Archive for August, 2016

The Cycles of Life Part 6

Posted on: August 26th, 2016 by Jamie

The Cycles of Life 6For some people, the financial planning piece is the hardest part. For others, the health care piece is more difficult. You probably have a good idea about how your loved one feels. Either way the health care planning is equally as important, especially if there is a chronic illness present. Again, be gentle, yet firm; be empathetic yet realistic; be compassionate yet solution oriented. Be kind and be patient, this is hard. Communication continues to be the key/foundation to knowledge and knowledge is power.

 
If you have been following the previous posts, you already have created the foundation for the “official” health care planning paperwork. All of those ongoing conversations with your loved ones about their health and future goals should hopefully make this a bit easier. Now it is time to convert those conversations to paper on an Advance Directive for Health Care. It may be called something different where you live. Documents and laws vary state to state and typically a lawyer is not needed to complete it.
Another document to fill out is a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)/COLST or POLST (Clinician or Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) Order. This is the Vermont DNR/COLST with instructions. Here is a comprehensive tip sheet from the Family Caregiver Alliance website regarding these documents.

 

I find the Vermont Ethics Network booklet entitled Taking Steps: Planning for Critical Health Care Decisions very helpful as it provides thorough explanations and instructions plus worksheets to help gather thoughts and feelings. Their website also has several forms you can download. They provide an overview of the basics for health care decisions and advance directives here.

 

Ultimately these discussions are truly about end-of-life issues. If you need additional resources to help you and your loved ones you may want to check out The Conversation Project:

“The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.
Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain.
It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. 

We believe that the place for this to begin is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit—with the people we love, before it’s too late.

Together we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can make sure that our own wishes and those of our loved ones are expressed and respected. If you’re ready to join us, we ask you: Have you had the conversation?”

In Vermont, we have a great resource that partners with the Vermont Ethics Network called Start the Conversation. For New Hampshire, they are here. These organizations offer downloadable conversation starter kits plus videos and lots of tips and good information. The Conversation Project also has a new resource for families and loved ones of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementias.

No doubt these are difficult conversations to have BUT it is imperative you have them and continue having them as needed because things change. Once these documents are finished everyone will have peace of mind from knowing legal matters and medical preferences are spelled out. You won’t have to make a decision in crises-mode because you have been empowered to make an informed decision based on your loved ones wishes and goals.
After seeing your aging loved ones completing these legal and health care planning documents, you and your spouse need to do them as well. You now know just how critical they are. Update them as you yourself age and begin to have discussions with your children (if appropriate, of course) about your wishes and goals. As Start the Conversation wisely says, 

“Planning for end-of-life care before it becomes a worry is as important as all the other life plans you have made. Having a plan in place in advance makes it easier for you, your doctor and your loved ones if you are unable to tell them your health care choices because of an injury or serious illness.
Every moment is precious-especially at the end-of-life. Starting the conversation early can ensure that your choices are heard. It also means that when time becomes short, it can be spent doing what you enjoy most and not making last minute decisions. Talk about your wishes while you are in good health so you will be prepared. A health crises can happen to anyone at any time. Don’t wait. Start the conversation today. It’s a gift.”

The Cycles of Life Part 5

Posted on: August 16th, 2016 by Jamie

The Cycles of Life 5The next stage of early planning involves Important Documents-yes, the legal paperwork otherwise known as estate planning. It is understandable why we put off these conversations-they may feel more intrusive to your loved ones because they involve money and their belongings. In addition, they will have to imagine the end of their life, another bummer of a conversation. Unfortunately, they must come to terms with it. Explain that this process gives them control; they will be in control over their assets and property, in control of their health care by expressing their goals and wishes – especially regarding their quality of life and ultimately in their passing. Fortunately, there are many resources to assist you in having these conversations and helping them come to terms with the future.

 
The Lawyer Stuff

 
Please seek appropriate legal advice as I am not a lawyer and laws vary from state to state. The most basic legal documents needed are a will, a durable power of attorney (POA) and a durable power of attorney for health care. The will deals with the distribution of one’s estate (property). Without a will, the state can select heirs and divide property; this can be costly and take a long time. The durable power of attorney is legal documentation that transfers decision-making authority to a designated person and continues that authority in the event of incapacity. The POA for health care gives another person legal authority to make medical decisions in the event of incapacity. This may include an authorization for release of protected health information under HIPAA. Other legal forms and documents may be advisable or necessary. All legal documentation must be prepared while your loved one is still competent. Estate planning documents should be kept in a safe and accessible location as well as distributed among family members and other key people as needed. Again, please seek professional legal advice.

This is a comprehensive estate planning tip sheet from the Family Caregiver Alliance website. It contains a lot of information but you (hopefully) have the luxury of time.

I think it is a good idea to use a lawyer who specializes in elder law; you can search for one who is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Some may offer free seminars, a good introduction into the intimidating world of estate planning for you and your loved ones.

Here is everything you ever wanted to know about HIPAA.

The lawyer stuff dovetails nicely with the health care paperwork as it is all about planning and really thinking about the future. Yes, it is a pain to go through the process but it truly is time (and money) well spent. It is a very important investment so your loved one remains in control of their life and I believe they will be grateful that you made them persevere.

Join Us at “The Taste of Woodstock”

Posted on: August 12th, 2016 by Jamie

Armistead Senior Care and The Thompson Senior Center will take part in the “The Taste of Woodstock” on Saturday, August 13th starting at 10:00 a.m. Come join the fun and stop by our booth!Taste of Woodstock

The Taste of Woodstock is a festival of food, drink, live music, street performers, kids activities, dancing, tastings, and shopping that will be held Saturday, Aug.13, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. in downtown Woodstock. This year the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce is partnering with other community nonprofits — like Purple Crayon Productions — to offer a “taste” of everything for which the Woodstock community is known.

Elm Street, in the center of the Village of Woodstock, will be closed to traffic and filled with more than 50 participants. The Taste of Woodstock is a full day that includes Vermont specialty foods, wine and beer tastings, music, entertainment, arts and crafts. There will be something for everyone including Vermont made wine and spirits tastings.

The children will enjoy the kids activity tent with fun, games, drumming circle, street chalk and crafts throughout the day sponsored by Purple Crayon Productions. Woodstock Farmers’ Market will be selling their specialty pulled pork sliders. Booths filled with Vermont brands including Eden Iced Cider; Vermont Farmstead, Billings Farm and Plymouth Cheeses and Mad River Distillers will fill the street. Local nonprofits including the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, the Thompson Senior Center and Vermont Volunteers Services for Animals will join in the festivities.

Entertainment starts at 10 a.m. and will feature Vermont bands including Chris Powers followed by Off the Rails then it will be Sensible Shoes after that, The Four Horsemen, Woody Thompson and Brian Warren play. The ArtisTree Trio follows that, then comes four-time New Hampshire blues challenge winner Arthur James and the finale will be Toast. Lighting up the night as the shopping winds down will be the spectacular artistry of Woodstock’s own fire-spinners Mary Urban and Friends. In addition to these fine bands that will play in the center of Woodstock, other artists will be performing on the street including circus artists, sidewalk artists, drummers and fiddlers.

The Taste of Woodstock has had more than 2,000 people at this event for the past six years and it just keeps getting better and better.
For more information call the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce at 457-3555 or visit woodstockvt.com.

 
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