Do your loved ones live in a different town or state from you? Are you concerned about them? How could you help them if they needed it or if a crisis occurred? May is National Elder Law Month and these questions are often repeated during this month-long celebration. That is why elder lawyers go out into their communities during the month to focus on and educate our aging population and their families about the help, care and legal documents that seniors need. This month calls for not only seniors, but communities across the nation and adult family members to get involved.
So how can you help the elders in your life? More importantly, what do you do if your elder loved ones live out of town? We know you may have these questions and more. We would like to share three strategies to help you on our blog this month.
1. You should consider increasing communication. Call often, you could even set up a certain time of the day and call daily or every other day, whatever works best. If possible, visit whenever you can. In addition, enlist the help of other family members and friends, especially if any of them live in the same town or close to your aging parents. Did you know that regular communication helps prevent isolation and can identify unmet needs and problems? Ask leading questions, like, “What are you doing today?” or “What did Dr. Smith have to say?”
2. You should consider using a caregiver notebook. Create and keep up-to-date an online digital notebook of doctors, health providers, insurance agents, friends, neighbors and other important contacts for your aging out-of-town parents. You could also share it with other family members. Also, think about keeping an up-to-date online calendar.
3. You should consider finding daily assistance. As we have mentioned before, long distance relationships are difficult at any age. For out-of-town seniors, it is important to build up a good, reliable and caring network of assistance. Look into coordinating with different organizations and individuals to schedule frequent assistance, such as meal deliveries, social visits, and check-ups from home health aides.
Do you have questions? Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Are you an adult child caring for your aging parent? Did you know that loss of memory may be a part of the aging process? As you care for your aging parent, how do you know when memory issues are serious enough to warrant intervention? What happens when your parent will not tell his or her physician that he or she is experiencing memory issues. Let us discuss some warning signs your aging parent may need memory care soon.
1. Appearance changes. With declining mental status there may be changes in appearance. For example, your parent may forget to bathe or stop putting an effort into his or her appearance, or even continuously wear the same outfit. This may be happening because he or she is forgetting to tend to hygiene or has confusion regarding the steps involved in hygiene. You know your parent best and are in a good position to see if there is a significant change in appearance.
2, Weight loss. Severe dementia may cause your parent to lose weight but there may be several other causes. Forgetting to eat may be the simplest cause, but if your parent does his or her own shopping he or she may be from getting lost on the way to the market, misplacing credit cards or having them turned off because your parent forgot to make the payment. Often, a combination of these factors may make the process of shopping for and eating food feel too overwhelming, and your parent may simply try to survive on what he or she has. If you do notice a sudden unexplained weight loss, you will need to engage your parent in a conversation about meals and grocery shopping. From a safety perspective, you should also determine whether your parent is at any risk of cooking related injuries, including burns or leaving the stove on, which may warrant immediate intervention.
3. Medication not taken. Are you noticing extra medicine around, or is your parent experiencing medical symptoms from not taking the proper medications, such as suddenly increased blood pressure or elevated blood sugar? These are sure signs that your parent is forgetting to take his or her medications.
4. Starting to get lost. If your parent is wandering or getting lost on routine routes this is a primary sign of dementia. When you try to talk to your parent, however, he or she may be unwilling to discuss it out of fear or shame, or his or her memory loss may cause him or her to be too confused to fully comprehend the situation. Try to visit your parent at a different time of day to see if they are wandering or getting lost or ask his or her neighbors to call you, if they see anything out of the ordinary.
5. Often agitated. Memory loss can be emotionally stressful. If your parent seems to be a little off, or gets easily angered, or begins lashing out, your parent may be experiencing memory loss. Often, memory decline will cause your parent to accuse family members and friends of stealing, as an explanation for misplacing things. If your parent accuses you of stealing, rather than take it personally, it may be time to call his or her doctor.
6. Depression. The aging process, medications, or a number of other reasons may cause depression. If you start to notice signs such as withdrawing from going outside, interacting with others, and increased isolation it may be time to not only talk to your parent but seek medical help.
If you observe any of these symptoms in your parent, first make sure he or she is in a safe environment and check on him or her more frequently. After this, speaking with his or her physician will provide you guidance in getting him or her appropriate memory care. Our office is here to help you navigate the legal issues related to seeking and covering the cost of memory care. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.
Growing old can be a difficult process, as most individuals go through some stages of natural decline before they pass away. Unfortunately, despite these years being referred to as the golden years, each stage can also come with some complicated legal issues. Oftentimes, a person will turn to an attorney they have used for other matters throughout his or her lifetime or simply ask a friend or family member for an attorney referral, but did you know the legal issues relating to aging are quite complicated? Let us review three reasons why you need an experienced elder law attorney.
First, an elder law attorney can help you with issues you may face before death. Although it may be difficult to think about and plan for your decline and eventual passing, it is something we all should face, and ultimately preparing for it can be a gift to your remaining friends and family members. Estate planning, or preparing a will or trust, can help assure your estate passes to the people of your choosing. A qualified elder law attorney can also draft your estate planning documents with the goal of asset preservation by drafting the documents to provide the lowest level of tax liability.
After reviewing your overall financial picture, an elder law attorney can also consider your Medicaid eligibility and conduct planning around it. Often people may be under the false belief that Medicare will cover a nursing home, should one become necessary. Medicare, however, only covers one-hundred days in a nursing home and then, the nursing home bill must be paid for by Medicaid, long-term care insurance or private pay. As private pay for a nursing home can quickly eat through someone’s assets, an elder law attorney can advise you on your ability to obtain long-term care insurance or how to create a trust, which will both protect your assets and may allow you to be eligible for Medicaid to cover the cost of a nursing home.
Additionally, some older people suddenly lose their mental capacity by virtue of a stroke or other medical condition. An elder law attorney can assist you in developing a contingency plan to handle your financial and medical decisions should this happen to you. This will likely involve durable powers of attorney or be included as a part of your trust.
Second, an elder law attorney can also help address issues after death. Following your passing, a qualified elder law attorney can assist with both the administration of your estate or probate, if necessary.
Third, you may also find benefits of a holistic approach in an elder law attorney. Growing older and the associated challenges with aging can be a very emotional time for elders and their family members. Experienced elder law attorneys may be adept with the law, but they also understand the social and emotional issues and may serve as a trusted guide for you and your family members.
It is never too soon to consult with an elder law attorney to put a plan in place for your golden years. Having a plan for managing the legal issues associated with aging will allow the golden in your golden years to continue to shine. Our office is here to help. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting time.