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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Financial Security During a Time of Terminal Cancer

Everything changes when you receive a terminal cancer diagnosis.  Along with an altered perspective, chances are you need to cover substantial treatment costs.  How do you manage so you and your loved ones can feel financially secure during this difficult time?

Establish security.  A terminal diagnosis is devastating to you and your family in many ways.  It’s important to create a financial safety net to cover the costs associated with treatment and to provide for family members after you’re gone.  In the midst of an overwhelming time, sorting out the details of money and bills can seem like a luxury, but by putting things in proper order you can face your situation with some peace of mind. 

Access cash.  Along with cancer and a terminal diagnosis, many people face the almost immediate loss of income.  Not only do you need time off for any treatments you’re receiving, your spouse is likely taking time to help.  MoneyTalksNews suggests tapping into any resources of cash outside of routine income.  Some insurance policies provide a living benefit option.  In other words, you might be able to receive a portion of a death benefit in advance. Also, some insurance policies offer supplemental benefits for those with terminal cancer.  For example, some Medicare Advantage plans can cover medications, dental work and other treatments related to your diagnosis. 

Photo Image courtesy of Pixabay

Other sources of cash.  Perhaps you own assets that are no longer practical, such as an extra vehicle or retirement fund.  Look around for items of particular value such as expensive tools, a camper or motorcycle.  Another idea is to take out a mortgage on your home.  If you are single, own your home outright and don’t have anyone you plan to pass your estate to, it’s an option worthy of consideration. 

Government assistance.  When you stop working, you can apply for Social Security disability funds.  People diagnosed with a terminal illness can receive expedited processing of their disability claim, however, they still will wait five months before receiving benefits.  That means you’ll need to find other means for filling in that gap.  Note that even if your diagnosis is for less than five months of survival, it still makes sense to apply, especially if you have a spouse or children. 

Lifestyle changes.  Depending on the nature of your diagnosis, Time explains it may make sense for you to downsize your home.  A more manageable home can be easier for you and loved ones to navigate, both physically and financially.  As treatment and care burdens change, living in a smaller, single-floor home can help with the upkeep of the house, easier movement coming and going and reduced utilities.

Networking and resources.  There are many viable personal networking options to help pay for cancer treatments.  Reach out to friends and family, your local community and online friends.  You can benefit from bake sales, silent auctions and yard sales.  Some experts suggest electronic outreach since thanks to the Internet and social media funds can be raised far and wide through websites such as  Also, note there are many resources available through national service organizations. 

Plan for later.  In the midst of your financial concerns, the future of loved ones can weigh on your mind.  You should establish a will and check the beneficiaries on your various accounts and insurance policies.  As Forbes points out, you also should consider the impact of your situation on income taxes.  Many times your final year means a drastic income reduction for your household, followed by a substantial increase the next year as benefits payout.  Consider consulting a tax advisor or other financial professional regarding the particulars of your situation.

Some of the trials involved with facing a terminal diagnosis are navigated more comfortably when you have secure economic footing.  Find funds to help pay for your treatments, adjust your lifestyle and reach out to potential resources.  Your journey can be eased with solid financial planning.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How to help a grieving elderly parent.

There are unique challenges that accompany the loss of an elderly parent. You have to sift through your own emotions and painful memories, while helping your parent cope with theirs. It is a tough position, but yet an honor to be afforded the opportunity to walk through it hand-in-hand with them. You are the one who knows them best. You know their memory triggers, their personality traits, and the way they process grief. Of all people, you are the most qualified to handle the coming years. As they walk into this next stage of life, they will need the support of their family and close friends, the care of a few outside services, and the gentle reminder that they don’t have to walk this out alone.

There is a time to grieve and the first few months are typically the hardest. First holidays without their spouse come and go. There is one less place setting at the dinner table, and their home is filled with more silence than ever before. During this transitional time, consider asking a family member to temporarily move-in with your parent to help them adjust to their new life. This way, the house is a little less lonely and they can monitor your parent’s health and well-being.

Significant life changes, such as the death of a spouse, can lead to physical illnesses or cause a current sickness to worsen. Many times experiencing loss leads to isolation which could also cause depression. If your parent is not encouraged to remain active and social, they may have physical ailments such as muscle stiffness, blood circulation issues, and fatigue. This is why it is important to encourage visits from friends and family or schedule regular appointments with other services.

Photo:  Compliments of

Sometimes, monitoring your parent’s health and providing a social life for them is as simple as partnering with an outside service. In-home caregivers, for example, can help provide the medical attention that your parent might need. They can also help with routine tasks like driving them to their appointments or helping them bathe. Hiring a housekeeper is also a helpful investment in the future of your elderly parent. A clean house automatically creates a safer living environment, because there is less risk of bacteria and no clutter to cause a potential fall. Having an extra person routinely visiting your elderly parent will give you a little peace and remove one aspect of the responsibility of caring for another person.

After the initial mourning season has subsided, carefully address the idea of sorting through your parent’s items and decluttering their home. As they age, it might become difficult for them to let go of items previously belonging to their spouse, but removing unneeded items will help create a cleaner living environment. It will also help start the difficult journey toward downsizing. Perhaps you can introduce the conversation by asking them to reminisce with you about old items. Create an atmosphere of joy and peace around the change in order to soften the painful memories that could arise.

While this season is wearisome and emotional, it is also a precious time to build memories with your parent. Cherish the time you have and help them live out their years surrounded by the fullness of their family. Throughout the process of assisting your parent, take the time to allow yourself to grieve as well, supported by your friends and family and encouraged by your joyful memories. The mourning process is a journey meant to be walked out with those you love. 

Written by:  Jackie Waters

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Joint Commission makes some changes to Hospice standards that are now in alignment to the federal government medicare regulations.

The Joint Commission has revised a number of hospice requirements to demonstrate Joint Commission equivalency with Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs). Effective July 1, 2015, the revisions affect a number of chapters in Joint Commission accreditation manuals. For facility-based (inpatient) hospices, significant changes have been made to the occupancy requirements. Life Safety standards for Rooming and Lodging (LS.04.01.20, LS.04.01.30, and LS.04.01.50) are removed, and Health Care occupancy standards LS.01.01.01-LS.02.01.70 will be effective. Previously, The Joint Commission required facility-based hospice providers with 11 or fewer patients to meet the Rooming and Lodging requirements in chapter 26 of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code® (NFPA 101-2000). However, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires all facility-based hospice providers to comply with the requirements for Health Care Occupancies in chapters 18 and 19 of the NFPA Life Safety Code, 2000 edition. Therefore, these changes are applicable to all Joint Commission accredited facility-based hospice providers – both deemed and non-deemed organizations.
Some significant differences between Rooming and Lodging occupancy requirements and Health Care occupancy requirements include:
  • Separation between different occupancies, such as Health Care or Business occupancies, must be at least two-hour fire resistant rating barriers. Also, Health Care occupancies require smoke compartments. Hazardous areas, such as soiled utility rooms, must also be separate from patient care areas.
  • Means of egress (exit access, exits and exit discharge) are clear and unobstructed; Health Care occupancies require that the 8-foot patient care corridor be kept clear of storage; and door configurations must operate as designed.
  • The fire alarm system must activate automatically based on NFPA 72-1999.