Valentine’s Day and Everyday
With Valentine’s Day approaching, many of us are devising ways to show our loved ones that we care. Most will resort to the standbys – buying a card, chocolate, maybe jewelry (hint). However, there are numerous, often overlooked steps that also show caring and concern. For seniors, the gift of services from an elder law attorney and care manager can show consideration that extends far beyond the typical Valentine’s Day gift.
An elder law attorney will bring a senior’s power of attorney, health care directive/living will, and will into alignment with the senior’s current wishes and needs. The attorney can also evaluate a senior’s chances of eligibility for Medicaid or Veterans benefits to pay for long term care. Other sources of payment for care are also evaluated. Elder law attorneys are generally familiar with resources in the senior’s community for care at home or in an institution. In many cases, an elder law attorney will recommend a care management company to the senior or the family.
Care management companies provide care through nurses, geriatric care managers, or social workers. A care manager will tend to issues that a senior’s family members either don’t have time to address or don’t realize exist. The care manager begins the process with an assessment of the senior to determine if the senior’s current living arrangement is appropriate to meet her needs. A Plan of Care is typically created to address anticipated issues.
Issues that family members may not know to address for senior relatives who live at home include overmedication, nutrition and dehydration. Overmedicating seniors often leads to a lower quality of life, falls, unnecessary hospitalizations, and an increased chance of an adverse drug reaction. Like overmedication, dehydration is an extremely common problem for seniors. Aging causes individuals to become more susceptible to dehydration. If severe, it can cause kidney failure, shock, or death. For seniors who are unable to cook, have dental issues, or are on restricted diets, malnutrition, which can weaken an immune system and exacerbate muscle weakness, is also significant risk. Often seniors can benefit from technology that helps them “age in place,” such as a medication monitor or motion sensor.
Both a care manager and elder law attorney can advocate for seniors who are in a hospital or nursing home setting. If there is a breach of the standard of care, an elder law attorney can refer to a personal injury attorney.
The care manager typically communicates with the discharge planner of a hospital to ensure that any transfers of the senior are done to the senior’s best advantage. Poor transitions are frequent causes of injury for seniors. Some care managers will assist the senior in communicating with Medicare or another insurance carrier for increased benefits. The documentation pertaining to a patient’s hospital discharge as well as which type of facility the individual transitions into impacts how much Medicare coverage the individual receives. Therefore, it is often critical to have an advocate in place prior to an individual’s discharge from an acute care setting.
With multiple home care companies, assisted livings, nursing facilities, and rehabilitation options, care coordination is important for seniors in any setting, and referrals to appropriate providers are critical. In addition to care providers, both elder law attorneys and care managers can refer to daily money managers, realtors focusing on seniors, home organizers and senior moving advisors, and even healthcare bill review experts.
A care manager can recommend modifications to the home to accommodate an individual’s dementia as well as medical specialists that focus on dementia. If necessary, an elder law attorney can establish a guardianship for a client who has dementia.
The details that an elder law attorney or care manager tend to on a daily basis can dramatically increase a senior’s quality of life. Securing these services for an elderly relative is a gift of consideration and love.