As the clock ticks down on 2015, most Baby Boomers have given some thought to making a few resolutions for the new year. The annual ritual of resolution usually includes promises to lose weight, save money or engage in some type of self-improvement. If you are one of over 43 million people (according to the family caregiver alliance) who care for an older adult, there are some other resolutions you should consider.
Baby Boomers have always been a generation with unique challenges. It is no different when approaching the challenge of caregiving. Boomers are not only concerned with their own health issues but are often charged with being a caregiver for their elderly parents. In order to successfully meet both challenges, Baby Boomers must plan to prevent a predictable change in health condition from becoming a full-blown family crisis. To prevent this crisis Baby Boomers should resolve to do five things with their elderly parents in 2016
Discuss Health Care Decisions – Prepare and Advanced Directives
One of the most important healthcare discussions families should have is about healthcare preferences. It is a difficult discussion to have because it often entails making decisions about end of life issues. If you are have never had this talk with your elderly parent you are not alone. According to a recent study by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, only 24% of Americans have made their health care preferences known through an Advanced Directive. An Advanced Directive is a document that puts in writing healthcare choices in advance of a major health care event.
An Advanced Directive is a vital part of any long-term health care plan. It helps clarify your decisions to health care professional in the event of an emergency. It also serves as a guide to families as to what health care choices have been made. This eliminates the guess-work in the decisions stressed family members will have to make on your behalf in a health care crisis.
It is recommended that every adult, not matter what their age, fill out an Advanced Directive or have one included in professionally prepared Power of Attorney paperwork. But if you are one of those folks who hates paperwork, at least have the discussion with your parents. You may think you know what their wishes are but you could be surprised once you sit down and talk about it.
Check Insurance Coverages
There are changes being made to the health insurance industry every day. Laws are being passed, rules are being written and regulations are being enforced that most Americans don’t even know about. The effect of these changes on the average healthcare consumer is negligible but their could be some changes in your health insurance coverage you may need to be aware of.
That is why it is a good idea to check your health insurances coverages on an annual basis. Their could be changes to everything from how services are referred to new preventive health maintenance programs that may be available to subscribers.
It is also worth it to check Life and Long-Term Care Insurance policies. Policies that have been in effect over a long period may have age restrictions or premium changes the policy holder is unaware of. These changes are often found in the small print and could give a false sense of security if they are a major part of your long-term plan.
Make An Appointment With The Doctor
Sounds like common sense but most older Americans haven’t seen their doctor in years. If a person is healthy they may not feel the need to go to the doctor even for an annual check-up. Still others avoid going to the doctor for fear of finding something wrong. Fact is that an annual preventative check-up and screening with your doctor is an important part of maintaining health. This is especially true for the elderly.
If you are caring for an elderly parent, ask them the last time they went to the doctor. If they are having trouble getting out of the house for medical appointment, set-up transportation for them. Although it may be time-consuming to take someone to the doctor, the few hours spent could save you mountains of time by avoiding a potential health crisis.
Do A Safety Check
We all want to keep our elder’s safe. Doing a quick safe check around your elderly parent’s home is a great way to prevent accidental falls that can lead to major health events.
Eliminate tripping hazards – Throw rugs, stacks of books or papers and furniture are all examples of common tripping hazards that can obstruct high traffic areas in a home. Make sure pathways to the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom are free of obstruction.
Check for expired medication – This is another common cause of illness among the elderly. They may have a medication tucked away in the back of the medicine cabinet that has been expired for months. Most medications can be disposed of in your household trash. There are also community drug “take-back” programs that can help dispose of med properly. But if you have expired medication you should throw it out immediately. Click Here to view the FDA guidelines for the disposal of meds.
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See An Elder Law Attorney
The healthcare system is fast paced. Gone of the days of long hospital stays. Because there is a focus on cost-efficiency and outcomes, hospital want to treat patients for their illnesses effectively and in the shortest amount of time. For those in the middle of a health care crisis, the pace of the system can be overwhelming. For this reason it is vital that every person over the age of 65 see an elder law attorney.
A good Elder Law attorney can put together a plan that can protect an elders rights, fund long-term care and preserve their legacy for future generations. A long-term plan can also guard against wasting hard-earned resources on unnecessary care. You can find a good Elder Law Attorney by search the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. NAELA is the gold standard for attorney’s in this field.