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Atlanta Georgia Elder Care And Special Needs Planning Blog

Planning to stay in your home as you age

As people age, their ability to take care of themselves diminishes. Yet, people often want to remain in their own home as they age. While nothing about the aging process is certain or predictable, experts have prepared a number of steps that can increase a person's chances of remaining at home as they grow older.

The first step is planning for the aging process. A person should first review their current ability to take care of themselves. Any current limitations, such as the inability to bathe without assistance, will probably worsen. If a person lives alone, such limitations necessitate seeking outside care. Such care can be provided by family members, friends or professionals. A second step is to evaluate the impact of any illnesses, such as diabetes or emphysema, on a person or their spouse. Depending upon the seriousness of the illness, a care giver may have difficulty providing care for a diabetic or people with similar diseases.

How a special needs child can complicate a divorce

Most Georgians who have endured the pain of a divorce can attest to the enormous amounts of stress, anger and frustration that must be endured by each spouse before the process is concluded. Whatever unpleasantness may be associated with an ordinary divorce, the pain and stress of a divorce with a special needs child is usually far greater. If the parents of a special needs child have made the irrevocable decision to terminate their marriage, the following planning cautions may help ease the turmoil experienced by the parents and by the child.

One of the first issues that must be resolved is visitation. The typical visitation schedule used in most divorces will probably not work if the family has a special needs child. Special needs children often require consistent and carefully structured lives. The non-custodial spouse should agree to visit the child on the child's own "turf." If the non-custodial spouse is unwilling or unable to do this, the custodial parent must undertake travel. Planning the travel can be difficult, especially if the child requires special equipment. Also, any visits may need to take place close to the child's principal health care professionals.

Watch out for financial abusers working in nursing homes

The desire to give your aging loved one the best golden years possible could lead to the decision to place them in a residential care facility like a nursing home. If you simply don't have the time or personal resources to provide around-the-clock care to your loved one, relying on other people to provide that care can be a good solution for your family.

You will want to be actively involved in the process of choosing a nursing home facility, as well as monitoring your loved one's experience while there. You, no doubt, already know that nursing homes pose some risk of physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect.

Video reveals abuse of patients by nursing home staff

Georgia families generally spend long hours researching facilities that offer elder care services. Usually, these efforts pay off with the discovery of a nursing home that can provide comprehensive and supportive care for an elderly or disabled relative. Occasionally, however, these efforts fail, and the loved one ends up in what might be termed an "abuse center" instead of a care center.

A family whose relative wound up in such an abuse center in Gordon, Georgia, recently released video clips of the staff abusing their relative. The video shows staff hitting the man with belts, punching him and encouraging other residents of the facility to hit him. The man can be seen crying and asking other residents for help. After the release of the video, the Gordon Police arrested the supposed care giver with battery and abuse and neglect of an elderly person.

Using a lawyer to provide special needs planning

For many people in Georgia, the concept of a lawyer who is knowledgeable about assisting families with special needs children or adults may seem a bit far-fetched. Nevertheless, the modern complexity of federal and state benefit programs for special needs people sometimes demands the advice of an experienced attorney to sort through the myriad of details.

A knowledgeable lawyer can explain each benefit program and assist in filing an application for benefits. Medicaid is one of the most common examples of how such assistance can be almost invaluable. Medicaid provides a number of benefits for people with special needs, but a lawyer who has worked with these plans can help clients select the plan best suited to their needs. On those unfortunate occasions when an application is denied, an attorney can take the steps necessary to appeal the decision and, if necessary, present an appeal in court.

Resources for special needs caregivers and parents

Georgia provides a multitude of resources for people with special needs, both children and adults. But, what about caregivers and parents? Where can they turn when the energy for caregiving has been temporarily or even permanently exhausted? Fortunately, the needs of this vital group have not been overlooked. A number of resources can be found that are directed toward caregivers and parents of special needs children and adults.

Caregiver Media Group provides information and support for both family and professional caregivers. It publishes "Today's Caregiver," a magazine dedicated to caregivers. A similar resource is Exceptional Parent Magazine, an online family and caregiver resource. An important state resource is the Georgia Parent Support Network. This group is dedicated to providing support and education for mentally ill children and their families.

Future planning for special needs families

All Georgia families with a special needs member, whether that person is a child or an adult, will benefit from careful planning for the person's future. Both state and federal government agencies provide significant assistance for special needs people, and parents and siblings can take steps to ensure that their family member is provided the necessary care and financial support.

One of the most important steps is planning for future medical, educational and housing needs for a special needs dependent. A second step is reviewing beneficiary designations on wills and family trusts. Eligibility for federal special needs programs is limited to people who do not own more than $2,000 in assets, and eligibility can be destroyed if the dependent is named as an heir or trust beneficiary.

All about Medicaid eligibility for Atlanta residents

When it comes to healthcare, there have been many changes in the past half-decade. What was once private insurance has become government-regulated and the effect on all people's healthcare has been enormous. Inherently, government-backed programs have been affected too. Medicaid eligibility thresholds determine who can apply and be approved for Medicaid benefits.

Medicaid is a federally mandated, state-administered health care program for low-income U.S. residents. Funding comes from both state and federal sources to help low-income people pay for health-care. Those approved for Medicaid benefits would have basic health care costs, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and nursing home care paid for, albeit, a small fee may be incurred, nothing close to the full cost of the care. Income is the number one threshold for determining Medicaid eligibility.

How to choose a guardian for your special needs child

If your child has special needs, you're sure to have concerns about what will happen to them in the event of your untimely passing. As difficult as it may be to think about this, it's something you must do to ensure that you have a comprehensive estate plan in place.

Here are five details to focus on as you attempt to choose a guardian in Atlanta for your special needs child:

  • Consider everyone: For example, some people immediately turn their attention to married couples, but this isn't always the best decision. There are other people in your life, such as single friends or relatives, who may make the perfect guardian.
  • Look past immediate family: While this may be where you start your search, it shouldn't be the only people you consider. For example, you may have distant relatives, such as a great aunt and uncle, who would make perfect parents.
  • Focus on values: You don't want to move your special needs child into a situation that makes them uncomfortable, as they're already going through a difficult time. Do your best to choose a guardian who shares your values and parenting style.
  • Finances matter: This doesn't mean you should turn all your attention to those with the most money, however, finances definitely come into play when making this choice. Choosing someone who is already tight on money doesn't always make sense, as taking over the responsibility of caring for your child could push them into an even worse situation.
  • Age and health are important: For example, if you choose a guardian who is older than you and in bad health, there's a chance this person won't be able to take over your parenting responsibilities should you pass on. Turn your attention to potential guardians who are your age, or younger, and in good health.

How a special needs trust can help plan for the future

A child or adult who has special needs often faces an uncertain financial future. The inability to work and the consequential inability to provide financial support often make financial planning impossible. For Georgians, the state provides a legal mechanism that removes much of this uncertainty. The device is called a special needs trust.

Government assistance programs, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, provide state assistance to the disabled and similar programs often have income or asset limitations on eligibility. If a person with special needs has income-producing assets provided either by an inheritance or the settlement of a legal case, the amounts in these cases often exceed the specified limits, thereby making the patient ineligible for crucial government assistance.

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