Flustered By Finances? Ask Ellen
You’ve seen the statistics on our aging population and the effects on our economy, specifically
healthcare structure and costs. In many ways, it’s all good. We are living longer, more active lives. But our “Sensational Seniors” are, in some ways, “maturing” ahead of the systems that can take care of them. As a result, an industry of caregivers has arisen, rife with kinks and danger areas. Loneliness and neediness can make seniors less alert to and vigilant against bad people, making them vulnerable to the unscrupulous.
Seniors in Assisted Living communities (and their families) are largely protected from having to choose caregivers and advocates. But those who live independently and who do not have family members nearby may need advocates to manage their affairs, such as: coordinating and advocating for medical care, negotiating and assisting with facilities and resources for aging independently, negotiating and helping resolve medical bills and insurance, balancing checkbooks and paying bills, preparing paperwork for Medicare/ Medicaid, or, possibly, serving as a fiduciary agent for power of attorney.
It’s time for an advocate when seniors are: having difficulty following doctor’s orders or difficulties with activities of daily living (showering, bathing, dressing, cooking, etc.); beginning to forget crucial things such as taking medications, getting prescriptions refilled or keeping medical appointments; overwhelmed by paying or making sense of bills.
Who/what are Senior advocates? The various designations often confuse and sometimes mislead seniors, who are too often targeted by scam artists and inept care advocates. The four main designations are: Certified Senior Advisor, Certified Senior Consultant, Chartered Senior Financial Planner and Certified Senior Specialist. Only the Certified Senior Specialist requires completion of a comprehensive training curriculum. The most well-known designation, the Certified Senior Advisor, requires only three days of coursework! Many holders of these senior designations are connected to insurance companies and eager to earn fees from selling annuities. While senior designations differ substantially in the level of academic training required, none compares to the curricula for financial advisor designations such as CFP™, CFA, CLU or ChFC.
Bottom line? It is dangerous to select a Senior advocate based solely on designation. Your attorney or financial advisor should be your primary source of recommendations. The best senior advocates work full time as advocates. Choose one who is a genuinely caring person with impeccable integrity and solid experience dealing with healthcare, legal and financial professionals.
Note: Brandywine Village Network (featured in last month’s bulletin) volunteers are not designated Senior advocates. They are caring volunteers, some of whom might be able to perform some of the functions described. But for knowledge of and experience with the healthcare system and navigating it for seniors, for negotiating and solving real healthcare issues (hospital bills, finding the right doctors, acting as power of attorney, etc.) it is best to seek out a professional.
Please send Ellen your financial questions, concerns, dilemmas, etc.Her column functions best when it addresses your personal issues. You will not be identified by name! Email Ellen atWilmingtonChapter@hadassah.orgwith “Ask Ellen” in the subject line. Ellen’s answers will appear in her “Flustered By Finances?” column in our bulletin and/or on our chapter website.
Ellen will consider all legitimate questions and prioritize those of broadest concern. Please be patient if your question is not answered immediately. Email your questions to:WilmingtonChapter@hadassah.orgwith Ask Ellen as the subject. If Ellen selects your question, it will appear in her “Flustered By Finances?” column in the bulletin and/or on her webpage on our website.