Trusts and Estates Blog

Are You Beginning to Care for an Elderly Loved One? Part 3 of 3

Eldery mother with doctor - rXSmallIn the last article in our series on how to make the transition into caring for your elderly loved ones, let’s look at how to involve others in the process. First, you need to be realistic. You can’t care for your loved one alone without giving up parts of your life. But truth is, you don’t have to make as many sacrifices as you probably believe. Here are a few steps to take in assuring the best for both you and your loved one.

–Get support from family and friends. Perhaps the most important aspect of beginning elder care is setting up a support network for both you and your loved one. Be inquisitive with doctors, communicate with pharmacists, and consult others who’ve made the transition. You’re not the first person to make this transition, so allow others to guide you. Look to others for help rather than feeling the pressure of doing everything on your own.

–Talk to your elderly loved one. Granted, not all seniors are of the mental capacity to make sound decisions about their future, but if your senior is able, involve them in the process of elder care. Give them a voice, heed their advice, and listen to their preferences. By involving them, you will gain their trust and cooperation, and will better know how to care for them.

–Create a caregiving team. Tying in with the idea that you don’t have to be the only one providing care for your loved one, create a team of loved ones, friends, or medical professionals who will be involved in the caregiving process. Assign tasks to them if they are able to contribute (financial recording, transportation to medical appointments, pharmacy runs, monthly outings, etc.). Also make sure all members of the caregiving team are provided with as much information about the loved one that is available. Perhaps plan monthly meetings or weekly email updates to keep the line of communication open.

–Keep updated notes. Whenever meeting with a doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, care professional, insurance agent, government office, or advocacy office, write down the date of the meeting and document all advice or instructions given by the professional. Make special note of the person you spoke to, contact information, and the topic of the conversation. Maintain separate files for separate note topics—financial, legal, medical, and so on.

–Never assume. Although it sounds pessimistic, never assume the professional you speak to will make good on his/her promises. Too often busyness overcomes them and details get overlooked. Set a time to follow-up on action items, and keep track of who is doing what for your loved one. The more you become involved in the affairs of your loved one, the more you’ll be able to assure they receive the best care possible.

–Don’t overlook yourself. We end this series of articles with the same suggestion we began with—take time for yourself. Amidst the new responsibilities, pressures, and duties you’ll encounter as a caregiver, you’ll be tempted to put your own needs and desires aside. Don’t work yourself so much that you neglect yourself. You still deserve time alone, doing what you love, being with others, and enjoying a hobby or vacation. Think of it this way: your loved one will receive better care as you care for yourself. Don’t overlook yourself, but create weekly and monthly times of rejuvenation away for yourself. Failing to heed this advice can result in two people needing care – your loved one and yourself. Don’t fall into this trap of thinking you can’t take a break – you must if you want to be the best caregiver you can be.

If you would like more information concerning caring for the elderly, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) at 661-945-5868 or visit their website at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com. EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for Elder Law solutions through wills and revocable trusts. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

Are You Beginning to Care for an Elderly Loved One? Part 2 of 3

Eldery mother with grown daughter pushing wheelchairMany family members find themselves transitioning from child to parent as they take on the responsibility of caring for parents or elderly loved ones. While the transition is made out of love, fear and apprehension can surround the decision. Rather than worrying about the move, take time to fully prepare yourself for the journey ahead by following the few steps outlined in this article.

In part 1 of this article, we listed some basic steps for starting out in the elder care world, including what materials to gather, how to keep them classified, and who to involve. In part 2, let’s look at the more detailed matters of insurance, declining health, and community outreach.

–Review your loved one’s health insurance. If you will be caring for your loved one, be sure to know the status of their health insurance. What plan do they have? What is covered? Are they eligible for Medicare benefits? Do they have any coverage through a private pension package or retirement plan?

–Explore financial resources. What does your loved one have set aside for long-term financial planning? Many elders have a retirement plan or pension that includes planning for medical care. Also, explore the possibility of a legal document that provides a percent of their estate for medical needs. Look for any real estate, savings accounts, IRAs, stocks and bonds, Social Security income, government income, CDs, annuities, and investments. Talk to your loved one about financial support for their care.

–Check into community resources. Many communities offer classes, adult day care services, and senior centers where older loved ones can interact. Utilizing these centers will not only allow your loved one some interaction with others, but will allow you some time to yourself. Also, look into meal delivery, transportation support, and health agencies. Look to community programs to support the care you are giving your loved one.

–Collect information on long-term care. Even if you plan to care for your loved one until the time of their passing, begin collecting information on assisted living and long-term care. Circumstances may change and you might need that information years down the road, and gathering material now will help you make the best decision possible for your loved one.

–Watch for signs of degradation. While loved ones growing older brings many changes in their lives, watch for tell-tale signs of problems. Loss of sight, hearing loss, memory loss, confusion, incontinence, and depression are not normal and should be treated medically. Don’t allow these symptoms to be written off as normalcy.

–Consider a care manager. Care managers are professionals trained to assist in the care of elderly loved ones. They can asses the condition of your loved one, make care recommendations, and share invaluable guidance on how you can better care for your loved one. To find one, consult the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.

If you would like more information concerning caring for the elderly, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) at 661-945-5868 or visit their website at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com. EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for Elder Law solutions through wills and revocable trusts. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

Are You Beginning to Care for an Elderly Loved One? Part 1 of 3

Eldery mother with grown daughter sitting XSmallYour loved one is growing older, and more you are realizing the need for extra care for your elder. What do you do? Can you afford to care for them yourself or to hire a professional? Many questions surround the transition of caring for an elderly loved one. If you decide to take on the responsibility of caring for them yourself, you will face many questions on what to do. To help you make that transition easier, here is a checklist of things to do:

–Take a breath. While you care for your loved one through the rest of their life, you’ll be devoting most of your time and energy to them. Take time to focus on you, starting at the beginning of the transition. Take some time away, pamper yourself, and make sure you’re ready for such a transition.

–Collection information about the elder. Take on the role of investigator and find out all you can about the elder, including date of birth, Social Security number, recent medical visits, prescriptions being taken, primary care physician, and health insurance information. Gather as much information as you can. You’ll need it at some time during your care of them.

–Make a list of vital information. The information you collected in step 2 can easily be lost. To prevent that, create either a physical file or a virtual file on your computer of all important information. Password protect it, lock it in a filing cabinet, and do whatever necessary to keep it private. Include the following in the file:
–Names, phone numbers, and addresses of all doctors, dentists, pharmacies, and hospitals the elder visits.
–Copies of health insurance policies, insurance cards, and medicare cards.
–A list of all medication (prescription or over the counter—even vitamins) that the elder takes, dosage amounts, and dosage instructions. Take this list with you to all medical appointments to avoid dangerous medicine mixtures.
–Date of recent medical visits and exams (procedures done, tests conducted, etc.)
–Complete health history of the elder, including major health concerns of immediate family members of the elder.

–Make use of online resources. You don’t have to go through this transition alone. Look up some elder care advice from others online and use programs designed to help you transition into elder care more smoothly. One resource is LifeLedger that guides you through the elder care process.

–Research, research, research. If your loved one is suffering from a certain medical condition, research it. Learn all you can about the condition like warning signs to watch for, irritants of the condition, prescription drugs that help, research being done on the condition, and medicines that cannot be taken. Be thorough in your research and keep a close watch on how the condition affects the elder.

–Speak to your loved one’s lawyer. Find out what legal preparations your loved on has made. Ask if they’ve set up a loving will, a trust, or some sort of legal document. See if they’ve made arrangements for medical care (financial allowances) and who is legally responsible for their future.

–Call a family meeting. The more family members you involve, the better (granted they are honest and trust-worthy). Let other family members have input on decisions and ask for their help in care. If possible, delegate tasks to other members (handling of finances, doctors’ appointments, outings with the loved one, etc.) The more people you have involved, the easier it will be for you and the more your family members will feel part of the transition.

If you would like more information concerning caring for the elderly, contact Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) at 661-945-5868 or visit their website at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com. EstatePlanningSpecialists.com is a comprehensive online resource for Elder Law solutions through wills and revocable trusts. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand.

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