Healthy, Wealthy and Wiser

This topic came up on my private Facebook group, “The Good Kids Club” and I thought it might have some value for others in this situation.

So many of us face caring for parents as we age. At a time when we feel more able to slow down and put ourselves first, the specter of family caregiving often shows up as an unrequested “gift.” We love our parents (we may not LIKE them, but we LOVE them) and want to do the right thing. This past year drove many independent seniors to seek support from adult children because they were fearful of doing the simple things that never bothered them before. So many found themselves more involved in their parents lives sooner than anticipated (if they even saw it coming at all).

Once we begin to step up, we are too often unprepared for the challenges that arise. One club member posted a story about her mom, who is in her 90s, having a condition causing pain in her mouth. It was not a dental issue, but because of how the condition was charted, Medicare viewed the problem as “dental” and denied the charges. This was an expensive error. The author of the post suspected this would happen, and the upshot was that her intuition was correct, her mom got seriously overcharged for treatment that should have been covered, and the dutiful daughter now has to contest the denial.

Now, this can happen to anyone. Standard operating procedure for most health insurers is to deny first, fend off queries later. They are BUSINESSES. The health of the insured is not their primary concern. Collecting premiums and denying claims have much higher priorities. So it falls on us to watch what they do, ask a lot of questions and make sure they do what they’re paid to do: pay for as much of our healthcare as they promise to.

When we get involved with our parents’ care, we need certain tools:

Number 1: HEALTH CARE PROXY. We need to be officially and legally appointed by our parents to represent them. Without that document, insurers can dodge you. So don’t make it easy for them. Make sure you are appointed and have a valid document that proves it.

Number 2: TEAM UP WITH DOCTORS. In order to make sure your folks are getting their procedures and treatments covered, they need to be seeing doctors who know how to navigate. Get to know the doctors who care for your parents. Talk to them. Ask questions. And if they aren’t going to doctors, seek out appropriate physicians and get your parents to go. Go with them if you can.

Number 3: CHECK THEIR INSURANCE. I highly recommend talking to a Medicare broker to go over the products your parents are using. The types of programs available change annually and vary from state to state. Brokers don’t charge for their advice, and they are product agnostic. Getting their opinion on your parents’ coverage can save a bundle and doesn’t cost anything but your time.

One last thing: while you’re considering these concepts regarding your folks, consider your own situation as well. Time moves merrily along, and in the blink of an eye, we’re in the position our parents were in. Let’s learn from it, protect ourselves and those who love us and sleep better knowing we’ll get the care and support we all need, without spending everything we’ve worked all of our lives to acquire.

The Good Kids Club

As parents age, they often become more reliant on their adult children for support. Especially now, when so many are frightened by the prospect of getting sick from a virus that picks on the elderly.

I talk to A LOT of those adult children. Many don’t realize that they are performing a role called “caregiving.” They think of themselves as “Good Kids” helping out their folks because it’s the right thing to do.

And that is a good and noble thing. We should help our parents when we can. Unfortunately, the things they need us to do for them usually escalate over time, and it sneaks up on us. Before we realize it, we go from helping out with occasional errands to engaging in a full-time, unpaid gig that eats our lives.

I started the The Good Kids Club, a private group on Facebook (and a corresponding group on LinkedIn called “Good Kids” with Careers) to educate and inspire people in this growing segment of the population. People are aging at an alarming rate, and their kids are under pressures they never foresaw.

These groups are growing and I hope you’ll join us. We need your voice and perspective. When you ask a question you might think of as “stupid,” a bunch of other people see it and think “Oh yeah! Me too! What can be done about this?”

So I invite you to join our club(s) and let’s help each other. Be a Good Kid and sign up today!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/goodkidsclub

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9027833/

Interview in Digital Journal

Aging #1Some people are shy. I used to be, but found no satisfaction in it. So I’ve been sharing my story lately and now that “Dementia Sucks” has attained bestseller status, folks are listening!

Here’s a wonderful interview with Markos Papadatos of Digital Journal talking about my caregiving journey, how to led to writing the book and creating a brand new course for people about to become caregivers to aging love ones. Check it out!

http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/lifestyle/tracey-s-lawrence-talks-dementia-sucks-grand-family-planning/article/576280

Learn How to Save Your Own Life!

You were doing fine. Your folks seemed fine. Everything was moving right along, and then COVID happened. Suddenly, the kids are home all the time. You’re trying to work from home. And your parents, who’ve been so independent and on top of it all, are showing their vulnerability.

It’s more than a little disconcerting. You haven’t really given this a whole lot of thought but, dang, they aren’t going to be around forever and maybe, just maybe, there are things about Mom and Dad that you really should know but haven’t even considered asking.

Now is your golden moment. You have an opportunity to ask them all those questions you’ve been avoiding, but what should those questions even be? HOW do you even approach the conversation? And what do you do with that knowledge once you have it?

Here’s where you should go, right now: the Family Care Survival Course. This online 2 hour on-demand video curriculum will walk you through the tough stuff and give you a grounding in how to do this complicated stuff with greater success and more satisfying outcomes.

Designed by Tracey S. Lawrence, author of the ground-breaking book “Dementia Sucks” specifically for the adult children of aging loved ones, this course is packed with great, actionable information. Delivered in Tracey’s down-to-earth, approachable style, you’ll come away with a strategy to get your family moving in the right direction!

Don’t wait! Click here now!

True Story: Recovered from COVID!

My friend, Carlos Drouet, is an amazing guy. He’s sweet and humble. A US Army Vet of 9 years, he now serves as a Firefighter in Jersey City, NJ. He’s also a loving father. And the lead singer in a rock band called “Faith In Chaos.” In April, Carlos contracted COVID-19. Hear his story. You have a right to know that there IS a safe, effective treatment!

Hear Carlos’ Story Here!

Attention Cat Herders!

Rumor has is that the national shutdown is going to lift soon. Depending on where you’re located, it’s probably time to start giving serious consideration to how you’re going to get your business rolling again.

I am speaking specifically to employers who had at least 100 employees before the pandemic. Many companies have been implementing remote work, and for some industries, that works. For others, it’s a bandage, but not a permanent solution. Are you confident that all of the people upon whom you rely will be there on the day you officially “reopen”? Were you struggling to find and keep qualified people BEFORE all this happened? Maybe now is a good time to revisit how you’re going to rise to the challenge.

During this period of staying in place, many of your employees had a rude awakening. In addition to having to deal with keeping their kids safe and entertained, and finding ways to stay on top of their business emails, phone calls and tasks, another issue arose for many: their parents suddenly needing them more than before.

This virus is scary, particularly for older adults. For people who were previously independent and competent, the prospect of having to shop for food and medications in the shadow of this menace became a daunting new worry for them and their adult children. So employees who were previously untroubled by the prospect of caring for their parents were awakened to the notion that their folks may need significant ongoing assistance from them a lot sooner than they imagined.

What does that mean to you? Well, aside from having your own parents’ increasing dependence to contend with, you may also want to leverage this knowledge to bring those wandering kittens back into your fold. How? By speaking to their new concerns in your communications and offerings.

For instance, at a pre-pandemic interview with a candidate, maternity leave benefits might be featured as an inducement. What if you spoke of “elder care leave”? What if you told them about some wonderful initiatives you were offering to your employees who help aging parents? Do you think you might get their attention? Might that differentiate your business from your competitors?

Communicating to your current employees about your responsiveness to these kinds of needs has great value, too. Let’s face it: it costs a LOT of money and time to train employees. Having to replace and indoctrinate new ones is a huge waste of resources. Keep the great ones you have by letting them know you support them and want to help them manage better. They will be grateful and a lot more likely to stick with you for the long haul.

There are a lot of other ideas you might find beneficial, and Grand Family Planning is offering FREE webinars to share them with you! Write us here, and we’ll let you know when the next event is scheduled.

Don’t wait. Those kittens will be waking soon and running to whoever has the best treats.

View From The Hospital Bed

A big part of my life is devoted to educating people. My mantra for 2016 was about the need for everyone to appoint an advocate. When you get sick, you can’t fend for yourself. HIPAA laws require that you put your choice in writing so your advocate will be able to do their job should the need arise. My husband and I have done this, and we are clearly in the minority.

On New Year’s Day 2017, my husband, Bob, had a health emergency. Miraculously, I was able to find an internist who was willing to come to our home and see him on that holiday Sunday. Upon examining him, this doctor sent us to a hospital that, while less than convenient geographically, admitted him with relative speed and got him connected to all the specialists, tests and treatment he would need to recover.

Bob remained in the hospital until January 11. He had four roommates during his stay. Three of them were single males with no advocates. Their fates were all frightening and sobering.

The first roommate was in great distress when I came for my first visit to Bob’s semi-private room. He had not been fed in 27 hours. There were no doctor’s orders for meals and no one to follow up for him; just the nurses and staff, who were overwhelmed caring for lots of other patients. He was alone and apparently had no primary care physician. This guy was pulling out his IVs as he howled in anguish. A nurse helped him removed his tethers to prevent him from hurting himself and the fellow immediately checked himself out with his condition untreated.

Roommate 2 came in with COPD and pneumonia. Single and apparently lacking a primary doctor, he had stumbled into the ER in crisis and was admitted. Over 24 hours later, no meals (but he stayed long enough to finally enjoy the “cuisine”). No advocacy. He did receive some treatment but needed to go home. His pets had been unattended for the two days he’d been receiving care. With outdoor temperatures in the 20s, he lived two miles from the hospital and had no money for a cab ride home.

Roommate 3 was a young man with several doting female family members (his mom, grandma and an aunt). There was not a lot of room for all of us, and there were a lot of strained smiles and “excuse me”s getting in, out and around in the room. But that fellow apparently received adequate care and was released within two days with his mom to help him.

The saddest case was an elderly gentleman who was in my husband’s room for just a few hours. He had been a heroic policeman who had disarmed killers and saved lives. Having lost use of all of his limbs over time, his family abandoned him. He brought Bob first to anger with his protestations and then to tears after hearing his story.

As I managed Bob’s care from the outside, I was impressed with the internist who got us there. He was communicative, respectful and responsive. He coordinated with other specialists he respects. He got things done and kept his eye on the big picture. This is someone I want on my team.

This challenging return to caregiving has made me refocus on an important priority: starting with the right doctor. Most of us begin with our insurance and go from there. Searching the “provider locator,” we try to find a network doctor who will serve us along with suitable “in-network” facilities as we need them.

Unfortunately, playing the game from the insurance company’s perspective, we are at the mercy of actuaries rather than medical professionals. The decisions being made are based on finance, not health. And that’s a dangerous approach. The needs of the patient, the human being in question, should always come first. But that’s not how the current system is built. That’s why it’s broken. The cards are stacked against us and we often don’t realize how badly until we’re in the middle of a crisis.

So here’s what I recommend: find a good doctor. Not just someone who tells you what you want to hear. We all need someone who is more than simply qualified, but who listens and is willing to work as part of our team; someone who knows how to navigate. Otherwise, we can find ourselves stuck in the cracks of this broken system.

And please appoint an advocate: select someone you know and trust, who will stand up for you and follow up with the professionals, because we’re all human. We all miss stuff. And you need to put it in writing, or they’ll never get anywhere.

It doesn’t matter what hospital you’re in so much as who’s writing the orders and who’s coming to visit. That’s all part of a much bigger prescription that requires a team to implement.

While these suggestions may seem overwhelming, acting on them while you’re healthy is the smartest thing you can do to protect yourself. Doing it by yourself from a hospital bed is damned near impossible.