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Tribune Article Points Out Pitfalls Of Having A Neighbor Act As Your Power Of Attorney

A recent article published in the Chicago Tribune entitled “Refund sought; ‘every little dime would help’ emphasizes two important points. First, the media has provided only the complainer’s side of the story. There are so many facts about this case we don’t know. Second, it points out the true pitfalls of having a neighbor of 47 years, and someone who is inexperienced at navigating the long term care health system calling the shots for an elderly person. As a senior living advisor who acts as Power Of Attorney for several of my clients, I cannot express the importance of having an experienced individual take on this serious task.

According to the article, the elderly person had fallen and spent over three months in a rehabilitation facility beginning in November. If the elderly person spent over 100 days in rehabilitation after a three night hospital stay, it is likely she had exhausted her Medicare benefit period. The costs to remain at the same rehabilitation community as a private pay client would have been prohibitive. I have in many cases, seen clients released to a lower level of care (before they are ready) in an effort to avoid paying higher costs. The Supportive Living community mentioned in this case provides only stand by assistance with bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, walking and eating. There is no nurse present on a 24 hour basis. After living at the Supportive Living community for six weeks, the resident was sent back to a skilled nursing community after developing an infection in her heel. According to Doctors, the source of the infection was unknown and treated with an IV, which is a type of care Supportive Living communities are not licensed to deliver. After the diagnosis of infection, the resident was placed back in a skilled nursing home (which is the same level of care she was receiving during rehabilitation). I wouldn’t have allowed my client to make that sort of transition unless they were really ready.

The article also documents that the elderly woman’s Power Of Attorney tried to obtain a refund of a $2,500 move in fee. As a senior living advisor, I am unaware of very few move in fees that are refundable. Off hand, I can think of only one community that offers a refundable move in fee. But, that is one item that you need to be clear on before you move a loved one into a community. This Power Of Attorney insisted that the money be returned because the resident was only there six weeks. Needless to say, she still moved in.

The next question I have addresses the selection of the new facility that provided “more comprehensive care,” than what was available at the Supportive Living community. While the new community selected for this person does provide more comprehensive care, their forte is short term rehabilitation, not long term care. The selection of that particular community fails to take this elderly loved one’s long term needs into consideration. Is she going to be asked to move if a long term care bed isn’t available?

Last, I would like to make an observation with regard to what I know about the financing involved with this case. Supportive Living is the assisted living program that is funded by Medicaid. Medicaid is the government program that provides assistance to individuals who cannot pay for long term care with private funds. It appears that the elderly person in this article had some money to pay privately for a while at the Supportive Living community. However, a move to Supportive Living indicates a need for Medicaid now or down the road. Now there is a push to recoup a portion of her rent to pay for her current care. Is her current Power of Attorney filing her Medicaid application? Is she aware of the time consuming process of applying and obtaining approval? In my opinion, that step should have been started during her first stay at the rehabilitation community so that the transition to Medicaid status would have been seamless. I also would have placed her in a community that would have been able to address her infection needs short-term, and transition her into long term, Medicaid status.These are all things we don’t know from reading the article. And, it indicates how complicated situations like this can be.

For all you senior living needs, contact Andrea Donovan of Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors.