November 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s a tough question to even ask ourselves, and the first time the thought pops in your head, it may be overwhelming and make you feel extremely guilty. While deciding if it is time to consider assisted living for your loved one can be a very emotional topic, the ultimate concern needs to be the health and welfare of that individual.
One thing to keep in mind while you decide if it is time to discuss assisted living, is how is the parent coping with day-to-day activities. Noticing a decline in basic things like hygeine, eating and home safety may be some of the first signs that some sort of additional care needs to be discussed.
Here is a list of questions to ask that may help you make up your mind. List courtesy of agingcare.com.
- Is your parent telling you that he is eating, but you’re seeing food go bad in the refrigerator?
- Is your parent falling? To determine the answer, is your parent covering up bruises he or she doesn’t want you to see?
- Is your parent wearing the same clothes when you go to visit? Can they bathe themselves, groom adequately and launder clothes?
- When you look around the house or yard, is it as neat and clean as it used to be?
- Is your aging parent remembering to take medications correctly, with the right dosages and at the right time? Are medications expired?
- Are they able to operate appliances safely? Do they remember to turn appliances off when they are finished cooking?
- Is the home equipped with safety features such as grab bars and emergency response systems?
- Do they have a plan in place to contact help in case of an emergency?
- Are they driving? Should they be driving? Do they have alternate means of transportation?
- Are there stacks of papers and unpaid bills lying around?
- Do they have friends, or are they isolated from others most of the time?
- When you really look at your parent, do you see the bright and vibrant person from years ago, or do you see a more limited person who needs some help one hour a day, or even around the clock?
Once you’ve had some time to mull over your answers to the questions above, it may be time to have a family meeting with your loved one and express your concerns. When you do meet, make sure to keep the topic of discussion the parent’s safety and wellbeing. While having them live alone has probably been tough on the family caregivers, mentioning this fact could make the senior feel like they are being shipped off to a home to convenience you.
Be warned that having one family meeting may not bring about an immediate decision to move. There will be many things to discuss before an ultimate decision is reached. Your family may want to consult with an elder care attorney who can help you understand all aspects of moving into a elder care facility.
If you or your family needs help deciding if an assited living situation is right for a family member, please contact the Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC. The law firm is located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients. Their office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334.
November 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
This Thanksgiving while you are spending time with family and friends, take time to pay special attention to the seniors in your life. Many times we are visiting someone that we don’t see often so changes in health and mental sharpness can be more noticeable to family members that aren’t around as much. The holidays often provide an excellent opportunity to observe your loved ones and see if there are any changes in their well being. And with other family generally close at hand, there is the chance to discuss any issues and if there is need for additional care.
Depending on the length of your visit, you may want to try to observe the following:
- Status of new and pre-existing medical conditions – How is their general health? You may want to ask about common conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hearing loss, arthritis and weight gain or loss
- Memory and Emotional Changes – Is your loved one experiencing frequent memory lapses that affect their day-to-day functionality? Emotional differences to look for are changes in personality or unusual mood swings.
- Medications – Are their perscriptions organized with weekly pill boxes? Do they have a list of all the medications (perscription & over-the-counter) they are taking and have they shown the list to all of their doctors? Are they taking their perscriptions correctly? For medications to be effective, patients need to follow directions for when to take pills and with or without food, etc.
- Home Safety – Keep an eye out for issues in the home that may limit your seniors mobility. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports falls are the leading cause of injury and death for Americans age 65 years and older. Many times easy adjustments like removing throw rugs, adding a night light or simply rearranging furniture can help seniors avoid hazardous situations.
- Driving – If they are still driving, take a ride with them to see how their driving ability is or ask a neighbor if they have seen any issues.
- Doctors – Do you have a list of their doctors and their contact information in case of an emergency?
- Resources – It may be a good time to find out what local resources are available in case your loved one needs some additional care in the future. Waiting until their well being is in danger will only add stress to an already tense situation.
Above all else, take the time to truly enjoy your loved ones this holiday season and remember what you have to be thankful for.
If you have any questions or concerns about a family member that may need additional care, please contact the Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC. The law firm located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients. Their office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334.
November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
Madge turned off the ringing alarm. It was 6:00AM and time to get herself ready for the day. Her son would be there soon to help her shower and dress her husband Lester. Her son came every day before work to help because Madge, at 75 years old and suffering with arthritis, could not lift Lester out of bed or help him to the shower. This has been the daily routine since Lester’s stroke a year ago. When her son leaves for work, Madge spends the remainder of the day caring for Lester’s needs.
This is a scenario that is repeated in every demographic all across America everyday. Because of the dedication of these caregivers, in 1994, President Clinton proclaimed a week in November as National Family Caregivers week to be observed with appropriate programs and activities. It has since been changed to the whole month of November with subsequent Presidents giving a yearly proclamation for its observance.
President Barack Obama, in his Presidential Proclamation of National Family Caregivers Month -2011 states:
“Across our country, millions of family members, neighbors, and friends provide care and support for their loved ones during times of need. With profound compassion and selflessness, these caregivers sustain American men, women, and children at their most vulnerable moments, and through their devoted acts, they exemplify the best of the American spirit.”
Caregiving can be very stressful and demanding. In the case of a healthy spouse or a child living with the disabled person at home, caregiving can be a 24 hour, 7 day a week commitment. But even for the caregiver not living in the home, looking after a loved one or friend can consume all of the caregiver’s free time.
Surveys and studies consistently show that depression is a major problem with full-time informal caregivers. This is typically brought on by stress and fatigue as well as social isolation from family and friends. If allowed to go on too long, the caregiver can sometimes break down and may end up needing long term care as well.
A typical pattern for caregivers may unfold:
1 to 18 months – The caregiver is confident, has everything under control and is coping well. Other friends and family are lending support.
20 to 36 months – The caregiver is taking medication to sleep and control mood swings. Outside help dwindles and except for trips to the store or doctor, the caregiver has severed most social contacts. The caregiver feels alone and helpless.
38 to 50 months – Besides needing tranquilizers or antidepressants, the caregiver’s physical health is beginning to deteriorate. Lack of focus and sheer fatigue cloud judgment and the caregiver is often unable to make rational decisions or ask for help. It is often at this stage that family or friends intercede and find other solutions for care. This may include respite care, hiring home health aides or putting the disabled care recipient in a facility. Without intervention, the family caregiver may become a candidate for long term care as well.
Since most family members go into informal caregiving without training or counseling, they often aren’t aware of the possible outcome described above. It is therefore extremely important to seek counseling and to formulate a plan of action prior to making a caregiving commitment.
Government assistance is available all over the country. Area Agencies on Aging and local senior centers give aid and support to family caregivers. Numerous religious and community organizations also lend their support.
According to the National Care Planning Council:
” In 1965, Congress passed the Older Americans Act which provides guidance and funding to the States to give help to caregivers. All states offer programs at no cost or very low cost which might include: counseling, caregiver training, respite care, adult day care, meals, support groups and much, much more. It is vital for the health and longevity of all caregivers to make use of these services.” (www.longtermcarelink.net)
This November take note of those around you, in your families and community, who are family caregivers. A message of acknowledgement of their service, a gift of thanks or even an offering of your time to give them a needed break would let them know their service is recognized and appreciated.
If you have any questions about the pros and cons of family caregiving, please contact the Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC. The law firm located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients. Their office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334.
November 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
In the elder law world we talk about the importance of having a life care plan, but what exactly is a life care plan and why should you and your loved ones have one? At its core, a life care plan is a guide that will help you navigate the often times confusing and stressful task of managing our care as we age. Some items that may be included in the plan are:
- Power of attorney
- Advance directives
- Medicaid and/or VA benefits planning
What sets Life Care Planning apart from traditional elder law planning, however, is the Elder Care Coordination. When you have a Life Care Plan, you get the services of an Elder Care Coordinator who assists you with all things related to the provision of care: facility placement, procurement and retention of in-home care, advocacy, wellness checks, and all-around troubleshooting. This aspect of the Life Care Plan takes the stress off family members and caregivers, and our clients tell us how relieved they are to have someone there for them.
Finally, a Life Care Plan also helps prepare you for the cost of providing long term care whether that be an assisted living facility or an in-home caregiver. MetLife issued a study this year that said, “National average rates for a private nursing home room increased 4.4 percent to $239 daily or $87,235 annually, in 2011”.
A recent article on the US News & World Report website (usnews.com) stated:
“If living longer is one of the great success stories of medicine and lifestyle changes, failing to plan for later-life care is one of the great failures. Relatively few people have any kind of plan for how they will take care of themselves or their spouses in old age. And even those who have been thoughtful are not likely to have set aside adequate resources to provide care that can easily top $100,000 a year.”
To be quite honest, most of us are ignoring the simple fact that we will get old and we will most likely require some sort of care. Genworth Financial, a major seller of long-term care insurance, recently issued the “2011 Financial Reality Check Study” which states that “6 out of 10 people will need long-term care at some point during their lifetimes, but three-fourths of adults surveyed have never had a conversation with family or friends about long-term care”.
Since it is a safe bet that health care costs will continue to rise, it may be a good time to consult an elder law attorney about putting together a life care plan that will not only provide for your future, but will also protect your family’s assests for future generations.
If you have any questions about creating a Life Care Plan for yourself or a family member, please contact the Law Office of Dawn M. Weekly, PC. The law firm located in Sandwich, Illinois and focuses on elder law and Life Care Planning for clients. Their office may be reached by calling 815-570-2334.