If you're a caregiver, you may be able to get help from Medicare for your loved one as well as for yourself.
You may qualify for tax breaks on the care you pay for. To qualify for these tax breaks, the person you provide care for must be a dependent. You might be able to claim a parent as a dependent if your parent lives with you and you provide more than half of his financial support. You can get all the details online at www.irs.gov or by calling 1-800-829-1040. Check for information on:
- Dependent care credit. This is a deduction you can take on your tax return. It applies if you pay someone else for caregiving services so that you can work.
- Medical expenses deduction. On your taxes, you may be able to deduct medical bills that you pay for your loved one. This includes the cost of long-term care insurance.
In addition to tax breaks, you may be able to be paid for some of the time you spend caregiving. Not all states have this Medicaid program. To find out if yours does, search for the Medicaid Cash and Counseling Program on www.payingforseniorcare.com. Scroll down to the Project Overview section and click on Our Program Map.
Your loved one's Medicare plan covers services that help with caregiving. You may be able to get:
Home health care that a doctor orders. You may be able to get part-time skilled nursing care and a home health aide to help your loved one. Your loved one can also get physical therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy. Oxygen, a hospital bed, and a walker also are possible.
Of course, whatever is ordered must be medically necessary. You must use a home health agency that Medicare has approved. Keep in mind that the doctor must re-order the care and equipment every 60 days.
Hospice care, also called end-of-life care. A loved one who is terminally ill can get hospice care at home, if his or her doctor believes he or she may not live more than 6 months. Or, your loved one may go to a special hospice care center.
Here's how hospice helps:
- For your loved one: Hospice controls the level of pain. It offers emotional and spiritual support.
- For you: Hospice can help you cope with grief. It also offers respite care, which means someone else fills in as caregiver so you can get a break.
You may have to pay for most long-term care services. You can get help from Medicare or Medicaid only in certain cases.
Medicare will pay for:
- Short stays in a nursing home after a hospital stay and only if rehabilitation or skilled services are needed from a nurse or special therapist
Medicare won't pay for:
- Long-term care at home. For instance, the everyday help your loved one might need to wash or get dressed is not covered.
- A permanent move to assisted living or a nursing home
Medicaid may pay for:
- Nursing home care if your loved one cannot afford to pay for it
More Types of Available Support
You may need help finding services for the loved one you're caring for. Or, you might need help for yourself.
Keep in mind that getting time off from caregiving can make you a better caregiver. Respite services can help you with a task or give care while you take a break.
To find out what's offered where you live:
- Contact your local Area Agency on Aging. To find the agency near you, go online to www.eldercare.gov. Or call 1-800-677-1116.
- Use the Family Care Navigator. Call 1-800-455-8106. Or go online to www.caregiver.org. (Click on "Family Care Navigator: State-by-State Guide" under the "Caregiving Info & Advice" tab.)
To learn more about Medicare and caregiving:
- Go online to medicare.gov for details on what is and is not covered.
- Check out the resource kit for caregivers that Medicare offers. You can get information to help make financial decisions and plan for things that are not covered.
If your family member is a veteran, you may qualify for caregiving support from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
- Go to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website, Caregiving Support Resources.
To learn about respite care for yourself:
- Go toElderCare.gov and search for “respite care.” You can learn about options and get help finding relief.