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Finding Balance in Caregiving

Caregivers understand that they face demanding, yet rewarding circumstances when caring for a family member. For adult children, it can be a way of giving back to a parent. For a spouse, it may be the expression of a love that never ends. In addition to knowing that they are fulfilling the needs and preferences of their family member, caregivers often express the feeling that they live a more purposeful life and are at peace with themselves.

The most successful caregivers are blessed with strength, endurance, compassion, patience and unselfishness. Not everyone is naturally endowed with these virtues, so we suggest making an honest assessment about your caregiving attributes and be realistic about the needs of your family member. Caregivers who understand their strengths and shortcomings can learn to find a balance between their role as a caregiver and their personal needs.

Caregivers need to embrace the notion that successfully caring for another also requires caring for themselves.

Rarely, can a single person fulfill all of the responsibilities needed by one who is suffering from a disease or disability. It usually takes a team of health care professionals, family members, care providers and support services. Caregivers can better manage such a demanding job by using the resources of others. Studies show that taking periodic breaks from the caregiving role (known as respite,) participating in support groups and/or counseling help caregivers remain successful, with less stress and greater satisfaction.

This may seem obvious, but in reality caregivers are more likely to get wrapped up in the role of caregiving to the extent they neglect their own health. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, depression, coronary heart disease, hypertension, poor immune function, slower wound healing and increased risk of mortality are faced my many caregivers, especially women.

If you are a caregiver, how can you find balance, take care of yourself while providing the care that your family member needs? While the answer is simple, it may not be so simple to do. It is the act of letting go and acknowledging that others can help you from time to time with caregiving.

Options range from creating an informal support network of relatives, friends and neighbors to using organizations devoted to helping caregivers. Although you may not have received offers from relatives, friends and neighbors to help with caregiving, it doesn’t mean they are unwilling to lend a hand. They simply may not know how to offer or what to do. You may be surprised at their quickness to agree to help with a specific task.

Remember to take care of yourself, it’s the first step in taking care of the one you love.

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Seniors Helping Seniors

Entering stage right, are Jean and Howie Harris of the “Jeannie and Howie Show.” A Brand New Day had the honor of spending some fun and enlightening time with this couple. Dave had the opportunity to meet with these two lovely people for an hour and found their passion, love of people and giving was infectious. Howie and Jeannie have been married for four years and want to give back to their community. Howie is a retired marriage and family therapist and taught at Santa Rosa Community College. They both have had experience with assisted living communities and hospice services with loved ones in their lives.

They are a well known and popular singing couple that performs for seniors all over Shasta County and in assisted living facilities. The couple continues to entertain with permanent bookings at various locations throughout Redding. They will be performing again at A Brand New Day in July.

Jeannie and Howie have both competed in the Senior Idol competition at the Cascade Theater in 2009 and 2011. Jeannie placed third in 2009 and earned first place in 2011 at age 84, singing “Cabaret.” Howie, who is 79, closed the 2011 show with the Beatles song “Hey Jude.” Jeannie and Howie have has a warm spot in their heart for the Senior Idol competition, which is no longer in production. Because of this and their love for the audience they are now performing in Redding as volunteers. It is their way of giving back.

Jeannie said, “The Senior Idol was a thrilling experience. To sing for an audience of over one thousand at the sold out shows gave us our five minutes of fame. The show will be missed.” She added with a smile, “Singing keeps me feeling young and living with a purpose. It is very gratifying to see smiling faces as the audience recognizes an old song they remember.” Howie and Jeannie both sang for A Brand New Day Mother’s Day celebration this year; the residents loved them. Their volunteerism was paid in smiles and applause which is their fulfilling reward.

Since their focus is giving back to the Redding community they sing for seniors, and engage the audience with songs of days gone by. If you would like to see a performance, you can watch their video on YouTube.com by typing in Jeannie Harris.

Jeannie believes, “We need to keep the seniors engaged in life and to experience music, which I understand is a form of therapy.” It is said that music stimulates more areas of the brain than any other stimulus. It can conjure up, memories of a first date, getting married, or a terrific vacation. Remembering the words to the songs of the good ole days is engages the part of the brain known as the hippocampus.

Howie and Jeannie continue to entertain seniors with oldies but goodies and country songs. The couple believes seniors don’t want to be in the way, or “bother anyone.” They have turned that statement around with their willingness and passion to perform. The couple sings and performs for parties, bbq dinners, and just about any other celebration involving seniors. To check their performance schedule, give them a call at 229-1300.

 

 

 

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Its Time to Embrace Aging

When did you notice your appearance began to look older? As astonishing as this may seem, a survey of 4,000 women revealed they were worried about looking older at the age of 28. Perhaps it’s not so astonishing given our youth oriented culture and all of the companies which promise the fountain of youth in a pill or jar.

Even so, there comes a time when the mirror reveals unwanted spots, wrinkles, sagging skin, graying and thinning hair.

Aging is inevitable, yet it is something most of us try to resist. We become serious about using sunscreen, buying miracle creams and hair color. Still, time marches on and there is only so much you can do.

The lucky ones reach a turning point and decide that is it OK to look older. Wrinkles become character lines. Gray hair looks distinguished. Age becomes something to brag about: “I’m 75 years young and going strong!”

How do you get to the point where you stop worrying about what you see in the mirror, to embracing the notion that being good is better than looking good?

It starts first with letting go of appreciation for the superficial. This is good for any age. There is always going to be someone who looks younger, fitter, faster, stronger. Sooner or later, focusing on superficial qualities will lead to disappointment.

Second, it helps to change your perception of aging. Let go of “fighting every step of the way” as a skin care commercial suggests. Aging is not something to be battled. It is something to be embraced. Aging is evidence of a long list of memories, of purposeful work, of love, and making a difference in the lives of those around you. Age can bring wisdom drawn from a variety of experiences.

Third, understand that attractiveness is not dependent on meeting cultural standards of beauty. People are attracted to those who are confident and comfortable in their own skin, no matter if it is firm or wrinkled. People want to be around someone who shows confidence and poise.

Happiness and enthusiasm are also attractive. Seek out the things that make you happy and spread your joy when you find them. Look for others who share these traits and it will be easier to keep the good vibes going.

Beauty truly comes from within, especially as we age. But keep in mind that you can help it along by taking care of yourself. This includes getting plenty of sleep, managing your food and alcohol intake at a healthy level, exercising on a regular basis, and following your doctor’s orders for medications.

A little vanity is OK too. It helps to be confident in your appearance when you practice good grooming and wear clean clothes that fit. Don’t worry about the latest fashion trends. Fashion comes and goes, but the classic look sticks around. Most would agree that dressing like a teenager looks pathetic on adults, young or old.

Finally, try to smile more often. It’s the ultimate facelift.

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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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A Day in the Life at A Brand New Day

I wake up to a sunshine filled room and there is a huge young man greeting me with a friendly “Good Morning Wilbur!” I have no idea where I am, or who he is, but figure that it can’t be that bad because he knows my name and he seems nice.  I fake it and reply “Good Morning to you.” As usual, my bones ache and my feet feel numb, so it is nice that the big guy is strong enough to help me out of bed.

I just wish I could figure out where I am. Oh, wait a minute… aren’t I needed in the barn to collect eggs? My dad and uncle will be so mad at me if they find out that I slept in. I’m going to be in such trouble! I can see that the big guy has a name tag on. It says Adam. I ask Adam for help to get to the barn, but he says we don’t have a barn. Oh my, what is going on?

Adam can see that I am upset so he attempts to comfort me. I don’t know what he is talking about but follow his lead to the bathroom to wash up for breakfast. What a relief, all of my stuff is laid out next to the sink so I know what to do next.

As I walk down the hall, I smell coffee brewing, and bacon and eggs on the stove.  I’ve always loved fresh eggs, but I have this vague feeling that eggs are a problem. I sit down at my spot, surrounded by people,  yet none of the faces are familiar. I am served my favorite breakfast, eat my fill and the plate is removed for me. Mom is such a good cook. Where is she? Where am I?

Adam is back and he is handing me a little paper cup of pills with a glass of water. “Here Wilbur, take your medicine. It will make you feel better.” I trust him and swallow the pills. Now I am following Adam to the living room to watch the morning news. How does he know that I want to look at the news each morning? I literally don’t know him from Adam.

Just as the news is ending, a lady greets me and asks me if I want to go to the Sun Room for Bible Study. I can’t remember when the last time I went to church, so I figured I should go. She walks me to the Sun Room where there are a group of old people sitting around listening to this old guy read from the Bible. How come there are so many old folks around? I sit down on a warm and cushy chair listening to a story about David and Goliath when I wake up with a start. No one is reading from the Bible any more. How long have I been asleep?

I notice a group of people playing a game outside in the courtyard. The lady catches my eye and encourages me to join them. What the heck, I’m good at games. You’d think I won the World Series the way the group cheered when I tossed the ring into the center hole. This feels good!

My stomach is grumbling just when the big guy comes around to help me wash up for supper. What is his name again? We’re having beef stroganoff over egg noodles, broccoli and mixed fruit. I hate broccoli and am relieved that I am not being treated  like a child when I don’t clean my plate. No one says a word when I start in on the cherry pie. We always had a big meal in the middle of the day on the farm, so I know everything is all right. I’m given more pills to swallow.

After the tables are cleared, the big guy and the lady start setting up for bingo. This is popular with the old folks, but I like it too. It seems like everyone else is winning prizes but me, so I get a little grumpy and announce that I’ve had enough. The lady persuades me to stay for one more game. Lo and behold, I win!

I wake up from my recliner and the light is dim outside. Oh, this is so confusing! Where the hell am I? Who are all these people around me? There’s another lady who wants me to swallow a pill but I swat it out of her hand. Where is that big guy? I see shadows through the windows and suspect they are coming right at me. “Get those bastards out of here!” I scream.

Everyone seems so concerned. I follow a younger lady into a brightly lit dining room. She hands me a cup of tea and asks me to tell her about my farm. We talk and fold napkins together. This ain’t so bad.

Now it’s time for dinner. Chicken noodle soup, warm yeast rolls, green salad and chocolate pudding. Mom is such a good cook. Where is she? I haven’t seen her all day.

I settle into my favorite recliner and watch Bonanza.  Another lady, the pretty one, offers me a glass of milk to wash down my night time pills. I’m glad they help me remember because that doctor has put me on so many pills that I couldn’t keep them straight on my own.

All in all, it’s been a good day. I’m tired and ready for bed. The pretty lady tucks me in. I feel safe and warm.

This is a story of an 87 year old man with Alzheimer’s Disease. His short term memory is gone, but his childhood days come back to him vividly. It is not uncommon for those who have Alzheimer’s Disease to experience “Sundowner’s Syndrome” in the late afternoon. While this is a fictional account of a day in his life, it is an accurate reputation of the rhythm of life at A Brand New Day.  

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The Health Benefits of Exercise 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 posts about the benefits of exercise. We hope you will be inspired to get moving

It’s never too late to start an exercise program

Do you need another reason to start to exercise? Perhaps the latest findings will be just the incentive you need to get off the couch.

The American College of Cardiology held its annual scientific meeting in New Orleans, of all places. After all, New Orleans cuisine is not especially known to be heart healthy. Findings from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study in Dallas were presented at the scientific meeting last week. The study showed that “consistent lifelong exercise preserves heart muscle in the elderly to levels that match or even exceed that of healthy young sedentary people.” (click here for the entire story)

Seniors are living longer and healthier lives

Today’s seniors are living longer than ever. Decades ago, many seniors lived into their 60s or 70s. Today they are entering their 80s, 90s and beyond. This is largely due to advances in medical care, however, practicing healthy lifestyle choices also contributes to greater longevity. (click here for the entire story)

Seniors find health and friendship at the gym

Everybody knows that exercise is good for the body. It lowers your risk for disease, helps you look and feel better and stay active longer.

Exercise isn’t easy, and seniors may have more reservations about the benefits of exercise than other age groups. How do seniors find a way to stay fit and stay motivated? (click here for 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 and care of a loved one at 530.223.1538. We are happy to be your Senior Care resource.

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All About 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: Fathers’ stories reflect hardiness of Greatest Generation

27 Sept 2012

 “Our first thought was that our dads had it easier than we do. They never went through “transition.” They worked for the same employer, had pensions and for the most part, financial stability because of positive economic times. Visions of “Mad Men” came to mind with the martini lunches and ubiquitous tobacco smoke hanging in the air.

I was talking to a childhood buddy, reunited by recent “in transition” network efforts. As we reminisced about old times, we started talking about…” (click for the entire story)

Senior Living: Prostate health important to senior men

19 Sept 2012

Prostate health is a man’s issue. We usually do not focus on a specific gender in these columns, but this is an important issue for men that should not be ignored.

Most men over 50 should have had their prostate checked physically and through blood tests. Early screening is crucial, because like most cancers, treatments are often most effective when cancer is… (click for the entire story)

Senior Living: Fans and friends share more words to live by

5 Sept 2012

Several weeks ago, we shared quotes that we felt were meaningful to our senior community, or just some nuggets of truth that struck our funny bone.

We asked our readers to share quotes that are meaningful. Both our readers from this column and our Facebook fans were eager to contribute quotes.

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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Making the Best Choice in Assisted Living

A report from the consumer Federation of America showed that complaints about assisted living facilities landed in the ranking of 9 of the top 10 consumer complaints in 2011. As operators of an assisted living facility in Redding for the past 7 years, we’d like to offer some tips to manage complaints, as well as to avoid unpleasant situations in the first place.

It is critical to assess the individual’s assisted living needs and their preferences prior to selecting a facility.  Some assisted living facilities give the individual a lot of freedom and choice. Others are more restricted. The amount and types of restrictions are usually based on the degree of care the individual requires. Someone who remains mentally alert and physically able to drive should be able to keep their vehicle and have the freedom to come and go according to their desires. On the other hand, someone suffering from dementia will be a danger to others (and themselves) if they are permitted to operate a vehicle or leave the premises unattended.

There are a wide variety of assisted living facilities in Shasta County, which puts the consumer in a good position to be choosy. An extroverted person is likely to prefer a large facility with a packed activity calendar full of options to socialize. There are small, quiet facilities which are better suited to those who like to keep a simple routine and may not enjoy being around lots of people. In most cases the “birds of a feather” adage applies. People generally like to be around those who share the same interests and abilities.

Once the personality of the facility is matched with the person, dig deeper to verify what you see on your visit is what can be expected every day. Then check their  records. All assisted living facilities are licensed by the State of California. The closest office is in Chico. You can call Community Care Licensing at 530.895.5033 to see if there are any complaints and to see reports of audits. Ask current residents how they feel about living there. Seek feedback from their family members, friends and others on site. Pop in unannounced at  different times of the day to make sure the facility is as good as when you were given a tour when everything was planned to be perfect.

Check out the food and the menu. Complaints about food seem to be the most common. While it’s true that you can’t please everybody all the time, good facilities spend a lot of energy and resources on the food to try to appeal to the most people.

Ask to see all of the paperwork and obtain a full disclosure on the pricing policy. If you thought the paperwork involved in buying a house is complicated, just try to move into an assisted living facility! California state licensing requires an incredible amount of documents to be signed. This may be a hassle, but it actually protects you from misunderstandings and problems down the line. If you don’t get a chance to review the paperwork in advance, it’s easy to overlook the fine print.

The price quoted on your first inquiry may not be the same price upon move in. That is because many facilities charge a “level of care” fee. They will quote the basic rate at first, then determine the cost of additional services required by the individual. In most circumstances, this is a good thing because you are paying only for the services delivered.  A flat rate means you may be overpaying if only minor additional care is needed. In other cases, assessment of the level of care may be arbitrary. Find out if a point system is used and examine the assessment for accuracy. Avoid disclosing how much you can afford. Unscrupulous places will find a way to charge up to your maximum budget. Investigate how often the price may be increased over a given amount of time.

Ask about additional charges. Will you get an itemized bill showing charges for toothpaste and body wash?

You may find the need to make a complaint even after you have done your due diligence. Complain to facility management first. If the issue is not resolved, call Community Care Licensing and the Ombudsman’s Office 530.223.6191. You can be sure both agencies will promptly investigate your complaint and follow up with you.

There are many factors in determining which assisted living facility is a fit. We welcome your questions and are available for free consultations. Please contact us at A Brand New Day  530.223.1538 or info@abrandnewday-redding.com

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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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