Monthly Archives: November 2012

How can I get financial help for things like a ramp and hand rails to accommodate my disabled mother who now lives with me?

An anonymous caregiver asked…
My mother just moved in with me. She is 76 and not able to care for herself. I make good money but it’s just enough to cover my bills. How can I get financial help with renovations such as a ramp and handrails?

Joseph L. Matthews answered…
If your mother has low income (only Social Security benefits, for example) and very low assets, she might be able to qualify for your state’s Medicaid program. In addition to providing some regular home care for her, it may have a program that can help pay for safety or comfort improvements to her (in this case, also your) home. Here’s how it works.
If your mother does qualify for Medicaid, normally she would get that Medicaid in-home care through a certified home care agency. But it’s also possible — depending on what state you live in — to bypass the home care agency and have the state pay your mother directly for her in-home care. And in some states, this kind of cash assistance is possible even for people who have slightly too much income or assets to qualify for Medicaid. This arrangement works through a state program called Cash and Counseling, or a similar program. The program directly pays the senior the same amount Medicaid would pay an aide from a home care agency. The senior can spend these funds on a family member or anyone else she chooses to take care of her. She would decide how much to pay per hour. And — here’s the direct answer to your question — she can use some of the money to make home
improvements for safety or comfort, or to buy personal care items.

The catch is that your state has to be offering this Cash and Counseling or similar state program. To find out more about these cash assistance programs, go to the page on this site called How to Get Paid for Being Your Parent’s Caregiver. You can help your mother apply for Medicaid and Cash and Counseling, or for a similar state cash assistance program, at a local Medicaid office. To find the local Medicaid office near you, contact the Eldercare Locator by phone toll-free at 800-677-1116, or online you can go to any search engine and type in the word Medicaid and the name of your state.

Can Someone Who’s Prediabetic Make Dietary Changes to Avoid Full-Blown Diabetes?

A 98% helpful Beth Reardon answered…
Yes — and the single most important thing to do to reverse a prediabetic condition and make insulin resistance go away is to lose weight, preferably through a combination of diet and exercise.

The diet part doesn’t require a special "diabetic diet," however. The very best diet for this situation is the quintessential approach to eating that everyone should follow: a plant-based, whole-grain, lean-protein, healthy-fat diet. This diet has been shown to protect against major health problems including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s — conditions for which someone with a history of diabetes is at increased risk.

Making a dietary about-face requires a commitment to changing one’s lifestyle. Specifically:

Before you eat a carb, consider what type it is. Choose whole-grains over processed types. Eat whole fruit rather than juice. Avoid white flour and white sugar, which are found in many processed foods.

Boost the total amount of fiber you consume, especially soluble fiber. The average American eats 15 grams per day — but adults need 45 grams per day. Of that total, half (20 to 25 grams) should be soluble fibers, the sticky-gummy fibers found in oatmeal, oat bran, legumes, barley, peas, and citrus fruits. Soluble fibers bind with cholesterol in the digestive system to help eliminate it, they lower lipids, and they help keep blood sugar in check. (Insoluble fibers include wheat, wheat bran, rye, and rice.)

To get 45 grams a day, you might start with a bowl of whole-grain cereal, such as steel-cut oats; add ground flaxseed and chopped nuts and a serving of fruit. Throughout the day, choose whole grains, beans, or whole-grain pasta. Substitute brown rice or barley for white rice.

Choose healthy fats for eating and cooking. Good choices include nuts, avocadoes, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, and canola oil.

Add cinnamon to your diet. This spice helps to decrease insulin resistance — and most people enjoy the taste. Use it to flavor oatmeal, sweet potatoes, coffee, or tea.

Choose protein that’s lean, and eat less animal protein overall. Best choices: cold-water fish, whole soybeans, and any variety of legume, such as black beans, red beans, lentils, and edamame.

Take a good daily multivitamin. Choose one that provides 100 percent of the recommended daily value for most major vitamins and minerals. Certain microminerals, such as zinc and magnesium, are critical to blood sugar regulation. For most folks over 50 years of age, however, iron should not be included.

Check that your supplement contains the USP (United States Pharmacopoeia) seal of approval. It’s possible to purchase an annual subscription to if you’d like to be able to review independent analyses of select supplements and vitamins.