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{ } AGING with an Attitude Life after the doctor says: Your Parent Needs Help W e don’t think of the day we will need to switch roles with our parents and have to care for them. We don’t envision a future when our mom or dad can’t juggle priorities and control their world at the same time. Then one day it happens – the doctor says, “If your parent wants to continue living at home, they will need help to do so.” The doctor’s lips are moving but you don’t hear anything…the world has stopped. You’re in denial. The doc says your superhero can’t leap tall buildings anymore — you just hadn’t noticed. Life after that moment changes. If your parent is healthy, the change is gradual. If there are major physical or mental challenges to deal with, the change can give you a whiplash. Breathe-— there is help. By Dorie U. Sugay Dorie Sugay is the Executive Director of Visiting Angels, a company that provides living-assistance services to seniors and adults-in-need who wish to stay in their own home or receive one-on-one care within a facility. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It was written independently of Visiting Angels. Tap In To Your Physician’s Wisdom Ask your doctor about the following: 1) What should you expect as far as a short and long term prognosis of your parents health and ability to function? 2) How many hours of help you will need? 3) If Mom can’t sleep through the night, will the doctor be prescribing sleep aid? (This will help you plan for night care). 4) What can be done to help your parent slow down the dependence meter—a regular exercise regime with a physical therapist or senior yoga at the Senior Center? 5) Should you take the car keys away now? 6) Will they need health aids (hospital bed, lift, etc.)? 7) Can the hospital Case Manager guide you? Start Gathering Information Approach with caution – when an older adult is told that he/she needs help, they fear the worst. Many parents associate a sibling’s inquiry into insurances, finances, etc. as a precursors to putting them into a home. Start with unthreatening questions – ask about insurance or military papers (if he/she is a Veteran). If you are lucky, the papers are filed with the other impor- tant documents you will eventually need. Medicare won’t pay for home health care, so you need to determine if they have long term care insurance. A good way to find out where other important papers are is to just engage in social chat while they look for the papers you are requesting. Is Mom Or Dad A Veteran? To get free home health care, call the Palo Alto VA at (650) 493-5000 and ask for a home health care consult with a physician or call his/her VA physician. The process is painless. The physician’s recommendation to the social worker will get the wheels turning. The approved care provider will be asked to schedule a nurse assessment (in this area, Visiting Angels is the only approved provider). This process can take between two to three weeks. Most people are initially approved for two days a week at three hours each visit, but can increase to five days under special circumstances. A Veteran can also tap their Aid and Attendance benefit. These are funds that can be used to add hours of home health care or be used for any other health care needs. The Veteran Care Services (VCS) in Santa Clara County will help a Veteran tap into their benefits for free (they are paid by the County) and can be reached at (408) 553-6000. There are agencies that provide assistance to veterans; help them navigate the system — for a fee. You’ll want to do your home- work and make sure the one you choose to work with is reputable. Although working with the VA directly has been a bit trying in the past, they have been revamping the processes. They have made it easier to tap into benefits, however, the jury is still out. VCS was trained by the VA on these processes and are endorsed by them. We highly suggest you include VCS in your inquiry. Get Information On Your Parent’s Long Term Care Insurance You cannot discuss a parent’s coverage Remember – take a deep breath! You can do this… 76 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2015