Proactive Steps Towards Safety and Independence

Once you determine that a loved one is facing new limitations as a result of growing older, you should take proactive steps to keep them safe in their home and independent for as long as possible. Start by engaging in family discussions, seeking the advice of a geriatric care manager, and making sure that they have the right legal documents in place.

The first thing that families should do once they become worried about a loved one is talk to one another about their concerns.  Establish the assistance that each can provide, and determine whether your parent has asked for help.  Children can often assist their parents by running errands, or checking in daily. They can also relieve some of the burden from the primary caregiver (often the senior’s spouse) by giving them time to themselves.

You may have to start difficult conversations with your loved one, such as whether it is still safe for them to drive. You can make these conversations easier by asking a geriatric care manager for a professional opinion of whether it is still safe for your loved one to drive. Until it is no longer safe, it is often better to allow seniors to retain their sense of independence.

In addition, a geriatric care manager can determine whether your loved one’s home is safe, as well as assess his or her needs. Unlike doctors, these professionals have the time to spend with your parents in their home to determine whether their home needs improvements, such as support rails, wider doors or a lift chair. These professionals can also determine the senior’s level of mobility and suggest a cane or walker where needed.

Finally, be sure to have a family discussion about visiting an experienced Elder Law attorney to make sure that your loved one has the appropriate legal documents in place. Seniors need different legal documents in their 70s than they did when they were younger, as they have different long term care and asset protection concerns.  In addition, make sure to visit an experienced Elder Law attorney if your parent moves in to your home or you move into theirs, as there are legal implications for this exchange that you must document. Otherwise, this undocumented “payment” system will hurt your loved one if he or she applies for government assistance in the future.

If your loved one is in need of proper legal documents, or if you have questions about government assistance programs like Medicaid or Veteran’s Benefits, consider W.G. Alexander & Associates – we offer a unique blend of asset protection, Elder Law and estate planning.  You can also attend our free seminars and learn more through our website at or call us at (919) 256-7000.

Attorney Bill Alexander discusses these issues and more every Tuesday morning on W.G. Alexander & Associates’ radio program, “Asset Protection Today,” on TalkRadio 850 WPTK (AM). Be sure to listen tomorrow  from 9:00-10:00 AM.  To listen to last week’s show, please visit WPTF’s on demand show blog by clicking here.