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  • Alan D. Feller, Esq.

What To Do When A Loved One Gets Sick

Reacting to an emergency is an imperfect science. In rare instances, a rhyming phrase like “stop, drop and roll,” distills all you need to know. When a loved one gets sick, short-term confusion gets mixed up with long term fear. Removing the anxiety is not realistic, but organization blended with education can format a checklist that is logical for most families.


The first hurdle is handling the initial crisis or intervention. From the time a person is brought to a hospital’s emergency room through their admission and transport to a floor, obtaining information can be difficult. Every household should have a folder that contains each person’s Health Care Proxy, Living Will and Power of Attorney. Having scanned copies of these documents is also helpful. Medical personnel will ask for a copy of the Health Care Proxy so that there are authorized people to speak with in case the sick person is unresponsive. Setting up proper communication between the necessary family members and doctors, nurses, and social workers makes things significantly easier.


Those first few days can be tough. Decisions concerning treatments and synthesizing the available medical information requires time which is a luxury in the current overstressed hospital environment. Seek out friends and family members who have been through this before or who are medical professionals. Even if the issues are outside of their expertise – they may know the right questions to ask. Never underestimate your own knowledge of your loved one. Recovery usually results from a combination of good medical care and a desire to get better. That desire can be fueled by the person themself and their support system staying positive and engaged.


Once a loved one is stabilized and they leave the hospital for a rehabilitative facility, the next hurdle presents itself. Rehabilitation provides the first glimpses of your loved one’s new reality. Maintain solid communication with the Physical Therapy and nutrition staff. Avoiding detrimental weight loss and sustained loss of mobility are keys to steering recovery after a health crisis. Once the picture becomes clearer and discharge planning is discussed a family must focus on long term care. When will Medicare coverage end? Can their loved one be brought home? Will home health aides be necessary or is an assisted living facility a better option? How will this care be handled financially? Is there a long-term care insurance policy in place? Will Medicaid be sought to pay for care? What professionals are needed to assist the family? Elder care professionals can provide helpful insight so that these questions can be answered.


Long term care still offers opportunities for recovery. Intelligent management of medication, outpatient doctor and physical therapy visits and secure home or assisted living care supervision can lead to encouraging results. Still, family members of an ill loved one should work together to ensure that finances are organized properly to handle further long-term care charges including possible nursing home care. Estate and Medicaid planning has to be considered so that funds are not spent haphazardly. All families face illness. Setting up a foundation of preparedness is the key to staying strong in the face of adversity. Contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller today for more information.




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