As people age, they may have a bigger need for health care services. However, paying for those services may be made easier with proper advance planning. One way to prepare for health care costs is to assume that these costs will be incurred at some point in the future. Some insurance policies allow individuals to use a death benefit to pay for their care while they are still alive.
Staying organized can make it easier to keep track of insurance policies or other assets that may be used to pay for care. Having all financial paperwork in a secure and easy to find location may aid family members in helping to cover the cost of an aging parent or relative’s care. Furthermore, adult parents should talk to their children about their health care wishes while they are still of sound mind.
This talk can happen at once or over a period of time as appropriate. Clearly communicating wishes to children may avoid emotional situations when they may believe that prolonging a parent’s life is their only choice. To further clarify an individual’s wishes and have them carried out, an aging individual may wish to provide powers of attorney to a potential caregiver. Failure to ask a parent to take this step is a common regret of child caregivers.
While a parent or relative may not want to talk about the subject of elder care, it may be worth having that conversation. Those who would like to create powers of attorney or other estate planning documents may wish to speak to an attorney. Doing so may make it easier for people to know that their wishes are carried out if they are unable to make those decisions for themselves.
Many Iowa residents were shocked when two caregivers were charged in connection with the death of a severely ill 51-year-old woman in 2013. The woman, who was immobile and unable to speak, died of pneumonia at a Tabor hospice. The charges were filed after authorities discovered that several bedsores on the woman’s body had not been properly treated at a Hamburg assisted living facility. The caregivers charged were a 73-year-old woman and a 55-year-old woman.
The felony charges of dependent adult abuse leveled against the two women could have led to harsh custodial sentences, but both of the women agreed to enter guilty pleas to lesser charges in return for more lenient treatment. The 73-year-old woman who had acted as the primary caregiver was given a deferred judgement of six months of probation and a $65 fine in May 2015. The 55-year-old nurse involved entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of accessory after the fact in August 2015. She will also serve probation, pay a small fine and serve 40 hours of community service.
Authorities originally believed that the caregivers’ negligence may have directly contributed to their patient’s death, but a medical examiner concluded after performing an autopsy that the woman’s death was not connected to the bedsores. However, evidence in the case clearly indicates that the two women charged were aware of the bedsores and had been given strict instructions regarding their treatment.
Prosecutors sometimes agree to reduce criminal charges because proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt can be challenging. However, the standard of evidence required in civil cases is not as onerous, and a personal injury attorney could pursue civil remedies on behalf of elder abuse victims and their families.
Source: Omaha.com, “Authorities: Negligence led to Iowa woman’s death”, Kirby Kaufman, July 1, 2014
It has been estimated that by 2050, there will be more than 19 million U.S. citizens at or over the age of 80. Because the population is quickly aging, Medicare announced that it plans to reimburse doctors who spend time discussing their patients’ end of life wishes.
In order for the doctor to be reimbursed for the end of life consultation, the patient must request the consultation. During the discussion, the patient would be told about all of the options that are available. Based on the doctor’s advice, the patient and his or her family members can make better decisions that will make the person’s remaining time more comfortable. This step is being backed by many advocates, including the American Medical Association and AARP in addition to more than 60 other organizations.
There are a few roadblocks that must be taken into consideration. Many doctors are not comfortable talking to patients about end-of-life options that are available. Doctors will need training in order to have comfortable discussions. Additionally, there are some right to life organizations that believe that doctors may lean their patients against treatment that may lengthen the person’s life. However, this can be mitigated with proper training.
In addition to discussing end-of-life options with their doctors, elderly individuals should also discuss their wishes with their family members. This step may be increasingly important as the number of elderly individuals rise. A corollary of people living longer is that nursing homes may become understaffed, making abuse much more likely to happen. If a person who ends up in a nursing home suffers from financial, physical or emotional abuse, an attorney can assist in determining how to obtain proper recourse for the damages that have been sustained.
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