Article written by Scott and Stacey Fischer
Here’s to the New Year 2018. We hope you had a great holiday season and you are ready to make this year about planning and being prepared, ensuring you and those around you are living a healthier, happier life.
In our last article, “Is It Care, Concern or Control With Mom and Dad,” we approached the topic of observing Mom and Dad. You may have noticed a few changes in their behavior that included the following:
- House and yard needs upkeep
- Untidy clothing
- Broken or missing household items
- Excessive mood swings
- Spoiled or expired food
- Poor personal care
- Dirty or messy house
- Low-energy disposition
- Difficulty moving from a seated position
- Forgetting or missing doctor appointments
- Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
- Lack of memory or poor memory
- Recent weight loss
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Forgetting to take medications — lack of wellness
There are many things to consider for mom, dad, or other family members — loved ones that may be facing the decision of assisted living or more enhanced in-home care. Many families are faced with a quick resolution because they have a “trigger” event and find no pre-planning has occurred. We hope the information shared will allow you to understand the importance of being prepared. Awareness is the best prevention to avoid on-the-spot, last-minute choices. Consider some of the following when discussing options.
When seniors age, their body changes and their attitude can too. They might be older; however, proper care and wellness can be maintained — staying healthy needs to be a priority. Preventive care is vital to age well while avoiding disease and disability.
Seniors need to get an enjoyable visit each year. During their visit, the healthcare provider should cover ways to stay healthy including eating, exercise, sexual and mental health, fall prevention, and misuse or overuse of drugs and alcohol. This visit may include specific screenings and tests. In addition to those specific to women, there are preventive healthcare screenings and tests that are beneficial for all adults: height and weight/body mass index (BMI), cholesterol screening, colorectal cancer screening, and age-specific immunizations.
In-home care verses assisted living
In-home care can be a great way to begin offering help and services to you or your aging loved one. In-home services are tailored and designed individually for each senior. This guidance can provide companionship, some assistance with personal care, transportation, meal preparation assistance, and so much more. These services are paid privately, but they may be covered under some long-term care policies and even our state Medicaid long-term care program (ALTCS) for those who qualify.
When safety concerns exceed the desire to remain at home with some assistance or when in-home care costs exceed what 24-hour care for the assisted living would cost, then it’s time to consider assisted living. Assisted living can be found in a larger, corporately owned setting where seniors live in and enjoy care in the privacy of their apartment as well as having the opportunity to experience meals, activities, and many other benefits with others who live in the community as well. Assisted living may also be found in smaller, licensed assisted living or “group” homes. Residents receive a great deal of personal, hands-on attention and care in this setting. There are hundreds and hundreds of these homes in Maricopa County in all of our neighborhoods, so finding a good home can be very convenient when a location is a high priority.
Medical and health assessment
There are a couple of critical items to touch on when we start thinking about these things each year. Whether you are the senior or you are the adult, understand that strict laws are governing the release of protected healthcare information. It is vital that the primary care physician (and specialists) have been given the authority to share health information with the designated person or persons. The physician will have a formal release of data to be signed by the senior. You may even choose to make an appointment together to all be on the same page if possible. It is a great idea to make this a practice over time, so the physician knows the involved family and communication lines are opened.
Also, medications can be the most dangerous management issue for seniors. It is common for seniors to take many drugs and sometimes from a variety of providers. A competent primary care physician acts as the quarterback in these cases to ensure there aren’t unforeseen contraindications or medication interactions. It is so important to have that review annually of all medications and supplements to keep the senior safe.
Be prepared and get all affairs in order
There are many things to consider and to get the facts about, many are not aware of the need to be ready, or they do not have all the information. Here are the areas to consider and areas to investigate and ask questions:
- Financial planning
- Probate, elder law
- Wills, living wills
- Trusts, special needs trust
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Estate administration
- Estate planning
- Power of attorney
We suggest seeking professional advice and assistance with all these items.
This article covered the importance of focusing on each area and ensuring your loved one has the care, the resources, and the knowledge to make clear decisions about their future. Whether you are a son or daughter or other significant loved one, it is critical to look at all options so you can simplify the care while making tough choices to ensure your senior loved one is secure in all areas.