The Answer Is — The Senior Care Corner Bookstore

Where can we get that and where can I read more about ___  are two questions we hear frequently.

We have, in the past, sent readers in one direction or another to find what they sought but now have a different response — one that answers a question for us at Senior Care Corner as well (we hope).  That leads us to this very different type of post from what you are accustomed to seeing, but still hopefully one you will find to be of value.

Introducing the Senior Care Corner Bookstore, which is the new answer to your questions regarding where to find things that we reference in our posts or that answer more of your questions about caregiving or what our senior loved ones are facing in their lives.

Like many bookstores, the Senior Care Corner Bookstore has much more than books, including electronics, software and gifts in a growing selection that we hope to make a (nearly) one-stop shop for items you’re seeking as family members of senior adults.

The book categories include:

  • Caregiving
  • Alzheimer’s & Dementia
  • Computers & Internet
  • Brain Health
  • Seniors’ Homes

We have also included several initial electronic selections we have found to be of interest to seniors.  More will be added along the way.

Initial software categories include:

  • Brain Health & Memory
  • Genealogy
  • Scrapbooking

Very important to us, as we know it is to you, is that you know you are able to shop and buy with confidence from the Senior Care Corner Bookstore.  All of your purchases are made from and shipped by Amazon.com.  We will never see your information or even know what you have viewed or purchased from the store.

Okay, we’ve talked about what’s in it for you and now we want to be totally straightforward and let you know what we hope is in it for us.  Senior Care Corner will be compensated a small portion of your purchase price by Amazon.com.  In that way, when our readers find items of value to you or your loved ones in the Senior Care Corner Bookstore you will also be supporting Senior Care Corner — without adding a penny to the price you see from Amazon.com for the items you purchase.

We want to make checking out the bookstore as easy as possible, so you can get there by clicking one of the links in this post, by clicking on the ad box at SeniorCareCorner.com or by simply typing www.SeniorCareCornerBookstore.com into your browser.

Please let us know if there are items or categories of items you’d like to see in the bookstore — or if you have suggested items you think might benefit others based on your own experience —  and we will work to add them.  We will be adding more items and categories, including gifts, so check back regularly.

With that we will return you to the regular schedule of posts and podcasts to which you have grown accustomed!

Family Dilemma: What’s Grandma’s Best Option?

Many families across the nation are asking themselves this question:

What is the best living option for Grandma (or Grandpa)?

As our senior loved ones age, they often experience a functional decline.  Sometimes they have more trouble staying steady when they walk, resulting in frequent falls.

Some of our loved ones have trouble taking care of things in their home like their laundry, driving, shopping or cooking.  Daily activities can become even more difficult.

Then tragedy strikes!

Something happens that requires Grandma to be hospitalized.  Perhaps it is a stroke, a hip fracture or one of any number of other medical problems, such as pneumonia or COPD, resulting in difficulty in breathing.  Maybe she had a heart attack.  These events lead to the need for a hospital stay which could be short or long followed by the need for short term rehab placement to recover and regain her strength.

We as caregivers and family members can handle all the above and put our trust in healthcare providers who get Grandma through the worst of her illness and back on her feet again. However, what happens next is not very easy to deal with for many families.

The problem which causes our family dilemma is now apparent.  It is time for Grandma to leave the rehab facility or hospital but she is not able to go back to living alone or even to our homes without 24 hour supervision for her health and safety.

Grandma is not to the point where she needs a nursing home and the family can’t afford an assisted living facility or round the clock professional care.  She is eligible for some in home care but the aides can only come a few hours a day for a few days each week, leaving many more hours without anyone to watch our loved one.

Most adult family caregivers work outside the home and are not available to be at home all day long to care for our senior loved ones.  For many, especially in these economic times, quitting their jobs to care for Grandma is not a viable option.

This is a major dilemma that you and your family are not alone in facing.   Unfortunately, there are not as many options as we would like.

A few suggestions we have for you are:

  • seek out support from all parts of your family and divide up caregiving in time slots throughtout the week so that Grandma gets all the care she needs;
  • find paid caregivers and spread the cost out among family members so none shoulders the cost alone;
  • ask family friends or church members to help out when needed;
  • find an adult day care center near you that will transport Grandma to the center that offers activities, socialization and a meal;
  • investigate possible long term care insurance coverage your senior may have that you were unaware of that will cover some of these costs;
  • be sure to take advantage of all benefits that are available to your senior loved one, including VA benefits or other government program; or,
  • find a live-in companion senior who is capable of providing some caregiving in exchange for a place to live.

No family member wants to put their Grandma in a long term care facility too early and many facilities will not accept a senior who is high functioning if they are not able to pay the bill, so being creative and keeping the lines of communication open among all family members will be key to facing this dilemma.

The most important thing is to be sure Granny is safe and sound!

We would love to hear what your family solution was to your dilemma!  We look forward to hearing from you!

Stop Senior Loved Ones from Falling this Fall

As we enter the fall season, it is a good time to think about the possibility of our senior loved ones taking a fall of their own – but unfortunately not the kind that comes with changing leaves and cooler temperatures!

Of course, none of us want this because of the risk of injury, hospitalization and long term recovery. Far too often a serious fall causes a senior loved one to take on a negative outlook on their life, which can result in the fall impacting their lives beyond any physical limitations it creates.

Even if the result isn’t a serious injury, a fall is certainly still something to avoid. Any fall can have emotionally implications.

We can’t prevent them all, but there are steps we can take to cut down on the risk.

Things we can do to reduce our seniors chances of falling

  1. Encourage them to participate in activities that will strengthen their muscles and improve their balance.
  2. Get their eyes checked and be sure they wear glasses if they need them!
  3. Remove any clutter in their path throughout the house and especially in their bedroom.
  4. Keep a nightlight in their path where they may walk in the dark.
  5. Be careful to keep the floors dry and wipe up any spills as soon as possible.
  6. Install handrails at all stairways and entry points.
  7. Install grab bars in the bathroom at the shower and the toilet.
  8. Give your senior a glass of water-stay hydrated!

These are just a few of the many things you can do to protect your senior from falls.

You can learn even more tips with our Home Seniorization Checklist available by downloading it here (you can right-click to save the file if you wish).

 

Technology To Help Seniors Stay Safe & Healthy Aging in Place at Home

We stay on the lookout for technology that improves the lives of both seniors and their families as a key part of our mission at Senior Care Corner.  When we encountered GrandCare Systems at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, we knew this was a solution about which we wanted to learn more.  In this episode of our podcast we learn together.

We are pleased to welcome Laura Mitchell, GrandCare’s Vice President of Marketing, to join us for a chat at Senior Care Corner.  Laura told us about the personal story behind the founding of the company and GrandCare Systems’ technology and how it helps seniors to stay safe and healthy at home while bringing them closer to their families.

We found it particularly interesting that some have used the GrandCare solution to increase the independence of senior loved ones by linking them via internet to distant family members and other caregivers, which allows at least some to transition from full time to part time in-home care.

In addition to our conversation with Laura, Kathy brings us several news items of interest to seniors and their families and Barry introduces us to the Senior Care Corner Bookstore.

Links Mentioned in this Senior Care Corner Episode

We hope you will enjoy this episode.  Please let us know if you have comments or questions — or if there are other technology solutions you would like us to cover in future blog posts or podcast episodes.

Podcast transcript  (so you can follow along or read at your convenience)

Get DNR & Advance Directives in Place – A Living Will

Senior Care Corner welcomes many guests seeking information on DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and other advance directives. Many of these guests are either facing or planning for one of the more difficult times any of us can face, the end of life for a loved one.

Knowing that’s the case and having some understanding (from experience) of what they are facing, we can only hope we’ve helped those visitors find what they’re seeking, something to help make their situation seem even a little better.  It’s time for Senior Care Corner to try a do a little more.

In other posts on DNR and other advance directives, we recommend that readers seek advice from their attorney as one step in the process — and that recommendation continues.  We realize, though, that many seeking information online either don’t have an attorney or, like us, prefer to research and do things themselves to be sure of getting exactly what they need.  We have a solution we’d like to offer to them.

We have done our own research and looked over many online do-it-yourself legal solutions and found several that we feel would serve you well.  When it comes to something as emotionally and legally important as a Living Will, which is what the legal community commonly calls the documentation of advance directives, you need assistance you can trust.  In LegalZoom we have found assistance we feel is worthy of that trust.

Unless you have somehow escaped their television commercials, you know that LegalZoom is not a law firm but provides assistance with legal documents.  So do many other firms.  What we feel sets them apart are their track record of satisfied customers, the overwhelming majority of whom would recommend LegalZoom to friends, their satisfaction guarantee and – maybe most important when filling out critical documents – a Customer Care Center that includes the ability to speak to a live representative.  Can they answer every question you might have? Probably not, but if you have a complex situation or you’re just not sure you may just be better off consulting your own attorney.

What Can You Do at LegalZoom?

  • Research in their Law Library the process of putting a living will in place and, maybe just as importantly, how to cancel or revoke a living will if your loved one’s needs change or revised documents are prepared to designate new decisions or decision makers.
  • Prepare a Living Will, documenting your loved one’s (or your) decision using LegalZoom’s 3 step process, starting with a questionnaire that will assure a legal document that is personalized with the information that is needed when that critical time arrives.

When the time comes that you need the DNR or other advance directives that are in place for a loved one, you must be able to know that it is done right.  Regardless of where you turn or who prepares the documents for you, please be sure to take the time to be comfortable that you and other family members – and especially the loved one whose decisions are being documented – fully understand what is in place and the implications.  Hopefully that will help make a most difficult time for a family a little less so.

For more information on DNRs and advance directives, check out one of the related posts listed below.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you follow the links above and make a purchase from LegalZoom, Senior Care Corner will receive a portion of your purchase price.  It will not cost you more to do so and will help us continue to make Senior Care Corner informative and up-to-date.  Why are we telling you this?  We want to be totally upfront with you, as we know it is important to be able to trust sources of information when it comes to our loved ones.  The potential for compensation has not influenced our selection of LegalZoom as a suggested resource, as many services provide compensation with some at higher levels than LegalZoom.  In fact, we suggest you check them out even if you prefer we not receive compensation.  If so, you can follow this link LegalZoom.com or simply type their address into your web browser. 

October is National Residents’ Rights Month

October marks a celebration to honor seniors who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.  It also is a time to support Ombudsmen, facility staff, citizens and family members who promote residents’ rights.

In 1987 the Nursing Home Reform Law established residents’ rights for quality care and quality of life for seniors.

The theme selected for this year’s celebration is “Welcome Home: Creating Connections Between Residents and Their Communities.” Expect to see local events and educational programs to increase awareness of residents’ rights.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law addresses the following rights of long term care residents:

The Right to Be Fully Informed

  • Available services and the charges for each service
  • Facility rules and regulations, including a written copy of resident rights
  • Address and telephone number of the State Ombudsman and state survey agency
  • State survey reports and the nursing home’s plan of correction
  • Advance plans of a change in rooms or roommates
  • Assistance if a sensory impairment exists
  • Residents have a right to receive information in a language they understand

Right to Complain

  • Present grievances to staff or any other person, without fear of reprisal and with prompt efforts by the facility to resolve those grievances
  • To complain to the ombudsman program
  • To file a complaint with the state survey and certification agency

Right to Participate in One’s Own Care

  • Receive adequate and appropriate care
  • Be informed of all changes in medical condition
  • Participate in their own assessment, care-planning, treatment, and discharge
  • Refuse medication and treatment
  • Refuse chemical and physical restraints
  • Review one’s medical record
  • Be free from charge for services covered by Medicaid or Medicare

Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

  • Private and unrestricted communication with any person of their choice
  • During treatment and care of one’s personal needs
  • Regarding medical, personal, or financial affairs

Rights During Transfers and Discharges

  • Remain in the nursing facility unless a transfer or discharge:
    • is necessary to meet the resident’s welfare;
    • is appropriate because the resident’s health has improved and s/he no longer requires nursing home care;
    • is needed to protect the health and safety of other residents or staff;
    • is required because the resident has failed, after reasonable notice, to pay the facility charge for an item or service provided at the resident’s request
  • Receive thirty-day notice of transfer or discharge which includes the reason, effective date, location to which the resident is transferred or discharged, the right to appeal, and the name, address, and telephone number of the state long-term care ombudsman
  • Safe transfer or discharge through sufficient preparation by the nursing home

Right to Dignity, Respect, and Freedom

  • To be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity
  • To be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints
  • To self-determination
  • Security of possessions

Right to Visits

  • By a resident’s personal physician and representatives from the state survey agency and ombudsman programs
  • By relatives, friends, and others of the residents’ choosing
  • By organizations or individuals providing health, social, legal, or other services
  • Residents have the right to refuse visitors

Right to Make Independent Choices

  • Make personal decisions, such as what to wear and how to spend free time
  • Reasonable accommodation of one’s needs and preferences
  • Choose a physician
  • Participate in community activities, both inside and outside the nursing home
  • Organize and participate in a Resident Council
  • Manage one’s own financial affairs

Everyone should know their rights and responsibilities when part of a long term care community as well as exercise those rights, because they are of no value otherwise.  To learn more, find an educational event in your area.

Technology for Families & Caregivers of Seniors: Preview of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show

Technology to improve the lives of seniors and let them stay longer in the homes they choose safely and comfortably has long been an important coverage area for Senior Care Corner.

Staying up to date on technology and influencing those developing and marketing tech solutions led us to join the Consumer Electronics Association and participate in the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

This episode of the Senior Care Corner podcast previews the recently released program for the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, focusing on the needs and interests of seniors and their families and caregivers.  There is growing interest in the senior and boomer markets, with more companies either tailor technology for seniors or recognizing the applicability of their technologies to older adults.

CES Program Highlights

There are a number of areas of interest for seniors and their families at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

  • Silvers Summit:  Highlighting technologies for those of baby boomer age and older plus opportunities for technology companies to provide solutions for those groups.
  • Digital Health Summit:  Technology applications and solutions in healthcare.
  • A number of sessions discussing digital home solutions for all ages, many of which will help make aging in place safely and comfortably an option later in life for many seniors.
  • Many acres of technology exhibits, many focused on the needs of seniors and many others with technologies beneficial to all ages.

News Items in the Episode

  • Report of a study that links advance directives with lower end of life healthcare costs for Medicare.
  • News items reporting on health benefits associated with eating certain foods.
  • A possible breakthrough that could “cure” gray hair.
We will be reporting from the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in our blog and podcast to bring you the latest in technology and insights for upcoming solutions for current and future seniors.
If following what’s happening in technology is something that interests you, the Tech Enthusiast program at the Consumer Electronics Association is something you might want to check out.

Your Comments Sought

We look forward to your feedback on this episode and especially the technology areas about which you would like us to learn and report further through the Senior Care Corner blog and podcast.

Probate Basics to Help Seniors & Families Plan Ahead

If you need to learn more about probate, unfortunately you may have recently have experienced a death in your family.  By planning ahead you may be able to make just a little easier what is already a difficult time for loved ones.

Disclaimer: We are not attorneys and are not attempting to give legal advice.  Our hope is to provide some basic information so you can decide where more help is needed. We suggest that you contact your own legal adviser to be sure you are fully informed of all options and state regulations.

Probate is the administration of the estate of a person who has passed away and is the process where any claims are resolved and property is distributed under the direction of a will once the will has been verified to be valid or in the event there is no will.  The probate court works with the executor of the will to follow the directions of the will and settle all business of the estate.

The executor is the person who has been designated to carry out the wishes of the will.  If no executor is named, the probate court can name a representative.  This person is usually called the administrator when there is no will.  An executor or administrator can be paid for their services and a probate court can require the executor to get a fidelity bond to protect the estate from mishandling.

The probate process will take time because of the many items that need to be handled in a particular order before assets can be distributed.

  • Creditors will have to be contacted.
  • A complete inventory of property will have to made.
  • Sometimes legal proceedings must occur such as appointing a personal representative.
  • Debts and taxes are paid before any disbursements are made to heirs.
  • In some states property is dealt with differently.  If it is a homestead property, it is separated from other assets to be dealt with differently according to specific rules.  If property is jointly held, it will revert to the surviving title holder if it is not held as tenant in common.
  • Any objections to the estate require time to be filed.  A person can protest the will for a variety of reasons including validity of will, right of executor, identity of the heirs requiring DNA testing and fiduciary accounting of the estate.
  • If there are other legal actions pending at the time of the person’s death or arising over the death, these will need to be
    adjudicated.
  • Depending on the will, assets or property will need to be sold before disbursement to any heirs.
  • Certain taxes such as inheritance taxes, estate taxes or gift taxes need to be determined and paid.  Certain demands for payment such as income tax or administration have to be deducted from the estate prior to disbursement.
  • Once all these issues are resolved, the executor/administrator can give heirs any remaining assets according to the will or the state laws if intestate.

What happens if there is no will?

If a person dies intestate, that is without making a will, typically the surviving spouse will receive all assets and joint property without probate.  However, all laws in the state will be followed when disbursing property and assets.  Having a will can reduce uncertainty and complexity during an already tough time.

Items not included in probate

If there was a contract for any of the assets such as a life insurance policy with a named beneficiary, those assets do not enter into probate of the estate.  Another example is when there is a retirement plan that has a beneficiary who receives payment “upon death” of the retiree.

Property that is help in joint ownership with right of survivorship is also not included in probate.  Property that is held in revocable or irrevocable trust is also not included in probate.  This property is distributed separately and subjected to estate taxes.

How long will probate take?

Probate can take several months and as long as a year to finally disburse all assets.  Sometimes it can be costly if the estate is large for administrative and court fees.  In many states, the probate court can release fund to heirs during the time it takes to finalize the process and these will be deducted later.

Can probate be avoided?

Probate can be avoided if an estate is placed in a living trust or if bank assets, IRAs, 401Ks, brokerage accounts are all placed in payable upon death designations or transfer upon death and will therefore pass to the beneficiary.  Property can be placed in joint tenancies with the right of survivorship.  Real estate can be placed in a life estate deed which allows for passing to a named beneficiary.  These legal actions will require fees and should be compared to the cost of probate.  Remember that avoiding probate does not eliminate estate taxes.  All these trusts and other actions are taxable upon death.

You will want to discuss your particular situation with an attorney to help you decide which course of action is best for you and your heirs.

As with other documents such as advance directives, the more prepared your senior loved one is the better for those in the family who need to make decisions about what is desired.  Don’t forget, each state handles wills and probate differently, so be sure to get advice from a trusted source.