Emergency Preparedness

Posted on July 1, 2013

Preparing an Emergency Kit for You and Your Caregiver

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Download Emergency Preparedeness Checklist

You can use a small suitcase or backpack. Keep your emergency kit in an accessible location in the home or garage and post a note on the refrigerator as to its whereabouts in the event that both you and your caregiver are incapacitated.

  • Water: one gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
  • Non-perishable food: at least a three-day supply
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Filter mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
  • Moist towelettes (baby wipes), garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • Manual can opener if kit contains canned food
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape, to shelter -in-place
  • Important family documents-you may consider making copies of these to give to ICE family members.
  • Items for unique family needs, such as daily prescription medication or pet food

Include Medications and Medical Supplies:

  • Especially for oxygen users: assure that they have a 3 day supply of oxygen available at all times.
  • Assure that you have at least 1 week supply of all medications.

Other items that should be included IN the emergency kit :

  • Family contact numbers both in and out of the area.
  • A listing of conditions and current medications with a copy of all prescriptions, including eyeglasses

A copy of your:

  • Medicare/Health Insurance Card
  • Driver’s License
  • Home Owner’s Policy
  • Will and Trust Information
  • Contact information of your doctor

*Consider making copies of all of these documents and sending them to the ICE contacts that you have identified in your plan.

Geriatricians, The Gold Standard for the Golden Years

Posted on July 1, 2013

Between 2010 and 2030, the population over 65 will increase by 73%! Seventy million people (One out of every five Americans) will be over 65. This is the first in medical history. Although a number of medical schools require course work in geriatrics/gerontology, many still have only elective courses or no courses at all.

What Is a Geriatrician?

A geriatrician is a doctor who specializes in the area of senior health, whether it is treatment or prevention of disease in older adults. Geriatricians are board-certified in family medicine or internal medicine, and have also obtained the Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine.

Why Do You Need a Geriatrician?

Throughout life our bodies are continuously changing. As children we require the special knowledge and skills of a Pediatrician. As older adults, Geriatricians can provide the expertise needed for effective and safe diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Certain conditions and diseases will more likely occur and the treatment options are not necessarily the same as in a younger person. Most of the time, a general internist or family physician can serve as your primary care provider, especially if he or she is experienced in dealing with older people. But if you are especially frail or have complicated medical problems, you might want to switch to a geriatrician. The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) suggests that a geriatrician be consulted when:

  • Significant age-related frailty and impairment occur, which is more likely in older people who have multiple diseases, disabilities, and/or mental problems.
  • The patient’s condition is causing the caregiving team, including family members and friends, to feel significant stress and strain.

 

The Geriatric Health Care Team

When choosing a Geriatrician, you will be supported by a geriatric health care team that is more likely to approach your care holistically. Your geriatric health care team may include nurses, social workers, nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, pharmacists, and psychiatrists who have special training or experience in treating older adults.

Your team will work with you to evaluate both current and past illness in order to develop a plan of care that is right for you. In addition, you will work with your team to identify if you are having problems with any so-called activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, meal preparation and eating so that you can come up with proactive solutions for self-care (preventing larger problems) or identifying if some form of assistance is needed for health and safety.

 

Finding a Good Geriatrician for You

Making a change can be difficult, especially if you have a good relationship with your current doctor. However, if you think a geriatrician might be right for you or for a loved one, talk with your current doctor about your needs. Sometimes it can be arranged to have a geriatrician work with your current physician as a consultant for particular issues or if your situation is complicated, a complete switch may be in order. In any case, your physician should be able to refer you to a qualified geriatrician in your area. Another resource for finding a local geriatrician is the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging, a nonprofit organization that provides a referral service online or by phone at 1-800-563-4916.

When choosing any new physician, list two or three possibilities and call their office and ask any questions you may have before making an initial appointment.

  • How many years has he/she been a geriatrician? How many years has he/she been practicing? What medical school did he/she attend? Where did he/she do his residency?
  • Does the physician accept your insurance?
  • What are his/her hours? What is their after-hours policy?

After you choose a geriatrician, set up an introductory visit. If after your visit you are comfortable with your choice, arrange to have your records transferred prior to your follow-up visit. Many times the physician’s office will have a form to release this information to their office. This information will be vital to the entire geriatric care team to develop your new individualized care plan.

Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance Benefits

Posted on July 1, 2013

What Are Aid and Attendance benefits?

Aid and Attendance is a benefit paid by Veterans Affairs (VA) to veterans, veteran spouses or surviving spouses. It is paid in addition to a veteran’s basic pension. The benefit may not be paid without eligibility to a VA basic pension. Aid and Attendance is for applicants who need financial help for in–home care, to pay for an assisted living facility or a nursing home. It is a non–service connected disability benefit, meaning the disability does not have to be a result of service. You cannot receive non–service and service–connected compensation at the same time. Aid and Attendance benefits are paid to those applicants who:

  • Are eligible for a VA pension
  • Meet service requirements
  • Meet certain disability requirements
  • Meet income and asset limitations

Visit http://www.canhr.org for more information.

Who is Eligible for Veterans Affairs Basic Pension and Aid and Attendance?

A pension is a benefit that the VA pays to wartime veterans who have limited or no income and who are at least 65 years old or, if under 65, are permanently or completely disabled. There are also “Death Pensions,” which are needs based for a surviving spouse of a deceased wartime veteran who has not remarried.

What are the Service Requirements for Aid and Attendance?

A veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse may be eligible if the veteran:

  • Was discharged from a branch of the United States Armed Forces under conditions that were not dishonorable AND
  • Served at least one day (did not have to be served in combat) during the following wartime periods and had 90 days of continuous military service:
  • World War I: April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918
  • World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946
  • Korean War: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964), through May 7, 1975
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be set by Presidential Proclamation or Law.

If the veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he/she must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty (there are exceptions to this rule).

What are the Disability Requirements for Aid and Attendance?

Veterans, spouses of veterans or surviving spouses can be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they meet the following disability requirements:

  • The aid of another person is needed in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment; or
  • The claimant is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities require that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment; or
  • The claimant is in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; or
  • The claimant is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

What are the Income Requirements for Aid and Attendance?

The claimant’s countable family income must be below a yearly limit set by law. Countable Income means income received by the claimant and his or her dependents. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business. A claimant must report all income, but the VA will exclude any income that the law allows. Public assistance, like SSI, is not counted as part of countable income. The annual income limits for the Aid and Attendance program are higher than those set for the basic pension. The maximum Aid and Attendance benefit that can be paid monthly to a single veteran is $1,704, but the veteran must have countable income of $0 to receive the maximum benefit.

 

Protecting Seniors – Financial Exploitation

Posted on July 1, 2013

Due to a change in life circumstances, you or a loved one is now in need of in-home care services. The last thing on many people’s minds is the possibility of financial exploitation, however, this is the perfect time to protect yourself or family member.

Most service companies do their best to assure that the personnel that they are sending into your home are honest by conducting background and reference checks. Here is the problem, background checks are great for weeding out the prior offenders, however, no background check can detect if someone has never been caught or predict if they are going to steal in the future. Simply put, there is no way to guarantee that you will not be a victim of theft or financial abuse.

There are things that you can do, BEFORE a crisis (right now) to prepare yourself:

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Download 10 Tips for Protecting Seniors

Locate all valuable items, i.e., jewelry, checks, credit cards, etc.  Inventory what you have and identify if you are currently missing something AND if you need to keep it in the house. This will prevent confusion after the fact if you go look for something and it isn’t where you thought it was.

  1. Once you do need someone caring for you at home, secure all financial instruments and jewelry in a lock box or safe in your home. Put the key where only you would know where it is and give a copy of the key to a trusted individual or in a safety deposit box.
  2. Never give your PIN to anyone working for you.
  3. Never allow anyone to go to the bank for you to take out cash, via check, etc.
  4. Report all suspicions or missing items as soon as possible to any company coming in and out of your home. If you are working with a home care agency make sure they are responsive to your concerns and act quickly to resolve the issue.
  5. Do not give cash or check bonuses directly to home care workers, make sure that the agency they work for is notified and has an opportunity to copy the bonus check and document the gift to avoid any future misunderstandings or opportunities for financial exploitation.
  6. If there is a need for a caregiver to handle shopping errands for you, set up a prepaid visa account with your bank (or by a Power of Attorney for your loved one) so that the spending can be monitored via computer daily. Replenish the account as necessary.
  7. If bill paying is too difficult, work with your financial institution to set up automatic bill pay.
  8. If you are receiving pension and social security checks at your home or PO Box, immediately set up electronic transfers to your bank.
  9. If a caregiver asks you for money directly for ANYTHING, immediately report it to their agency. As benign as this may seem, it is considered ‘abuse of position’ and is covered under the law as follows:

Financial Exploitation –Financial exploitation means a situation in which a caretaker or any other person who is in the care or custody of, or who stands in a position of trust to, a resident, takes, secretes, or appropriates their money or property, to any use or purposes not in the due and lawful execution of his or her trust. In the simplest terms, the person who is acting as a caretaker unlawfully takes money or property of the resident. This also includes a request for transfer of property by the resident that was not carried out.

Most caregivers are good people interested in your well-being. They are also hyper-aware that they are most likely to be blamed if something goes missing in your home. If you follow the above guidelines, it should protect both you AND the people working for you.

If you find that you are a victim of financial abuse or theft, PLEASE follow through with filing a complaint with Adult Protective Services and any charges against the person suspected of committing the crime. It is up to you or your family to see that charges are filed. This may be very uncomfortable and stressful but it is VITAL. Without convictions and a subsequent record to detect on a future background check, there is nothing to prevent that same person from moving on to another agency or to hire themselves out privately and continue their predatory ways.