Long-Term Care at Home Consumer Guide

Walter Feldesman. Long-Term Care at Home Consumer Guide. Walter Feldesman, New York, NY. 2009. 393 pages. $23.66 print copy on Amazon.

The story of Walter Feldesman is as inspiring to the elderly as his books are helpful to them. After a 67-year career as a corporate attorney, Feldesman has devoted the last decade to developing consumer-friendly guides about elder care benefits and services, including the heralded Dictionary of Eldercare Terminology (3rd edition, 2012).

Now 91, Feldesman has just published his third book, the Long-Term Care at Home Consumer Guide. As with his previous volumes, the author is making the book available online so that families and professionals can download and search the entire contents free of charge.

In the guide, which strives to offer "one-stop shopping" for anyone needing to learn about caring for the elderly at home, Feldesman sets out to answer three crucial questions: What is home care? Where and how can it be obtained? and, What are the sources for paying for it?

The resulting answers fill nearly 400 pages and provide a readable roadmap to the maze of programs and rules that make up our patchwork home care system. All the information is easy to locate thanks to the book's question-and-answer and outline format, with key terms highlighted in bold type.

Readers will learn, for example, the advantages and disadvantages of obtaining care through a home care agency; how to qualify for Medicare-covered home care; the steps in Medicare's complex appeals process; Medicare Part D's rules; what Medigap plans offer; and how to use a home or a life insurance policy to pay for home care.

Notable for its absence is any discussion of veterans' home care benefits, although this would have added to the volume's girth. And, while Feldesman's writing is clear, readers who come to the book with little background might benefit from case examples to illustrate some of Medicaid and Medicare's more arcane rules.

But this is akin to looking a very strong gift horse in the mouth. A wealth of information is contained here and it's exceedingly easy for consumers and professionals alike to peruse it -- even in the print version, which has a useful topical index.

We understand that Feldesman, who recently won the National Council on Aging's first "Exemplars of Vital Aging" award, is currently working on an encyclopedia of eldercare that will combine all of his previous books -- and that will, of course, be available free online. We eagerly await it.