During this season of life, where everyone is trying to figure out a new “normal,” adjust to changing circumstances, and make their way through new challenges, taking care of the ones you love seems to be pretty central to many people’s thoughts. Here at Family Estate Planning Law Group, we’re thinking about that too—taking care of our own families, and how we can continue to help you take care of yours. We recently came across a newsletter from Dianne Savastano at Healthassist, one of the many great organizations in our network of referrals, that contains a lot of information we thought might be helpful to our clients regarding caring for and protecting their families and loved ones (we encourage you to read it for yourself here).
We want to keep our families healthy, but what is the best way to do that? Ms. Savastano has several helpful suggestions.
First, when it comes to visiting physicians, try to delay anything that is not urgent. For urgent appointments, call ahead to the provider and ask them what steps they are taking to ensure the safety and health of their patients while they are in the office.
When it comes to pharmacies, Ms. Savastano recommends trying to avoid them as much as possible. In order to do that, she suggests trying to get medications delivered, checking with physicians and insurance companies about extended supplies, having friends or family pick up medications for the elderly, or if it is absolutely necessary to go the pharmacy, trying to use drive-thru services or go early when fewer people are around.
We have been hearing a lot about “social distancing” in the news recently, with many organizations shutting down completely in order to comply with government regulations and to keep people safe. Ms. Savastano suggests that the best way to care for your family is to stay home, even though this presents changes to normal routines and challenges to staying connected. She also reminds us to be aware that the technology that many of the younger generations are reaching for to stay connected is foreign and challenging to many older adults. Talk to your loved ones and figure out something that works for you to stay connected. You could try teaching them to use new technology like Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime over the phone (as my aunt recently did for my grandmother) or if this is too stressful for them, perhaps a set routine of phone calls to check-in might help an older loved one stay connected.
Ms. Savastano also notes that when it comes to physical interactions, altering greetings and handwashing are both important ways to stay healthy during this time. While we all want to show our love, during this time waving or nodding our heads is a better alternative to kissing or hugging those outside of our immediate family. And while everyone knows to wash their hands, many do not know the guidelines for how to do so. The CDC offers these recommendations, including the need to wash for at least 20 seconds. As my children have been learning in preschool, an easy way to do this is to sing the ABC song twice. Others prefer to find a 20-second snip-it of a song, poem, prayer, or speech that they find inspirational and recite that as they wash.
For many of us, touching our faces is something we do often without even thinking about it. This can be a challenging habit to break since it is usually an unconscious action, but Ms. Savastano suggests partnering with your spouse or another loved one or friend to begin reminding them whenever you notice the habit in each other. While we certainly won’t be able to change this one overnight, reducing the amount that we touch our faces helps us to stay healthy.
Most importantly, Ms. Savastano reminds us that “as you reach out to care for the older adults in your life, remember to listen to what they are thinking first and plan from there, constantly adjusting to the crisis at hand.” Whether you are caring for aging loved ones or a younger family, no one likes someone dictating to them. Take the time to listen to everyone’s concerns and then make a plan together for how everyone can do their best to stay healthy and connected.
Finally, Ms. Savastano cautions us that while we want to do everything we can to stay healthy, it is important to have a plan in place in the event that a loved one should need hospitalization and medical care. This involves both access to health care records and decisions as well as information about your loved ones previous medical history. We here at Family Estate Planning Law Group completely agree that while we want to do everything we can to stay healthy, we also want to plan for the unexpected crisis so our loved ones are cared for even in challenging moments. That is why we always include health care planning as a part of all of the estate plans that we do for our families.
We know you want to take care of your family to the best of your ability, but if you are not quite sure where to start, you are not alone in this. We here at Family Estate Planning Law Group would love to work alongside you to help you plan and to provide you with additional resources for caring for your family. During this season of social distancing, we are able and prepared to meet with you virtually so you can stay safe while creating a plan to care for your loved ones and provide you with peace of mind.