Jennifer Meagher RN is the owner of Senior Life LLC, Advocates and Consultants. Meagher founded and oversees the Better Business Partners Serving Seniors. She is on the Alzheimer’s Advocacy Committee and has specialized in geriatrics since 1998. She is called on by doctors, attorneys, and financial advisors to care for their clients and their families. Contact Jennifer at www.SeniorLifeGCM.com.
My letter is not about your series, although I am learning a lot and grateful for the information. I am writing about my father’s depression. He isn’t eating well, he wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. He’s lost some weight and overall he just seems sad to me. He just doesn’t feel like doing things he used to enjoy. My problem is that when I talk to his doctor about this, he doesn’t want to medicate him. The doctor said that so many medications have terrible side effects that he’d rather wait and see how he does. He’s been saying we’ll wait for some time now. I talked to my father about it, but he’s been with his doctor for about 25 years. He does whatever he says. My father won’t let me come to a doctor’s appointment with him. I don’t know which way to turn with this. I hope you’ve got an idea for me.
Dear George Anne,
Your father is exhibiting symptoms associated with depression, but I don’t know enough about his overall health picture. Is there a reason your dad would be depressed? Has he suffered a loss? Is his health failing? Is he in pain? My idea is to insist that your father let you come to a doctor’s appointment. Tell your father that you are worried about his health in general - don’t focus on depression - let that come out naturally over the course of the appointment. Tell your dad that something is causing him to lose weight etc. and you want to talk with the doctor. If he digs in his heels, try to get his permission to speak to the doctor by phone or through his patient portal online if there is one.
Also, you might try increasing your visits to include being there at meal time with food (always have enough for left overs for him) and getting him out of the house now that the weather is getting nicer.
LIFE PLANNING PART FOUR of a four part series: FIVE COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT MEDICAID
1.Is there more than one kind of Medicaid for the elderly? Yes.
COMMUNITY. This Medicaid is for elders who are not yet in a nursing home – they live elsewhere in the community.
CHRONIC. This Medicaid is what I call NURSING HOME MEDICAID. The elder cannot apply for this Medicaid until s/he is in the nursing home.
2. What is the look back period? Medicaid is a federal benefit. It is for individuals who have spent down their money honestly. The look back ensures that the individual is not trying to defraud Medicaid by hiding or shifting funds.
COMMUNITY MEDICAID has a 4 month look back period.
CHRONIC MEDICAID has a 5 year look back period.
3. Do I need a lawyer to apply for Medicaid? This seems to be a matter of opinion. There are services that provide Medicaid application assistance – buyer beware. Some services are top drawer. Others, not so much. Attorneys are helpful for what’s called “Medicaid Planning.” This means attention is paid to financial considerations for aging couples and for trusts. Medicaid applications that are done wrong are a huge headache – so use caution.
4. When should I start preparing for Medicaid? Now. You should have your documents organized so they are ready whenever you need to apply. Keep all your receipts and bank statements.
5. Do private pay citizens and Medicaid citizens receive the same nursing home services? Yes and No. Someone who is ready to apply for Medicaid at the same time s/he is applying to a nursing home will be very restricted on which homes will agree to consider the application. Those on Medicaid will have a semi-private room. Otherwise, services are identical.
DID YOU MISS PART OF THIS SERIES? We reviewed finances in part one, and what it takes to stay home in part two. Part three centered on the option of moving. If you missed them, visit my website: www.SeniorLifeGCM.com and click the Learning Center page.