Families often notice physical or mental decline in a loved one when they visit for the holidays. This is a perfect time to pay extra attention to seniors to determine what you can do to help your loved ones stay independent. It’s important to monitor whether your loved one is experiencing difficulty with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, dressing, or medication management. Usually, seniors won’t acknowledge that they need assistance, as they desperately want to stay independent and in control. For this reason, it’s important to reassure your loved one that you plan to help him or her stay home for as long as possible. You can provide assistance from afar in simple ways, such as daily telephone calls to check in.
Sometimes, out-of-town children feel that their parent can no longer live safely at home alone. As a solution, they attempt to move their loved one into their own home, which may be several hours away. Unfortunately, removing seniors from their own community can deprive them of their support network. Part of maintaining independence as we age includes continuing to participate in familiar social clubs and church groups, where seniors are well known to others. It’s important for our loved ones to continue visiting friends, neighbors, and familiar healthcare professionals to help them maintain their sense of identity. One solution is encouraging your loved one to move to an assisted living facility in his or her hometown. This will allow them to continue to engage in their daily social activities while remaining in a safe environment. Since children can’t substitute themselves for an entire network of social support, we recommend that seniors remain in their own communities unless they specifically request otherwise. While this is generally less convenient for their children, remaining in their own communities helps seniors maintain their independence and social identity. The other side of the coin is that if a parent is moved away from their hometown, the child-caregiver becomes the sole social support for the parent, replacing the network of friends, neighbors, and church.
Finally, it’s important to reach out when you need assistance caring for a loved one. Seeing an Elderlaw Attorney right away helps; it’s important to have the right legal documents in place, and it is even more important to get accurate advice on the financial support that may be available to you. Also, it is helpful to reach out to Associations that deal in the issues you are facing. For instance, the Alzheimer’s Association is an organization that provides free resources, networking groups, and assistance for caregivers of loved ones with this debilitating disease. Getting the right advice in advance from others with similar experiences can be highly beneficial. Visit www.alz.org/nc/ for more information.
It’s so important to contact an experienced elder law attorney to provide a clear picture of all potential long term care issues. But most attorneys do not understand these unique issues and do not provide the kind of advice seniors need. The right attorney can ensure that you have the right documents in place to protect your assets as you age. In addition, an elder law attorney can determine whether you are eligible for any government benefits programs that may cover the cost of your loved one’s long term care expenses.
If you or your loved ones have questions about remaining safely at home, consider W.G. Alexander & Associates – we are experienced attorneys who offer a unique blend of asset protection, Elder Law and estate planning. You can also attend our free seminars, learn more through our website at www.wgalaw.com, 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 from 9:00-10:00 AM.