Common Questions: Find Answers to Questions About Caregiving Here

Use this page to find helpful information along your caregiving journey. These are basic questions and quick answers that many caregivers have. Scroll through the different sections to find information that is valuable for you.

Browse our common questions. Click a question to open the answer.

Financial

A durable power of attorney for finances appoints someone to manage the finances and property of the person being cared for when they are no longer able to do so themselves. You can find this form under the Important Documents page on the site.
When looking for a financial adviser, you may want to ask if the adviser is acting as a fiduciary. This means they are legally obligated to act in the best interest of the client. A fiduciary manages the assets for the benefit of the client rather than for their own profit.

Healthcare

Medical appointments can be stressful and frustrating, but there are tips to make these appointments more beneficial for you, the person you are caring for, and the doctor. Here are some basic tips to help make these visits go more smoothly:
  • Prioritize what you both would like to discuss. Ask about the most important things first.
  • Write down the physician's instructions so you can go over what was said and done with your family member when you return home.
  • Make sure that your family member speaks for themselves if they are able to do so. Try not to talk over them and try to only step in if they miss any important information to tell the doctor.
  • Ask questions! There are no silly questions.
A geriatric physician, or geriatrician, is a physician that is specially trained in the aging process. They are knowledgeable about the unique needs and problems specific to aging.

Hospice

Palliative care is a way to improve quality of life for someone who is being treated for a serious illness. Palliative care providers are experts in easing symptoms that cause distress, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, constipation, sleeping, and breathing problems.
The goal of hospice is to give comfort and support to a dying person and their caregivers. Hospice focuses on quality of life and helps someone live his or her last days with a sense of control.
Hospice provides regular physician visits, nurses who come as often as needed, social workers who help the family with decisions, spiritual counselors, aides, and volunteers who provide respite for the caregiver.
A person with an illness can go into hospice when a health care provider believes he or she has about six months or less to live. Hospice continues as long as it is needed. If a person's health improves, he or she can end the hospice care and start it again later.

Insurance

  • Part A covers hospital costs.
  • Part B covers doctor’s visits, laboratory services, durable medical equipment (oxygen, wheelchairs, etc.), radiology services, and most other medical services.
  • Part C combines part A and B together in one plan.
  • Part D covers prescription or drug costs.
You rarely pay a premium for Part A, but do pay premiums for Part B and D. Your premiums are deducted from your Social Security check monthly. If you are over the age of 65, Medicare is always your primary insurance unless you are working and covered by employer insurance. To learn more about Medicare, visit www.medicare.gov.
The need for Medicaid benefits arises when a senior enters nursing care and needs long-term care. Medicare only covers skilled medical care (hospitalization, post-surgical care, physical therapy, etc.). Medicare does not cover assisted daily living care (care bathing, feeding or dressing). Once a senior is admitted to nursing care and they do not require skilled medical care, Medicare stops paying for the senior’s care. It is then necessary for the senior to either pay for the nursing care out of their own assets or apply for Medicaid. There are income qualifications that must be met to receive Medicaid. To learn more about Medicaid visit www.Medicaid.gov.  

Legal

An advance directive is an umbrella term for any document that directs healthcare for a patient. Living wills and durable powers of attorney are all advance directives.
A living will, or directive to physicians, is a form detailing a person’s wishes for medical treatment in the case they are no longer able to communicate their wishes themselves.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare appoints someone to ensure that healthcare wishes are followed. You can find this form under the Important Documents page.
A POLST (Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) form specifies a person's wishes about certain medical treatments they want towards the end of life. The POLST form is designed to ensure that seriously ill patients can decide with their physician, Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), or Physician's Assistant (PA), what treatments are most appropriate. POLST forms are available from doctors, hospitals, and hospices.    
A do not resuscitate (DNR) order is another kind of advance directive. A DNR is a request not to have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops or if you stop breathing.

Mental Health

Caregiver burnout is common among caregivers. This happens when a caregiver is exhausted physically, mentally, and/or emotionally and needs immediate support and relief from caregiving responsibilities. If you begin feeling overwhelmed, helpless, impatient, and/or irritable, reach out to a friend or family member for immediate help.

Pharmacy and Medication

Medication delivery is a service that will deliver medication to your home addresses. This service may not be offered by every pharmacy, so it is important to check with your pharmacy of choice for the availability of medication delivery. This can be very helpful if you are looking for an easier way to get medications without leaving your home.
To see if Medicare covers the costs of the medication your family member uses, you can go to Medicare.gov to check the specific medication or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).