Do you have a family member or close friend preparing to enter a long-term care facility? The whole process can be a physically and emotionally draining experience for all involved. That’s why you want to make sure you don’t forget or put off one of the most important items on the list: ensuring all your loved one’s affairs are in order.
It’s not a topic that’s easy to broach. But taking care of these vital issues early will keep them from developing into major headaches or even battle lines between family members on down the road. This process is difficult enough to navigate when everyone is ready and on board. Don’t make it harder by neglecting to tackle it as soon as possible.
So where do you start?
For the older population in particular, advance care directives are an integral part of health care planning. These orders let others know the kind of medical treatment one wishes and expects to receive in the event they are unable to communicate this on their own. It’s a handy bit of foresight that can make all the difference in the world in getting the desired treatment. While friends and family may know you quite well, you wouldn’t assume they would know exactly how to respond on your behalf if you found yourself on a hospital bed and unable to make your preferences known. The same is true of your loved one. Sit down and hash out a plan. You don’t have to cover every possible scenario. The Tennessee Department of Health has advance directive forms and additional resources on its website that can help guide you. You can find them at tn.gov/health.
One of the most common forms of an advance directive is a living will. This allows one to set out, in their own words and on their own approval, precisely the treatment they want. Some decisions that could crop up with end-of-life situations include do-not-resuscitate orders, artificial nutrition or breathing assistance and comfort care. Living wills don’t have to remain confined to end-of-life questions, though. They can cover any kind of emergency procedure or situation in the event one becomes incapacitated.
Check with your loved one to see if they’ve talked with their physician. Doctors are a great resource to help plan for these scenarios. They can also provide invaluable feedback and help ensure your decisions are well informed.
Power of Attorney
One might also look to establish a medical power of attorney, also referred to as a “durable power of attorney for health care,” giving another person the legal power to make medical decisions on their behalf. Your loved one might want such an individual instead of, or as a supplemental to, a living will. A power of attorney can be especially helpful in the event of an unforeseen emergency. Also, if an individual wants a friend or unmarried partner acting as a power of attorney, they will need both a living will and power of attorney.
Regardless, ensure both parties are aware of the responsibilities involved, and that the chosen individual is ready for the job. The orders establishing a power of attorney can also be as all-encompassing or as carefully tailored as one wants. Want the power of attorney to have a say in this, but not in that? No problem. Make sure your loved one understands this.
Another advance care directive to consider filing is a physician orders for scope of treatment (POST) form. One of these is also available to view or download on the Tennessee Department of Health website. In the state of Tennessee, they can be signed by a doctor, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist or physician assistant.
A POST form works a little differently than a living will, though as was the case with a living will and a power of attorney, an individual might want to have both. A POST form will act as a doctor or other health care professional’s direct orders, allowing medical personnel to act immediately.
One of the dreaded documents (and likely the first one that comes to mind) is the traditional will. Unlike the living will mentioned above, a standard will is executed after someone’s death. Obviously, it’s not one many people look forward to getting around to. This is where you might be able to help. If your loved one doesn’t already have a will, discuss it with them. Be willing and able to support them if called upon.
These important documents should be kept in one place. Consider a fire-proof safe. Your loved one should have at least one other person who knows where these documents are kept and who will have access to them. If the documents are locked up, make sure this person has a spare key. If using a combination or keypad safe, ensure they have the passcode.
Check to see if other personal, legal and financial forms are stored here as well. Here are some other important documents one might include:
- tax returns
- 401(k), IRA or pension plan information
- Social Security cards
- birth certificates
- insurance information (including Medicare/Medicaid).
Experienced Long-Term Care Facility in Tennessee
Jefferson Park at Dandridge understands how difficult it is to get a loved one ready for long-term care outside the home. With so much to consider, it can be an intimidating process. We’re here to help. That includes making sure your loved one is completely prepared when they come in the door. We are dedicated to delivering compassionate care to meet residents’ physical, medical and emotional needs. If you’re looking for a long-term care facility that can offer you experienced services and support, call us at 865-397-3163 or contact us online.