Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is your family prepared?

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With so many Boomers growing older, it is becoming a big concern about what a family should do in case Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa or anyone in your life who is elderly, may need more help with activities of daily living.  

Many people will, out of necessity, choose a nursing home if the person needs round the clock care.  Yes, many will feel pangs of guilt when having to choose this route.  Unfortunately we, as human beings, are great at living in a state called, denial.  Having said this, far too many, probably most, people never consider checking out nursing homes or alternative care, until it is absolutely necessary. It can and usually does, get sprung on families more often than you might think.

For instance, I have seen quite a few elderly people break a bone, end up in the hospital and then have to enter a nursing home while undergoing therapy.  Hospitals, in this modern era, have a habit of not keeping the elderly patient more than a few days, so it is highly possible your elderly loved one can, and will be sent to a nursing home to recuperate much sooner than you think.

Countless numbers of those elderly patients will enter a nursing home for therapy, plan on going home, then discover that the therapists recommend they stay, never to return home.  It is usually either for safety reasons, or the person is too frail to care for themselves, they may be forgetful and not able to discern things like placing a tea kettle on a stove, using a burner to cook and often times, forgetting to turn the burner off.  Or maybe staying alone, especially nights, that person may not be able to leave their home in case of any kind of emergency.  Nearly every time the elderly person who planned to go home was told it wasn't recommended, they and their families were thoroughly stunned and unprepared for that kind of news.  Are you prepared?

Remember too, you have options if this happens to you and your loved one.  Before you get old, even though you might think you will always be young and vibrant, it is important to think and appoint, a medical proxy and a power of attorney before you need one.  In both cases, pick someone you can trust with your life, literally.  Be sure to have medical decisions you want to have happen in case you are unable to talk or sign papers, in writing, have them notarized be sure you and the person you choose, each have a copy as well as a lawyer.  Being incapacitated can happen at any age not only to the elderly.  

I also want to stress that the people you place in charge do not have to be a family member.  You can choose a friend if you trust them more.  Be very choosy because I have seen POA's run off with bank accounts, make decisions that the unconscious person might not have agreed to and I've seen POA's seize property, only to see the elderly person recover and find out they were stripped of everything.  One poor lady's niece was given POA powers then cleaned out the lady's checking account and then left the state. While you might say: "That could never happen to me."  Be assured that lady was saying the very same thing in my office.   

Hopefully you will be prepared for such things.  Remember, it's never too early to plan ahead.