Articles Posted in Caregiving

As we continue to age, it can be difficult to admit when you are no longer able to handle personal affairs and financial matters on your own. There are a number of alternatives available to those seeking to have their affairs managed by another party, depending upon the individual’s mental capacity to comply with assigning these rights. Those providing caregiver services to the individual, commonly a loved one, may seek retaining legal guardianship of the elderly individual, assigning durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney to specific individuals, or establishing a trust.

Guardianship

Guardianship is a legal status given by the court to create a relationship between someone who is incapacitated or unable to care for themselves and a person determined to be suitable to administer and manage the incapacitated person’s affairs. In order to get a guardianship order, a person must file a petition with the court to review the case at hand. The court assesses the situation, the petitioner, as well as the elderly person to determine what will be the least restrictive method of guardianship. The appointment may include only managing financial affairs, but may also assign responsibility for day to day decision making including support, maintenance, and personal care.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease affects more than five million Americans today. While a large majority of those affected are over the age of 65, it is not just a disease for the elderly. Symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease can occur in individuals as young as 30 years old, and currently affects an estimated 200,000 people in America. The diagnosis can often be missed or misdiagnosed as another condition or an association with the changes both men and women go through during their 40s and 50s, however, a comprehensive medical examination is required in order to properly diagnose those with early onset dementia. While the cause of the disease is not yet known, it is important to look to your family history as a way to determine if you or your loved one should be monitoring specific behaviors and changes in personality.

The thought of losing your memories, ability to perform basic tasks, as well as ability to think clearly, remember the time, date, or place, is a very scary feeling for anyone. As these functions start to go, it is important that the loved person, either elderly or young, has in place a comprehensive medical and estate plan, when the day comes that he or she is no longer able to make decisions for themselves. The unfortunate reality of this disease is that it is not a question or if, but of when they will no longer be able to make their own decisions based on a lack of capacity.

First, the individual in question must have their legal capacity assessed to determine if they are able to understand and appreciate the consequences of their actions in signing documents that give specific power to named individuals. In doing so, you should also consult a medical professional if you have doubt as to their ability to understand and make decisions. Also, if the individual has previously executed any wills, trust, or power of attorney documents, those should be revised as necessary to accommodate their current condition while still respecting their wishes.

Caregivers are in high demand and that demand is ever increasing as the aging population continuously grows every day. However, caregiving can be a difficult and underappreciated job that has left it with little public desire to go into the field, due to the lack of benefits, support and adequate pay. As a way to motivate those seeking employment to explore the field of caretaking and to help provide for those who are currently caregivers, new technology is being established in order to help support and ease communication between caregivers and the elderly they support.

Seeing the struggle for adequate communication measures between caregivers, their elderly client, the elderly client’s family, one technology company is seeking to establish a smartphone application that will hopefully increase that transparency. When caregivers sign up through the application, they will be able to directly communicate with their client and their client’s family members, log all appropriate information in one place on the application , as well as request time off, similar to many corporate structures. Caregiver are able to leave detailed notes about events of the day as well as medication schedules.

Another issue with caregiving is the inability of the caretaker to take time off due to lack of backup support. This application is aimed at offering that back up support, along with paid time off and many other benefits, if properly certified through the company. In order to receive these benefits, the caregiver must be trained through Care Pros, the official caregiver network, which will come with a number of additional benefits.  Caretakers can also opt for workers’ compensation benefits in the event that they sustain an injury on the job, which can be a real possibility when a fair amount of heavy lifting is required. Additionally, caretaker are offered stock options as well as pay that is at least 10% above the market rate in their area of employment.

There are a variety of different types of trusts that an individual can use to their benefit while they are alive or in order to preserve their wealth for their family after they pass. Depending on it’s purpose, the grantor of a trust will make either a irrevocable or revocable trust. Irrevocable trusts cannot be modified without permission of the beneficiary since the grantor is giving up rights to their assets to the trust, versus a revocable trust where the grantor can modify the trust terms as they desire during their lifetime and upon their death, the assets transfer to the trust.

One unique type of trust that a grantor can establish for their benefit and for the benefit of a charity is a charitable remainder trust unitrust. Charitable remainder unitrusts are a type of irrevocable trust with specific characteristics setting it aside from other trusts. This type of trust distributes a certain percentage of the value of the assets in the trust to a beneficiary that is not a charity, usually a grantor of the trust or whomever the grantor has named to receive the named distribution. The grantor sets a specific timeline for the distributions to the beneficiary, and upon the termination of that timeline, the remaining assets are distributed out to the charity named.

In order to determine how much the non-charitable beneficiary will receive, the trustee must use a formula that requires minimum distributions from the trust annually. The trustee will first determine the fair market value of the trust at the end of the given year by obtaining a valuation of the assets in the trust and then will distribute out the percentage of that asset value named in the document.

Aging comes with a number of considerations, including how to deal with ailments, conditions associated with older age, as well as how method of treatment is best for you or a close loved one. Today, there are an overwhelming amount of options to choose from when it comes to pain management and treatment for chronic conditions, however, many of them can become very addictive. One somewhat controversial treatment option for pain management being used by a number of elderly citizens is the use of medical marijuana.

Although the use of marijuana whether medicinally or recreationally is illegal under federal law, over half of the states have decriminalized and now approved it for use medicinally. Based on numerous studies and research, it has been shown that as compared to other pain management treatments, the use of marijuana leaves less risk for addiction, fewer side effects, as well as allowing individuals to still go about their daily lives while managing health issues. Health issues associated with aging include autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, as well as cancer, dementia and Parkinson’s disease, which have all been approved under conditions managed using medicinal marijuana.

While the current elderly population has been somewhat skeptical of what they have known as an illegal drug being approved for use in the medical setting, as more states make it legal for use, approval among the older generations increases. Since many seniors are seeking to determine if use of marijuana is suitable for their condition, many nursing homes and assisted living facilities have had to come up with their own policies, either endorsing or shaming it’s use. Almost a dozen nursing homes in the state of Washington have amended their policies to respond to the demand for approval of medical marijuana as treatment in their facilities.

Aging comes with a wide variety of issues and relying on the care of your family is not a resource available to all. Whether it is due to lack of accessibility, estranged familial relationships, or advanced care requirements, many elderly find themselves alone in their older age.

This is not a phenomenon specific to America, it is an issue experienced by countries across the world. Certain cultures are more focused on caring for their elders, much like those elders helped raise them, while others have a less integrated idea of family including care for their elders.

In fact, the issue of elderly abandonment was such a large problem in Japan it was deemed “granny dumping”. While this practice, where senile senior citizens were taken up to the top of mountains and left there by loved ones due to the inability to care for them, is a very old practice, the modern version of abandonment is once against becoming a problem. Today, elderly individuals are being taken to local hospitals, churches and charities, and being left like they used to in the mountains.

Many of our elderly adults end up in nursing homes or assisted living, whether as a result of an accident or due to a declining ability to care for themselves. While many have family members or friends who are able to ensure their loved one is being taken care of properly in their respective homes, not all of those elderly are fortunate to have someone to look after them. In fact, the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States were cited for nearly 10,000 instances of abuse over a two year period.

Abuse in a nursing home can take many forms, some problems involving physical abuse and negligent include untreated bedsores, inadequate medical care through dehydration and improper hygiene, as well as physical abuse such as broken bones, untreated bruises and cuts. Other examples of abuse involve verbal abuse, for example yelling, and ignoring requests, as well as withholding medication.

This problem happens all too often, and it can come down to the caretakers word against the elderly abused patient. An Illinois man concerned about the care of his father after he voiced concerns about a new nurse, installed a surveillance camera in his father’s room in an assisted living home. The camera unfortunately confirmed exactly what he believed, he was being neglected at times, verbally and physically abused by a certified nurse’s aid working at the facility. The nurse was charged with a felony aggravated battery to a person older than 60 years and felony abuse of a long-term health care facility resident.

Another major platform that President Trump ran under was the promise to repeal the widely contested Obamacare plans, and to instead bolster Medicare and Medicaid eligibility and benefits. Since taking office, the businessman has changed his position multiple times regarding whether an overhaul of the system will be made or whether he will keep his promise to leave Social Security and Medicare alone.

Medicare Proposals by the House

House Speaker Paul Ryan has been an avid supporter of overhauling the system, by combining Medicare Parts A and B and also increasing the Medicare age of retirement to that of the full retirement age that one must qualify for with Social Security. Additionally, this proposal would allow Medicare beneficiaries to choose which plan they wish to elect between private plans or traditional plans, based on their health needs, but would not take effect until 2024.

Recent Recalls

Open heart surgery has saved the lives of thousands of patients across America, as well as the world. Performing this task takes a highly skilled team of doctors well equipped with the right medical devices to assist them. All of these tools require FDA approval and specific cleaning procedures prior to their implementation during surgery. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention announced that a heater cooler unit that has been used in the majority of these surgeries since 2012, could have been contaminated when it was in the manufacturing process.

Heater Cooler Units for Open Heart Surgery

When you begin estate planning, there are a variety of options that are available in order to plan how your estate will be distributed and may seem very similar, however, they all have distinct benefits. Two main estate planning tools commonly used are wills and/or trusts, but their main features are very different. When determining which tools are right for you, you should first assess what stage of distribution and what assets you wish to control.

Trusts

There are a number of different types of trust that one may use, depending on what their intentions are. Trusts can be enacted during the grantor’s, also known as the person who made the trust, lifetime, or may take effect upon the death of the grantor. When forming a trust, the grantor seeks to transfer their property to the trust, which is run by a trustee. A trustee can be any number of people, but are neutral third parties who are employed to operate in the best interest of all interested parties involved, including both the grantor and those beneficiaries.

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