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Helpful Information for Seniors

A Brand New Day – Redding writes a Senior Living column for the Record Searchlight which can also be seen online at Redding.com. We talk about a wide variety of subjects with common thread about topics relevant to Seniors and their families. To follow is a compilation of last month’s posts. We hope you enjoy them.

Senior Living: How to Determine if Someone is having a Stroke and Manage Risk Factors

25 Oct 2012

According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Stroke kills 133,000 people per year and is the leading cause of long-term disability in seniors. Close to 800,000 strokes will happen this year at a rate of one every 40 seconds. Someone will lose their life to a stroke about every four minutes. (click for the entire story)

Senior Living: A Primer on Patient’s Rights in a Skilled Nursing Facility

10 Oct 2012

Don’t believe you are at the mercy of the nurses and administration when you have to spend time recovering at a skilled nursing facility. Read more for a frank Q & A about your rights.  (click for the entire story)

Senior Living: Easy Ways to Prevent Falls while Bathing

5 Sept 2012

Falls are one of the leading reasons for hospitalization among seniors in the United States. Falls result in fractured hips, ribs and bruising, all of which are painful and some require surgery, physical and-or occupational therapy. Falls can happen to the elderly quite easily and can quickly turn into a devastating event. Read more for a way to learn how to make your bathroom safer and reduce your fall risk while bathing. (click for the entire story)

We are on Facebook

If you would like to become a Facebook fan and connect to others who share your interests, please check us out on our Facebook page at ABrandNewDayRedding. Every Friday we have a PhotoTeaser, (click for the entire story)

A Brand New Day is a 26 bed Memory Care assisted living facility in Redding, CA focusing on Alzheimer’s and dementia, respite and hospice care. Our license number is 455001567. We invite you to contact us with any questions when you are concerned about the safety of a loved one at 530.223.1538. We are happy to be your Senior Care resource.

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Help Yourself and Those Whom You Love by Creating a Paper Trail

This appeared over a year ago in our Senior Living Column in the Redding California Record Searchlight, yet we continue to receive requests for copies. It is a helpful reminder that we should take some time to prepare in case of an accident, emergency or illness.

If something should happen to you, would your loved ones know what to do? We are writing about this topic from the standpoint of handling your personal affairs, rather than the complexities of emotions and grieving. We also assume that you have an estate plan or will and have authorized a health care and financial power of attorney.

We often tell ourselves that someday we will get our affairs in order. But we procrastinate. When is someday? It needs to be yesterday in order for you to be prepared. Life’s emergencies just happen, and require planning to manage them. Planning requires organization, and for most of us, this is difficult to do. Don’t let this daunting task overwhelm you or put your loved ones in the difficult position of having to sort through a confusing maze. There are plenty of rainy days in a year as well as days that are too hot to spend much time outside. Use one of these days to get organized. If you spend some time organizing your important papers, you will save yourself and your loved ones a lot of trouble.

It is best to store your important papers in a safety deposit box at your bank. Then, purchase a fireproof, locked portable storage box. Make a copy of each document and store the copies, along with an extra safety deposit box key in your portable storage box. The box should be just large enough to hold your documents so that you won’t have trouble dashing out of the house with it in case of a fire, flood, earthquake or other catastrophe.

Here is a basic list of copied documents you should keep in the storage box:

  • Passport
  • Social Security card
  • Driver’s License
  • Health insurance card
  • Insurance policies
  • Your will or estate plan
  • All powers of attorney and health care proxies
  • Any certificates of investments (stock, precious metals, etc.)
  • Car titles
  • Certificates of birth, death, marriage, divorce
  • Custody documents
  • Military service documents

That doesn’t seem too difficult, does it? Now here comes the hard part — you should make a list of your assets and debts, as well as contact information of your health care providers, banker, accountant, lawyer, financial adviser, insurance agent and any professional whom you rely for care of yourself and your assets. Listing assets may be as simple as a copy of your bank, investment and retirement account statements. Note the contact person’s name and phone number if not already printed on the statement. Make a list of your credit card accounts, auto and mortgage loans. Include account numbers, due dates and lenders’ names and contact information. Write down the location of your original documents.

Next, grab your camera and take a picture (or video) of the contents of your house and garage. Video recording is preferable because you can narrate details such as when the items were purchased and the cost, details of family heirlooms and any special meaning, etc. Make two copies of the pictures and/or digital files and place a copy in your safety deposit box and the other in your locked storage box.

Include receipts for major purchases, such as a car, boat, guns, jewelry, furniture, electronics, etc.

Finally, make a list of your username and passwords to keep in the box. Store it in a very safe place and tell its location to only those who you trust to handle your affairs. Put the key in a secure place and keep a copy of the key in your safety deposit box.

Those whom you have designated to handle your financial affairs in the event of a sudden illness or death will be able to do so effectively because they will have all the information they need. You will have the ability to deal with a lost or stolen purse/wallet since you will have a copy of your driver’s license and a list of all your credit cards with the contact information to quickly notify the issuers. Your record (photographs, video files, receipts) of assets will be essential in expediting an insurance claim in the event of damage or theft.

Do yourself a favor, and follow these simple steps. You will help yourself and those who you love weather a crisis.

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Be Prepared for the Future

Some people work better under the stress of a deadline. They tell themselves that they are only motivated to do their best under pressure. That may be true, but it is risky to apply that situation when seniors (and their children) have to make health care decisions in a crisis mode.

It is natural to feel uncomfortable to confront the inevitability of failing health or death with family members. Perhaps you are the daughter or son who feels it may be disrespectful to bring up the topic to Mom and Dad. Or you may be a parent and want to spare your kids from envisioning the time when you will not be strong enough to make decisions on your own.

Don’t wait for the perfect time, because there is no perfect time. Things can change suddenly, and if you don’t know your family  members’ wishes, location of documents and other vital information, it will be much more difficult to manage in a crisis situation. Discussing far-off, hypothetical scenarios are actually easier to address rather than when reality hits and you try to sort out options in the emergency room.

A good first step is to find out if there is a current will, a durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney and an advance health care directive
(also known as a living will) in place. If not, now is the time to consult a lawyer about the purpose of each document and to understand your loved one’s options.

Exploring these legal issues will bring up many of the decisions that will need to be made. For example, your family member will need to give someone the authority to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf when completing a durable power of attorney. A health care power of attorney will require naming someone who will be responsible for medical decisions in the event of  physical or mental incapacity. An advance health care directive will provide instructions specifying what actions should be taken in the event they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity.

Be careful about finding free forms on the Internet. While the forms may look similar to those drawn by an attorney, you can’t be sure that the “do it yourself” document will be accepted by all financial institutions and insurance companies. Additionally, different states require different criteria. Do it once, and do it correctly.

Does your family member desire aggressive medical interventions using the latest technology to battle an incurable health condition, or would they rather forego life-sustaining measures that would serve only to prolong dying? There is a document called POLST that is printed on brightly colored pink paper so it cannot be easily overlooked. POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment which is designed to give people more control over end of life care. The individual can detail their wishes about the degree of medical intervention they desire. It is signed by the individual and their doctor and represents a promise by all health care professionals to honor the wishes stated in the document. The POLST should accompany the documents listed above. It is not a replacement for an advance health care directive.

There are also personal preferences beyond financial and health care issues that are important to talk about. How does your family member feel about alternative living arrangements if he or she can no longer safely stay at home? If a crisis arises, who should be contacted? Do you have the names and phone numbers of their doctors, lawyer, relatives, clergy, or even friends?

These are weighty issues, and are not likely to be settled in just one conversation. It is a good idea to talk about it in person, rather than on the phone, emails or letters. Be patient and open to their responses, without bringing a hidden agenda according to what you believe is best. You may be surprised about your family member’s wishes.

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