment From Sharon: My mother has given me medical power of attorney. My question is: Does this also cover situations such as deciding to move my mom closer to where I live so that I can check on her every day if she were to be in a hospital or a nursing home? What if she needed around-the-clock home care? Does medical power of attorney cover that?

Next: Can I get paid for caring for my loved one? »

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