11 Tips Caregivers Need to Know
Becoming a caregiver or playing a more active role in another’s healthcare is a big responsibility. At some point, almost all adults will support an aging parent or a loved one in need. Keeping track of their needs and wellbeing, while also prioritizing your own can become overwhelming. It’s important to know: you are not alone, and help is available. Read on for 11 tips to help you manage your time, your own wellbeing and your loved one’s care. Self-care comes first. When your main priority is the person in your life who needs care, it’s easy for your own needs to take the backseat. Give yourself time each day to focus on your personal wellbeing. It’s hard to give a loved one the care they need if your own needs are not met. Prioritize the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Make a note of what ADLs your loved one can do alone, what they need help with and what activities require the most help. This will help you work through the day with them, as well as plan out how the day’s activities will go. Do a home safety audit. Do showers, bathtubs and steps have safety grab bars? Look around the house for additional tripping hazards, like rugs or electrical cords. If your loved one struggles with day-to-day navigation of the home, consider scheduling an occupational therapy appointment. This type of therapy helps a person develop or maintain the motions required to accomplish daily tasks. You might also qualify for a referral to in-home healthcare, such as Home Care. Have the hard conversation. The best time to discuss views about end of life care and to learn what choices are available is before a life-limiting illness or crisis occurs. With advance care planning, you can help reduce the doubt and anxiety related to decision making at the end of life. Completing an Advance Directive is a great tool to sort out all these decisions before they’re needed. Attend a free workshop to learn more and complete this important document. Identify when you need respite. Respite care involves receiving a short-term break from caregiving. Organizing in-home care for your loved one will allow you to step away and tend to your needs. By identifying what kind of respite care you are seeking, you can find the right person to provide you with that much-needed break. Don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed, plan ahead. Write down insurance contact information. Have a direct connection to the right insurance professional for support and advice. If your loved one is eligible Medicare, this is a good opportunity to review their current selections and if they would benefit from a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Insurance. Seeking out expert advice or information on Medicare options is a great way to navigate this. Consider calling a broker, or attend a free educational seminar with Senior Care Plus. Gather legal and financial information. Make a list of all existing legal documents and financial accounts that your loved one has. These might include a will, advance directive, power of attorney, bank accounts or investment accounts. If you have questions about how to manage them, or need assistance in setting up additional framework, reach out to a lawyer, legal service, financial adviser or bank representative. Create an inventory of medical information. Identify where all of your loved one’s medical records are, as well as a list of providers or healthcare practices where they have received care. Consider if you should have your loved one give you Proxy Access in MyChart, which allows you to access all the features in MyChart on their behalf, including viewing upcoming appointments, viewing test results and emailing a doctor on their behalf. Make a list of what others can do. Think about all the little (and big) things that need to happen, and write down tasks that others could take care of you. When someone says “let me know what I can do” you’ll be ready with a pre-written list of items they may be able to assist with. Tasks could include tackling around-the-house repairs, scheduling lawn work, helping to walk the dog, taking a car for an oil change and cleaning. Find programs and events for social enjoyment. If and when possible, seek an activity outside of the home. Look for community centers that have programs for seniors, recreational activities or meals that you can patriciate in together. If leaving the home is not an option, arrange for visits or in-home activities, such as movie nights, card games or time to visit with family. Research long-term options. If you will be considering a nursing home or assisted living, make a list of amenities that you and the person you are caring for would like. Take this list with you when visiting potential locations to make sure you don’t forget to ask about each item.
Plan Early: Completing Your Advance Directive
We plan for the birth of a child, weddings and retirement, but rarely do we discuss how we want to be cared for at the end of our lives. Getting through this challenging conversation and completing an Advance Directive can give you peace of mind that your loved ones will not have to make difficult choices on your behalf. The best time to complete an Advance Directive is now – don’t wait until a life-limiting illness or crisis occurs to discuss your views about end-of-life care and to learn what choices are available. By preparing in advance, you can help reduce the doubt and anxiety related to decision-making for your family if you cannot speak for yourself. What are Advance Directives? An Advance Directive is a document that states your choices about medical treatment and names another person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. This document allows you to make legally valid decisions about future medical care. “Completing your Advance Directive is a gift you give your family,” says Director of Palliative Care, Mary-Ann Brown RN, MSN. “The stress associated with these difficult decisions is decreased if everyone knows what is important to you and what you want at the end of life.”
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Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid
August is National Make-a-Will month. We talked to Renown Health Foundation Planned Giving Officer, Abbey Stephenson, to learn more about wills, trusts, and estate plans and why you should feel motivated this month to get started. Did you know that 2/3 of Americans don't have a will or trust? If this is you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Although there are laws in place to determine who inherits your assets if you die without a will or trust, having a will or trust ensures your assets go where you want them to go after you are gone. They can also help minimize disputes between family members and heirs about who gets what. In Nevada, the laws that govern who gets what if you die without a will or trust can be found in Chapter 134 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. There are other documents that people often prepare at the same time as their will or trust – like an advance health care directive and durable power of attorney for assets. These documents all together are called an estate plan. Although they have other purposes too (like nominating a guardian for a child, planning for disability or avoiding probate, which is a court process), wills and trusts are documents that say who will receive your assets after you are gone. The most common type of trust is often called a revocable living trust or a family trust. People who have a trust usually still have a will, although it is a shorter form of will called a pour-over will. It’s a good idea to talk to an estate planning attorney about whether or not a trust makes sense for your family or circumstances. Now that you’re ready to get started, here are some mistakes to avoid: 1. Failing to plan Not setting aside the time to plan may be the biggest mistake. Failing to prioritize preparing or updating your estate plan means your last wishes and desires may not be fulfilled. The right documents memorialize what you would like to happen upon your disability and death so that other people can know and follow your wishes with respect to your care and your assets. 2. Failing to coordinate beneficiary designations Certain types of assets like life insurance and retirement accounts are not covered by your will or trust and need to be addressed separately. These types of assets are referred to as non-probate assets because they transfer under contract principles and don’t require court supervision or probate to be distributed to the named beneficiaries. By completing beneficiary designation forms provided by the retirement account custodian, insurance company or financial institution, you can direct your assets to one or more beneficiaries. 3. Failing to title your assets properly Asset titling refers to how you own your asset – such as in your individual name, jointly with someone else, or in a trust or entity. For example, assets titled for two people with a “right of survivorship” will automatically go to the surviving owner. Review your asset titling and make changes, if needed, to ensure your property and assets are passed down the way you intend. 4. Failing to include charities meaningful to you In addition to providing for family members and other important people in your life, you many also choose to give to charities meaningful to you in your estate plan. When you include a charity in your estate plan, that gift is called a planned gift and many charitable organizations, including Renown, recognize such donations through their legacy giving societies. As you prepare to make your own will or a more comprehensive estate plan, we recommend you consult with a lawyer. Here are some free resources that may be helpful too: Renown Health Foundation is proud to sponsor the Family Estate Planning Series put on by PBS Reno and the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada. The free, 8-week course of 90-minute, in-depth workshops is a great place to learn much more and to help you get started in the planning process. The next course begins on September 7, 2022. More information can be found here. Renown Health offers periodic advance health care directive workshops where attendees can learn about, complete, and sign their directive. The next workshop is scheduled for September 14th. More information can be found here. The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel provides information on a number of commonly asked estate planning questions here. If you are interested in including a charitable gift to Renown in your estate plan, we would be happy to talk to you about how your gift will make a difference for our mission. Please contact Abbey Stephenson at email@example.com or visit renown.org/LegacyGiving to learn about Renown Health Foundation’s Legacy Giving Society and ways to give.
Here's How to Commemorate National Healthcare Decision Day
National Healthcare Decision Day is forthcoming. Here’s an easy and free way to commemorate the occasion: openly discussing how we want to be cared for at the end of our lives. Join Renown Health’s experts at a workshop about making decisions about an advance directive. Among the random national holidays, this one has significance: April 16 is National Healthcare Decision Day. And experts agree that the best time to discuss your views about end-of-life care and to learn what choices are available is before a life-limiting illness or crisis occurs. By preparing in advance, you can help reduce the doubt and anxiety related to decision making for your family if you cannot speak for yourself. “Completing your advance directive is a gift you give your family,” says Mary-Ann Brown, RN, MSN, director of Palliative Care. “The stress associated with these difficult decisions is decreased if everyone knows what is important to you and what you want the end of life.” What Are Advance Directives? An advance directive is a document that states your choices about medical treatment and names another person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. This document allows you to make legally valid decisions about future medical care. Find more information about advance directives and the form online. The Conversation The first step in completing an Advance Directive is to think about what’s important to you and talk to your loved ones. The Conversation Project provides helpful tools to guide you and your family through this challenging topic. Getting this information together will help you fill out and complete your advance directives. Some things to consider and discuss with your family include: When you think about the last phase of your life, what’s most important to you? Who do you want involved in your care? Who should make decisions on your behalf if you’re not able to? Where do you want or not want to receive care? Are there specific treatments you would or would not want? Complete Your Advance Directive Planning In order to complete an advance directive, you will need either two witnesses or a notary to sign the form. Be sure to note restrictions on the witness process. When an advance directive is complete, you should keep the original. Copies should be given to your agent named in the form, your family, your doctor(s) and the location that you receive care. Renown Health offers four advance directive workshops every month to cover the details of filling out this document. A healthcare team is available to answer questions and work through the process with you. A notary is also present to finalize the process, which means you can complete your advanced directives during this workshop. Find the workshop by calling 775-982-RSVP for more information. Advance Care Planning Workshop April 17, 1-2:30 p.m. | Free Join Renown Health’s experts for a workshop about making decisions regarding end-of-life care. You will learn how to fill out an advance directive, receive one-on-one assistance and have your documents signed by a notary. Workshops are typically held several times each month. To RSVP, call 775-982-7787
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