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The Keys to Good Planning

Amanda Lambert - January 07, 2019 01:18 PM

As a care manager I see first-hand how good planning makes things go more smoothly. When it comes to aging, human nature seems to dictate that we don't necessarily like planning. It is preferable to go along with the status quo and hope that nothing bad will happen! That's why families, more often than not, call me during a crisis because they have not planned for the unexpected.

Crisis Driven Decision Making

Why not wait until a decision needs to be made? Because good, well thought out decisions aren't usually made during times of stress. It is amazing what can come up when there is a fall, or other medical crisis. What are mom's medications, does she have advance directives, what is her insurance, who are her medical providers, who has been paying bills?

Good Advocacy Comes from Good Planning

It is very challenging and time consuming to advocate for someone without a complete and thorough understanding of their medical history and wishes. As a family member, walking into the jungle of healthcare providers can be daunting and overwhelming. You can almost guarantee that care will be better and more efficient if you have complete information on hand. Take the time now to save time later.

Tips for Good Planning:

Finances: Sit down with your family member and go over finances. Identify accounts and make certain you have authority to take over if necessary. Is there a will or trust? Where is this information? Hire an estate planning attorney if necessary, to get things in order.

Insurance Information: It never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t know what their insurance is. Some Medicare plans have restrictions or higher co-pays. Determine whether your family member has traditional Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Make copies of the insurance cards. Is there a long-term care policy? Make a copy and get a release of information so that you can communicate with the company when the time comes.

Advance Directives: Determine end of life wishes now to avoid confusion later. Decide what family member will make health care decisions in case of incapacity. Make copies for everyone in the family.

Medications: Don’t count on the hospital or clinic to know what medications your family member is taking. Keep an accurate and up to date list with the reasons for taking each medication. Make a note of the pharmacy preference.

Medical History: Keep a log of all medical appointments, and results of each appointment. Also track all medical conditions and surgeries.

Health Care Providers: Older people generally have more than one health care provider. Keep a list of the providers, addresses and phone numbers.

Home Health and Home Care Providers: You may not have had a need for medical home health or home care providers. But most likely you will. Interview companies now and keep a list of providers that you can call when the time comes.

Take the time now to accumulate and organize healthcare information. You will be happy you did, and so will your elder.

Amanda Lambert is the owner and president of Lambert Care Management, LLC which provides care management for older and disabled adults. She is the co-author of, Aging with Care: Your Guide to Hiring and Managing Caregivers at Home (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018). She has worked for over 20 years in the senior-related industry including mental health, marketing, and guardianship. She has a passion for topics related to health, wellness and resilience as we age.

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