Family Conversations

 5 Family Conversations You Must Have With Your Aging Parents

 

Tis the season when families gather together to celebrate and to give thanks. From Thanksgiving to the 1st of the New Year there are celebrations no matter what your faith. And families are often together for those celebrations.

While some families see each other often others may only connect during the holiday season. Whether you are together often or only a few times a year there are important conversations that need to happen.

Unfortunately, in our society, some of these topics may be considered taboo. If you have aging parents and you have not had these conversations with them now may be the time. While I do not suggest doing this at the holiday dinner table or celebration it is important to schedule a time to talk.

Here Are 5 Conversations That Are a Must-Have.

The Money Talk

“In my family talking about money was taboo. Especially asking your parents how much they have. I sure wish I would have broken that rule. Not knowing put the family in a bind when dad had an unexpected stroke.” Claire

Questions you need to ask include:

  1. What’s their financial situation?
  2. Where are their accounts located?
  3. Do they have Life or Long-Term Care Insurance?
  4. Do they have enough to pay their bills right now?
  5. What if they live another ten or twenty years?
  6.  Do they have a will?
  7. Do you know where the will is, and the name of the estate planning attorney who created it?
  8.  Do they have powers of attorney for finances in place?

The Health Talk

Who is their primary Care doctor? Are there any specialists?

What type of Medicare Plan are they on? (Medicare advantage or Original Medicare with a supplement?) You should know where their paperwork is located.

Do they take medications? For what conditions? You may suggest that they post a list on their current medications on the refrigerator. This will allow for easy access by you or an emergency medical professional who is called in an emergency.

Have they properly documented a power of attorney for healthcare?

The Aging Talk

Grandmother with her daughter

What plans do they have if they are no longer able to care for themselves? Would they be open to going to an assisted living facility or a nursing home? Do they know the costs associated with care at home? Do they know how much they will pay for care elsewhere? And finally, will their funds support long-term care?

If they really want to stay in their home a home assessment is in order. Making the home a safe environment for someone who may have physical limitations can keep them in that home much longer. Falls are the #1 reason that seniors end up in the hospital. Though all falls cannot be avoided, making a few changes at home may eliminate some falls.

What if someone is no longer able to drive? What options are available? Nowadays, there are so many options available. Not being able to drive yourself is not as big of a problem as it once was. A lot of seniors do not want to be dependent on their adult children for transportation. With Uber and Lyfte this is not a problem.

But chances are your aging parent does not know how these programs work.  GoGo Grandparent makes it easy!  When seniors have options that keep them in control, they are more likely to hang up the car keys.

The End of Life Talk

An elderly lady sits pensivel

This is often the hardest talk to have. But there really is no time like the present. Do they have a medical directive or a living will? How do they feel about extreme measures being taken to sustain life if they are incapacitated?

Also, ask if they have pre-planned their funeral. You will need to know where these papers are kept. Are they planning cremation or traditional burial? Ask what is important to them about their funeral?

The Family Legacy Talk

This is a much lighter and brighter conversation to have. What do they want the family to remember about them? Are there family recipes, photo books, treasured heirlooms, videos or jewelry they want to pass along? Are there stories they want to share?

Estate planning attorneys, like the Hilbun Law Firm, work with families and aging issues on a regular basis.  Attending a workshop together is a great way to start getting the conversation going. Then schedule a consultation, your attorney can help you and your parents make decisions. They’ll know about issues you may not even be aware of.

Attend a Free Estate Planning workshop at the Hilbun Law Firm and get this conversation started!

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Pet Estate Planning- Caring For Your Fur Babies

 

“Bella is my baby I can’t imagine what might happen to her if I’m gone. And what if I just got in an accident and couldn’t make it home? Who would take care of her? Who would even know that she’s there.”

When You Live Alone

June lives alone. she’s been divorced for a while and has a grown daughter. But her daughter lives in another city. Furthermore, they don’t have the strongest relationship.

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Plus, June told me Carrie doesn’t really like animals.  “I can’t understand that. But that’s the way it is. So, I have to think about other arrangements for Bella. After all, I’m her protector and she deserves the best.

A lot of people who live alone and worry about what will happen with their pets when they are gone. Unfortunately, all too often people have not made any plans or arrangements. They assume they will outlive their pets.

Let’s face it life is uncertain.

Whether you are 30 or 80, things can happen. And if you’ve taken on the responsibility of a pet then it’s your responsibility to make sure that they’re taken care of in the event that something would happen to you. And you can’t always expect the family to swoop in and take over.

“When my mother-in-law fell,” Kathryn said “We had to take in her cat. I really didn’t want or need another animal. But it was the right thing to do. And no one else in the family would do it. So, my husband and I took Callie and cared for her for the next 9 years. We really didn’t want to but we did.”

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Not everybody has someone in their family who would do that. If you do that’s great. But have a talk with your family ahead of time. Make sure you know who is willing and who is not. And if nobody is really willing then you’ve got to think of other arrangements. Where would your pet go? Who would care for them?

When Keith Didn’t Answer His Phone

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Elaine called Catherine concerned she hadn’t heard from her friend Keith in over a day.

 

“It’s not like him,” she said “We always call each other each morning. He’s not answering and I’m worried. I’m afraid to go over there” Elaine said

 

She was concerned that Keith might have passed away. At 89 years old it was definitely a possibility. So, Catherine got her husband, Bob, to go and check on Keith. Elaine had a key so he could get in.

Keith Was In Trouble

Keith wasn’t dead but he did have a stroke. He was laying on the floor in the hallway. And his two dogs were snuggled up next to him clearly distraught. The person they love was not doing well. An ambulance was called. But now came the question, what to do about his to beloved pets?

A Plan Was In Place

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Luckily Keith had already made a plan. The place where he boarded them when he went on vacations had already agreed to take care of them. Furthermore, if Keith passed away or could no longer care for them they would find a home for both of his fur babies.  Keith even paid for a month in advance to ensure that is two sweet angels would be well taken care of.

 

Furthermore, he had set up a trust account. This would be for any medical bills they may have in the future. Whoever adopted them would not have to worry about the expense. He clearly thought of everything.

Peace of Mind

Keith spent the last 6 months in a nursing home. But he did not have to worry about his beloved pets. In fact, the couple who adopted brought them for visits once a week and made sure Keith had plenty of pictures and videos.

 

A Few Steps To Protect Your Pets (or Fur Babies)

 

  1. Make sure that you have information in your wallet to let people know that you have a pet at home. If you were in an accident, someone would need to check on your pet. Print something up on card stock. Make sure contact information is included for the person who can enter your home to take care of your pet.
  2. Does a friend, relative or neighbor have a key to get into your home? Luckily Keith thought ahead and gave Elaine a key. This made it easier for someone to check on him and his fur babies.
  3. Talk to your family. Do not assume they will take care of your fur friends. What other options are there? Who could help? Have a plan in place like Keith did.
  4. Have a sticker on your door and window to let EMS know there is a pet inside. Have contact information on your refrigerator so they know who can care for your pets.

 

Consider adding a provision to your estate plan. This is especially important if you have exotic animals or pets with special needs. After all, your fur babies are your family too. Make sure they are well taken care of.

Mom left a nice nest egg- What to do with your inheritance?

dreamstimefree_4347502If you are one of the lucky ones, there was still money left over when your parents were gone. For many, it was a struggle just to make sure you had enough to take care of their needs while they were alive.

 

 

But if you have inherited a nice sum, lucky you. Here is what you need to know so you don’t blow it.

 

Wait

Isolated Stop Sign

There is no rush. The money isn’t going anywhere. You do not have to decide overnight what to do. Most importantly do not make any large purchases.

Chances are you are still grieving.

This is not a time to be making big decisions. That car or trip to Tahiti will still be there in a few months or even a year. We may justify that Mom would want us to have these things or that we deserve them because of all we have been through. This is simply grief talking.

Beware of Slick Salesmen

Jerry cared for her husband for 3 years. She gave up her career to do so and had been contemplating going into business for herself after John passed away.  She began looking at Franchise opportunities. “I was excited to start my life again.”, she said.  Many of the franchisors she contacted tried to pressure her. “Don’t miss this opportunity”, they told her. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and once it is gone well.. you will miss out. I hate to see that happen.”

“They sounded genuine and acted like they really wanted to help me. Of how I wished John were here to help me make such a big decision!” Jerry wailed.

What To Do With Your InheritanceLuckily Jerry listened to her intuition.

She backed off when someone pushed. She did her research independent of what the franchisor was telling her. After all, his job was to sell her a franchise.

Pretend You Did Not Get An Inheritance

Keep living the way you have been living until you get everything figured out. You have your family and your future to consider. Get with a good estate planning attorney to discuss what legal needs you may have. Most estate planning attorneys can help you decide the next steps to take.

Find an attorney who is local to your area and one that has a good reputation. An attorney like this is usually connected with good financial planners that they trust. This will ensure that you are in good hands. Because these people are well connected in the community they will have your best interest at hand. After all their reputation depends on it.

How do I find a good Elder Law Attorney?

It’s easy. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see who is listed. Ask your friends. Then go on line. Ask your friends on FB for recommendations. Chances are the same name will keep showing up. Google the name of the firm or attorney to see what else you can find out. You will notice the same names popping up over and over.

The Hilbun Law Firm offers weekly workshops to help you learn more. Take the time to get all of the facts. That way you and your family will be protected. Visit the calendar to see when the next workshop will be held.

 

Grown children off to college

And They’re Off!  Life After Your Children Go To College

 

For many families, August is that month when your children leave home to go off to college. This is usually the first time they have ventured out on their own. The process is exciting, scary and exhilarating at the same time. These feelings are true for both the child and the parent.

Stress and Anxiety

Worried about college bound children Maria had a difficult time sending her twins off to college. Her life had been so wrapped up in their lives and the activities her daughters participated in.

“I guess it’s empty nest syndrome” she confided. “I just feel lost. Sometimes I feel as if I am not wanted or needed anymore.”

Maria also admits to worrying constantly about her daughters. What are they doing? Have they made friends? Are they doing well in school? The thoughts are constantly swirling in her head.  Maria was stressed and began having periods of anxiety.

Then, of course, there is the financial piece. Though her husband John makes a good salary college is quite expensive. “And it’s all of the extras that we didn’t count on,” Maria said. “I want the girls to have a really good college experience. But it seems like there is always some unexpected expense. John is feeling the pressure also. When I ask for extra money for something he blows his top. I have been a stay at home Mom since having the girls but I never felt like I had to ask before.” It wasn’t surprising that those periods of anxiety kept growing.

Reaching For Help

Help for college bound students

A friend suggested she find a coach. Someone who specialized in working with women experiencing empty nest syndrome. She found one online and began Skyping once a week.

“It wasn’t like a therapist where I poured my heart out,” Maria said. “ My coach, Carol helped me to identify  and set goals so I could move out of this uncomfortable place I was in”

Step One

After working with her coach Maria decided what she needed to do to resolve some of the issues she was experiencing. Though she was stepping out of her comfort zone, Maria decided to find a part time job.  After talking it over with John they both felt this would be a smart move.  She got a job at a dress shop where she often bought her clothes.

By having something to fill her empty days Maria discovered that she wasn’t worrying quite as much. She also met other women whose lives didn’t revolve around their kids’ activities. Her co-workers were supportive of her transition and she began to really look forward to her work days. The money wasn’t huge but she got a huge discount on her own wardrobe. And the extra money allowed her to help the girls with the little extras that sometimes a Dad may not understand. She was also able to pay for her coaching sessions with Carol. John had been skeptical about her spending money on coaching services in the beginning. She started feeling more relaxed. And Maria starting noticing that John was becoming more relaxed also.

The Second Step

Date Night

Next, her coach suggested was that the couple start having date nights and taking weekend trips somewhere they wanted to go. It was time to focus on their relationship now. This would help to start cutting those cords with her girls. John and Maria also decided that after the first year of college the girls would also be expected to have a part time job and to pay for some of those extras.

The Third Step

Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Get your financial and legal house in order. Carol suggested that Maria and John visit with The Hilbun Law Firm. It is important to have all of the necessary documents in order. Doing so will alleviate a lot of unnecessary worries.  Maria and John were shocked to discover that they were not the only ones who needed the have certain documents. Having a Power of attorney was important for her daughters. Because they are both now over 18 having a POA just made sense.

“We didn’t realize that we were worrying about these things” said John. “But now that we have all of the proper paperwork in order, I know I am sleeping better.”

The Hilbun Law Firm offers weekly workshops to help you learn more. Take the time to get all of the facts. That way you and your family will be protected. Visit the calendar to see when the next workshop will be held.

Elderly Heat Stroke

Temperatures Soar Putting Seniors and Disabled At Risk

The temperatures in Texas and across much of our nations are soaring to record highs. In Houston, the humidity is quite high also. This can cause already high temps to feel even higher. It is important for everyone to be cautious spending time in the heat. But our elderly seniors and disabled are at an even higher risk.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are a real problem for elderly seniors. In fact, in a study by the University of Chicago Medical Center it was discovered that 40% of heat related fatalities were in people over the age of 65.

Elderly are More Vulnerable to Heat Stroke

There are a number of reasons why seniors are more susceptible to heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

  1. Aging adults are less likely to notice changes in body temperature.
  2. Seniors often do not “feel” thirsty. As such may not get the recommended amount of fluid their body needs.
  3. Underlying health conditions may make a senior less able to adapt to the heat.
  4. A lot of medications can cause dehydration.
  5. Salt Restricted Diets
  6. Over dressing- Wear light colored and loose clothing during the hotter months.
  7. In adequate air conditioning in the home.

How To Help A Senior You Know Avoid Heat Related Problems

Watch the Heat Index

The Heat Index- Senior Vulnerable to Heat Stroke

High humidity, like we have in Houston can cause a lot of heat related illness. When the heat index is high encourage seniors to stay indoors. Offer to pick up groceries and medications so they do not have to get out. Just walking a few steps from the car to the grocery store may not seem like much. But consider the fact that an elderly person will move much slower, increasing their time in the heat.

Lots of Fluids are Crucial

Encourage the intake of lots of fruits and vegetables along with plenty of fluids. Sometimes getting a senior to drink can be a challenge. Adding more fruits and vegetables into the diet can help to replenish fluids. Stop by and make afternoon smoothies or Mocktails. This will help to get those needed fluid levels up.

Is The AC Working?

A lot of our seniors are on a fixed income. As such they may turn the thermostat down to save on electricity. Even worse they could try to do without if the AC stops working.

95-year-old Julius Hatley, called the Fort Worth Police department last month. His Ac was out and he needed help. Considered a low priority call, the officers responded after a few other calls. When they arrived, they found the elderly man in a home that was already 85 to 90 degrees. Both his central and his window unit were not functioning.

Texas Cops Help 95 Year Old Veteran Avoid Heat Stroke

Photo- Facebook- Jennifer Weir

This may not have been in their job description but officers Margolis and Weir could not shake the image of a 95-year-old man suffering in this kind of heat. They went to Home Depot To buy an air conditioner out of their own pockets. When the Home Depot employees found out what they were doing they took up a collection and raised $150 to help pay for a new window unit.

The Goodwill Did Not End There

Since the story was shared on social media more people came forward to help. A company came forward to replace his central air conditioning for free. “It’s the least we could do for a WWII Veteran.”

Others are working to replace his windows and make sure he has groceries each week.

What Can You Do To Help?

Pay attention to seniors in your community. Is there someone in your neighborhood who could use some help?  Check in regularly on your older neighbors. The elderly are often proud and do not want to be a “burden” to anyone. As such they may not ask for help or even complain about their situation.

Social media is a great way to find others who can help if you find an elderly person needing assistance. Post a need and you will be amazed at how many people will respond.

 

 

Are You Ready For Hurricane Season 2017?

Hurricane Season 2017

 

I know you would rather not think about this. But the reality is we have not had a major hurricane sine Hurricane Ike. That was in 2008. 9 years ago. Law of probability says we are getting close to being due for another to hit our area.

Are You prepared? More importantly are the seniors you know prepared?

There are a lot of ways that you can start preparing now. Your aging parents and other seniors you know may need your help with this.

Gather supplies

Don’t wait until the day or two before a hurricane is due to hit your area. It will be chaos! Stores will run out of supplies and tempers will flare.  Here is a list of supplies you will need. Get List Here.

Hurricane Season 2017

Decide if you will stay or leave- Remember Hurricane Rita?

While most people remember Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf coast, Rita led to the worst gridlock in Houston history. As thousands of terrified people fled their homes the roads quickly became jammed with traffic.

More than a hundred people were killed trying to get out of the city. Stuck in a dead gridlock cars and people began to overheat. Heat stroke attributed to most of the deaths. A bus, evacuating people from a nursing home caught fire killing 24 people.

Hunker Down

In 2008 Hurricane Ike was headed our way and a strong warning was delivered. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the county’s chief administrator urged Houstonians to “hunker down.” It other words, ride the storm out where you are. Find a safe place in your home and stay put. Remember Rita, we were told.

Of course, if you live in an area that has mandatory evacuation you should head that warning. But for everyone else stay put. That way those who need to evacuate will be able to do so and we will not repeat the tragedy of Hurricane Rita.

Hurricane Season 2017- Stay or Go

What about your aging parent? Where will they ride out the storm?

 

Talk to the Executive Director or Administrator of your parents nursing home, assisted living, memory care facility and even the Independent Living Community they live in. Do they have a plan? What is expected?

Don’t wait until a hurricane is in the gulf and headed toward Houston to have this conversation. Plan ahead. You may be surprised to learn that Mom’s facility expects you to evacuate her. Knowing that well in advance will help you put a plan together. This way you will not be trying to figure out what to do with Mom in the middle of a crisis.

If the plan is for mom to stay in her facility there are a few questions you will want to ask.

  • How many staff members will be working?
  • Will there be a nurse on site in case of medical emergency?
  • Is there enough food? For how many people? How many days?
  • Will there be adequate water available?
  • Do you have a backup generator?
  • Will the generator cover the whole building or just certain areas?
  • What will you do if the building starts to flood?
  • How will disabled residents be cared for? Where will they stay in a multi-story building.
  • When will adequate medications be ordered to cover the time of emergency?
  • Do you allow families to stay at the facility with their loved ones? If so what will be expected?
  • How about the families of staff members? Will the staff’s families be allowed to stay at the facility? (If not, what is to prevent staff from leaving to take care of their own family?) If so will there be enough food for everyone?

 Does Mom live home alone?

If so you will need to decide what will happen. Will she ride out the storm at your house? Will you send her to stay with your brother in Ohio? Decide now and talk to Mom and all appropriate parties well in advance. Make sure everyone is on board with your plan. Furthermore, make sure they are able to carry out any tasks they may need to be in charge of. Things like the following:

  • Transportation for mom if she will be leaving town
  • Someone to help mom gather medications and other supplies to take with her
  • Who will secure Mom’s home while she is gone? You may need sandbags or boards to cover windows. Lawn furniture and equipment will need to be secured away.

Does mom have a home caregiver?

You may consider checking to see if you can hire this caregiver to stay with mom wherever she is going. If mom needs a lot of extra assistance having someone to look out for her will be helpful. A caregiver who already knows her habits and routines can be invaluable. They may not be able to help you. You need to know this well in advance. If you are working with an agency talk to the owner. See what solutions they may be able to offer you.

Helpful Hurricane Information Web Links

 

Have you updated your will lately? Do you have all of the necessary paperwork in place if something happens? Attend one of our workshops to discover how to protect you and your loved ones. There is no charge or obligation.  Find a workshop here.

 

 

 

 

As Mom Ages- Celebrating Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day has been celebrated in the United States since 1908 since Ana Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in West Virginia. Though it took until 1911 for all states to officially recognize Mother’s Day, today it is celebrated throughout the country. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

Jarvis did not like the commercialism that came with this special day. In the early 1920’s Hallmark Cards cashed in on this special day. They urged everyone to give mom a card to show how much you truly care. Next came carnations, candy, and other gifts.

Celebrating Mother's Day

Is that what mom really wants?

Don’t get me wrong.  these are all nice gifts and mom will probably enjoy them. What she will really enjoy is knowing that you took the time to remember her. And if you ask any Mom today what they most want for Mother’s Day the answer may surprise some. Most Moms, especially aging moms, will tell you they want time. Time with their children and grandchildren is the most requested gift. Time is the commodity they are running out of. It is what they treasure most of all. Skip the flowers and candy they will tell you. Give me time.

I know, it’s easier to get a card and flowers or maybe a box of candy.

You’re busy. I get it. But just like anything else in your life that is important to you, you have to make time. You will not regret it. Just ask your friends who no longer have their Mom. Here are some ideas of ways that you can spend quality time with mom. And yes, when you try you will find it’s not that hard to fit into your schedule.

  • Daughters might give mom a certificate for a monthly Mani/Pedi and lunch. Let’s face it you need some down time and mom needs you. It’s really a win/win. Think of the memories you will be creating. Have a teenage daughter, bring her along.

Celebrating Mother's Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay,  what about a son?

A Son could give mom a certificate for a half day of honey do’s each month. Mom needs help around the house. You know she is going to call you to do things anyway. Why not make it easy for both of you? If Mom knows that you will be at her house the first Saturday of every month to help out she won’t have to keep calling and asking for your help. She can just have a list ready when you arrive. After the list is done go out for lunch or a coffee somewhere to just catch up.

Too busy still?

Hire a home care company or a yard man to help mom with a lot of the chores you may be taking care of for her. Things like shopping, cooking, yard work, transportation can really drain your energy. If you are taking care of these things for mom now, you need help.

This will free up some of your time so you can spend time doing something fun each month with Mom. Now that’s a gift she will love.  You could schedule a date to take her shopping to a movie, the theater or out to dinner. Now that you aren’t so stressed trying to do everything for two households you will be able to enjoy mom. Now that’s quality time.

Help Mom Make Plans For The Future

Help Mom to get her affairs in order. Mom may need some help with financial and legal planning. Take Mom to an Estate Planning Workshop at Hilbun Law Firm. There is no cost or obligation.  By coming to the workshop together you will both know what documents may be needed. You may realize that you need to do a bit of planning also. Knowing that you and mom now have a plan for the future will take a lot of stress off your shoulders. Mom will sleep better and so will you!

These are just a few ideas of how you can honor mom this Mother’s Day. Get creative. See what other ideas you can think of.