BALTIMORE, June 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Now is an ideal time for caregivers to get organized, manage personal finances and plan for the future. Effective long-term planning can help bring peace of mind and is particularly important for the nation's growing number of caregivers who must manage their own affairs while attending to the health and well-being of another. Nearly 66 million U.S. residents provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aging family member or friend. This can involve:
- Setting up doctor appointments for the many free, preventive services available to Medicare beneficiaries,
- Reviewing drug plan coverage,
- Planning for changes in in-home care needs, or
- Preparing for a transition from the home to an assisted living or nursing home facility.
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiative, Ask Medicare, can help caregivers plan by offering a wealth of consumer-focused information, including personal stories from other caregivers on overcoming common challenges, a free e-newsletter, and decision-making tools addressing a range of health care issues. The "How Can you Plan for the Future?" checklist provides planning ideas.
Focusing on Prevention
An important part of long-term planning and care for a loved one is ensuring that they take advantage of preventative services to help avoid serious ailments and maintain a healthy condition. With the health care law, people with Medicare now have a number of free* preventive benefits with no copays or out-of-pocket costs including:
- Annual Wellness Visits
- Some Cancer Screenings
Talk to your doctor or visit HealthCare.gov to learn what preventive benefits might be right for your loved one.
*When using qualified and participating physicians or providers
Covering the Costs of Caregiving
Providing care for another can be a significant financial challenge; however, planning as much as possible in advance can help caregivers gain control of both their loved one's finances and their own.
Ask Medicare has several resources to help navigate the financial challenges of caregiving, including:
Designed to provide Americans with better health security, the Affordable Care Act also helps ensure significant savings on health care needs. The Act allowed 3.6 million people with Medicare to save $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs in 2012 and by 2021 the average person with Medicare will save nearly $4,200.
Learn about other ways to pay for care and financial planning tips.
Planning for Transitions in Care
One important event to plan for is helping a loved one transition from one healthcare facility to another. Ask Medicare offers resources to help caregivers plan a transition. Helpful care options information including tools to assist in:
- Choosing a nursing home
- Learning about nursing home alternatives
- Paying for nursing homes and other types of care
Remind your audience – caregivers must fill out a waiver form in order to make Medicare decisions on behalf of a loved one.
 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Caregiving in the U.S. 2009, 2009
 Source: Health and Human Services, http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/02/20120202a.html
SOURCE The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)