Should I Divorce My Terminally Ill Spouse?

While catching up on recent news, I came across this advice column about a man’s decision to divorce his terminally ill wife.  It made me very sad for the couple.  It also reminded me that many people might believe this is their only resort when a spouse is facing devastating illness that requires long-term care.  The husband must have felt he had no other recourse.  He did what he thought was best for both himself and his wife.  During my career as an elder law attorney, I can count on one hand the number of times I have suggested divorce as a solution to a couple when one of them is facing long-term care.  I want people to know there ARE other options.

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Ensuring Good Nursing Home Care

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has identified about 80 nursing homes nationwide that are subject to increased oversight because the facilities have “substantially failed” to meet the required care standards and resident protections mandated by federal and state regulations. These facilities are part of CMS’s Special Focus Facilities Program and are subject to increased monitoring as a result of their poor performance.  A Senate report released this week states that, in addition to those nursing homes, nearly 400 additional nursing homes nationwide have demonstrated a “persistent record of poor care.” These additional nursing homes are considered to be candidates for the Special Focus Facilities Program.  Unfortunately according to CMS, the candidates are not subject to increased oversight or publication due to the federal agency’s limited resources.

In addition to monitoring by CMS, nursing facilities are subject to state requirements, including oversight.  In Ohio, the Department of Health regularly inspect facilities and investigate complaints.  Further information regarding the state’s oversight may be found here.

The Ohio Department of Aging conducts satisfaction surveys asking both residents and family for their input regarding the care provided.  The results of these surveys are then made available to the public.  Further information may be found here.

State inspections and satisfaction surveys are important and helpful to ensuring good care.  However, it is also helpful to have an advocate who visits regularly and can monitor the care that a loved one is receiving.  If family is not local or can’t be available,

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Losing a Parent: Are We Ever Prepared?

On March 16th, one day before St. Patrick’s Day, my father-in-law passed away quietly in the middle of the night. He was 87 years old. Yes, he had been ill, but he was on the road to recovery—or so we thought—recovering in a rehab facility. The 2:00 a.m. call informing my husband of the news was a shock to the whole family. No one saw this coming, not yet anyway.

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Older adults alzheimers alert system

Resource for Caregivers

We have all heard of “Amber” alerts.  They are messages regarding missing orabducted children and are intended to alert us in the event we have any information regarding the missing child’s whereabouts.  Perhaps we’ve received them as texts, emails, or voice mails.  Maybe we’ve seen them on billboards as we’re driving.  The intent is to use the public’s help to locate the missing child as quickly as possible.

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Embracing Death

If you are like me, you may not like thinking or even talking about dying, especially if it’s about you or a loved one. I frequently see the same discomfort in my clients’ faces when we discuss the subject. Discomfort and denial help many of us avoid the topic. Yet death can’t be avoided – at least not yet…

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to a blog called Confessions from a Funeral Director. It is written by Caleb Wilde, who is a sixth generation funeral director from Parkesburg, PA. Reading Mr. Wilde’s blog, I discovered many interesting posts written from the perspective of a person whose job is dealing with death. My favorite post describes nursing homes that have a “front door policy.” Instead of removing a deceased body out of some back door, the deceased is carried out through the front door while the nursing staff line up along the hallway walls, creating a walk of honor acknowledging the life lived and lost. What a wonderful send off!

Mr. Wilde urges us to embrace death, instead of avoiding it. It is the final stage we pass through and by embracing death, we embrace our humanity.

I am renewing my efforts to embrace all stages of life.

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Legislators Introduce Bill Allowing ABLE Accounts for Ohio Residents!

Ever since the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was signed into federal law on December 19, 2014, individual states have been jumping to get on board with the ABLE Act. 39 states have either introduced or enacted a state version of the ABLE program. We may now add to that list our own state of Ohio. On Wednesday April 15, 2015, Ohio legislators introduced HB 155 and SB 147, the Disability Expense Savings Account bill, also known as the Ohio ABLE Act. Keep reading ...
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Casey Kasem – What Did He Really Want??

The recent death of Casey Kasem made me think about how things can still go wrong even when we believe that we have prepared for the inevitable.

Casey Kasem, a popular radio host, recently passed away at age 82. Many of us remember him as the voice of “American Top 40,” a weekly radio show on which Casey read listener dedications while counting down the hits. The listener dedications were emotional tributes to a loved one, often choking me up.

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