Written by Erin Vogt, LCSW, ACSW, CMC, Client Care Coordinator with Dutton & Casey. Attorneys at Law.
Alzheimer’s disease gets a lot of attention for being the most common cause of dementia in older people. But what if it isn’t Alzheimer’s?
Visit the ADEAR website to learn about other types of dementia, including:
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Frontotemporal disorders
- Mixed dementia
- Other conditions that cause dementia
-information from the National Institutes on Aging
- Gather supplies—Consider the needs of the person with Alzheimer’s disease when you assemble a disaster kit. Include medications, copies of medical information, and a recent photo.
- Plan for an evacuation—Know where the nearest emergency shelters are and pack items that may provide comfort to the person with Alzheimer’s.
- Prepare for wandering—Make sure the person wears an ID bracelet, and label clothes to help aid in identification.
Read Disaster Preparedness: Alzheimer’s Caregiving Tips for more ways to be ready during a crisis.
It’s time for summer vacation! Taking a person with Alzheimer’s disease on an overnight trip can be challenging, but here are some tips to make it easier:
- Keep your schedule realistic—allow lots of time for each thing you want to do.
- Plan rest periods.
- Follow a routine like the one you use at home. Try to have the person eat, rest, and go to bed at the same time they do at home.
- If the person is prone to wandering, carry a recent photo of them on the trip.
Get more useful travel information in Alzheimer’s Caregiving Tips: Traveling Overnight.
Understanding Estate Administration
Whenever a person dies, their estate needs to be collected and managed. Estate administration involves gathering the assets of the estate, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the remaining assets. Not only are you dealing with the death of a loved one, the estate administration process can be overwhelming. Attend this program, presented by Attorney Hanny Pei-Rodriguez and learn more about preparing for, and managing, this difficult task.
Presented by: Hanny Pei-Rodriguez, JD
Date: Thursday, July 23, 2015
Time: 6:30 pm -7:30 pm
Location: Gilda’s Club Chicago, 537 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Registration: There is no charge to attend. However advanced registration is required. Please contact 312 464-9900 to register.
My grandma kept an eye out for cheaters. (No, not that kind.) Back in the day, if a salesman knocked on her front door, she waved them off. Before caller ID, she hung up on telemarketers. But a call from a phony debt collector? She might have fallen for that one. Especially if the debt collector said she was responsible for her grandchild’s debt.
Safety is a big concern for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Whether it’s dealing with wandering, dangers in the home, or difficulties with driving, the National Institute on Aging’s ADEAR Center has information to help you reduce the risk of injury and keep the person safe.
You see the ads on TV, in the newspaper, and online. They push the benefits of a reverse mortgage for homeowners over 62: pay off your existing mortgage, supplement your income, pay for healthcare expenses, and more. But is a reverse mortgage right for you? That depends. While a reverse mortgage may increase your monthly income, it can put your retirement security at risk if you’re not careful.
Our September newsletter has been published. Please take a few minutes to read it as contains resource information on estate planning, probate, and elder law related topics.
The April edition of YOUR Legal Update, from the law firm of Dutton & Casey (Estate Planning * Probate * Elder Law) has been published. Please take a few minutes to read it as it contains a great deal of useful information.
The March issue of YOUR Legal Update has been published. Take a few minutes to read the latest issue…it contains a great deal of useful information!
The December 2013 issue of YOUR Legal Update has been published.
As always, it contains a great deal of helpful information.
Home Safety Video from the Family Caregiver Alliance
Our current issue provides resources for family caregivers, older adults, people who have a disability, and professionals. Please take a few minutes to learn more.
This issue, like all the others, contains helpful information on estate planning, probate, and elder law related issues.
The newest issue of our newsletter has been published.
Please take a few minutes to review it as it contains helpful information on a wide variety of estate planning, probate, and elder law realted topics.
This issue contains a great deal of helpful information on emergency planning.
Please take a few minutes to read this issue.
Illinois Expands Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) to Physician Orders on Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
On March 14, 2013, the Illinois Department of Public Health released a revised version of its “IDPH Uniform Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Advance Directive.” The updated form is subtitled “Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment” (POLST) This form represents a widely recognized best practice that documents medical orders for life-extending treatments for seriously ill patients. POLST is now in use in 38 states with adoptions by Illinois and Indiana in 2013. It is intended to promote more patient-centered conversations between physicians/other healthcare professionals and the patient or legal surrogate.
Please take a few minutes to read our e-newsletter. Like all issues, it contains a great deal of helpful information!
The January issue of our newsletter has been published. Please take a few minutes to read it as it contains a great deal of helpful information on estate planning, probate, and elder law related matters.
If you have Medicare, did you know that even, if you stay in the hospital overnight, you might still be considered an “outpatient”?
Your hospital status (whether the hospital considers you an “inpatient” or “outpatient”) affects how much you pay, qualification for rehabilitation, and more.
Resource Information –
Next Step in Care, a campaign of United Hospital Fund, provides hospital admission and Emergency Room guides to provide basic information about “observation status” and what to ask. This information is important as it is a rising trend to be in an “observation” rather than “in-patient” in the hospital.
Click here to open the hospital admission guide.
Click here to open the Emergency Room guide.
Click here to read it as a standalone piece.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
For their publication on hospital status (observation or in-patient), click here.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Commerce Commission alerted utility customers to a recent scam targeting residents in the Chicago area in which someone claiming to be a utility employee asks for immediate payment of a bill either at a customer’s door, over the telephone or by e-mail.
The ICC has received complaints from utility customers about scam artists claiming to be utility representatives, telling customers that their service will be disconnected unless payment is made directly to the scammers. The scammer may direct the consumer to purchase a prepaid credit card, “Cash Card” and to call them back with the personal identification number (PIN). The stories can vary, for example, with the scammer saying that the customer’s billing cycle has changed and payment must be made immediately, that the account is past due and payment can be made to them directly to avoid disconnection of the utility service, or the customer’s previous payment was rejected or never received.
“If someone appears at your door claiming to be from your utility company and asking for immediate payment of your bill, I would slam the door in their face, call the police and contact your utility company directly. Utility companies do not go door-to-door collecting payments,” Madigan said. “Any consumer who has provided their personal information to make an on-the-spot payment to someone claiming to represent a utility company should contact my office’s Consumer Fraud Bureau with the details.”
ICC Chairman Doug Scott urged consumers to always ask for identification from those who knock on their door offering a “service.” “Scam artists are good at what they do, so arm yourself with information before doing business with anyone who comes to your door or calls you on the telephone. Ask for identification and if doesn’t look right to you, it probably isn’t. You don’t have to do business with anyone who shows up at your door or calls you asking for personal information,” Scott said. “Contact the utility and check it out for yourself.”
The Attorney General and the ICC offer these reminders to utility customers:
*Never provide personal information to anyone who comes to the door or calls you claiming to be a representative of the utility.
*Contact the utility at the phone number listed on your bill to confirm the caller or the representative at your home is a verifiable employee of the utility. Do not call a different number suggested by the potential scammer.
*Utility field personnel in Illinois do not take payments from consumers. Be on guard with anyone who asks for your personal information, or says you must pay immediately and suggests a method to get the money quickly.
If you suspect you have been scammed, have a suspicious incident to report or have questions, contact the Attorney General’s office at 1-800-386-5438 or the ICC at 1-800-524-0795
Our December e-newsletter contains a great deal of helpful information on the topics of estate planning, probate, and elder law.
Please click here to read the December issue.
The holiday season can be a time filled with family and friends, happiness and joy. However, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s has the possibility to change a joyous season into a time of stress, frustration, and loneliness. This article provides some helpful tips.
We have published our monthly newsletter.. YOUR Legal Update.
Please click here to read the current issue. You will be glad you did as it contains a great deal of helpful information.
The National Council on Aging has issued a list of Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors
please click here for more information.
Our September newsletter contains a great deal of helpful information on estate planning, probate, and elder law related matters. Please click here to read our newsletter.
The National Institute of Aging has a new fact sheet with resources to assist children, of various ages, learn abut Alzheimer’s Disease.
Every day can bring a new change or challenge for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Now, practical information and advice is at hand with a new series of Alzheimer’s Caregiving Tips from the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center, a service of the National Institute on Aging at NIH.
Based on the NIA publication Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease, the tip sheets offer brief, reliable, easy-to-understand information on a range of issues. They can help caregivers of people at any stage of the disease—mild, moderate, or severe.
- managing personality and behavior changes
- coping with agitation and aggression
- daily activities
- managing medicines
- helping family and friends understand Alzheimer’s and many more.
Read, download, or print the tip sheets at www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/caregiving
(Available online only)
Powerful Tools for Caregivers Class
Thursdays, October 4 through November 8, 2012
3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Rush University Medical Center, Tower Resource Center
1620 W. Harrison Street, Suite 04527, Chicago
This six-week education program is exclusively for family and friends caring for older adults with long-term conditions. Each weekly class provides family caregivers with the skills and confidence to better care for themselves while caring for others. Many caregivers have raved about the class, including those caring for a spouse or partner as well as adult family members and friends caring for an elder. Class members will receive The Caregiver Helpbook, developed specifically for the class.
Participating caregivers report they:
- · Are better at caring for themselves
- · Have fewer feelings of anger, guilt and depression
- · Have increased confidence and ability to cope with the demands of caregiving
- · Take more advantage of community services
Skills learned build upon each other from week to week , plan to attend all six sessions.
Rush Generations member: $30 (parking validated and scholarships available)
Non-member: $50 (parking not validated)
Please call 1-312-563-2703 for more information or to register.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can have high physical, emotional, and financial costs.
click here to go to the NIA’s Alzheimers Disease and Education Referral Center’s webiste to learn more.
Neurology Now is a magazine, published six times per year, by the American Academy of Neurology. It contains extremely helpful information on a wide variety of neurological conditions.
For more information on the publication, click here.
This 30-page guide offers consumer-friendly information about these rare conditions and their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, with helpful advice for caregivers.
Please take a few minutes to our January newsletter as it contains helpful information for older adults, people who have a disability, and the people who care for / about them.
click here to read the January issue.
The National Institute on Aging offers many publications, and other resources, focusing on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Some memory loss is normal as we age, but some older people experience more than occasional forgetfulness. What should family members know and what can they do to help someone who is beginning to experience memory loss or other difficulties with thinking?
A five-part educational program has been developed to help family members of someone in the early stages of memory loss or with early stage diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. This special program is taught by Michaela Hoffman, MSW of Catholic Charities Northwest Senior Services and Bonnie Scherkenbach,MS, LPC of The Barrington Area Council on Aging.
The class includes the following topics:
ü Overview of Memory Loss & Related Symptoms
ü Communication Strategies
ü Making Decisions
ü Planning for the Future (Attorney Kathryn Casey will be presenting)
ü Effective Ways of Coping and Caring
WHEN: February 14 through March 13th, 2012
Every Tuesday from 1:00 to 3:30 P.M.
WHERE: The Community Church of Barrington
301 East Lincoln Avenue, Barrington IL
FEE: $15 includes five, two and one half hour weekly sessions and the book “Alzheimer’s Early Stages” by Daniel Kuhn, MSW
To register or for more information please contact
Michaela Hoffman, MSW at 847-253-5500 ex. 333 or
Bonnie Scherkenbach, MS, LPC at 847-852-3890
By Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
December 6, 2011
Finding a high-quality nursing home for a family member is a daunting task.
Many people have not had to make this decision before. And it’s often made under stress, when asking good questions and thinking carefully about your options are harder than usual.
Fortunately, more information is available that can help you learn about nursing home quality and prepare you to make a well-informed decision.
Start this process with an online tool from the Federal Government called Nursing Home Compare. This lets you look up nursing homes in your area by name, city, county, State, or ZIP Code. First unveiled in 2009, Nursing Home Compare has detailed information on every nursing home certified by Medicare or Medicaid.
Nursing homes are rated using a 1- to 5-star scale, with those earning 5 stars being rated the highest. Ratings are based on how many and what type of staff members they have, how well they perform on health inspections, and how they rank on quality measures. Ratings for each measure are given individually and are also combined into an overall rating.
Starting in 2012, Nursing Home Compare will include a new measure that includes input from the nursing home residents. This new information will take the place of the quality measures that currently appear on Nursing Home Compare. Findings will be part of the ratings starting in April 2012.
Staffing and health inspection data add important information and will continue to be a factor in each nursing home’s overall rating. The staffing measure tells you the average staffing levels—such as the number of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants—for each resident each day. This is a good benchmark, but it has limits. It does not show the number of nursing staff present at any given time or describe the amount of care give to any one resident. The health inspection measure looks at many major aspects of care in a nursing home. This includes how medicines are managed, whether food is prepared safely, and whether residents are protected from inadequate care. Inspections take place about once a year, but they may be done more often if the nursing home has several problems to correct.
Even with so much good information, the Nursing Home Compare tool and rating system won’t answer all of your questions. For example, the ratings won’t tell you if the nursing home has improved, or gotten worse, in certain areas since it was rated. That’s why it’s important to visit any facility you are considering. Be sure to ask questions of the staff, especially people who provide care to residents. It’s also a good idea to visit a nursing home a second time on a different day of the week and another time of day. You may get a better idea of changes in staff, activities, and other factors that could make a difference in your choice.
An excellent list of questions to ask during such visits is available from a nursing home checklist (PDF File; PDF Help) by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). And a new handbook (PDF File; PDF Help) from CMS explains how to pay for nursing home care, describes residents’ rights, and gives alternatives to nursing home care. Another good resource is your State ombudsman; select to find yours.
click here to read more.
The Veterans Adminstration has established a National Caregiver Support Line for Caregivers of
Veterans — spouses, children, other family members and friends of Veterans as well as Veteran themselves.
for more information on the program, please go to https://duttonelderlaw.com/resources/articles.html
Health Literacy and Older Adults
CDC Releases Practical Advice on Developing Materials to Match the Health Literacy Skills of Older Adults. CDC’s health literacy web site (www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy) has a new section to help health and other professionals develop materials that will communicate more effectively with older adults and their caregivers. The web site includes self-assessments, background information on health literacy, steps to improve materials and links to resources about older adults and caregivers. The new content builds on CDC’s expert panel report on older adults and health literacy issues.
Blood thinners and diabetes drugs cause most emergency hospital visits for drug reactions among people over 65 in the United States, a new study shows.
Just four medications or medication groups — used alone or together — were responsible for two-thirds of emergency hospitalizations among older Americans, according to the report. At the top of the list was warfarin, also known as Coumadin, a blood thinner. It accounted for 33 percent of emergency hospital visits. Insulin injections were next on the list, accounting for 14 percent of emergency visits.
Aspirin, clopidogrel and other antiplatelet drugs that help prevent blood clotting were involved in 13 percent of emergency visits. And just behind them were diabetes drugs taken by mouth, called oral hypoglycemic agents, which were implicated in 11 percent of hospitalizations.
All these drugs are commonly prescribed to older adults, and they can be hard to use correctly. One problem they share is a narrow therapeutic index, meaning the line between an effective dose and a hazardous one is thin. The sheer extent to which they are involved in hospitalizations among older people, though, was not expected, said Dr. Dan Budnitz, an author of the study and director of the Medication Safety Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We weren’t so surprised at the particular drugs that were involved,” Dr. Budnitz said. “But we were surprised how many of the emergency hospitalizations were due to such a relatively small number of these drugs.”
Every year, about 100,000 people in the United States over age 65 are taken to hospitals for adverse reactions to medications. About two-thirds end up there because of accidental overdoses, or because the amount of medication prescribed for them had a more powerful effect than intended.
As Americans live longer and take more medications — 40 percent of people over 65 take five to nine medications — hospitalizations for accidental overdoses and adverse side effects are likely to increase, experts say.
In the latest study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Budnitz and his colleagues combed through data collected from 2007 to 2009 at 58 hospitals around the country. The hospitals were all participating in a surveillance project run by the C.D.C. that looks at adverse drug events.
A common denominator among the drugs topping the list is that they can be difficult to use. Some require blood testing to adjust their doses, and a small dose can have a powerful effect. Blood sugar can be notoriously hard to control in people with diabetes, for example, and taking a slightly larger dose of insulin than needed can send a person into shock. Warfarin, meanwhile, is the classic example of a drug with a narrow margin between therapeutic and toxic doses, requiring regular blood monitoring, and it can interact with many other drugs and foods.
“These are medicines that are critical,” Dr. Budnitz said, “but because they cause so many of these harms, it’s important that they’re managed appropriately.”
One thing that stood out in the data, the researchers noted, was that none of the four drugs identified as frequent culprits are typically among the types of drugs labeled “high risk” for older adults by major health care groups. The medications that are usually designated high risk or “potentially inappropriate” are commonly used over-the-counter drugs like Benadryl, as well as Demerol and other powerful narcotic painkillers. And yet those drugs accounted for only about 8 percent of emergency hospitalizations among the elderly.
Dr. Budnitz said that the new findings should provide an opportunity to reduce the number of emergency hospitalizations in older adults by focusing on improving the safety of this small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications, rather than by trying to stop the use of drugs typically thought of as risky for this group.
“I think the bottom line for patients is that they should tell all their doctors that they’re on these medications,” he said, “and they should work with their physicians and pharmacies to make sure they get appropriate testing and are taking the appropriate doses.”
The December newsletter contains many informative articles!
When a parent, or other loved one, needs assistance, it can be a confusing, sad, and frustrating time. This article provides some information on what to do and where to start…. helping.
Click here to read a helpful article on the subject.
Dutton & Casey, PC (Elder and Disability Law)
Advocates for Elders, Persons with Disabilities, and their Loved Ones.
The law firm of Dutton & Casey, P.C., is committed to serving our clients with the comprehensive and personally tailored service they need and deserve. With 50 years of combined legal experience, we have acquired the depth and breadth of knowledge necessary to address the full scope of elder law and disability issues.
Our Areas of Concentration:
- Medicaid Eligibility
- Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation Litigation
- Estate and Disability Planning
- Mental Health Law
- Probate Administration
- Public Benefits
- Special Needs Planning
- Trust Administration
* Full Time Social Worker/Certified Care Manager On Staff
Arlington Heights, Chicago, Skokie, and Vernon Hills, Illinois.
Phone / Video Conferencing Appointments are also Available.
Telephone: 312-899-0950 or 847-261-3584
-please click here for a flyer on the law firm.
In Illinois, Medicaid is changing because the Deficit Reduction Act is being implemented.
Click here to read more.
The Family Caregiver Toolbox
If you have a telephone or an e-mail address, you have no doubt been the target of a scammer. No one is immune from these criminals, who are using more sophisticated techniques every day. Some e-mail scammers have even learned how to make their correspondence appear as if it’s coming from a trusted government source, such as the IRS. The victims of Internet crime alone lose millions of dollars each year.
You can protect yourself and your loved ones. A variety of reputable agencies and organizations have compiled resources and tips that are a must-read for anyone who uses a telephone or computer.
A new toolkit from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), produced in partnership with the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation — “Savvy Saving Seniors: Steps to Avoiding Scams” — is helping to educate older adults and their caregivers about how to protect themselves from financial abuse and scams. The toolkit includes a list of signs for caregivers to look for when concerned about their loved ones. Go to www.ncoa.org/assets/files/pdf/Steps-to-Avoiding-Scam-Handbook-10-12-11.pdf.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center, provides helpful “Internet Crime Prevention Tips.” Go to www.ic3.gov/preventiontips.aspx#item-16. View more tips at www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud.
for more information on resources for family caregivers, go to thefamilycaregiver.org
Identifying Family Caregivers
There are more than 65 million family caregivers in America. Some are just beginning the caregiving journey while others have been providing care for five, 10, 15, even 20 years or more. It’s hard for those who are just beginning to help Mom and Dad with a few activities each week to relate to those of us who are providing more than 40 hours of care a week to a spouse/ partner, child, or parent who is severely ill and/or disabled, who lives with us, and who needs help with virtually all the ordinary activities of daily living such as dressing, toileting, eating, etc.
Those at the beginning of the journey don’t interact with the healthcare system as much as “high-burden” family caregivers — those of us who are putting in more than 40 hours a week helping a loved one. I fit into the latter group and I suspect that most of you reading this article do too. When there is talk about family caregivers needing help, about the nation’s most vulnerable citizens — and those who require the most resources — we and our loved ones are the people being discussed.
Within the caregiving community, advocates, scholars, researchers and others have all lamented the fact that as a rule, family caregivers don’t self-identify and that is the reason it is so hard to reach us with information and support. People at the beginning of the family caregiving journey are less likely to self-identify as family caregivers and that may be OK, but it is very important that high-burden family caregivers self-identify, or are identified as such by others.
The other day I had one of those “I should have had a V8” moments. I realized that it is less important for family caregivers to self-identify than it is for healthcare providers and the healthcare system to identify who are family caregivers. How can our healthcare system provide patient- and family-centered care, as we are told it should, if it doesn’t identify half of the equation? It doesn’t make sense really, and it certainly isn’t respectful. I have an idea about how family caregivers can be identified through their interaction with the healthcare system, an idea that is easy to implement and will cost virtually no money at all.
We’ve all filled out countless medical intake forms that become part of the medical record. They ask about our health history and even that of our parents, but they never ask, “Do you provide care for a family member or friend who is chronically ill and/or disabled?” or, “If you have a chronic illness or disability, is there a family member or friend who provides care to you or helps you manage your illness or disability?”
How can doctors, nurses and others pay attention to us, find out what care we provide at home, and keep an eye on our own health if they don’t know who we are? It’s important that they know exactly what type of care we provide our loved ones.
Do you do any of the following: take a loved one to the doctor regularly, manage his/her medications, or help him/her get in and out of bed and to the toilet, or eat or dress? How long have you been providing care? Do you have chronic back pain or feelings of depression? Knowing this type of information can impact the plan of care that healthcare professionals recommend and it can alert them to any problems you might have as well. While in some cases it’s obvious that there is a family caregiver, if it isn’t in the record, it isn’t official; consequently, we are truly invisible to the healthcare establishment, the government, and private insurers, despite the rhetoric to the contrary.
Given all the talk about patient- and family-centered care, not identifying family caregivers is at best an oversight and at worst hypocritical; either way, we need to correct this glaring omission. It’s important to inform healthcare professionals, key healthcare decision makers, the government, and private insurance companies that “family caregiver” is not just a term to pay tribute to, but, rather, that we are real people who provide long-term care for millions of Americans.
What you can do to ensure that family caregivers are identified in medical records:
- Attach a piece of paper to every intake form you fill out for yourself or your loved one. Put your name and your loved one’s name at the top and then write: “I am John Smith’s wife and his primary caregiver,” or, “My daughter, Nancy Dale, is my primary caregiver,” or a similar phrase. List the top five to 10 tasks you do and note the impact on your health and well-being (chronic back pain, depression) and your life (having to cut hours at work). Save this information on your computer and print it out each time you take Mom to the doctor or visit your own.
- Talk about the idea with your pharmacists, nurses, or others you come in contact with who have some connection to the healthcare system. They have probably never thought about the idea of identifying family caregivers on medical records.
- Write to your insurance company. Tell them that knowing who among their beneficiaries are family caregivers, and/or who have family caregivers, will provide them with an opportunity to find new ways to improve care and cut costs.
- Use social media to spread the idea. Talk to family, friends, and even clergy.
The goal is to create a buzz so that family caregivers and everyday people, as well as providers and decision makers, realize that something is missing on medical records: information about whether someone is or has a family caregiver. November is National Family Caregivers (NFC) Month. Let’s make NFC Month 2011 the time we began the movement to identify family caregivers in medical records.
Click here for more information on the National Family Caregivers Association.
How Do I Know When My Parents Need Help?
As your parents age, you may begin to wonder or worry: “Are they safe at home? How can I tell if they need help?” Your parents are independent, private people who are not going to share with you incidents that make you think they are not okay. They do not want to go to a nursing home and lose their independence. They love their home and enjoy being in it. So they are not going to tell you the things that happen that may send them to a nursing home. As a matter of fact, they will hide these issues from you. They are afraid of going to a nursing home, and this is a rational fear. They have seen their friends and neighbors placed into facilities when their health begins to decline. All of their possession are sold or given away, the home they have spent years in is sold, they can no longer sleep in if they feel like it or eat whatever and whenever they want; their losses are great. You need to acknowledge that this is a rational fear, something that may happen to them that can be unpleasant.
The following is a list of indicators for change. Observing any of these things happening does not mean your parent cannot live at home. What it does mean is the situation needs to be assessed. Professional or informal and volunteer services can be put into place to allow your parent to stay in their home safely.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Falls, accidents or bruises
- Forgetting food on stove (look for burned or scorched pans)
- Unpaid bills or utilities being shut off
- Housekeeping decline: dirty walls, floors, windows or bathtub
- Unable to maintain home; broken items not being repaired over long time
- Refrigerator and cabinets empty; not enough food
- Unable to recognize or react to danger
- Getting lost or locked out of the house
- No longer able to transfer independently from bed to wheelchair
- Lack of social support
- Decreased interest in fun or social activities
- Medication errors
- Increased emergency room visits
- Wearing dirty clothes
- Needs to reminded to bathe; has dirty hair or personal odor
For more infomation, please click here
Family Caregivers: How to Avoid Holiday Traps
Caregivers can rewrite the holiday rulebook to reduce stress, increase joy
From Vicki Rackner, MD,
For self-preservation, many caregivers let go of rules about how holidays should be celebrated. “Being a caregiver for my sick wife offers many gifts,” said John, 73. “Maybe the most important is the invitation to look at our life in a new way. Almost out of necessity, I stripped down our holiday celebrations.”
5 Holiday Traps for Caregivers
There are several common holiday traps that family caregivers fall into, but they can be avoided. Just follow a simple concept: Free yourself from ideas about what shouldhappen, and give yourself permission to celebrate holidays in a way that works for you and your family.
- Trap #1: Planning for the worst. Many caregivers think, “This could be Dad’s last Christmas, so I want to make it really special.” Wouldn’t it be great if we came into the world with an owner’s manual that included the expiration date! We do not. I have seen patients defy all medical odds and laugh about the doctor who gave them six months to live—20 years ago. Then there are the tragic untimely deaths. We should all celebrate as if this is our last holiday season!
- Trap #2: Creating Norman Rockwell scenes. The idea of a picture-perfect holiday has an emotional tug that’s particularly seductive to family caregivers who may long to return to earlier, carefree days of health and vitality.While there is no perfect holiday celebration, you can create holiday rituals that are perfect for your family. Say at a family meeting, “Our lives are different this year, so we need to think about how our holiday celebration will be different. What are the two or three things that make the holiday special for you?” For most people, it’s the little things that make a big difference, like the Russian Tea Cakes, the special hand-embroidered tablecloth, or playing board games. Create a montage of your family’s perfect holiday.
- Trap #3: Buying your way out of guilt. For people in the sandwich generation2, caring for both children and parents, the guilt that someone is getting shortchanged looms large. Who doesn’t wish for more hours in the day so that children and friends, even the person in the mirror, would get more time and attention? The life of a caregiver leaves big gaps. If you try to fill the gaps with gifts, you will undoubtedly find that it does not work very well.All family members, including children, need to know they are loved and treasured. Gifts are one way to say this, but what most kids of all ages really want is more of you. Consider a different kind of holiday gift, like a coupon for 10 minutes of undivided attention each day, a trip to the ice cream store, or a visit to the zoo.During a holiday dinner, how about shining a “spotlight” on each person at the table, with each guest offering a story that demonstrates why this person is special? You could write the comments on 3×5 cards and give them wrapped in ribbon or mounted in a collage.
Consider inviting your kids to give rather than receive by touching the lives of those less fortunate. Serve a meal at a shelter. Invite a lonely neighbor to your house. Look for a chance to give a stranger a $20 bill, or whatever you can afford.
- Trap #4: “Smile!” This instruction, given before every photo, captures the tone for holidays. Over and over, we’re told there’s a right way to feel during a holiday, and that’s happy. Family caregivers have a spectrum of feelings that rise to the surface during holidays, like sadness or anger or disappointment. It is sad that it’s not safe for Dad to live alone any more, so set aside some time to acknowledge those dark feelings. Suppressing the feeling does not make it any less real, and adds to your holiday burden. [Note: For help with handling feelings of grief and loss, see 5 Steps to Help You Through the Grieving Process3]
- Trap #5: Party On!If you are an extrovert—someone who gets recharged from being in the presence of others—you are in your element during holidays. Party on!For introverts who get recharged by spending time alone, or those who have limited pep because of illness, holidays can be emotionally depleting. There is still hope for a joyous holiday celebration, it just requires some advanced planning.Plan a social calendar that’s reasonable for you as a caregiver and for your loved one. Be realistic about your energy limits before you make endless commitments, and ask family members to do the same. If either you or your loved one is an introvert, it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to some invitations with, “Thanks for the lovely offer. Unfortunately, we have other plans. I’m sure you’ll have a terrific time, and I’m sorry to miss it.” The host does not need to know that your other plans are a nap.
Your life became different when you became a family caregiver, and it’s time to do things differently. Free yourself from the idea that there’s a right way to celebrate a holiday. Look at your family and decide how to make holidays work for you, and then adjust the family expectations. That’s the recipe for celebrating the blessings in your life, and the joy and love you share with others.
Vicki Rackner, MD, FACS, is a surgeon who left the operating room to help patients and family caregivers enjoy better health. A noted expert on the doctor-patient relationship, Dr. Vicki serves employers through Medical Bridges4, and welcomes everyone to join her Caregiver Club5.
Gregg Segal created a video documentary, based on the lives of a few people who have Alzheimer’s Disease.
This documentary helps to remind all of us that everyone has a past…even if the person can no longer remember it.
Click here to learn more about the project.
Did you know that the NIA publishes easy-to-read booklets on numerous aging-related health topics?
Click here to learn more about the resources available from NIA.
National Council on Aging has updated its website to be more user-friendly and helpful.
Click here to read more about the National Council on Aging and its efforts. While you are on the site, make sure to look at benefits check up to learn about federal, state, and local programs for yourself, or someone who you care about.
Click here to learn more about the resources, including a phone helpline and resources regarding driving.
November is National Family Caregivers Month.
In addition to providing emotional and physical support, family caregivers often give much more to those in their care. Nearly 40 percent of family caregivers reduce their work hours or quit their jobs, plus spend an average of more than $5,500 of their own money annually to help provide the care they give. Yet amazingly, unpaid family caregivers provide 90 percent of the long-term care provided in the U.S. So this November, be sure to remember and recognize the family caregivers you know. For more details, visit
-We, at Dutton & Casey, thank the family caregivers, who we are privileged to assist, for your efforts to support your family members.
Medicare has published the 2012 guide.
Click here to obtain the booklet.
The patient information division of the American Geriatrics Society published their Fall, 2011 newsletter.
Click here to read the newsletter as it contains many informative articles.
For questions regarding Medicare’s Open Enrollment, which began on October 15, go to http://www.medicare.gov/open-enrollment.
Driving demands quick reaction time and fast decision making — because of this, a person with Alzheimer’s will eventually become unable to drive. Making decisions about when it’s time to stop driving can be difficult, but dealing with the issue early on can help ease the transition. Learn more at our online Dementia and Driving Resource Center, where you can watch how four families deal with different issues related to dementia and driving.
Click here to read the entire article, from the Alzheimers Association.
In a recent article in Reuters Magazine, Alzheimer’s: Early Planning Critical to Financial Health, working with a certified elder law attorney is an important step in planning for the future.
Janna Dutton, founder of Dutton & Casey, is one of only 8 certified elder law attorneys in Illinois.
Click here to read the article.
For additional information on how Dutton & Casey can assist you, or someone who you care about, please go our website.
An admission to, and a discharge from, the hospital can be scary for the patient, and the family. The National Family Caregiver Alliance published a guide on the hospital discharge process. It is vital to pay attention, and be involved, in the plans being for when your relative leaves the hospital.
read the entire article.
The law firm of Dutton & Casey concentrates in assisting older adults, people with disabilities, and their families. Many times, plans following a hospital stay also include the need for legal planning. With over 50 years in expertise and offices in Chicago, Skokie, Arlington Heights, and Vernon Hills, the advocates at Dutton & Casey are available to assist. Please click here to read more about how we can assist you or those you care about.
Warning about “Living Well” Grant Funds Scam
The U.S. Administration on Aging has alerted the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP programs) to a phone scam in which the caller tells the call recipients that they are eligible for a “Living Well” grant. The caller then instructs the recipient to complete a grant “application,” provide a cell phone number, and wire money through Western Union. The recipient is told that s/he will be contacted on their cell phone when it is time to pick up their “grant” funds at Western Union.
This is definitely a scam. The Administration on Aging provides “Living Well” grants to several states, but those grants do not have anything to do with calling individuals or requesting money. If people receive calls like this, they should report the incident to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office consumer fraud hotline at one of the numbers below:
(800) 386-5438 (Chicago)
(800) 243-0618 (Springfield)
(800) 243-0607 (Carbondale)
Consumers are also encouraged to report calls like this to the Federal Trade Commission: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/
The Federal Trade Commission has information available on their website about fake government grants scams like this one: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/phonefraud/government.shtml
The Law Firm of Dutton & Casey, PC., is dedicated to serving older adults, persons with disabilities, and the people who care for them. Please go to www.duttonelderlaw.com for more information on our services and for additional resources.
Training Tips for the Caregiving Marathon, Speaker: Daniel Kuhn, LCSW
May 18, 2011 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Arlington Heights Senior Center, 1801 Central Road, Arlington Heights, IL
Please call Kathy Peck at (847) 253-5500 ext. 375 to reserve your seat
For assistance with the legal planning that is involved with being a family caregiver, please contact the law office of Dutton & Casey. Kathryn Casey is an experienced elder law attorney who sees clients in our Arlington Heights office. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please go to www.duttonelderlaw.comor email us at email@example.com
In April, 2011, new diagnostic guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease were released. This information is to important to only be shared once. Please review the guidelines, again, and share this information. We can all be part of the process to assist people receive the care they deserve!
For assistance with the legal planning that is needed with a diagnosis of a cognitive disorder, please contact the law office of Dutton & Casey. We are compassionate advocates for older adults, people who have a disability, and the people who care about them. Please go to our website at www.duttonelderlaw.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be honored to assist.
The April, 2011 issue of the newsletter from the Law Firm of Dutton & Casey was published today.
Please take a few minutes to read the newsletter… it contains many helpful articles and resources focusing on older adults, adults who have a disability, and the people who care about them, including family members and professionals.
Should there be any questions on the newsletter, to learn more about the many resources that the attorneys and staff can provide, or/and to schedule an appointment with a firm attorney, please go to https://www.duttonelderlaw.com/
Attorney Melissa Howitt recently wrote an article answering the 10 questions most often asked about estate planning. Please click here to read this informative, and easy to understand, article.
To discuss estate planning for you or someone you care about, please contact the office of Dutton Casey, PC, to schedule a consultation with a firm attorney. 312-899-0950 (Chicago), 847-906-3584 (Arlington Heights), 847-261-4708 (Skokie), or send an email email@example.com.
At the New Year, many people make resolutions and establish new goals. For family caregivers, many of whom put their needs last, making, and sticking with, some changes, can be very helpful.
The article, located at, http://www.agis.com/newyearsresolutions/default.aspx
provides some wonderful suggestions for changes.
Item 8 mentions getting important papers organized…for you and the people who are cared for and about.
At Dutton & Casey, we can assist with this task and many, many more! Please visit our website at www.duttonelderlaw.com. While you are there, please sign-up for our electronic newsletter. This monthly publication contains information on programs/services/resources that can be valuable tools for older adults, people who have a disability, and the people who care about them, including family members and professionals.
As the social worker, with the law firm of Dutton & Casey, P.C., I have the oppotunity to assist, and support, many wonderful families.
I know that the Holiday Season can be very stressful for many. I found a handout, created by the National Institute of Aging, that provides tips to help make the Holiday Season the best it can be for an individual who has dementia and the people who care about them.
Here is the link:
The Alzheimer’s Association-Greater Illinois Chapter is pleased offer a free online resource, Encouraging Comfort Care: A Guide for Families of People with Dementia Living in Care Facilities. This 21-page booklet provides useful information to families and staff of long-term care facilities about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, particularly care issues related to the late and final stages.
For families, this guide will enable them to make informed choices about a variety of medical decisions they may face on behalf of loved ones with dementia living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other types of care facilities. It will also equip families to ask good questions aimed at obtaining the best care for their loved ones, including a handy checklist of comfort care measures to be discussed with staff members of care facilities.
To view and download the free guide, click here: http://www.alzheimers-illinois.org/pti/comfort_care_guide.asp
For more resources or to read about the elder law firm of Dutton & Casey P.C.’s areas of concentration, visit www.duttonelderlaw.com or call (312)899-0950.
In addition to the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institute on Aging has wonderful resources for family and caregivers. There is a new list of resources focusing on changes in intimacy and sexuality, an often overlooked challenge for spouses, partners, and professional caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
For more information on holistic care for your loved ones, contact Erin Vogt, Care Advocate at Janna Dutton & Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312)371-0954.
When thinking about the effects of dementia, most people view it as a disease that solely affects the mind– a debilitating illness that strips an individual of his/her memories, but appears to leave the rest of the body untouched. However, a recent article in the New York Times reminds us that the body undergoes a physical attack as well as a mental attack. The illness is progressive and as it weakens the brain it also shuts down the body. Doctors advise that these often-overlooked physical tolls must be understood and taken into consideration when considering the future care of your loved ones.
The article explains that the lack of understanding about the physical effects of dementia means that many patients near the end of life are subjected to aggressive treatments, many of which cannot possibly help them, or can even increase symptoms such as confusion and anxiety. Researchers in a recent Harvard study found there were stark differences in treatment decisions depending on what family members knew about dementia. Dr. Susan L. Mitchell, the study’s lead author, explained, “When family members understood the clinical course of dementia and the poor prognosis, the patients were far less likely to undergo these distressing interventions.” She concluded that, “Dementia is a terminal illness and needs to be recognized as such so these patients receive better palliative care.”
For the full article, click here.
For more information on long-term care planning for yourself or a loved one, contact the attorneys at Janna Dutton & Associates.
Did you know that the website for Medicare has a section devoted to assisting family caregivers?
Click here to learn more.