Posts Tagged ‘long term care’

Caregiving Dilemma: dehydration, over medication or what?

As a caregiver to my mom, I am forced with a huge dilemma right now.  A week ago, I went to visit my mom at Sunrises Assisted Living.  She was still in bed at 10 am.  Recently, she has been wanting to sleep.  She was excited to see me when I woke her up, so I helped her with her shower, and then helped her get dressed.  I was shocked to see how much she deteriorated in her abilities to manage on her own and it puzzled me.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

How could my mom be experiencing such huge changes in her physcial and mental abilities so quickly and what could I do about it.  I decided to spend a few hours with her to see how she was managing her daily activities.

I took her to the dinning room and asked the chef to prepare scrambled eggs, toast, OJ and coffee.  When it came out, not only was it delicious, but I was thrilled too see my mom devour every last bite.  She had no problem managing her breakfast independently and we had a great time together.

Next, I invited her to play rummy and she was thrilled.  We started playing in the bistro, and soon we had a full table of other players.  Mom played quite well.  The only issue was that I had to remind here when it was her turn.

One week later, last Saturday evening, I stopped over to say goodnight and to my horror, my mother was in here wheel chair, looking off into space with a dazed look.  She did not recognize me, and could not speak or move her legs.  What was going on?  I pulled out one of her photo albums, and began to show her pictures asking her who these people were.  When I showed her a picture of herself, she replied, “Mum-ma”, like a talking doll.  When I asked her to identify her recently deceased husband — my stepfather –she  replied, “Pa-pa”.

I called the attendants in to help my mom to bed…and left in tears.  What was going on?  One thing I noticed is that my mother seemed very dehydrated, so I called the nurse and requested that they monitor her food andn water intake and make sure she is given water regularly with a straw as if she was in a hospital.

I noticed that she even had a problem swallowing the water and pills that night…and I was told that she has lost interest in eating.

What does a daughter do at this point?  What do you do when a loved one is unable or unwilling to feed themselves and begins to refuses food?

Please share your stories and experiences with me for my upcoming book with co-author and Legacy Expert, Meredith Bromfield called, The Designated Daughter:  Caregiving and Legacy Planning.   Thank you.

Family Legacy Video and Financial Planning

By Katana Abbott, Certified Fiancial Planner and founder Designated Daughter

Almost 20 years ago, my mother remarried the most wonderful man who changed her life.  It was a marriage made in heaven… 20 years later; they were still in love at 86 and 72. 

Since I was a Certified Financial Planner, when they married, Dale asked me to do a financial plan; he was 72 and my mom was 58.  He created a living trust that gave my mother a life interest, but the principle transferred to his children at his death.  He also purchased life insurance and long term care for both him and my mom.  My mother’s long term care policy was $100/day with a 5% inflation rider and lifetime benefits. 

In the fall of 2005, at 86, Dale was diagnosed with lung cancer.    If we had left things the way he originally set them up, when they were first married, which was the typical joint ownership with rights of survivorship, his children would have been disinherited, my mother would not have had long term care insurance and would have used up all his assets.

Because his estate planning had been in place for years, and reviewed annually, we were able to focus on his quality of life and quality of care that last year. 

During the last three months of his life, Hospice was with us daily, we had moved his bed into the living room, so he could look out at the ducks on the pond.

The week before Dale died; he looked up at me and whispered, “You’re my miracle worker”.  I will never forget his words or the impact his planning has had on his loved ones lives.

He knew that he had done a great job; my mom was set for life and I know he had overheard us talking when we received the call from the insurance company that my mother had been approved for her long term care insurance claim.  She had recently been diagnosed with dementia and the insurance would provide her with up to $150/day for life—with an increasing benefit to keep up with inflation.  This was almost $55,000 a year of additional income that would be tax free.

Between her survivor pension and tax free long term care benefits, my mother was able to move into Sunrise Assisted Living without using any of her investment income.  In addition, we saw that she would probably never need the assets from my step father’s trust, so we made an immediate gift of $100,000 to his children who were just a few years younger than my mother. 

I am so thankful that Dale had agreed to do this planning decades before when they had many options, and were not under stress. 

I was able to play a video that I had taped of my step-father and mother for Dale’s children and grandchildren the Christmas after his death.  He still looked great in the video; the lake and flowers in the background were cheery as my step father told stories about his past, as well as stories about his father and grandfather.

His children may never have known these stories if I had not taped that video that day.  In addition, I came across some wonderful photos of his father and grandfather in northern Michigan working as loggers at the turn of the century.  I will be creating a professional legacy video this year and giving the video and some prints to his family this Christmas. 

I had always wanted to be able to do this for my clients during my 20 years as a financial planner, but I did not have this process in place at the time.

I think passing the story along with the money could help many financial and legal professionals develop a deeper relationship with their clients as well as with the next generation. 

What do you think?  What is your story?  I would love to hear from you!

Visit for an interactive on-line community featuring  the Designated Daughter Caregiving, Legacy and Aging Experts who work together as a team in the Designated Daughter Tea Room!