Archive for the ‘Elder Law’ Category

Celebrating Thanksgiving Safely With Senior Loved Ones

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Our guest blogger this week is Lou Giampa, President of Right at Home Westchester. Lou is a New York State Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) and Dementia Trainer who volunteers in hospitals and nursing homes throughout Westchester County.  He also volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association, Meals on Wheels, and the Aging in Place community. For more information, please visit  www.westchesterseniorcare.com.

Littman Krooks elder law

The family is coming for Thanksgiving and mouths are already watering just thinking about Grandma’s pumpkin pie. But did you know that during the Thanksgiving holiday, an increased number of older adults go to the emergency room? Some ER physicians see up to a 20% rise in elderly patients during the holidays.1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that during 2012-2013, an annual average of 5.2 million ER visits among adults age 65 and older were due to injury and 15.5 million visits were due to illness.2 Over Thanksgiving, everything from fall injuries to food poisoning can leave senior loved ones putting on a hospital gown rather than their favorite pajamas and slippers.

Have a Safe Trip!

During the holidays, many families choose to travel by car, which, according to the National Safety Council, “has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile.”3 Alcohol impairment is a leading cause of traffic accidents around Thanksgiving when roads are congested with vehicles and in-a-hurry travelers. Following these holiday travel tips can help keep everyone safe:

  • Prepare the vehicle for inclement weather and store in it a car emergency kit.
  • Sleep well before departing and do not drive while drowsy.
  • Avoid distractions such as using a cellphone and talking too often to passengers.
  • Make sure older adults are properly buckled up and comfortable for the ride.
  • For air, train or bus travel, book nonstop tickets to avoid the hassle and confusion that may result if seniors must rush from one terminal or station stop to another.
  • For a senior with mobility concerns, airports and train and bus stations may offer special wheelchair assistance or an attendant to help.

Too Close for Comfort

It is tempting to pull out ample decorations for Thanksgiving and add seating throughout the house, but excess furniture, electrical cords and holiday displays can create fall hazards for all ages. It is best to keep decorations simple and pathways around the home free of clutter. Consider these holiday fall prevention tips:

  • Know a senior loved one’s health conditions that could lead to falls.
  • Keep clutter out of pathways.
  • Be sure all flooring is tacked down, and use nonslip backing on all throw rugs and area rugs.
  • Use night lights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways.

“In working with seniors every day, we know how quickly an elder can take a tumble and be seriously injured,” said Lou Giampa, President of Right at Home Westchester. “Holiday gatherings pose their own set of challenges with family and friends fitting into tighter spaces and rushing to get meals on the table. I highly recommend the free Right at Home Fall Prevention Guide to help keep senior loved ones and all family and guests safe this Thanksgiving.”

Food for Thought

Cooking injuries such as minor burns and cuts are a top culprit for emergency room trips on Thanksgiving, as well as candle and kitchen fires and turkey fryer incidents. While delicious, the traditional Thanksgiving meal can cause dietary challenges for older adults with health conditions. For example, many Thanksgiving dishes contain high amounts of sodium, and ingesting too much sodium can lead to a spike in blood pressure. For some seniors with heart issues, the overload of salt triggers shortness of breath, palpitations, fainting and heart failure. Excess sodium can also cause an imbalance of internal fluids that stresses the blood vessels and kidneys.4

Improper handling, cooking or storing of food are other problems that could send family and guests to the bathroom and eventually the ER on Thanksgiving. Food poisoning or severe gastritis can be particularly worrisome for seniors with already compromised immune systems. These tips will help ease concerns about food-related trips to the emergency department:

  • Keep unsteady hands away from kitchen knives and hot cooking pots.
  • Decrease the amounts of salt and sugar in recipes.
  • Substitute healthier, lower-cholesterol fats in dishes.
  • With foods that can trigger health problems, help seniors with portion control — make smaller quantities and serve smaller pieces.
  • Follow food prep and food poisoning prevention guidelines.

The Best Medicine

Remind elders to pack all their medications for their holiday trip. If they are visiting only on Thanksgiving Day, ask them to bring their regular medications, plus a few dosages just in case they need to stay over a day or two. These travel tips can also help:

  • Put prescription bottles in a carry-on bag and not in checked luggage, which may get lost.
  • Carry a list of all medications and supplements and their dosages in case of a medical emergency.
  • Bring a list of all physicians’ names, phone numbers and addresses.

Play It Safe

Family gatherings are often replete with interactive games and sports activities, and seniors want to feel included in these festivities. The traditional Thanksgiving post-meal walk or game of touch football brings much fun and laughter until someone sprains a knee or breaks a wrist. To avoid the “ouches” of Thanksgiving, try these tips for older loved ones:

  • Modify activities for those with mobility or stamina limitations.
  • Start any physical activity with a session of slow stretching for participants.
  • Pair elders with grandkids to work on crafts, puzzles, board games and skits.

In Case of Emergency

Before Thanksgiving arrives, consider taking a first aid course or CPR training to prepare for an emergency. Learn the common symptoms of heart attack and stroke. If an older relative or guest becomes ill or is injured, consider these steps:

  • For signs of a heart attack or stroke, call 911 or emergency services immediately. If the person stops breathing, perform CPR.
  • If the individual fell or is injured and there are signs of serious bleeding, bruising, swelling or bone fracture, seek emergency medical care.
  • If the senior appears to have a significant injury to their head, neck, back, hips or thighs, keep the senior still and do not attempt to move them. Call 911 or local emergency services.
  • Calmly reassure the injured or ill individual, and keep them comfortable and warm. Do not give them food or drink.
  • To treat minor injuries, follow these first aid guidelines from Mayo Clinic.
  • Keep in mind that an urgent care center can handle cuts that need stitches and broken bones that need casts. Hospital ERs may expose seniors to more serious infections and subject them to extra medical tests.

Teaming Up

Litttman Krooks Elder LawMedical professionals also caution against being alarmed at the condition of older loved ones whom many relatives may not have seen in recent months. Rushing a visiting elder to a healthcare provider may be a knee-jerk response to the loved one simply going through the normal aging process.

“Regularly staying in contact with older loved ones and keeping abreast of their health and medical appointments will help seniors maintain better health throughout the year,” Giampa advises. “For the holidays, it is often a good idea to recruit personal assistance for older loved ones.”

Giampa notes that Right at Home’s professional, trained caregivers can accompany a loved one on the trip to see relatives and friends during Thanksgiving to provide assistance and an extra measure of safety. If the senior would happen to end up in the hospital, Right at Home’s RightTransitions® program can provide care and support to the loved one during the transition from the hospital back home. Right at Home is a pioneer in hospital-to-home care transitions for seniors, launching RightTransitions in 2010 as one of the first programs to support patients as they recover from a hospital or other care facility stay.

“Everyday health reminders, meal preparation, light housework, transportation to appointments, communication with family — Right at Home has older adults and adults with disabilities covered for Thanksgiving and any day or time of the week or weekend,” Giampa explains.

As the holiday season approaches and older relatives and friends are looking forward to joining in the Thanksgiving celebrations, now is the time to plan for their safety and comfort. Preparation steps like securing carpets and finding low-salt recipes will help keep seniors safe and healthy during this celebratory time.

 

 

1 MedicineNet, “ER Visits for Elderly Rise During Thanksgiving.” Retrieved from https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=108060.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Emergency Department Visits for Injury and Illness Among Adults Aged 65 and Over: United States, 2012–2013.” Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db272.htm.

3 National Safety Council, “Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season.” Retrieved from https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/winter/holiday.

4 Unitek College, “Why Thanksgiving Is So Busy in Your Hospital.” Retrieved from https://www.unitekcollege.edu/blog/thanksgiving-busy-hospital/.

 

Learn more about elder lawestate planning and special needs planning at http://www.elderlawnewyork.com  & www.littmankrooks.com. Have questions about this article? Contact us.


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October Is National Estate Planning Awareness Month

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Estate planning is a crucial life management and wealth preservation activity for adults of all ages and all income levels.

Across the United States, October is National Estate Planning Awareness Month, an educational campaign intended to focus attention on the importance of having a plan to care for family members and manage accumulated wealth in old age and following death.

Just 4 in 10 adults in the United States have a will or trust. Estate planning is crucial for people of any age or income status. Parents with young children need to have a plan in place — at a minimum, a designated guardian and instructions conveyed in a trust — in the event of an unexpected death or disability.

senior couple planningFor everyone else, estate plans should be created to address tax avoidance issues, property management, asset protection, wealth distribution and health care decisions in the event of cognitive decline or disability prior to death.

Without a will or trust in place, important decisions about the care of young children and distribution of property at death will be made by a judge, often following a contested and expensive legal proceeding.

Estate Planning Awareness Month is a great time for everyone to take stock of their estate plans and financial health. If there is already an estate plan in place, now might be a good time to review it. If there is none in place now is the time get started:

  1. Define goals. Decide how any family responsibilities and property will be managed in the event of disability or death.
  2. Gather and organize data. Take inventory of all assets and title held to them. Identify any beneficiaries.
  3. Implement an estate plan. Develop a strategy — ideally with the assistance of a financial or estate planning professional — for managing and distributing the estate. Consider drafting the following documents: designation of guardian, will, trust, power of attorney and health care directives.
  4. Monitor and make changes if necessary. Life circumstances change, so do tax and probate laws. Mark the calendar to review estate plans annually.

For a detailed explanation of the measures necessary to create a sound estate plan, consult the comprehensive estate planning resources available at the Littman Krooks website.

National Estate Planning Awareness Month is a nationwide public education campaign first launched in 2008. With sound estate planning, individuals and their families can maintain financial security during their lifetimes and ensure the efficient, intended transfer of assets following death.

 

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Caregivers Need Care Too—How to Help, Effectively

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Littman Krooks Elder LawCaring for a loved one is a labor of love, very often with an emphasis on the work. Caregivers bear an incredible weight in making sure that their loved one is getting what they need while their own life is put on hold. Burnout is common. 

 

With good intentions and a little forethought though, a small amount of kindness to a caregiver can go a long way. The key to being an effective helper is to act with the caregiver in mind, to give them what they want, not what you think they need.

 

Get Personal

 

If you know the caregiver and have an idea of their situation and what they enjoy, you can focus on something from which you know they would benefit. For example, if they have always taken pride in their yard but have not been able to find time to take care of it as well as they usually do, ask if you can weed the garden or cut the grass (or hire someone who can). If they have a hobby, help them be able to do that activity by caring for their loved one or by performing other tasks. If you do not know the person well, you can ask someone who does what they would enjoy or offer something that is generally enjoyable or helpful. 

 

Be prepared for them to decline your offer caregivers may not want to burden anyone or feel awkward about accepting help. You may need to offer again later and remind them that you want to help.

 

You may need to be creative in how you facilitate giving them a hand. If they are anxious or unable, to leave the person they care for, then try to figure out how to accommodate that. Otherwise, your offer to help may cause more stress than good.

 

Show Up

 

Forget about asking the caregiver to let you know when/if they need anything. Chances are good that they will either never ask or have no clue how to respond to an open-ended request. Instead, make a specific offer and follow through. 

 

A small break from the endless responsibility of being a caregiver can be very refreshing. Take something off the caregiver’s plate. Pick up some groceries or an indulgent treat and drop it off to them. Sit and listen to them talk. Help with chores. Watch a movie together. There is no need to spend money or obsess over what to do. Simple, thoughtful gestures are often enough and very much appreciated.

 

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NYC Home Sharing for Seniors

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Finding affordable housing, particularly in major cities, has become a major issue for the elderly. Now, they are getting roommates.  In New York City, the Home Sharing Program is billed to help seniors with affordable housing as well as putting more money in people’s pockets in the form of rent.

The average apartment in New York City is $3,800 per month. Currently, there are approximately 1.6 million adults in New York City that are 60 or older. This is 19.2 percent of the population, which obviously causes a problem in affordable housing for the elderly. These numbers will only continue to grow, expounding the problem of affordable housing for the elderly. By 2040, 1 in 5 New Yorkers will be over 60, thus the creation of the Home Sharing Program.

The Home Sharing Program helps people looking for housing and pairs them with compatible people who have rooms available for rent. The City recently expanded the program to help even more elderly with affordable housing by giving a $1.4 million increase in the Program’s budget.

 

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It’s Time to Protect Your Family and Your Future: April is National Financial Literacy Month

Monday, April 1st, 2019

Estate planning is a financial process that can protect you and your family, and is a very important component of your overall financial planning. April is National Financial Literacy Month to put your estate planning house in order. If you don’t have an up-to-date estate plan and you happen to get hurt or sick and cannot manage your financial affairs, the courts will have to appoint someone to manage them for you. The person they appoint might not be the one you would want to perform those tasks.

Without an estate plan when you pass away, your affairs will be settled by default through a complex legal system called “probate.” The handling of your financial affairs can turn into a costly and frustrating ordeal for your family and heirs.

The crafting of a good estate plan starts with planning, followed by the proper drafting and signing of appropriate legal documents such as wills, trusts, buy-sell agreements, durable powers of attorney for asset management, and an advanced health-care directive or health-care power of attorney. Having these documents in place saves you and your family a lot of money and time at a very difficult and emotional time.

Your estate planning should also address the coordination of the way you hold title to your various assets, your beneficiary selections, and the possible transfer of certain assets while you are alive.

Regardless of the extent of your net worth, estate planning is important for everyone. Complex strategies may be used by wealthy people to reduce death taxes and costs. Others may only require a simple will and/or trust to pass on property to their heirs and provide for minor children.

Even if a simple will is all you require, an estate plan is an essential part of your financial planning. Everybody will need it someday. The time to address or update your estate plan is now.

CHECKLIST — SIX STEPS TOWARD SUCCESSFUL ESTATE PLANNING

1. DEFINE YOUR GOALS: What do you want to happen to your assets in the event of your death or disability? If your beneficiaries predecease you, who are your alternate selections? How will your assets be distributed, and when will these distributions take place?

Decisions on distribution of your estate assets should take into account the size of the estate, the ages and abilities of your children, and your personal desires. For example, a distribution to children over time might consist of 10 percent of the estate at age 18, 25 percent at age 21, 50 percent at age 24 or upon completion of college, and the balance at age 30.

Choose your appointees for important roles: Who will be your executor and, if applicable, trustee and/or guardians? It is advisable to list at least a first and second alternate for each appointment in case your first choice is unwilling or unable to serve.

If you have children who are minors, the appointment of a guardian is probably the most important decision you’ll make. With the court’s approval, this person, or persons, will raise your children. Consider appointing a family member and spouse, or another close couple who’ll care for your children the way you would want.

You may want to consider listing multiple executors, trustees and guardians to serve together in handling the details of your estate. This can provide a check-and-balance system for the appointees and help them avoid oversights or misappropriations. Consider appointing family members, friends, professionals, advisers and/or trust companies for this position.

There is some risk here: If these people disagree and have problems, they can each be represented in court by counsel paid for by your estate, so be very careful in making your selections.

Living trusts have become popular because less administration is required in comparison with a will. Be aware that having a living trust does not eliminate the need for a will and administration at either the first or second spouse’s death.

To get the benefits of the trust, certain details must be attended to, and this is the job of your appointees. For example, leaving a trust for the surviving spouse requires that the trust be funded properly and in a timely manner at the first death, or major tax benefits can be lost.

Is estate privacy an issue for you? Do you want your estate to be public record upon your death? Do you have any special gifts you want made to charity? Do you want an elderly parent or friend to be financially cared for? All of these circumstances should be noted in your plan.

2. GATHER & ORGANIZE YOUR DATA: There are three basic tasks to be accomplished:

  • Review and update your financial position.
  • Review how you hold title to your assets. Is it consistent with your estate plan?
  • Review your beneficiary selections. Are they aligned with your estate plans?

Did you know that how you hold title to assets has a higher legal priority than your will? For example, if you and your best friend held title to an investment club account as joint tenants and you died, the property would revert to your friend even though you had willed your interest to your spouse.

3. ANALYZE YOUR SITUATION: Start by determining your current net worth, assuming your death occurred today. This can be done by totaling your current assets and liabilities, and adding the value of any life insurance.

Try sketching a picture or flow chart of your existing estate plan. Review your appointees:

  • Executor
  • Guardian of the Person/of the Property
  • Trustee
  • Power of Attorney – Property Management
  • Advanced Health-Care Directive or Health-Care Power of Attorney

 

Check with your financial advisors for updated information.

4. DEVELOP YOUR STRATEGIES: With the assistance of your estate planning advisor(s), identify the legal documents that need drafting or make any necessary adjustments to existing documents. Determine any other actions that must be taken for your wishes to be carried out.

5. IMPLEMENT YOUR PLAN: Do what needs to be done — i.e., create new wills, trusts and powers of attorney, adjust title to your properties, change alternate beneficiaries of retirement plans and life insurance policies to trusts.

6. TRACK & MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS: Check your estate plan annually or any time there are changes in your family situation or net worth. Use your financial planning calendar to schedule your next review.

These materials are provided as a public service by The NAEPC Education Foundation for “free-use” on websites, newspapers, newsletters, magazines, and other media broadcasts during the months of April and October as it relates to National Financial Literacy Month and National Estate Planning Awareness Week. For additional information or materials contact us at The NAEPC Education Foundation.

To assist with your estate planning, visit our website at www.elderlawnewyork.com.

Is Your Estate Plan Up To Date?

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

By: Amy C. O’Hara, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

In order to ensure your existing estate plan meets your objectives, it is imperative that it be reviewed at least every 3-5 years and updated when needed.  Here are some issues that might necessitate updating your estate plan:

  • You want to avoid probate;
  • You or a beneficiary become disabled or have a long-term illness;
  • Death of a beneficiary;
  • Marriage, divorce or remarriage;
  • Birth or adoption of a child;
  • Death or change of executor, trustee, and/or guardian;
  • A change in the distribution of your estate;
  • A significant increase or decrease in your net worth;
  • Retirement;
  • Expecting to change state of domicile; and
  • Finally, any time you feel uneasy about any of your documents, making changes and/or speaking with your estate planning lawyer to make you feel comfortable with them.

Never make any changes on your current estate planning documents.  Mark-outs, interlineations and other informal changes are of no effect and will not be honored during an illness or after your death.  It is important to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer to ensure you estate plan is updated properly to protect you and your loved ones.

 

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Seniors Face Significant Health Risks in Summer Heat

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Last month New York City experienced it’s first heat-related death of 2018 when a 71-year-old man died of hypothermia while sitting in a parked car in Queens. In Woodland, Calif., a 63-year-old postal worker died in her delivery truck on an afternoon when the outside temperature reached 115 degrees. And in Tipton, Pa., a 64-year-old woman succumbed to heat stroke after gardening for several hours outside her home.

If current weather trends continue, 2018 will be the fourth hottest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Warm temperatures in the summer months create health risks for everyone, but particularly for seniors. The U.S. National Institute on Aging recently warned that older individuals are at “significant increased risk of heat-related illnesses” during the summer months.

So far this year over 70 people have died in Canada as a result high heat levels this summer. According to a recent report on Canada’s heat wave from National Public Radio, Canada’s elderly population was most at risk of heat-related death. The majority of people who died, NPR reported, were “elderly men and women living alone in apartments with no air conditioning, and many had chronic health conditions.”

Here are several measures seniors can take to guard their health during the summer heat.

  • Schedule outside activities such as gardening or exercise during the cooler times of the day.
  • Seek out cool locales. When outside, stay in the shade. Seniors whose homes lack air conditioning should head for air-conditioned spaces such as shopping malls, libraries, movie theaters or community centers.
  • Consider a cool shower or bath for temporary relief from the heat.
  • Drink plenty of liquids but avoid caffeine and alcohol, both of which are diuretics that can cause dehydration.
  • Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing. When outside, wear a hat or use an umbrella to ward off the sun.
  • Pay attention to the body’s warning signs. Dizziness, nausea, headache, or breathing problems are reasons to immediately seek medical attention.

Relatives of older individuals should be sure to check on them regularly during the warm summer months. Normally benign errors in judgment such as forgetting to turn on an air conditioner or staying too long in the afternoon sun could have catastrophic consequences when the temperatures are high.

How much water should people drink to protect against dehydration in the summer? There is no universally accepted answer to that question. However, the Mayo Clinic recommends roughly one gallon of water daily during normal conditions for an average male, slightly less for females.

 

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How to find resources for seniors in New York City

Monday, February 5th, 2018

New York City’s senior population is growing quickly. There are now more than 1.4 million New Yorkers over the age of 60, and that number is expected to rise to more than 1.8 million by 2030. At that time, there will be more older adults than school children in New York City, and seniors will account for one out of every five residents. There is a vast array of community resources available to help seniors with their daily needs, but they can be difficult to locate. New York City’s Department of Aging has an online tool that can help.

Littman Krooks elder law attorneysThe Department of Aging’s Find Help tool is designed to help seniors and their family members easily find the resources they need in their area. You can search by zip code or borough, and search for the type of services you are looking for, which may include abuse prevention, caregiver resources, case management, health promotion services, home care, home delivered meals, legal services, naturally occurring retirement communities, senior centers, social adult day care and day services, transportation and geriatric mental health.

Searching by location and type of services gives you a list of providers, and by clicking on an individual result, you will be given detailed information about the service provider, including the address, phone number, hours of operation and services offered.

 

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Ride-Sharing for Seniors May Help with Senior Transportation Crisis

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Seniors face a crisis in transportation. Older individuals may have physical or mental impairments that make driving difficult, and public transportation may be unavailable or too difficult to navigate. Subsidized para-transit is available in many communities, but the process of scheduling a ride can be complicated. A lack of transportation can be a serious health hazard, as it can cause seniors to miss medical appointments and prevent them from engaging with a social support network, which helps maintain mental health.

Today there are new transportation options such as the ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, which can be faster and less expensive than taxis. These options have been embraced quickly by much of the population, but seniors may be less familiar with them. A smartphone is essential to using the new services, and older individuals may not have smartphones or may not be as comfortable using them. Among Americans over the age of 65, only 42 percent own a smartphone, while 77 percent of the general population owns one. In addition, someone with a physical disability may require a vehicle that can accommodate an assistive device such as a walker or wheelchair, and the new services may not be set up to handle such requests.

Companies and governments recognize that there is a gap in transportation services for seniors, and they are making improvements. Lyft built a new platform called Concierge that allows operators to request rides for others. On the Jitterbug phone marketed to older people, users can press zero to have an operator order a Lyft. A startup called GoGoGrandparent offers a hotline that seniors can call to hail a ride. Uber launched an UberAssist option for riders who need help getting in and out of vehicles. Washington, D.C. launched a service called Abilities-Ride, which subsidizes taxi rides for people with disabilities. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston subsidizes Uber and Lyft rides for people who do not need the full services of para-transit. The AARP Foundation has begun a pilot program with Lyft and other partners to give free rides to people who may be in danger of missing medical appointments. With the rapid development of technology and the large market that seniors represent, transportation options are likely to expand.

 

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National Hospice and Palliative Care Month

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

By Lou Giampa, President, Right at Home Westchester

If you were a European warrior or religious pilgrim on the way to Jerusalem during the Middle Ages, chances are you lodged at a “hospes house” on the arduous journey. The holy orders of knights such as the Hospitallers and Templars ran these travel lodges named after the Latin word that means both “guest” and “host.” Over time, hospes houses expanded to offer care for the sick and dying. Derived from “hospes,” our modern-day word “hospice” is known as a place for the dying or the practice of end-of-life care. Littman Krooks Elder Law

Part of hospice services may include palliative care, the medical specialty of alleviating pain and improving the quality of life of the seriously ill. Hospice care begins after health treatment for an illness has stopped and the patient is considered terminal. Palliative care can begin as soon as a patient is diagnosed with a serious illness and can continue while the individual pursues a cure. November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month to help raise awareness of the skilled, compassionate care that both disciplines offer. The campaign’s 2017 theme is “It’s About How You Live.”

How Does Hospice and Palliative Care Work?

Hospice providers alone care for more than 1.6 million Americans and their families annually. While hospice does involve caring for the terminally ill, hospice care is more than seeing someone through their final days. An integrated team of healthcare professionals and trained volunteers work together to manage pain, control symptoms, and bolster emotional and spiritual needs. Hospice teams ensure patients and their loved ones find support, respect and dignity along the difficult path of a life-limiting illness.

Interdisciplinary palliative care teams are typically comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and physical and occupational therapists who assist with the pain of cancer, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure and other chronic diseases or disorders.

“Hospice and palliative care are a vital means of comfort and support but are not synonymous,” said Lou Giampa, President of Right at Home Westchester. “Palliative care offers a holistic approach to helping reduce the suffering of anyone with a serious, chronic or life-threatening illness, not just those who are dying. As death draws near, palliative care often segues into hospice.”

Hospice serves those with a terminal diagnosis in their homes or at freestanding hospice centers, nursing homes, in-patient care facilities and hospitals. Hospice teams primarily serve in a patient’s home because most end-of-life individuals prefer to pass in their own home surroundings. Hospice care is available to any patient of any age, race, religion or illness. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization notes that hospice services “focus on caring, not curing” and “hospice is not ‘giving up,’ nor is it a form of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.” Instead, hospice care helps patients and their families embrace life as fully as possible. In some cases, hospice patients rally to make a full recovery.

Who Qualifies for Hospice and Palliative Care?

Most Medicaid, Medicare and private health insurance plans cover palliative and hospice services. Hospice care covered by Medicare requires that a person receive a prognosis of living six months or less, but there is not a six-month limit on hospice care services. A patient with a doctor’s certification of terminal illness may receive hospice support for as long as necessary.

Any person with a serious illness can benefit from palliative support, which emphasizes the quality of life for the whole person including one’s relationships. Palliative care may include educating family members and caregivers on the patient’s illness, treatment plans and medications. Palliative services ease the symptoms or side effects of an illness including:

  • Pain
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Depression and hopelessness

“The majority of U.S. medical schools now offer hospice and palliative care programs and are instructing medical students in these specialized branches of pain management and end-of-life care,” explained Giampa. “It is important to work alongside a care client to develop and tailor a care plan and strategy that meets their own goals, values and needs. Our Right at Home caregivers support a range of hospice and palliative services for everyday needs, such as personal care, meal preparation and light housekeeping. Hospice and palliative medicine means skilled, compassionate teams working together for the good of the care client and the family.”

For more information about person-centered care or cognitive support, visit the local Right at Home office at www.westchesterseniorcare.com.

 

Learn more about elder lawestate planning and special needs planning at littmankrooks.com,  elderlawnewyork.com  & specialneedsnewyork.com. Have questions about this article? Contact us.


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