Keep records of vital information for elderly parents
Contributing columnist Lenna Scott GRID: Senior column tease pic
Updated: May 13, 2013 4:26PM
Sometimes we make assumptions about the information that we have or don’t have when it comes to our parents, grandparents or other seniors in our lives. Unfortunately the moment we realize that the information we need is not available is usually during a crisis.
“You can’t predict when something might happen to an aging parent,” explains Rabbi Dovid Grossman. Rabbi Grossman is a consultant with A Place for Mom, a national company that helps seniors and their families with free eldercare advice and referrals. “Whether its an unexpected illness or a fall that requires rehabilitation at a nursing home, it is vital that you and your parents have the essential legal documents in order.”
Rabbi Grossman says there are 10 simple questions that A Place for Mom recommends reviewing to make sure that you are prepared for the unexpected.
1. Do you have a durable power of attorney?
“This document designates who will take care of your affairs if you are unable to decide for yourself,” says Rabbi Grossman. You can designate one person to handle financial decisions and a different person for health, or they can both be the same person.
2. What are your end-of-life wishes?
“Known as a living will or advance health care directive, this is used to indicate choices such as would you want a ventilator and feeding tube or do you want CPR if you are terminally ill?”
3. Do you have a living will or a living trust?
4. Do you have long-term care insurance or another plan in case long-term care is required?
“According to an analysis of the pricing of communities in A Place for Mom’s network, the national average cost for assisted living is $3,074. So, it’s important to know if your parent has insurance to offset these costs, or some other plan in place should long-term-care needs arise.”
5. Have you made sure that these documents are current?
6. Where can I find these documents if I ever need them?
7. Is someone advising you on financial matters?
“Many seniors are very private and independent regarding their finances, which is understandable,” shares Rabbi Grossman. “Even so, it’s important to know who is advising your parents. This will not only allow you to contact someone in the case of an emergency, but also give you a chance to make sure your parent is working with someone who is reputable.”
8. If you can no longer take care of yourself, have you thought about where you’d prefer living?
9. Do you visit the doctor regularly?
“Many seniors may be seeing several specialists in addition to a primary care physician. If they become hospitalized, information from one of these doctors could be critical. If possible, ask the senior to provide you a list of physicians seen regularly and how to contact them.” Rabbi Grossman says some seniors avoid the doctor and if that is the case this question can help start a discussion of general health issues.
10. Do you feel like you understand why you’re taking the medicines you’ve been prescribed?
“Just as it’s important to know who your parent’s physicians are in case of emergency, it’s also important to know what medicines your parent takes. Being able to provide this information to hospital staff in case of a medical crisis can be vital.”
Rabbi Grossman says that it may be best to answer these questions over the course of days or weeks rather than springing them on Mom or Dad all at once. A Place for Mom can be reached at (877) 311-6099 or online at www.aplaceformom.com
Lenna Scott is the Director of Marketing at The Wealshire, a short-term rehab, skilled nursing and assisted living community in Lincolnshire. She lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband and two children. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org