Graduation Over? Time to Consider Legal Documents

It is wonderful to bring up the children, make sure they are educated and see that 18th birthday come along. However, it is important to recognize that many things change from a legal standpoint, according to grbj.com in “Give your graduate the gift of legal documents.”

Here are recommended steps to take so parents can still be involved in their children’s lives when they are needed:

Health care proxy/medical power of attorney. Even if you are the person paying for health insurance, you are not legally permitted to make decisions on their behalf. Have your child sign a proxy/POA form designating who has the primary authority to make health decisions, if he or she is unable to do so. This is especially important when parents are divorced: both parents need to have the proper forms. Your estate planning attorney will be able to prepare these for you.

Durable power of attorney. If your child has signed a durable POA, you will be able to handle their financial matters, especially if your child becomes incapacitated.

HIPAA authorization. Medical providers may not disclose a patient’s medical status, unless they have legal permission. Your child should sign a HIPAA authorization with each of their providers, giving the parent access to all their information. This is especially necessary for a child with health or mental issues.

FERPA waivers. This one takes many parents by surprise. Even if you are the one paying for tuition and all college expenses, the college will not provide academic records, including grades and tuition bills, due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Contact the college and find out exactly what forms they need to be sure you have access to all of your children’s information, including any health and mental health treatment.

Wills and trusts. If a child has assets and no descendants, they need a will or revocable trust to protect the parent’s taxable estate and allow someone to manage these assets, if they die prematurely.

Medical records. Make sure the child has access to their medical records, including medications, allergies, immunizations, etc.

Insurance. See if the family’s medical, homeowner’s and auto insurance coverage extend to a child living away at school and in another state. If the child is renting a house or apartment, make sure they have renter’s insurance.

Proof of identity. Make sure the child has access to their passport, birth certificate or Social Security card so they can get an internship or a job.

Bank accounts and credit cards. If the family’s regular bank does not have a branch where the child is attending school, the parents should consider opening a basic checking account at a local branch. Both parents and child should be on the account.

Registration. It’s time to register to vote and sons will need to register with Selective Service.

An estate planning attorney can advise you on the proper documents needed for your family.

Reference: grb.com (June 7, 2019) “Give your graduate the gift of legal documents.”

Which States Roll Out the Red Carpet for Seniors

Some states are far more welcoming to seniors than other states. If you are thinking about relocating when you retire, you need to know which places provide services and amenities and address the issues that can make your life easier. Become aware of things that will impact your well-being as you age, so you can determine which states roll out the carpet for seniors.

Questions You Should Ask Before Deciding Where to Move

Many people choose a place to retire, because they always wanted to live in that state or area. While that is a valid reason, you should dig a little deeper to make sure you will be happy and comfortable, if you move there. Some of the topics to explore before taking the plunge include:

  • Is public transportation available? Find out if it is accessible, in case you have or develop mobility issues. See if it is affordable, and whether it serves the places in town where you will want to go.
  • Check out the public parks and walking trails. Walking is an excellent form of exercise and fresh air. Getting out of the house can prevent social isolation.
  • Are there social opportunities for older adults? Explore the number of senior centers and their activities. “Age-friendly” communities often host senior activities through the local government, public library or parks and recreation department.
  • How convenient is the medical care? You do not want to have to drive 30 miles each way to see a good doctor or 100 miles for a trauma hospital.
  • Check out the housing costs. You might have wanted to live in San Jose, California ever since you first heard the song, but as one of the most expensive places in America to live, you might not be able to afford housing there.
  • What are your employment prospects? Many older adults want or need to work part-time. Is the local community friendly toward mature workers?

States That Invest in Senior Life Issues

If a state is a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, it will address issues that are relevant to the well-being of mature residents. These communities work on the social, economic and environmental factors that can impact your safety, comfort and health.

The network does not limit membership to states. Towns, cities, and counties are part of the network to provide resources that improve the quality of life for seniors. Communities in the network might not be as age-friendly as they would like to be, but they are pushing forward with initiatives to improve things for their older residents.

The network currently has four states (Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and New York) and 368 communities across the country as members. These areas have made a commitment to make life better for their seniors and people of all ages. Network members evaluate their local needs and create action plans to address those needs.

Members of the network tackle such issues as:

  • How welcoming and friendly the area is to older adults,
  • Safe bike paths, lanes and trails,
  • Compliant sidewalks, curbs, pedestrian walkways and streets,
  • Economic opportunities for seniors to own businesses or get jobs,
  • Affordable housing, including non-traditional “tiny” houses,
  • Public health services,
  • Public places and outdoor spaces,
  • Social activities, and
  • Transportation.

When it comes to retirement, look before you leap!

References:

AARP. “What You Need to Know About Age-Friendly States.” (accessed May 22, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/disrupt-aging/stories/info-2019/age-friendly-states.html

AARP. “AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.” (accessed May 23, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/network-age-friendly-communities/

How to Avoid Getting Sepsis in the Hospital or Nursing Home

Even though you do not hear much about sepsis, the complication can kill a person in a matter of days. Many cases of the illness develop from infections, with hospitals and nursing homes being primary places to contract this disease. Because one person every two minutes dies from sepsis (270,000 Americans a year), you need to know how to avoid getting sepsis in the hospital or nursing home.

Around 1.7 million Americans a year get sepsis. Out of all the reasons people in hospitals can possibly die, one-third of all hospital deaths are from sepsis. While you might count yourself lucky if you manage to survive a bout of sepsis, you could face these bleak consequences:

  • Decreased quality of life
  • Chronic pain and fatigue
  • Amputations
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Cognitive and functional impairments
  • A greater likelihood of additional hospitalizations and dependence on caregivers

Sepsis – the Silent Killer

Despite how lethal and widespread this disease is, more than one-third of Americans say they have not even heard of sepsis. You cannot take steps to avoid something, you do not know exists.

Sepsis happens when your body goes into high gear trying to fight an infection. Your immune system will release chemicals into your bloodstream to attack the infection. When your body over-reacts, you can have a chain reaction that leads to dangerous inflammation throughout your body. It is as if your immune system used a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito.

When the over-reaction rages, you can go into septic shock. Your blood pressure can plummet, which can cause stroke, heart failure, respiratory failure, or the shutdown of other organs. It is essential to get medical intervention immediately, since sepsis is a firestorm throughout the body.

Who Is at Risk for Sepsis?

Over half of all cases of sepsis are in people over the age of 65. You can get sepsis from any type of infection, and older adults are more prone to infection, since their immune systems become less effective over time. Many of the medications that mature adults take suppress the immune system, increasing the risk of infection.

Lower levels of physical activity increase the risk of pneumonia and other infections. People with mobility issues or who use catheters, tend to have higher instances of urinary tract infections. Pneumonia and UTIs are the two most common infections that precede sepsis.

Avoiding Sepsis

The CDC considers hospitals (especially intensive care units) and nursing homes to be breeding grounds for sepsis. People who are bedridden in any setting, including at home, are vulnerable to this disease. To prevent sepsis, you have to prevent infections.

You should insist that anyone caring for you, whether in the hospital, nursing home, or in your home, washes their hands properly before administering any services to you. The failure to wash hands properly or at all is the number one reason people get infections in the hospital. Health care workers should wear gloves and change them between every patient.

Catheters, breathing tubes and other invasive devices cause many cases of sepsis, so make sure that these items are sterilized. Pressure sores lead to many instances of the disease, so caregivers must follow the protocols for preventing these painful conditions.

References:

AARP. “Protect Yourself from Sepsis.” (accessed May 2, 2019) https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/sepsis-prevention-tips.html