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Flu Season Fundamentals: How to Keep Seniors Safe This Fall

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Compassionate Estate Planning, Legacy Planning

Fall season is a beautiful time of year, but it also marks the beginning of flu season, which can pose a serious threat to your elderly loved ones. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to ensure their well-being during the colder days ahead, including making sure you’re able to step in and help them with their medical and financial needs.

Keep reading to find out how.

1 | Create a Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A Power of Attorney (POA) for Healthcare (sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate Nomination) is a legal document that authorizes someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself. If your senior loved one still needs to get a POA for Healthcare, now is the time to create one.

Suppose they do have a POA for Healthcare, but it’s been a while since they created it. In that case, it’s time to review it to ensure it accurately reflects their current medical wishes and appoints a trusted individual as their agent for making healthcare decisions on their behalf.

Having a POA for Healthcare in place for your senior can provide peace of mind, knowing that you or another trusted person can immediately step in and care for them during times of illness or incapacity, such as a severe case of the flu or pneumonia. A POA for Healthcare can also be used if you need to make a medical decision for your loved one during surgery or if they develop long-term memory problems.

Important: ensure that the POA for Healthcare for your senior loved one (or yourself) includes “living will” provisions either included in the POA or a separate document, stating not just who should make decisions for you or your loved one but how you would want those decisions to be made.

2 | Sign a HIPAA Waiver

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations are in place to protect an individual’s medical information. However, during flu season, it’s important to have the ability to communicate with your senior’s doctors to stay informed about their health.

A signed HIPAA waiver allows healthcare providers to share medical information with individuals they’ve authorized to receive it. This can be crucial for keeping family members and caregivers in the loop about your senior loved one’s health status and treatment plans.

Whether your senior feels too ill to call their provider or needs help understanding their doctor’s instructions, a HIPAA waiver allows you to speak directly to your loved one’s provider to make caring for them as quick and easy as possible.

3 | Schedule a Check-Up

Before flu season is in full swing, scheduling a comprehensive check-up for your senior loved ones with their healthcare provider is wise. A check-up allows for a thorough assessment of their health, identification of potential risks, and ensuring that chronic conditions are properly managed.

This proactive approach can help catch and manage new health issues early on and prevent complications down the line. Furthermore, having a check-up now will hopefully let your senior avoid visiting a crowded clinic waiting room during peak flu season because a health issue wasn’t detected sooner.

Don’t forget to bring a copy of your senior’s Power of Attorney for healthcare and their HIPAA Waiver to their provider’s office so they can scan it into their patient file to have it on hand and ready if needed.

4 | Create a General Durable Power of Attorney

To avoid exposure to the flu, colds, and rainy weather fall brings, many seniors appreciate the ability to stay closer to home. You can help keep them safe and ensure their daily needs are handled using a General Durable Power of Attorney.

This legal tool lets your senior appoint people they trust to take care of non-medical decisions and tasks, like going to the bank, paying bills, or making purchases.

Consider setting up or updating a General Durable Power of Attorney to grant this authority when needed. This legal tool ensures that someone is empowered to manage financial and other non-medical matters on behalf of your senior loved ones during flu season or any other time they might need assistance.

Just note that not all banks and financial institutions honor a General Durable Power of Attorney, so contact your bank to verify if they do, and then contact us right away to set up your loved one’s affairs in a way that ensures you can instantly step in to help with their banking needs regardless of their General Durable Power of Attorney.

Proactively Keeping Your Loved Ones Safe and Healthy

Caring for your seniors’ well-being goes beyond routine medical check-ups and yearly physicals. When flu season rolls around, it’s important to take a proactive approach to ensure your senior loved ones can count on you for support in managing their needs. By doing so, you’ll help them access the best possible care that aligns with their wishes.

Following these fundamental steps will help ensure your loved ones stay safe, healthy, and cared for during the fall season and the new year ahead.

To make sure your senior has the legal tools they need to stay safe and healthy this year, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office. We’ll be happy to share how we support our clients from a place of service and how we can ensure your entire family is well cared for now and in the future.

Schedule a call with us by emailing [email protected] or calling (859) 344-6742.

This article is a service of Ruberg Law PLLC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed, empowered decisions about life and death for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During the session, you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this valuable session at no charge.

This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you seek legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained independently, separate from this educational material.