First and Foremost, the first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. Getting worried, worked up, stressed, or frustrated will not help the situation.
- Does your parent have updated Power of Attorney Documents? This includes both Medical and Financial POA documents. Their spouse should not be the only ones listed on the POA forms, but children as well. The reason for this is twofold. If, heaven forbid, the other parent gets ill during the process, you must have a backup POA in place. Secondly, without Financial and Medical POA authority, you will not be able to speak, sign documents, or assist in your parents care. (This goes along with all of the HIPAA regulations) Has it been updated in the state that they currently live in?
- If not, this can be handled fairly quickly through an Elder Law Attorney or with companies such as LegalShield.com or LegalZoom.com. You do want to have an attorneys oversight on the documents, if at all possible.
- Where are your parents Medicare and Supplemental Insurance Cards located? Find them and take a picture of the front and back of each card to have accessible in your phone. If for some reason, these cards cannot be located, try contacting their Primary Care Doctor to see if they have copies that they can send to you. If not, you will need to contact the Medicare office and the Supplemental Insurance Companies office.
- Does my parent have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate Order) in place or do they want to have one? What a DNR simply means is this that if a caregiver found your parent unresponsive without a pulse and not breathing, would they intervene to restore the work of the heart and lungs when someone’s heart or breathing has stopped. A DNR order does not mean that the caregiver will not assist if your parent is choking, or having a difficult time breathing. THEY WILL. It is only to bring your parent back to life. This is a personal decision and a conversation to have with your parent and their primary care Physician.
- Who are all the Physician’s involved in my parents care currently? Having this list with all contact info (Provider Name, Provider Title, Phone Number, Address and Office Name) will save a lot of time in the process. Keep in mind to remember Dentists, Psychologists/Psychiatrists (If using one) and current Pharmacy being used to fill prescriptions.
- A thorough, updated medication list. A medication list needs to match the Primary Care Physician’s List as they will be the only Dr. used in a Long-Term Care (LTC) Community to complete the necessary state required forms for admission. (In North Carolina, this form is called an FL2). On the medication list, make sure you know the medication name, strength, dose, and frequency.
- Does my parent have any Long-Term Care Insurance policies in place to help pay for care? These policies will stipulate the type of care they will cover, normally Medical Home Care, Assisted Living or Memory (Dementia or Alzheimer’s) Care, Skilled Nursing, or those care levels above in a Continuing Care Retirement Community.
- Was my parent a Veteran? There is a benefit to some Veterans that served during a wartime period, were honorably discharged and meet specific financial criteria, called the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit. There are strict guidelines that you have to follow to qualify and it typically takes up to a year to begin receiving the benefit after it is initially received. The benefit is retroactive to the first date of submission. The 2019 benefit amounts are listed below:
- Two Married Veterans $2984/Month
- Veteran with a Spouse $2230/Month
- Single Veteran $1881/Month
- Surviving Spouse $1209/Month
**Please remember that the Aid & Attendance Benefit is something that you pursue outside of the Long-Term Care Communities that you are considering for your parent. The communities will not complete and file the paperwork for you and have nothing to do with the VA Administration.**
- Lastly, this is always a touchy subject, but one to know and have an answer to. Do you have a funeral home selected for your parent? Now I know that many of you are thinking, “My Mom or Dad is only 80 years old and is in perfect health.” The truth of the matter is this. If for some reason they unexpectedly pass away living in a community, the community that they reside in needs to contact the funeral home listed on their emergency information sheet to come pick up the person that passed. This is not normally done until the family has been contacted and has been able to get to the community, but if you happen to be unavailable for an entire day, they can’t keep the person in the building for hours and hours. Make sense? It would be worse to not have one selected and then be forced to make a quick decision on the location under stressful circumstances. Some people want to be cremated or donate their body to science and all of those wished require extra attention.
I know that a lot of these conversations can be hard to have with your parent. Remind yourself, that it’s more important to know, to be informed and to be prepared. I will be sending several follow up Guides that will add and build to this content. Feel free to share, print, and use as a reminder of all of the important First Steps.
Stephanie Merritt has over 17 years of experience working directly in Senior Living Communities (Sunrise Senior Living; Five Star Senior Living) and provides FREE Senior Living Placement for families needing placement in Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing Communities. We hold your hand every step of the way. Touring with you, assisting and completing all family paperwork, coordinating the community assessment, facilitating the entire move and providing total peace of mind every step of the way.
For immediate assistance, text today! 919.449.7226.