Caring for An Aging Parent
By Stuart Furman
tatistics show that women are the primary providers of long-term care in this country -- 66% of caregivers are female and on average 49 years old. She is married and employed. With the 65+ population expected to double by 2050, we are looking at a caregiving crisis. And new Pew report shows most Americans believe that families should bear the responsibility of the aging population’s economic well-being. This is a role most Americans are GREATLY unprepared for, says elder law and estate planning attorney, Stuart Furman, Esq., author of The ElderCare Ready Book (WheatMark) and accompanying guide, The ElderCare Ready Pack. In his 34 years of elder law practice, Stuart has watched thousands of clients struggle, often as a result of poor planning and misconceptions about eldercare reality. Planning early, he says, is the key to surviving this long and challenging journey. Stuart shares below the list of the 7 Most Common Pitfalls of Caring for An Aging Parent and The 8 Most Important Things to Do to Plan for ElderCare to shed light on these often misunderstood aspects of caregiving.
7 Most Common Pitfalls of Caring for An Aging Parent 1. “Acquiring a Medical Opinion that my mom is Incompetent will allow me to Sign Legal Documents” All too often a spouse or child calls me and says they have a medical certification of incompetency so that they can sign a power of attorney. Unfortunately they believe that someone must lack capacity to sign is backwards. Once incapacity is determined, the client can no longer sign any documents. November/December 2016
Each company or professional may have different requirements so these need to be satisfied well in advance. 4. Not Updating Legal Documents Although powers of attorney do not expire until death or due to other events outlined in the document or by law, many institutions do not want to accept older documents. It is highly advised to keep the documents current to avoid additional complications in implementing decisions made on behalf of your elder. 5. Thinking Medicare pays for care in a nursing home This is a very common misunderstanding of the Medicare system. Simply, Medicare is health insurance, which does not pay for long term custodial care in a nursing home. This is universal for all health insurance. These coverages are usually “up to” 100 days and some with co-pays. Once the insurance component runs its course or medically the patient is no longer eligible, they are then on “private pay” from their own resources.
2. Denial, Denial, Denial Families deny that something is happening to their loved one. The earlier that one recognizes even the smallest differences in behavior with a parent, for example, it is time to take action. The parent must have capacity to understand and sign documents. If possible, the parent should be part of the decisions in selecting assisted living communities, board and care, etc. 3. Not Gaining Permission to Access Documentation and Information With all the security breaches today, accessing information is getting tougher. A “release” or other authorization will be necessary for even the most benign situations such as inquiring about a telephone charge or credit card charge. Authorization needs to be signed by the elder. suburban family | subfam.com
6. Believing the Emergency Room Counts towards the 3-day Medicare Requirement Going to the ER is not an admission to the hospital. To qualify for Medicare in a nursing home after a stay in the hospital (for a short period of medical treatment), the patient must have 3 midnights in the hospital as an in-patient. The ER does not qualify for this. 7. “Long-Term Care Insurance Will Cover All of My Long Term Care Needs” I am not opposed to long-term care insurance (LTCI) provided that expectations are clearly determined. Often the costs of care far exceed the coverage and thus the policy may not be as valuable as represented. A good and reputable LTCI agent can and should clearly present coverages and more importantly, the limitations of policies. Unfortunately I have seen numerous policies that just did not work for the clients financial or medical situation at the time causing a real financial hardship after paying years of premiums. active kids 41