Mary’s Story: A Childless Senior in Need of Care

Meet Mary:

A 93-year-old woman who recently suffered from a broken hip and in need of a senior care plan. Currently, Mary lives with her 92-year-old husband in a patio home at a senior community. Mary and her husband have no children. They also have not yet chosen a Power of Attorney to make decisions on their behalf. Continue reading to learn more about their story and care plans for childless seniors.

Other than moving to a senior community and seeking some legal guidance from an elderly care adviser, the couple has not yet started to plan for the aging process.

Creating a Senior Care Plan Under Unplanned Circumstances:

After surgery, Mary was unable to walk again due to previous medical conditions and her broken hip. To help Mary walk again, she faced a four month rehabilitation stay after her surgery. This allowed time for the couple to put a safe discharge plan in place, since they had not planned for medical emergency situations.

Since the couple had no children, Mary’s family support consisted only of her 92-year-old husband. He also faced some minor medical problems which limited his ability to care for her at home.

Other than Mary’s broken hip, the couple has not faced any major medical issues.

During her stay, Mary’s husband would drive every day to the rehabilitation facility. He would arrive at 11 am to sit by her bedside until 7 pm. Mary’s husband began to worry about the possibility that Mary might not walk again or even be able to come home.

Putting the Senior Care Plan in Place:

Mary’s medical insurance only covered the first 3 months for Mary to stay in the rehabilitation facility. As a result, the couple paid $200 out of pocket daily for Mary’s additional month in care, causing more stress for the couple to create a better plan for Mary.

After the long wait and many pleas from Mary to return home, Mary’s husband and the social workers from Mary’s physician created a plan for Mary to return home.

But before Mary could go home, Mary’s husband needed to understand all aspects of the plan. He had to feel completely comfortable with the plan in order for Mary to be in a safe and careful medical environment. Mary’s husband also had to create an additional plan if the current plan did not work.

Mary’s Care Plan:

However, Mary was able to transition to a hospice program as a result of her medical diagnosis and could follow the plan created.

In addition to hospice care, the couple had the finances to provide help from a private home care company to assist the couple with meals and laundry, remind Mary to take her medication, and change her in bed.

For Mary, this plan provided her a nurse, who meets with her a few times a week through hospice care, and a care provider, who assisted with her daily living activities 24/7 through the private home care company.

With this strategy, Mary could age in place. Mary now has the ability to live in her home as she wishes and has the proper care that she needs.

MJ’s Advice:

While Mary and her husband had started planning for the aging process, they had not completely planned for emergency circumstances.

For older couples without children or close relatives, planning for the aging process can be challenging. However, having a solid plan in place can make emergency situations easier and less stressful.

To help reduce the stress and emotional toll of similar situations, there are several steps that can be taken before declining health forces a decision to be delayed or an option for the future to be taken away due to lack of planning.

Plan for the aging process.

Have an open discussion with your partner about any plans he or she has in place. You may be surprised by the preparation for the future care. However, oftentimes no plan exists.

Ensure all documentation is in order including list of assets, numbers of bank and financial accounts, insurance policies, and titles and deeds to properties and vehicles. Keep this documentation in one safe location and tell those who need to know.

If no plan exists, Make one.

Talk about each of your preferences between living in home vs assisted living. Talk openly about each option. Determine what factors would cause an interruption in living at home (for example, not accepting assistance from outside services).

Make sure a list of medications and dosages exists in case of emergencies.

If living at home is your preference, plan home changes to make living easier including having an open floor plan, lever door handles, slip resistant floors, remote control blinds or windows, pull out and pull down shelving, or wheel care accessibility.

Review financials.

Talk about the average cost of home care and assisted living. Compare these costs with your finances.

Ensure all their documentation is in order. This should include list of assets, numbers of bank and financial accounts, insurance policies, and titles and deeds to properties and vehicles.

Look into your Medicare and Medicaid options to see what financial benefits you qualify for.

Meet with an elder care attorney.

An attorney specialized in elder care can help you start the planning process before you start facing any health issues.

Choose a POA to act in your best interest in cases where you are unable to make decisions for yourself. If you do not have someone to fulfill this role, you may be able to hire a professional. Some elder law attorneys can become a health care proxy. In some states, a professional fiduciary can be hired to oversee your affairs. Working with an elder care attorney will help facilitate this process.

The will or power of attorney should be kept in deposit box or the attorney’s office. A copy should also be kept at home.

Create a support group.

Don’t expect family members to be in charge without first talking to them about it. Continue to foster relationships that are already in place by scheduling time to spend with those already in your support group.

Keep a contact list.

The list should include telephone numbers of all important people you deal with- attorneys, geriatric care manager, financial planner, accountants, doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, etc.

If you have any questions or about care plans for childless seniors, contact us today!

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