Caring for Loved Ones – Helping Families Make Decisions

By nature most people are caring, loving and want to help another person in need. These instincts serve us well as we age and need help and support from family and friends to maintain independence and quality of life.

But caring for a loved one may require complex decisions based on specialized knowledge from skilled experts. Knowing where to go for help and who to call for assistance can be as stressful as actually making the decision. Lack of information or “wrong information” can be costly and even detrimental to a loved one. The 2014-15 Colorado Senior Resource Guidebook is a tool that can assist in decision-making and comparison shopping.

Individuals need to have legal authority to act on behalf of a loved one who needs help. The most common tools are a power-of-attorney for financial decisions, as well as a durable medical power-of- attorney for medical decisions.

Appointing an agent must be done with thoughtfulness as financial powers-of-attorney have extensive rights to make decisions about money, personal residence, and other assets. Medical powers-of-attorney make decisions about where you live, what type of health care you receive, and who will deliver care.

If individuals fail to appoint a power of attorney, the courts may be asked to appoint a guardian and/or a conservator. Sometimes family and friends come together to appoint a health care proxy, rather than using the courts for medical decisions.

The Guidebook features pre-printed legal forms that are consistent with Colorado statutes, but individuals should seek legal advice as well.

Many times looking for housing and home care becomes the responsibility of the power of attorney. In Colorado there more than 1500 facilities from which to choose as one makes this decision to stay at home and get help or to move. Understanding the services that are provided, the costs, and what type of care will be provided is more than meeting with the marketing staff. Due diligence requires asking questions, doing comparison shopping, and onsite visits on the part of the power of attorney and concerned family members.

Costs for basic services, as well as out-of-pocket costs for incidentals, prescription drugs, and transportation to and from medical appointments can be expensive. Families may be asked to bear additional costs for companion services to supplement the basic services because the level of care that is needed is greater than available in the current setting for the individual to be safe.

Individuals may struggle with care that is not culturally sensitive, causing difficulties with bathing, eating, and personal interactions. Complex diseases require skilled care that can be difficult to find in the current labor market. Family members and powers-of-attorney are worried about putting a loved one at risk of physical, sexual, financial or emotional abuse.

The Guidebook provides a comprehensive listing of licensed assisted living and nursing homes, as well as retirement communities and low income senior housing throughout Colorado. In addition, the Guidebook features licensed home health agencies, adult day programs and hospices. Complete with checklists, The Guidebook helps families and powers-of-attorney make decisions based on prices and services as they compare agencies who can meet the needs of a loved one.

In addition to private pay, some individuals may have long term care insurance; while others may be eligible for Medicaid or veterans’ benefits. Qualifying to receive benefits requires accurate medical assessments and documentation of needs. Lengthy review processes are common before approvals are received.

The Guidebook is a also helpful guide for beginners using Medicare and Medicaid benefits, as well as those needing to make changes in their current health insurance coverages.

Copies of the Guidebook are available at local libraries for free or they can be ordered online for a $10 shipping fee per copy. Free copies can also be picked up at The Society office, 3006 East Colfax, Denver CO 80206. For more information, call 303-333-3482.

CGS has moved
As of June 6, 2016, The Society has moved to 1330 Leyden St Suite 148, Denver, CO 80220.