What If Mom Outlives Her Income?

“I am worried that mom may outlive her income. What will happen then?” Asked Claire

 

This is a common worry for many adult children. With the cost of living continuing to rise and the needs of an elder loved one increasing also, you are right to be concerned. After all, you need to be a good money manager.

Worried about college bound children

“Our goal was to keep Mom out of a Medicaid nursing home bed. Having worked in the industry I knew that once money runs out and you need to go on Medicaid your choices are very limited. Mom had dementia. The truth is there are not a lot of facilities who accept Medicaid and are trained in caring for someone with dementia here in Texas.” ~Emily

 

Emily is right. The truth is if you are looking for a secured facility for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of Dementia you will probably have a hard time in Houston Texas. They’re just are not a lot of them that accept Medicaid.

Old woman with her son

Perhaps your mom doesn’t need a secured unit because she can no longer walk. You could still run into the problem that Lori ran into. The nursing home where her mom was insisted that Lori come every day from 4 in the afternoon till 10 at night to take care of her mom.

Her Mom suffered from sundowning. This is common in people with dementia. It causes behavior changes. Someone who has this will often become very agitated. This is what happened to Lories Mom. She would scream, “Help, help, help!”, over and over again.  If Lorie refused to come the nursing home threatened to throw her mother out. Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Most nursing homes are short staffed and someone with dementia may need a lot more attention and care than is available.

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Sometimes planning ahead can make a big difference. Sitting down with an elder law attorney just makes sense if you’re concerned. Most attorneys offer complimentary workshops or consultations. See our workshop schedule here.

 

Also, an elder law attorney is very connected in the community.  They are connected to financial advisors, hospice and home care companies, elder care advisors and even nonprofits that may be able to help you. They will know about many different resources that you can use to help stretch your dollars.

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Often what we see is that the children wanted mom to have the very best. So they put her in the most expensive and luxurious place they could find. Chances are they felt guilty placing her at all. And they wanted her to have the best. They may have thought that mom had just a couple of years left. But then they began to realize that Mom just might live quite a while longer. As the money began to drain out of her accounts, they began to get worried.

 

Sitting down with an elder law attorney in the early stages is the best option. This way plans can be made. And if there is little money and you know that eventually, mom will probably end up in a Medicaid facility you can plan for that. You can also find ways to stretch those dollars to buy more time.

 

When Robert and Carol brought their MIL to Houston after a broken hip they had choices to make. They could place her in a large assisted living facility with care 24/7 or they could place her in an Independent Living Community with a minimal amount of additional home care.

Since they lived close by they could visit often and help out. Carol could do her laundry each week and Robert could make sure she got to her doctor’s appointments. The community supplied all meals, entertainment and activities and some light housekeeping services.

Aging parent- reason to hire elder law attorney

For a few additional $$ they had the home care company help her get up in the morning. They helped her dress and made sure she took her medication. A caregiver would also come at night and help her change into her PJ’s. More services could be added as needed. And about a year later more services needed to be added. After 2 years, the time had come to move her to an assisted living facility. She needed someone to be available around the clock. But they saved about $50,000 placing her in the independent living community for those first two years.

 

Knowing what is available and where to go can make a huge difference. Planning ahead if a Medicaid bed is in your future can make sure that you are able to find one when the need comes. If you wait until the money is all gone you may be in for a shock. With proper planning, you will have time to visit and choose the best facility for your loved one. You will need to move in before the money runs out with the understanding that you will be given a Medicaid bed when you need it. Your attorney can help you work with the facility you choose.

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The truth is nobody knows how long someone will live. And even though it seems like Mom has a lot of money it is important to be prudent and spend those dollars wisely.

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4 Steps To Choose The Best Care Facility

One of the biggest challenges that families face in life is when someone they love needs extra care and assistance. The care may be beyond the scope that they are able to provide. Often this is for an elderly parent. However, sometimes it is a spouse who needs the care. There are a lot of emotions involved. Families may feel they are letting their loved one down by not providing the care themselves.

Care Doesn’t Pay For Itself

Caring for mom

Money has to be considered. Most likely you want the very best for someone you love. But you have to be realistic about your resources. How much is available? Is there a Long-Term Care Policy in effect? Was the person needing care a veteran? Do they own their own home? Are family members planning to provide some of the care?

What Do You Really Need

Sitting down with an Elder Law Attorney can help you to clarify your needs and your resources. Plans can be put in place to maximize Care For Momwhat money you do have.  A couple must consider the surviving spouse. Spending all of the money on care for one spouse may leave the other is a big pickle when they need assistance. Elder Law Attorneys are generally very well connected in the Elder Care Industry. As such, they are able to guide you in the right direction to get the best care possible. Having an outside source to talk to can help you to become clear on what you need to do. Your elder law attorney can look at your situation with an objective eye. They are not caught up in the emotions of the situation as you may be.

 

 

What Will Medicare Pay For? What is Medicaid?

Many people are confused about Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare will pay for short-term hospital and skilled nursing homes stay. These are usually to recover from an illness or accident. Medicare does not pay for assisted living, memory care or nursing home care long term. You will be on your own for this. It will also not pay for someone to care for your parent at home. Medicaid will pay for very limited care in the home. It will also pay for nursing homes but most assisted living facilities or memory care homes are not covered. In fact, your choices and options are very limited in Texas when you are on Medicaid.

Furthermore, you need to qualify for Medicaid. An Elder Law Attorney can walk you through the steps if this is your best choice for getting the care you need. But planning ahead is crucial. Applying for Medicaid and being accepted is a process.

 

Having A Plan Is Critical

 

That is why having a plan is critical to make sure you and your loved one get the care you deserve.  A lot of chronic illnesses can last for years. Things like diabetes, COPD, Dementia and Rheumatoid Arthritis can be debilitating. As such you may need assistance for a long time. If you run out of money you may need Medicaid.

However, if you start planning when you are younger there will be more options available to you. Purchasing a Long-Term Care Policy can ensure that your care options are greater when you need them.

 

Getting on Medicaid Is A Process

Senior Adults on Working on a Laptop Computer

 

Do not wait until you have no money left to apply for Medicaid. Work with an attorney to plan for your future needs. If you will likely need to rely on Medicaid in the future to pay for nursing home care you will want to be prepared. Making sure you have all of the paperwork filled out correctly can mean the difference between being accepted or not.

 

Placing someone in a nursing home on Medicaid is not as easy as it might seem. There are limited beds available in Houston nursing homes that are set aside for Medicaid patients. However, if you enter the nursing home as a private pay patient and then apply for one of the Medicaid beds you will have a much better chance of getting one in the nursing home you want to be in.

 

So How Do You Choose?

Find the best care for mom

There are a plethora of choices in the elder care service industry. And there is not one best choice for everyone. Each family has a unique situation. And yes, money and resources do play a huge role.

Once you have determined your true financial picture you can begin the search. If you have a lot of money and resources like long term care insurance available you will have numerous choices. If you will be on Medicaid now or in the future your choices will be more limited. An elder law attorney in your area will be familiar with the nursing homes. As such they can help you to find the best one to meet your needs. Here is what you should notice and consider when choosing a facility.

 

Step 1-Appearances Can be Deceiving

Find the best care for mom

When you are placing someone in a facility they are going there for care. This is the utmost importance. You are not buying ambience. You are buying care. Yes, you want the place to be clean and smell fresh. But, a new facility with beautiful chandeliers, does not mean that your mom is going to get better care.

 

There are some amazing residential care homes that are not fancy. In fact they are rather plain jane. But the care they give is amazing!!! Likewise, there are some beautiful facilities that also give amazing care. The key to remember is “buy the care- not the facility”.

 

Step 2-Look for The Smiles

Finding the best care for mom

 

Look at the caregivers. Do they look run down and exhausted? Or are they smiling and cheerful?  Are they rushing past residents without a word or do they take the time to say “hello.” Who would you rather have caring for you? A happy staff is the sign of good care. Pop in unannounced at different times of the day and take a look around.

 

Step 3-Do They Encourage Families to Get Involved?

 

Is it easy to communicate with the staff? Are they open to suggestions? Ask how often care planning sessions are held and if family members can attend. Are they receptive to your questions, and do they seem transparent in answering them?

This is very important. you want to know that you can be involved. After all, you are the advocate. your loved one is counting on you to help them. Residents with involved families will naturally get better care.

 

Step 4-Notice the Other Residents

Finding The Best care For mom

Are they clean and well groomed? Do they have their teeth in? Because of the nature of the illnesses people may be dealing with residents may not be able express how they feel. Notice what is going on. Are there any activities or are the residents lined up in front of the TV all day? Do you see residents that appear to be ignored? How many residents are in their beds all day?

 

While the chances are you may never find the perfect place. With planning and help you can make sure to find the best options to meet your needs. An Elder Law Attorney can help you to create a plan for your family.

Depressed, gloomy woman

Mom is Being Evicted From a Nursing Home?

 

Can they do that!! Lori cried. ” Where is the compassion? What am I supposed to do now?”

Most people have probably never given this much thought. They assume that once they place someone in a nursing home, the home will continue to care for them until the last day. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Lori found out the hard way. Lori and her mom cared for her dad who had Parkinson’s disease. It was a long journey. When Mom started having problems, there simply wasn’t any money left. Lori’s mother had dementia, diabetes and a host of other problems. It was not the kind of job that one person could do and Lori seemed to be the only one stepping up to the plate.

Elderly Lady Moving To Nursing Home

 

So she placed her in a nursing home after qualifying her for Medicaid. It was pretty much the only option. They tried Medicaid home care for a while but that didn’t work out. Medicaid pays very low wages. So the quality of the person that was being sent to her home- well let’s just say it wasn’t the best. On top of that, many times, they didn’t even show up.

“I couldn’t count on them”, Lori told me. “I still have to work. I can’t be worrying about what’s going on at Mom’s house when I can’t be there.”

 

As often happens in families, Lori’s brothers and sisters were too busy with their own lives to help out.  So Lori made the difficult decision to place mom in a nursing home. “There just didn’t seem to be any other solution!”, Lori cried. Medicaid beds in Houston are often in high demand. She wanted someplace close so that she could visit often. As her advocate, Lori knew that she was still going to have to be very involved. She just didn’t know how involved she was going to have to be. She felt blessed to find a bed in a facility close by. But the blessings were short lived.

“It was a nightmare! There was never enough caregivers. And if I wasn’t there I know Mom would have gotten any care at all. I usually helped feed the lady that shared a room with Mom. The caregivers would put the food in front of her as if she could eat it herself. She’d had a stroke and was unable to eat unassisted. But I can’t totally blame the caregivers.  They’re caring for so many people. And I also know that they get low wages too. Some of them work two jobs to make ends meet. So on top of having too many people to care for they are also often sleep deprived.”

On numerous occasions, Lori’s mom ended up in the hospital. Lack of care on the nursing homes part was usually the reason.  Diabetics are prone to infections. As such infections that got out of control would land her in the hospital often. One time, Lori decided she’d had enough.

Finding A New Nursing Home

Elderly woman is assisted in nursing home

She wanted to switch mom to a new nursing home in hopes that she might get better care. This was the time to do it. Her mom was getting ready to be discharged. As such she would need rehabilitation care. Since Medicare would pay for that it made it easier to make the switch. A new nursing home would be happy to get those Medicare dollars. So she contacted several nursing homes in the area and the one that she was interested in came out to assess her mother.

The Assessment

Mom would be going to the nursing home on Medicare benefits. She needed some rehab after her Hospital stay and Medicare would pay for a short period of rehabilitation. The nursing home agreed that after her Rehabilitation she could have a permanent room as a Medicaid patient.

Lori was thrilled. The new nursing home was close to home. It looked much cleaner and more updated than the last one. And from what she could see, the care seemed to be pretty good. Oh, she knew should still have to stop by, after all, she was moms advocate. But she had high hope for a brighter future for her mother. So the transfer was made.

Adjusting To Change Is  Often Difficult

As is common, Lori’s mother had some difficulty adjusting to the new place. She moved from one nursing home to the hospital and now to a new nursing home. Someone with dementia has a lot of difficulty with change. So Lori was there helping her mother acclimate.

The Money Ran Out

But when the Medicare dollars ran out the nursing home administrator called her in. “We can’t continue to care for your mom”, she told her. She’s got dementia and she’s upsetting the other patients with her constant hollering.”

Lori was shocked. They had assessed her mom in the hospital. “They knew she had dementia!” Lori said. In fact, when the case manager came to assess her, mom was hollering, as usual, help me help me. It’s a typical cry people with dementia often have. They’re frightened and they just want reassurance.

And Now Here They Were Kicking Her Out.

Lori discovered the reason why. Nursing homes get up paid a lot higher dollar for Medicare patients than they do for Medicaid patients. Though they have to take some Medicaid patients  they really prefer not to.

 

By Law, there are 6 reasons that allow for transfer or discharge of a patient.

  • The resident needs a higher level of care;
  • The resident no longer needs nursing facility care;
  • The resident has endangered others’ safety;
  • The resident endangers other residents’ health;
  • A failure to pay; or
  • The SNF is closing.

The Reason They Used

And Lori’s case the nursing home was using the first reason. They said she needed Memory Care.  But the problem was, there were no memory care beds available for Medicaid patient anywhere in Houston.

In fact, there are very few nursing homes that specialize in memory care and those that do only take a handful of Medicaid patients. Lori’s mom did not need to be in a locked facility. She was unable to walk and could not move very far in her wheelchair. She had never hurt or threatened anyone at the facility. She simply became frightened and agitated in the later part of the day.

Reaching out to an Ombudsman, Lori was able to have some help. The Ombudsman helped her mediate with the nursing home to come up with a solution. It wasn’t ideal but Lori would do it.

The Compromise

Typical of dementia, Lori’s Mom’s behavior problems usually started in the late afternoon. It is often referred to as Sundowners. As the sun goes down many people with dementia suffer from agitation, anxiety and other stress-related symptoms. This can cause them to act out in ways that are not their normal personality.

So, Lori Agreed that she would visit her mom every day from 4 in the afternoon till 9 at night. She would be there to attend to her needs. It wasn’t easy. “ I felt like they were getting a free extra caregiver,” Lori complained.

Unfortunately, the situation is not uncommon in Houston. If you have additional questions about what a nursing home can or cannot do visit our website, set up an appointment, or come to one of our workshops.

 

Surviving Harvey

Surviving Harvey-Moving Forward To 2018

 

2017 was quite a year! Though it has been months since the disaster we call Harvey, many people are still reeling from the effects. In fact, this hurricane has earned the title of being the costliest storm. According to Wikipedia, the cost is a staggering $198.63 billion (2017 USD); (Costliest tropical cyclone on record). This storm dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain over Texas. An unimaginable amount by any standards.

In Houston, we saw as much as 50 inches of rain. And the bad news is it was dumped over a short period of time. Help, it seemed could not come quick enough. The Cypress area was also hit hard. Many families were displaced. Some had just recovered from the Tax Day floods.

Technology Played A Role

We all saw the horrific photos of seniors trapped in wheelchairs in facilities who promised to care for them. The water was waist deep. And they sat there waiting for a rescue. The horror was posted online for all to see what was happening. Many felt frightened and helpless.

Friends were posting on Facebook and Twitter that they were trapped in their homes with flood waters quickly rising. It was real. And we could see where the news cameras could not.

And The Hero’s Roared Into Texas

Surviving Harvey

The “Cajun Navy”, a group of volunteers came to the rescue. Armed with high clearance pickup trucks, bass boats and pirogues they drove from Louisiana to help their Texan friends in need.  And they were able to facilitate rescue missions. Soon everyone in Houston who had a boat capable of navigating the waters jumped in to help.

Armed with addresses of people who had reached out on social media and a GPS these heroes were able to find and rescue families quickly. Young and old, rich and poor it made no difference. Humans helped other humans no matter what their beliefs, race or gender.

Finally, The Rain Stopped Coming.

And the great news is we saw a city that is resilient. The world saw what we were made of as one neighbor began helping another neighbor. Those who were not affected felt so blessed to have been spared. They volunteered in shelters, supply distribution centers and in strangers’ homes.  Many cooked to feed those who were mucking the homes. And they tore out sheetrock quickly to help keep the mold from growing. Bags of wet ruined items were filled and brought to the street.

It is estimated that there were 8 million cubic yards of garbage from this storm in Houston alone.

And Then We Waited

Surviving Hurricane Harvey

Though Harvey arrived in August it would be late October and early November before many neighborhoods would be cleared of this debris.

“I think the hardest part has been driving home to see the piles of garbage every day. The smell was horrendous and it attracted rats, snakes and other wildlife. Some people in the neighborhood who could afford it hired private companies to remove the waste in front of their homes. As a single Mom without flood insurance, this was not an option for me.” Linda told me.

No Flood Insurance

It is estimated that over 80% of the people affected did not have flood insurance. Many had been told they didn’t need it because they were not in a floodplain. They thought they were safe from a disaster like this. Darren was told he lived in a 900-year floodplain. It was virtually impossible for his home to flood. And then came Harvey.

And We Move Forward

Surviving Hurricane Harvey- Moving Forward

Texans have always been depicted as a tough bunch. This disaster showed just how resilient we are. As we march forward into 2018, we are a bit wiser. Even those who were not directly affected by Harvey report a deeper appreciation for life.

Hindsight is Always Easier Than Foresight

Surviving Harvey

 

My guess is the sale of flood insurance is on the rise. And those who have elderly or disabled relatives will hopefully have a disaster plan in place. We will ask tough questions of the assisted living communities we trust to care for our loved ones. Furthermore, we will know that they have a solid plan in place. Though there are some things we are unable to control, we are able to have plans in place. This can make a bad situation a bit easier to handle.

Planning will not stop tragedy from striking. Hurricanes and floods will grace us with their presence again. It is not a matter of “if” but “when”. So while this event is still fresh in your mind make some plans. Not just plans for disasters. Make plans for your future and the financial security of your family.

 

 

The Hilbun Law Firm helps families plan for their future. Specializing in Elder Law and Estate Planning, The Hilbun Firm offers weekly workshops. All workshops are complimentary.

View the schedule here.

7 Reasons You Need to See an Elder Law Attorney

exhausted businesswoman

Let’s face it. There are probably a lot of things you have been putting off. You know they need to be done (like that colonoscopy you were supposed to have 3 years ago :-). But the truth is doing some things may not be comfortable. So, we procrastinate.

According to Wikipedia- Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline.

In the case of estate planning a deadline translates into a crisis. Talk to any Elder Law Attorney and they will tell you horror stories of families who failed to plan. These people called them when in the middle of a crisis. There had been an accident or sudden illness. And the legal documents were not in place. These families needed help and they needed it fast.

Unfortunately, waiting until a crisis could cost you plenty. Sarah found out the hard way.

“Because we didn’t have the right legal documents in order we couldn’t make decisions for mom. We had to go through a long legal process and a guardian had to be appointed. It was terribly expensive and emotionally draining” Sharon

#1- You Have an Aging Parent

Aging parent- reason to hire elder law attorney

Let’s face it if you have a parent who is still alive, they are aging. Planning for the future can never happen too soon. Your parent may be healthy and still rather young but it is important that they have their legal documents in order.  Let’s face it, nobody plans to have a health crisis.Having a will is a good first step but there are a lot of other documents to consider. A good way to figure out what you may need is to attend an Estate Planning workshop.

Talking about money, estate planning, funerals and such may not be very comfortable. However, not talking about these things could be devastating for everyone involved.

 

#2- You Have Children and Other Family Members You Want to Protect

Planning for the future is about doing the right thing. Making sure that everything is in place in the event of an accident, sudden illness or death can be the best gift you ever give your children.

Chidren- Reason to hire an elder law attorney“ I never thought about estate planning or about what legal documents everyone should have in place. As a healthy 50-year-old man I thought I was a long way off to needing any assistance.  I was physically fit and rode my mountain bike daily after work. Sometimes I even took a 45-minute ride at lunch. There was a park with trails close to the office. It was on one of those lunchtime rides that I had my accident. I broke my leg, 4 ribs, my pelvic bone and my collarbone. I also had a concussion. It was hours before I was found. Since my wife and I were divorced and our children were underage there was no one who could make medical decisions, take care of my bills or anything else I needed. Luckily, I  was not unconscious when I arrived at the hospital.”  Steve

 

#3 You Own Any Kind of Property.

Own property- Reason to hire an elder law attorney

 

A lot of people believe that they do not need estate planning because they are not wealthy. The truth is if you own any kind of property; a home, car, boat, land etc., you need a plan in place. Not having a plan could cause a lot of headaches for your loved ones and could also come with a huge financial burden.

 

 #4 You Have a Child with Special Needs

Reason to hire elder law attorney- special needs

 

If you have a child with special needs it is imperative that you plan for their future as soon as possible. Not doing so could leave your child vulnerable and at the will of the courts. Make sure you talk to an attorney who has experience working with families of children with special needs. Your child is counting on you.Don’t let them down!

 

 #5 You Have Special Needs

Special Needs- Reason To Hire Elder Law Attorney

 

Needs such as Early-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS or another chronic illness. An Estate planning attorney can work hand in hand with your financial advisor. Additionally, they can refer you to a reputable advisor if you do not have one. Planning for future health events that could happen will ensure that you get the best possible care when you need. Additionally, your planning will help to relieve excess stress your family would experience without a plan.

 

#6 You Want to Avoid Sibling Squabbles Among Your Children

siblings- reason to hire a elder law attorney

 

We have all heard the stories of families that got into huge fights over the estate. You may think this only happens to the wealthy. Not so. Everyday middle-class folks like you may experience this in their family. And if you think it cannot happen to you, think again. Many families report being shocked at how a family member behaved. Illness and death bring up a lot of emotions. And the truth is people do not always behave well when they are grieving.

 

An attorney can help you set up your estate to avoid many of the conflicts that could arise. They will also give ideas about how to have the conversation about your desires and wishes.

 

#7 You Want to Make Sure Your Wishes Are Honored After You Are Gone.

Reason to hire an elder law attorney

 

You really want to make sure that your daughter Sue gets Grandma’s diamond and emerald necklace. They were close and Sue helped you care for your mom. If your son gets it, it would end up going to his wife or being sold. Neither of which you would be happy with. Also, you want to make sure that your step-daughter doesn’t end up with it. It is important that this heirloom is kept in the family.

 

 

An estate planning attorney can help you to craft your will and put the proper trusts in place to make sure your wishes are carried out. This way your wishes will be honored. Don’t put this task off. Do it for the ones you love.

The Hilbun Law Firm has regularly scheduled workshops to help you learn about the law to know what documents you need to have in place. Check out the schedule here.

Seniors And Their Pets- What You Need To Know

Seniors and Their pets

I think most people nowadays have probably read or heard about all of the wonderful benefits of pet ownership. There is no doubt a host of big benefits.

 

  • Lower Your Blood Pressure– The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure.
  • Lift Depression and Help With Post Traumatic Stress-In fact, At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, they’re using dogs to help soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Stress and Anxiety is Reduced– In fact, researchers at the University of New York at Buffalo discovered that people who were performing a stressful task experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a family member or close friend was nearby,
  • Can help you stay more active. Having a dog and getting in the habit of taking them for daily walks will benefit you both. Dogs are great walking buddies. And even when you just want to be a couch potato, your dog will urge you to get up and move. After all, who can resist those begging eyes?

But there are things you need to think about as you get older.

Seniors and Their Pets

My mother-in-law had a cat. Her little cat Callie was a sweet little cat and Pat loved her dearly. But she never thought about what would happen to Callie if something happened to her.

In fact, we are caring for Callie now because when my mother-in-law got to the point where she could no longer take care of her. A stroke and dementia, coupled with Rheumatoid Arthritis made it impossible. We had to step in.

What Happens If You Can’t Care For Your Pet?

So, this is the first Challenge and something that all seniors should think about. What will happen to your pet if you can no longer care for them? No one wants to imagine their beloved pet being sent to a shelter.

A Stroke Changed Everything

Seniors and Their Pets- Stroke

Beatrice loved her two little corgis. She took them just about everywhere she went. They were her life and she loved them. But when Beatrice had a stroke the ambulance came and took her away. Her two precious animals were left to fend for themselves in their house.

Her family lived far away and didn’t arrive for several days. It was not a pretty sight when they arrived at the house. The animals were distraught and they had gotten into some mischief. And of course, there had been accidents on the floor.

Unfortunately, Beatrice’s daughter and son-in-law are not animal lovers. They were frustrated with the dogs for making a mess and didn’t understand that they were grieving for Beatrice also. They sent them to a boarding place until they knew what was going to happen. But Beatrice was not going to be coming home. She would be going to a nursing home and she was no longer able to care for herself much less her beloved animals. As such much to Beatrice’s dismay her two corgi’s, were sent to a shelter and she had no say in the matter.

Being a Responsible Pet Owner

Seniors and Their Pets

I think everybody needs to think about this. And as we get older we need to think about that even more. Because to be a responsible pet owner means to have a plan for those pets. Just like you would want to have a plan for your family. Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to set up all of the legal documents and paperwork that you need to ensure that your family is taken care of. If you have young children you have probably decided who will care for them if something happens to you.

It’s really important to have that conversation with your family. Would they be willing to step in and take care of your pet if you no longer can? Some families will and some won’t. You really need to know. So, what other options are there?

A Texas Option For Continual Pet Care When You No Longer Can

A lot of people in our area are unaware of the Stevenson Companion Animal Life Care Center this is at Texas A&M.  It’s a privately funded state-of-the-art Animal Care Program designed to provide personalized care in a home-like environment. This program is set up and designed help provide the care for your pets in the event that they are left behind if you should pass away or if you should become incapacitated.

This is a place where they can go and be cared for in a beautiful environment for the rest of their life. The center was established at the Texas A&M College of veterinary medicine back in 1993. It was established by a gentleman named Dr. Ned Elliot. His dream became a reality with generous donations from the Luse foundation and Miss Malden Stevenson. Thus, the Stevenson Companion Animal Life Care Center was born.

Seniors and Their Pets

Miss Stevenson wanted to support this Center because she said that animals are so important to the elderly. And this Center was devoted to them and their pets. She passed away in 2004. Her four cats, seven dogs, a Pony, and llama all came to reside at the center at that time.

So how does it work and who can use these benefits?

Well first off, they take a variety of animals. They accept dogs, cats, birds, horses even donkeys. There is an enrollment fee of $1,000 for small animals and $2,000 for large animals due at the time of the enrollment. The minimum endowment requirements vary depending on the age of the owner at the time of the enrollment.  You can find out more information at their website at http://www.vetMedtamu.edu/ Stevenson-Center/enrollment

Other Options

Another option may be to forgo actually owning Pets during your later years. My husband and I are in our sixties we currently have two geriatric animals at home. They take a lot of care and money to keep them healthy. We’re still young enough to care for them but we are not sure we will get another pet when they are gone.

One of the animals that were caring for actually belonged to my mother-in-law who passed away a year ago. We’ve been caring for Callie cat for the last 6 years when Pat could no longer care for her. She was lucky she had family members that are animal lovers and were willing to take in her precious pet.

Harder to Care For Pets As We Age- Harder to Deal With The Grief When we Lose Them

And I realize that as we age it becomes harder and harder to both care for an animal and also to deal with the loss that eventually comes. Recently saying goodbye to our dog of 16 years, we are not sure we really want to endure that pain again.

Life Without Animals?

But we love animals so we’ve been looking at all options and there are lots of options out there. I’ve considered becoming a dog walker hiring out my services to walk other people’s dogs a few times a week. After I retire this could give me a few extra bucks in my pocket and at the same time give me that “dog Fix” I so crave. I could also take care of other people’s pets when they go out of town. So that’s one way that a senior could still have a connection with animals and not have the responsibility of home ownership of pet ownership.

Fostering?

Other seniors have begun fostering pets. There are lots of organizations around town who look for volunteers to foster a pet until a full-time owner can be found. Of course, many of the seniors admit getting attached and becoming that full-time owner. So be careful if you really do not want the responsibility.

Volunteer

In the Cypress area, there’s an organization called Special Pals. They have been saving lives in Houston since 1981 dog and cat adoptions they offer low-cost Wellness clinics every Saturday spay and neuter Services microchipping and even boarding because their costs are low it’s more affordable for a lot of seniors and you can volunteer.

You can get your pet fix by volunteering to be part of their afternoon team. You may get to walk dogs, bathe the animals and engage in playtime activities. This is a great benefit for both of pet and the senior.

Keep Animals In Your Life

Seniors and their pets

Getting involved in the community is also a great way for seniors to stay active. And staying active is going to be one step closer to staying healthy and independent. So, the decision is yours. Continue to have wonderful pets in your home, foster, volunteer or maybe set up a business pet sitting and dog walking the choice is yours. Just keep animals in your life to add quality years.

 

Could It Be Elder Abuse?- 5 Red Flags

We really hate to even think that it could happen.

But burying your head in the sand and pretending that it isn’t is a recipe for disaster. Let’s face it, our elderly are vulnerable. Many lack the physical strength to ward off an attacker. Furthermore, fear keeps them from reporting an incident. And physical abuse is only one type. Because many elderly people have paper thin skin, Their skin tears, and bruises easily. Often, signs of physical abuse go unreported.

And to be honest you have to be careful reporting something like this. The consequences if you are wrong could ruin the life of a good caregiver. If you are accusing a family member who is caring for someone relationships will be destroyed.

Elder Abuse- Red Flag

 

However, if you really suspect something you cannot just ignore the situation. Here are 5 red flags that may signal abuse, neglect or mistreatment. Here is what you should pay attention to.

 

 

 

#1-Physical Abuse

  • Broken Bones
  • Burns
  • Abrasions
  • Bruises
  • Sudden hair or tooth loss

Listen to the explanations given for the injuries. Do they match up and make sense? If you are told that mom is constantly falling out of bed and hitting her head on the bedside table that may be what is happening. Ask what can be done to prevent this from happening again. A hospital bed can be brought in so the bed can be lowered all the way to the floor. The bedside table can be moved so mom will not hit her head. If the injuries continue you have to dig a little deeper to find out what is really going on.

#2 Neglect

 

Someone may not be abused physically but could be neglected. A senior or disabled person may not be able to do certain tasks for themselves like toileting, bathing, taking medications properly and eating.   Here are some warning signs that could signal someone is being neglected.

  • You notice when you pop in for a surprise visit the person you are visiting person appears and smells unclean.
  • Furthermore, every time you visit they have soiled diapers or pull-ups. There is always an excuse what they have not been changed.
  • Dentures, hearing aids, glasses, canes and other aids are not in use or easily accessible.
  • If someone is physically or cognitively disabled they may need assistance eating and taking their medications. A caregiver who does not help with this is guilty of neglect.

 

#3 Financial Exploitation

Elder Abuse- Red Flags

 

  • You notice items purchased that your loved one would not have made. ( A spa day, new tires for a car they don’t have, etc.)
  • Sudden recurring charges- subscription plans that your loved one does not need or use.
  • More frequent withdrawals of cash
  • Caregiver taking money for a purchase that doesn’t arrive
  • Adding someone new to bank and credit cards
  • Money disappearing and bills not paid.

 

Both family and paid caregivers are in a position to be able to exploit the senior they care for. Unfortunately, this situation happens often. Eversafe is a financial Monitoring System with seniors in mind. The service can be used by seniors, their POA or their guardian. An adult child who has POA could receive alerts when an unusual activity occurs. It is like having an extra set of eyes watching out for mom. Of course, we also recommend that you do a multi-state background check on any caregiver or other employee coming into Mom’s home.

 

#4 Signs of Verbal or Emotional Abuse

 

Emotional abuse is a really difficult one to prove. That is unless you catch it on camera that is. That is exactly what happened this past January when caregiver Brenda Floyd was caught on camera hitting a 94-year-old lady in the head and verbally abusing her over and over again. The lady’s son put a secret camera in her home after noticing bruises on his mother. A few signs that may alert you would include:

  • Withdrawal or apathy
  • Nervous or fearful behavior, especially around the caregiver.

“I always knew Ella was taking good care of my mom”, Said Shannon “When Ella walked in the room mom lit up. She would have a big smile on her face and was happy to see her”

  • Isolation- When the caregiver does not allow friends and family to call or visit.

 

#5 Sexual Abuse

The thought of this is just unimaginable to most families. Unfortunately, it does happen, even in “nice” assisted living and nursing homes. Here is what to notice.

 

  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area
  • Vaginal or rectal bleeding
  • Difficulty walking or standing when they were able to before
  • Depressed or withdrawn behavior.
  • Nervousness around certain staff members.

Elder Abuse- Red Flag

Being aware that these things can and do happen is the first step to making sure they do not happen to someone you love. Regular unplanned visits are important. If staff notices that you show up at different times of the day and different days they will be more likely to behave appropriately. Also, remember these people do not make a lot of money. A bit of kindness extended can go a long way. Let them know they are appreciated. Thank them for helping your loved one.

Adding a  camera to monitor, especially if you suspect abuse is a good idea also. Our seniors and disabled are vulnerable due to their physical and mental limitations. As such, they can often fall prey to bullying by caretakers, including family. They may be unable to tell you what is happening for fear of retaliation.

Make sure that all staff and caregivers have thorough background checks. These checks should be nationwide. Know the signs to look for and be involved as much as you can in the care.