Tag Archive | Will

Starting Seniors NEW in a New Year

Now that the holidays have come to a close and the decorations are down and stored for the year, it’s a prime opportunity to sit with your senior and sort out the upcoming year. Being organized is the best way to start a new year, especially if your loved one has been ill through the previous year.

Arranging and rearranging the needs of our seniors can be a long task but the effort more than repays you when the time comes. Follow these suggestions to start “new” in the New Year.

Make a portable carry file with individual file folders inside. Name each file with individual Doctor’s names, addresses and phone numbers. As bills and EOB’s (Explanation of Benefits) forms arrive in their mail boxes, they can be easily filed and accessible.

Update personal files. It pays to update medication lists twice to three times yearly. Sort through medications and dispose of old prescriptions then make note of new ones. It’s always wise to make several copies of this list and keep them in your files for fast and easy access in the event of emergency or new doctor visits. Place a copy in your car and in the car of your senior (should they still be driving) along with a list of important phone numbers i.e. doctors, hospital of their choice, key family members so you and your loved one are always prepared.

Be sure Power of Attorney and Power of Medical Attorney are in place and keep copies with key family members as well as in your loved one’s personal file. Carry copies to doctor’s visits and add them to your senior’s medical files.

Make arrangements with banks and lending institutions so that key family members are able to access funds in the event of an emergency and your loved one is unable to manage their personal business.

Verify Insurance co-pays and coverages. The new year brings new co-pays and changes in old coverages. Take time to contact insurance companies and verify deductibles and co-pays. Inquire about old coverages, especially the most used ones, and verify nothing has changed. If changes have occurred, have the companies mail an updated coverage sheet so you are prepared. As unstable as the economy is, never assume that insurance remains unchanged.

Logs and calendars are important. Keep a log book of Doctor visits, what the issue was and anything discussed, any medication changes and referrals. We tend to think we won’t forget instructions, but if an emergency arises the details are easily forgotten or confused—dates in particular, so keep a log book.

Write upcoming dates on a large calendar so seniors can see the appointments clearly. Keeping a calendar can be one of the best things you do for your aging parent. It adds a sense of security and routine to their lives and it reduces stress and worry.

Taking these advance steps will bring your loved one into the new year with a new sense of security. Be ready for the new year with advance preparation. You’ll be glad you did.

Good Decisions

End of life decisions are hard and though families recognize the importance of  pre-planning, it’s often a part of aging many choose to ignore. As difficult as the decisions are, it is important for families to take the initiative to set them in place.

Many times these decisions are pushed to the side for a number of reasons. First and foremost, is the reality of losing a loved one. Secondly, there is simply not enough knowledge to move forward to set directives in place.

Think of end-of-life decisions as part of the daily business process of aging parents. Just as the power bill must be paid, so is the importance of putting advanced directives in place.

What are Advanced Directives?

Advanced Directives include many things but the four most common documents every individual needs are:  a Will, Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, and a Living Will. As difficult as it is to discuss these matters, it’s wise to make these decisions early in our lives when emotion does not come into play, rational decisions can be discussed and plans made.

Power of Attorney designates an individual or family member to help assist in daily life situations, banking, bill paying and decisions. Families should assign this task to a person who has sound judgment and is able to attend the personal and financial needs of the loved one should they become unable to do so. Along with Power of Attorney is the need to for this person to have joint ownership of all bank accounts and savings plans. Simply signing a signature card at the bank does not allow full access to funds, i.e. transferring money from savings to checking accounts or cashing out IRA’s etc. for payment of medical needs.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions designates someone else to make health care decisions in the event a loved one cannot make them for themselves. It is important this position be designated to someone who has discussed at length the wants and desires of medical care with the loved one and is willing to abide by and act on those decisions and who is willing to make important health decisions should the desires of the loved one not been made known.

Living Will is a document made in advance of illness that states the wants and desires of end-of-life decisions such as emergency life-sustaining measures, i.e. CPR, respirator, extenuating measures to prevent the natural process of death. It’s not about the quantity of life but the quality that is important. A living will can be catered to the wants and desires of the patient.

Will states the desires of assets and their distribution.

As our parents age make a packet of these forms and store them in an easy-access spot so that emergency responders can locate them and abide by the wishes of your loved one. Being prepared for any situation is important not only for our aging parents but for every family member. Having these documents prepared saves time and makes the transition of care simple.

Bring family members together, discuss the wants and wishes of seniors and then draw up Advanced Directives.