Latest Blog Post

Read the latest article written by EPPIA members, published in the Eden Prairie News.

FINDING THE RIGHT CARE

The New Year is here and for many people that means time for change. However, having just visited older loved ones during the holidays, you may have concerns about changes you noticed in their lives such as:

Their Health

  • How did they look? Are they noticeably heavier or thinner? Do they stoop or stand upright? Have their looks changed in any significant way?
  • How is their balance? A balance problem could indicate a medication problem, an incorrect eyeglass prescription, or worse and warrants a visit to the doctor.
  • Were their clothes rumpled or soiled when they used to be immaculate?
  • Did they appear to have issues with memory? Were they struggling to perform what use to be routine tasks? Have they become quiet and withdrawn?

Their Home

  • Was the house clean and well-kept, or does it need more maintenance than usual?
  • Does the stairway have handrails; is it well lit? Are carpet coverings tight or wood non-slippery?

Their Driving

  • How’s their driving? How was their reaction time? Do they miss signs and make risky maneuvers? Have they been in any fender benders since your last visit?

Their Finances

  • Were there late notices in their mail? Had the mail even been opened? Were bills stacking up?
  • Are there bills they can’t pay?

Many in the “sandwich generation” are experiencing the daunting tasks of a new life stage that includes helping parents or older family members stay as independent, healthy and as safe as possible while they navigate the complex myriad of living and care options. It can be overwhelming.

Throughout other major life transitions, experts often provide guidance and support, such as:

  • Guidance Counselors offer advice to high school seniors.
  • Wedding Planners help couples bring their special day to life.
  • Financial Planners assist parents in setting up college funds.
  • Realtors educate people on what to look for and how to purchase their first home.
  • Personal Trainers support people as they go after their New Year’s goals.

Fortunately, experts in senior care, with titles like: Eldercare Consultant, Senior Placement Advisor, or Care Manager, offer expertise, support and guidance to families and seniors as they go through these transitions. Many have been through this same process with their loved ones. Some services are provided on a fee basis and others (like assistance in finding senior living) are often provided at no charge to the client because the agency is paid a commission by the communities, much like a Realtor.

Examples of how or when these care experts can be helpful:

  • A family feels like a loved one is no longer safe living at home alone. Experts like these can help evaluate options for in-home care, adult day care programs or moving to a senior community with services. The agencies can research to compare options, summarize expenses and provide names of resources to contact.
  • Often these agencies are especially helpful to adult children who live out of the area or have extremely busy work lives and can’t be there for appointments, etc. In those cases, the agencies can provide support on a scheduled basis, and provide updates to the family on their loved one.
  • Financing senior living can be confusing. Senior care experts can explain the types of financing each community will accept and if there’s a required period of private pay. They can recommend financial planning experts, help families apply for Medical Assistance and explore other sources of funding such as: VA benefits for qualified vets and spouses when appropriate.

Change can be hard, but it is easier when an expert provides guidance during the process. As you help your parents or older loved ones navigate the wide range of care options available, consider engaging an expert in senior care to make the process more productive, efficient, and less stressful. We’re here to help!

Kathy Quinby-Johnson, Owner and Senior Advisor Senior Care Authority 952-903-5060 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org

Delirium Is NOT a Rock Band

Well, actually it is. But that is not what you need to know about delirium. What you need to know about delirium is very simple and you may need this information sooner than you think.

The good news is that delirium is short term and reversible confusion. It’s also not a new condition. The word delirium comes from a Greek word meaning “out of the furrow” or off track. It is a medical diagnosis for sudden changes in cognition (thinking) or behavior. It is not uncommon among older adults and persons with dementia or Alzheimer’s have a higher chance of having a delirious episode. Many times a family member will say “Mom’s dementia got so much worse during her hospital stay”. What they are describing is delirium—a sudden and noticeable difference in behavior. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are slow, progressive diseases that do not suddenly accelerate. As of now, these diseases do not have a cure. Delirium, however, can be reversed.

The best way to clear delirium is to identify and address the underlying cause. The usual culprits are certain medications, urinary tract infections (UTIs) or dehydration. All of these can be treated fairly easily—by changing or discontinuing medications, administering antibiotics, or increasing fluid intake. The best person to diagnose delirium is a member of a medical team—physician, nurse or other professional who can identify the underlying causes. But the best person to recognize delirium is a friend or family member who sees the sudden changes in behavior or thinking. They are the ones who can alert the medical team to these changes because they may not know what “normal” is for their patient.

Something else to be informed about if you have a family member with delirium is alternative,
non-drug ways to reduce confusion and ease anxiety. Aromatherapy, healing touch, Reiki, and music therapy are a few examples of programs that can be integrated with other treatments to help people with delirium feel less distressed and confused. Any familiar, enjoyable pastime such as puzzles, reading, gardening can also be beneficial and therapeutic.

Because many of us have never heard of delirium, we may mistake it for dementia, depression, anxiety or other contributors to changes in behavior or thinking. Knowing more about delirium is important to making sure you or your family member gets the appropriate care so they can get back on track and enjoy life in its familiar settings and participate in favorite activities.

Key things to remember:

• Delirium is a sudden and noticeable change in thinking or behavior.
• Delirium can be reversed so that a person returns to their familiar surroundings and activities.
• YOU are the best person to recognize delirium. Your doctor is the best person to diagnose and treat it.
• Older adults and persons with dementia have a higher chance of having a delirious episode.
• Delirium the rock group is less likely to impact your life than the medical condition of delirium.

For more information visit the American Delirium Society website: https://www.americandeliriumsociety.org/about-delirium/patientfamily

Anne C. Tabat
Transitions & Community Relations Manager
Walker Methodist Health Center
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org

PLAN FOR YOUR CARE NOW

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at least 70% of people over the age of 65 will require some long term care services at some point in their lives. You are at risk of losing your life savings if you do not properly prepare your estate before you or a loved one requires some form of long term care. The average yearly skilled nursing home cost in the USA is $77,745 per person per year, and the average nursing home stay in the USA is 30 months. Do the math and the cost per person over that time period would average $194,363!


Most people cannot afford that and do not want to be a financial burden on their family as they age. Despite this, a 2010 survey conducted by Genworth Financial showed that nearly 90% of retirees had not discussed long term care issues with their spouse or children.


Long-term care options to be aware of when planning for a situation where you cannot physically or mentally take care of yourself include the following. An important thing to keep in mind is that many of these options are “private pay” or require private pay for an extended period before some type of financial assistance can be accessed.


Home Health Care: These services are provided in your home. An aide may prepare and serve meals, shop for food, provide transportation, do light housekeeping, and assist with personal cares. Other providers may handle your business affairs, pay the bills, etc. These services may be provided by an individual or through an agency. Agencies and nursing staff may also be licensed to administer injections, set up and monitor your medications, change dressings, provide therapy, etc.


Independent and Assisted Living Communities: Independent and assisted living are available in senior communities. Seniors generally live in apartments that may vary from a studio to a 3 bedroom unit. Meal plans and a variety of activities are available to residents, which provide an opportunity to be active and socialize. Some communities provide services for assisted living such as personal cares and medication management in the resident’s apartment. Other communities have a separate unit where those needing more care reside. Assisted living is often viewed as a bridge between homebound care and skilled nursing care. As with skilled nursing, residential care homes and memory care, senior communities typically have a medical group who sees residents on a monthly basis if desired. Mobile medical services such as x-rays, lab tests, physical therapy and other services are also available as prescribed by one’s doctor.


Skilled Nursing and Residential Care Homes: These options are ideal for patients who require care at a much higher level, and if needed, care around the clock. Skilled nursing facilities have a nurse on staff 24x7. Residential Care Homes have awake staff 24x7 and a nurse on call 24x7.


Memory Care: Some senior living communities, residential care homes and skilled nursing homes provide special units for memory care. These residents suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. These specialized units and homes provide a safe environment where those with memory issues can engage in activities that are geared to their specific needs.


MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT On a related note, reduce your financial risk by ensuring your health insurance and Medicare plan fit your current needs. Medicare's annual election period (AEP) "open enrollment" occurs every October 15 through December 7 for seniors already enrolled in Medicare. The Open Enrollment Period allows seniors to evaluate their existing prescription drug plan (Part D) to find one that will best suit their needs in the following year. An annual review should be free and dependent on the current prescriptions being taken, how often they are purchased and if purchased retail or by mail.  A Medicare licensed agent or broker should be able to help you find the plan that is right for you at no cost.

Ronald Kolb, CMP www.Minnesota Medicaid Planners.com – 952.442.4951

Peter Hallberg, CMP MNHI Network – 952.200.4094 myquote.mnhi.net


EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

Do I Need a Will?

Do you need a will? Do you need to hire an attorney to draft your will? The short answers are no and no. The long answers are a bit tougher, but here is a bit of advice to help you figure them out for yourself.

First, a proper estate plan will include a will or trust, as well as your selection of someone to make medical and financial decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. Second, a will only covers property you own in your own name. Assets covered by beneficiary designations or held in joint tenancy (typically how couples own their home) are not controlled by a will. At your death they will transfer to the beneficiary or survivor no matter what your will says.

A will lets you select guardians for minor children and to appoint a personal representative. The personal representative’s job is to collect and protect your assets, pay your bills, file your tax returns and distribute your estate.

There is no requirement that that you have a will. But, you may want one. If you die without a will, the state has a plan to distribute your assets after you die. The good news for non-planners is that your estate, if married, will go to your spouse. If you are not married and die without a will, your estate will pass to your children, or if you have no children to your closest relatives. However, if you or your spouse have children by a prior relationship, it gets complicated as to who gets what.

You may want a will if: 1) your net worth is more than $50,000; 2) if you have minor children; 3) if your family life is complicated, 4) if you own real estate, and 5) if you have special wishes as to who gets what from your estate.

At what point do you need a will? That’s a personal decision, but as your wealth, family and personal life gets more complex a will or some sort of estate plan becomes the more responsible choice. It’s also typically quicker and less expensive for your surviving loved ones if you leave some guidance for them and the probate court.

Do you need an attorney to help you prepare a will? No, but your chances of having your wishes realized are greater when you hire one. Can you prepare your own will with free or inexpensive software? If you can easily read, understand and follow legal questions and instructions - you may be able to find and use a quality will generating program. Of course, your chances for a good result are better if your financial affairs, family and personal preferences are relatively simple.

One important reason to be wary of do it yourself will software is that there are no do overs. If you buy Turbo tax and don’t understand the questions, or enter wrong data, you get to do it over. You can amend and refile. But if you’re dead you’re dead.

Do you need a will and legal help to draft it? No simple answers. But, as your life, family and financial picture becomes more complex, you may want a will and help drafting it. Most estate planning attorneys offer a free initial consultation to help you understand the law. Your job at that meeting is to help the attorney understand your family, your assets and your wishes. After the meeting they typically can give you options and estimate costs.


Rick Jensen, Attorney
www.jenslaw.com
952-944-0406

                
EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

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