Tag Archives: Social Security Disability Income

Strokenomics

20 Mar

Strokenomics refers to when you find that you or a loved one has suffered a stroke and are forced to live within new means. Hopefully, you have invested in a supplemental long-term disability. If not, I strongly urge you to do so before someone has an unexpected health catastrophe. It bears repeating: if you have not already done so, buy extra long-term disability insurance, which will provide much-needed extra income if you or your spouse become disabled or chronically ill. Furthermore, it will enable your or the loved one to be placed, should it be necessary, in a private healthcare facility as opposed to one run by the state; or it will offset in-home care, which can be very expensive but can greatly relief the burden of caretaking/enable you to be cared for in your home.

Unfortunately, our timing was bad. Chuck and I were on the verge of buying a policy when he had his stroke, and the difference in our disability income would have been as much as $3,000 per month. Needless to say, I have found ways to economize. I’m sharing in case anyone else in a similar situation might benefit.

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First, I buy 95% of my clothes (and household items such as glasses, pots and pans, etc.) from thrift shops. Even if I could afford to buy new clothes, at this point I don’t know that I would (unless I win the lottery, my secondary plan). An additional benefit is that I’m not supporting outsourcing, and my carbon footprint may be reduced by about 10%, according to Patrick Barkham in an article, “10:10 Fashion: Can I Give Up Buying Clothes for a Year?” in the on-line version of “The Guardian.”

Giving up meat (I’m a vegetarian for moral, ethical, environmental and economic reasons) will reduce the grocery bill, as well as lower your carbon footprint and diminish cruelty to factory-farmed animals. According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, “Lamb, beef, cheese, pork and farmed salmon generate the most greenhouse gases. With the exception of salmon, they also tend to have the worst environmental impacts, because producing them requires the most resources – mainly chemical fertilizer, feed, fuel, pesticides and water – and pound for pound, they generate more polluting manure.”

Some other ways to save include:

  • Eat out less.
  • Don’t go to the movies.
  • Lower your thermostat a couple of degrees by day and even more by night.
  • Recycle paper you use for the printer by using the other side for drafts; or rip them up and use to jot down notes or lists.
  • Sell stuff you don’t want on eBay.
  • Clip coupons.
  • Look for bargains or two-for-one sales.
  • Buy secondhand furniture from consignment stores.
  • Buy a used car, or at least a low-mileage or hybrid vehicle.
  • Don’t get another pet.
  • Buy lottery tickets. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

As I mentioned, I’m sure there are additional ways apply strokenomics. I hope mine help someone out there!

Best, Laura Ann Garren

 

Your Best Resource is You

21 Nov

Your loved one has just suffered a stroke. You’re overwhelmed. What should you do, and when? In an effort to assist others who find themselves in this position, I’ve compiled a list of things I did, as well as what I wish I’d done, after the initial crisis.  Keep in mind that this list constitutes my opinions based on my experience as a caretaker.

1. Get the best medical care available. Make sure a neurologist is on staff. Some hospitals don’t have one, believe it or not. If yours does not, transfer your loved one to a hospital that does.

2. Apply for Social Security Disability Income immediately, even if you think your loved one won’t need it. Benefits don’t start until five months after APPLICATION, not date of disability, with no retro activity.

3. Demand that therapy start as soon as your loved one is out of immediate danger. Anticipate therapy after hospitalization and start making calls as soon as possible; every facility will have a waiting list, and you want to get your loved one on it as soon as possible.

4. Do not be afraid to dismiss a therapist you or your loved one doesn’t like, for whatever reason.

5. Research treatment options; don’t depend on the experts to know everything. Find out if any clinical trials are running, or where the best therapy is for specific conditions, such as aphasia.

6. Create an email list of family, friends and colleagues so that you can communicate about your loved one’s condition and ask for help when you need it.

7. Create an email list, website or phone tree in order to corral help when you need, then don’t be afraid to ask. People want to help but often don’t know how. Tell them, whether it’s food, a ride to the hospital, someone else to visit your loved one so you can take a break, or just a kind word. Caretaking is a grind, and you may be doing it for a long time, so pace yourself.

8. Wallow in self-pity (aka express your feelings about the situation), but try not to act out; do take care of yourself. Exercise, eat well, don’t misue alcohol or drugs. If you feel depressed, ask your family physician to prescribe meds.

9. Read everything you can get your hands on about stroke: books, magazines, articles, both in print and on line.

10. Start a journal in which you can record events, as well as your feelings. In the chaotic aftermath of a stroke, you may forget things, so it helps to write them down. Also, sometimes you might not realize how you’re feeling until you write it down.

11. Anticipate what your loved one will need upon coming home. Ask the therapists what these might be: a handicap ramp; removal of rugs that might cause tripping; shower seat; etc.

I hope this has been helpful. If you would like a fuller account of my caretaking experience, please read my book, Stroke Happens.

Best, Laura Ann Garren

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