Five Tips: Managing your Loved One’s Medicare Benefits

Are you caring for a Medicare-eligible loved one? Or do you expect to care for a loved one in the coming years? Even if your loved one does not yet need a caregiver, it’s a good idea to start planning before the care is necessary. Here are five ideas that may help you fulfill this challenging, rewarding role.

1. Medicare requires written permission in order to share personal information with a caregiver. Discuss filling out the permission form with your loved one. It’s called Medicare Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information and you can download the form here.

2. Assess your loved one’s health care needs, current coverage and financial situation, and talk about his or her preferences. Document important information your loved one shares: his or her medications, health care provider’s contact information, and any medical conditions and a calendar for care giving tasks. If you share care giving, where you create a private community and share information with individuals you invite.

3. Make sure you understand your loved one’s Medicare plan(s), and think about any changes that might improve your loved one’s health coverage or care. If, for example, you review health care receipts from last year and see that your loved one could benefit from additional coverage, you may want to look at your loved one’s Medicare plan choices and consider helping them switch plans or add a rider. Or perhaps your loved one qualifies for financial assistance, but hasn’t yet applied to receive it.  Where can you learn more about your love one’s plan(s), options, and learn how to make changes? explains how Medicare works, and explains financial assistance programs. If your loved one has a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan, contact the provider to learn the details. can help you learn about plans, coverage, financial help, and what you need to do to make a change. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) offers one-on-one counseling and advocacy for Medicare beneficiaries.

4. Take advantage of additional care giving resources. Eldercare can help connect you to organizations in your loved one’s community, like adult day care, respite care, training programs and support groups. Call Eldercare at 1-800-677-1116, TTY 711, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

5. Take care of yourself, and get the help you need to stay well. “Respite care” – care provided by others to allow caregivers to take a break – can help you get the rest you need while ensuring that your loved one gets quality care. Short term or long term, in home or out of the home, learn more about respite care options respite care options.