Taking Care of Our Mothers
Many of us have elderly parents and grandparents who we care for. While it may be sending packages or phone calls from across the USA, or stopping by every day at lunch to check on them, we value our elderly mothers and grandmothers. It's no surprise that when we discover that our mother is not taking her medication, we can feel upset or helpless in this situation.
A Minnesota Family
Let me tell you about a Bloomington family. A married couple we'll call Joni and Michael are in their late 50s with retirement just around the corner. Joni's mother, we'll call her Betty, lives a couple of miles away in the house where she raised Joni and her brother. Joni likes being able to stop by a few times every week to check on her mother.
Over time, Joni began to notice that Betty was having issues remembering things. After taking her to a doctor, Joni's mother was diagnosed as having the early stages of dementia. This was not unexpected, but what happened next really took Joni by surprise.
Mom Is Forgetting Her Pills
Joni discovered a very disturbing fact about two weeks after the doctor's appointment. Apparently, Betty was not taking her medicine for either her heart condition or her arthritis. When Joni asked Betty about this, Betty could not remember the last time she had taken her pills. Joni knew her mother was not intentionally missing her doses, but she was concerned that her mother's heart condition would worsen with any more missed pills.
During a time like this, Joni is wise to be concerned about her mother's health. Here are some things Joni can do to help her mother:
For the time being, she can hold a family meeting and ask her siblings to help take turns checking on Betty. Since her brother and sister both live in the Twin Cities, they can schedule days to visit to ensure that someone is there every day.
Some Long Term Solutions For Mom
However, this is usually not sustainable, so one long term solution is to get a PCA or Personal Care Attendant to visit Betty every day. This is a common solution and allows elderly people to stay in their homes.
When Betty's dementia worsens, though, it may be a good idea to look into an assisted living apartment or a nursing home. This way Betty can be supervised throughout the day in a staffed environment.
Another good idea for Joni is to work with an attorney and create a Health Care Directive (also known as a Living Will) so Joni can make medical decisions for Betty when she is unable to make them anymore. The Health Care Directive should also contain a Federal HIPAA authorization so that other members of the family, such as Joni's husband Michael, can get medical updates from her physician and clinic.
Under certain conditions, it may even be a good idea to deal with Betty's care through a guardianship or the provisions of a trust. For these options, you should call an experienced estate planning attorney.
Bill Peterson is a Minnesota Estate Planning Attorney with over 40 years of experience as a lawyer. He can help you plan for the future by creating a Minnesota Estate Plan. For more information, please visit http://www.mnestateplan.com or call toll free at 952-641-7312.
The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.