Tag Archives: rights

Figuring Out Caregiving Protections

Long View: Advocating for Our Elders

When I was a youngster, I remember having a hard time paying attention to anything for very long. Thankfully, that’s all behind me now, but sometimes these childhood lapses made it appear like I was misbehaving or being disobedient. That was not the case of course.

For instance, I had my own ideas of when I should be doing chores, and it didn’t always match what my parents had in mind. I’m sure I presented my folks with quite a challenge. Looking back, I realize they were always right, and they had insights I couldn’t have known as a child.

It’s interesting to compare this childhood relationship with the relationships of adult caregivers and their parents or older family members. Being supportive and resourceful and providing suggestions are all part of the deal, but sometimes it’s hard to remember these are relationships between adults and not between parents and children. Even the best suggestion isn’t going to be received well if it doesn’t coincide with the older person’s wants and needs. Of course there will be disagreements, but that’s to be expected.

At Health Alliance Medicare, we have many members who have signed an appointment of representative form, which allows a child or other caregiver to speak on their behalf with their health insurance. We know that acting for a loved one can be a challenging position to be in, but we must have this formal legal agreement before our customer service reps can share the member’s claims information and other confidential information.

Another kind of protection is the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which works to protect, defend, and advocate for residents of long-term care facilities. One of its duties is to investigate concerns brought forward from anyone on behalf of the resident.

Amanda Hyde is the planning & grants manager at the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging, the sponsor that houses this program. She said, “The Ombudsman Program at ECIAAA is focused on advocating for resident rights. These rights include being fully informed on all aspects, including cost and even changes in rooms or roommates. Residents have the right to complain, participate in one’s own care, the right to confidentiality, the right to dignity, respect, and freedom, including the right to self-determination, and even making what others may deem as bad choices.”

There are many levels of caregiving, and I know it can be stressful. Differences of opinions are bound to happen. Although our loved ones aren’t always going to agree with us, I am sure it’s comforting for them to know that our care and support isn’t based on their obedience.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Protecting Your Loved Ones with Caregiving Planning

Vantage Point: Looking to the Future

Meet Jessica Arroyo of Wenatchee

Being born and raised in the small town of Wenatchee, surrounded by my family, has been such a blessing.

I grew up seeing my mother and father go out of their way to take care of my grandparents, taking them to doctor appointments, picking up their prescriptions, and making sure they always had everything they needed. Fortunately, my parents have never been in the position of having to make life-changing decisions for my grandparents.

As I get older and my parents start to age, I know it will be my duty to care for them as well. And now that I have a child of my own, I think of the future more than ever.

We don’t like to think about bad things happening, but they still happen. And once an unexpected event happens, our world as we know it can start to disappear. The future is coming for each of us, and we all need to have a plan. We can help you start making that plan.

At my first event at the Central Washington Health and Wellness Expo in September, I got to share our Planning Ahead Guide. This is a wonderful resource for everyone, but especially for our Medicare members. This guide has answers about Washington’s living wills and power of attorney to help you plan for all situations.

I also had the pleasure of meeting another great resource for our members, local ombudsman Shawna Pringle from Aging and Adult Care of Central Washington. As an ombudsman, she works to protect, defend, and advocate for residents of long-term care facilities.

Doing the research you need to plan ahead is an important first step, but focusing on setting these plans into motion is key to preparing for the future.

Meet Joy Stanford of Olympia

After my father had lived in California for more than 60 years, I moved him to Washington in 2008. It was somewhat traumatic for him and for my husband and me.

Not knowing a thing about caring for the elderly, we spent many hours on research. One day, a friend of mine reminded me that my dad has veteran benefits. It turned out, he could live at the veterans’ home and be well taken care of. However, we still had concerns and wanted to know who we could turn to if we thought he was not being cared for. We were given information about the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program ensures the rights, dignity, and well-being of individuals living in long-term care today and in the future. One of its duties is to investigate concerns brought forward from anyone on behalf of the resident.

This program is focused on advocating for residents’ rights, including being fully informed on all aspects of their care, like cost or even changes in rooms or roommates. Residents have the right to complain, to participate in their own care, and to make their own choices, even if that means making choices others think are bad. They also have the right to confidentiality, dignity, respect, and freedom.

Whether it’s in-depth research, word of mouth, or a friendly referral, there are plenty of great resources in our community to help you and your family navigate this situation when you need it most.

Meet Breck Obermeyer of Yakima

The local Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) office is a great resource here in Yakima that you may not know about. SHIBA is a free service that provides unbiased and completely confidential help for those with Medicare, as well as help with healthcare choices for people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s run by volunteers and has locations statewide.

According to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the SHIBA office can help you:

  • Figure out your healthcare coverage needs
  • Check your eligibility for healthcare coverage programs
  • Compare health insurance plans and programs
  • Enroll in Medicare
  • Speak with Medicare on your behalf
  • Find other helpful agencies and programs
  • Report fraud complaints

Here in Yakima, you can talk to Debra Wilson, Mary Pacheco, or Sirena Phillips at the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) SHIBA office. They have a new number and a new location to serve you! Their new phone number is (509) 902-1115, and their new location is 107 S. 7th Ave., Suite 206, Yakima, WA 98902. Remember, these services are free and completely unbiased, which means you’re getting great information and help that’s the best for you and your needs.

National Campus Safety Awareness Month

National Campus Safety Awareness Month

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and there are tips you can share with your new college freshman.

First up, make sure your kids understand digital safety and make smart decisions online.

Staying Safe on Technology

 

One of the most important campus safety laws in the U.S. is the Jeanne Clery Act. Learn more.

Important Campus Safety Legistlation

 

There are all kinds of handy phone apps to help students stay safe in emergencies or when going out.

Phone Apps to Keep Students Safe

 

Just like you want to know where to go in an emergency, make sure you and your freshman know the school’s sexual assault policies.

Make sure your kids know what a healthy relationship should look like in college and get helpful resources.

A Healthy Relationship

 

Friends can help keep you safe but can also drive your behavior. Learn more about the power of the peer group.

Your Peer Group and Campus Safety

 

Know your rights, file a complaint, or find a crisis service with the help of the U.S. government.

Know Your Rights & Protections

Save

Save

Your Home Accessibility as You Age

Long View: Making Your Home More Accessible

A beloved family member is aging rather rapidly, not that we’d mention it of course. He already has arthritis in both knees and his left hand. His vision is not as good as it used to be, and we notice his agility just isn’t there anymore.

The problem is that his home has incredibly steep stairs, and the bedrooms and bathrooms are on the second floor. The furnace is in the cellar, which is only accessible through heavy metal doors and down another steep flight of stairs. And of course, the front door has stairs, too. The bathroom needs a lot of work. There’s no shower, just a huge slippery clawfoot tub. Home modification would be great, but a hundred-year-old house will always have its challenges.

These days, some builders are making structures with Universal Design, which focuses on providing maximum accessibility, regardless of a person’s ability to maneuver. Wider doorways, flat thresholds, and grab bars are a few of the tools that can make a home or commercial building more convenient for all of us.

My friend Therese Cardosi is the executive director of the Options Center for Independent Living in Bourbonnais. The mission of these centers (there’s also a location in Watseka) is to provide services, support, and advocacy to enhance the rights and abilities of people with disabilities in order to help them more actively participate in their communities and live self-determined independent lives.

“We are all in the process of creating the future for ourselves and our children, “ Therese said. “We don’t know what that future will bring, but we can predict that many of us will eventually need accessible places to live. The statistical projections are staggering.”

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s mission is to “build the capacity of our members so they can help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.”

Sadly, their many services can’t make up for a home that doesn’t accommodate someone with limited mobility or sensory loss. For those of you who haven’t figured it out, I am the “beloved family member” mentioned at the beginning.

There seems to be some movement in the right direction, but will it be enough or fast enough to support the statistical crush of the Baby Boomers? Probably not, but at least some folks are starting the conversation, and I want to be a part of it.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.

Legal Advice: The Right Time for a Professional

Long View: Leaving Some Things to the Professionals

I have to admit the health insurance business is complicated and often difficult to understand. So many regulations are involved, and then there are the exceptions, annual plan changes, and the wide variety of policies that are available.

We help our Health Alliance members navigate the wonderful world of health insurance every day. Another arena that seems especially complicated to me is the law.

In central Illinois, there are resources for people who need legal advice for civil cases (not criminal), which are provided at no cost to those who qualify. One of these is called Prairie State Legal Services. Its mission is “to ensure equal access to justice and fair treatment under the law by providing legal advice and representation, advocacy, education, and outreach that serve to protect basic human needs and enforce or uphold rights.”

Adrian Barr is the Managing Attorney for Prairie State. He told me, “The legal system is a very difficult place to navigate for people who do not have attorneys. It is almost as if we in the legal community speak and write in a different language.”

“Having the opportunity to consult with an attorney about one’s legal situation can be an invaluable resource,” he said. “Prairie State will discuss a person’s legal situation with them and provide legal advice. Prairie State will also provide representation for important legal issues, including those that affect a person’s finances, safety, housing, or their health.”

Lora Felger is my co-worker in Iowa. She is very sharp, but knows legal questions are best left to the professionals. Lora suggests Iowans start with their local Area Agency on Aging. Iowa’s 6 regional Area Agencies on Aging partner with Iowa Legal Aid to offer free legal services to eligible seniors with the Legal Assistance Program. This program “serves persons 60 years of age and older by providing legal advice and representation, information and education, and referrals in civil legal matters throughout the state.”

I think I will have to be satisfied with my expertise in the field of health insurance. I feel justified in my decision to let the professionals handle any legal question that might come up. My personal experience also tells me it would be prudent to use a professional electrician whenever the need arises. I accidentally created an arc welder one time, but that’s a subject for another column.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.