Ombudsman Program Helps Protect Long Term Care Patients

Ombudsman Program

Many people don’t know that there is a federal law, called the Older Americans Act, that requires every state to have an Ombudsman Program. The Ombudsman Program addresses complaints by residents of long term care facilities related to treatment, conditions, and abuse of those in long term care facilities. Family members of long term care residents can also complain to an Ombudsman regarding the level of care their loved one is getting.


What is an Ombudsman?

An Ombudsman, usually a volunteer, receives complaints regarding long term care and helps resolve those complaints. The Ombudsman works with both the resident and the facility to come to a peaceful conclusion. Communication between the Ombudsman and the person complaining is usually considered confidential and cannot be disclosed.

The Ombudsman can also hear complaints of physical, verbal or mental abuse, in the event a resident does not have anyone else to turn to or in the event a family member suspects the resident is somehow being abused. However, care must be given that a volunteer doesn’t overreach and get personally involved with family matters. When an Ombudsman gets involved in family fights or family matters, this should be outside the scope of his/her responsibility and should be reported back to the Program director. The Ombudsman is not there to referee family matters. Family fights should usually be resolved between the family, the court system or the state human services department.

In addition to resolving conflicts between a resident and a facility, the Ombudsman Program educates people on a resident’s rights, and advocates for a resident’s rights and quality of care, personal care and residential care. The Program also provides information to people about locating long term care facilities and what you should know to get quality care.

Usually, each state has local offices to help run the program, sometimes called the Commission on the Aging, Area on the Aging, Administration on the Aging, etc. If you contact your local township or city hall, they will most likely have the information you need to contact the local Ombudsman Program.   The National Council on Aging website is an excellent resource to learn more about the various aging programs.


The Purpose (or Lack Thereof) of Twitter

pexels-photo-267350.jpegFlash back to 2007/2008. Your spouse comes home from work and says a colleague wants to get a following going on this new type of computer application called Twitter. He says you can message someone up to 140 characters. My question is: Why don’t you pick up the phone? He says that you can communicate with several people. My next question is: Why don’t you just email to a group of people? He has no answer. So, we are two people that never saw the purpose of using Twitter. It’s bad enough that people can take your email the wrong way or your Facebook post the wrong way, but limiting a message to 140 (now 280) characters, is only a recipe to bring out the worst in people. If you are not an articulate writer, then one tweet can unleash a barrage of negative responses if the tweet is taken the wrong way. So, what’s the purpose when you have alternatives? Even Twitter couldn’t describe its purpose for many years except that it was a form of microblogging. A person could tweet short messages to the universe hoping that someone finds the message useful and interesting. To me, that was not a purpose that would entice me to use the application.

However, over the years, Twitter has evolved. The word “hashtag” has virtually replaced the words “pound sign.” Twitter is not only used to give bursts of short messages to people, but now you can “follow” several news feeds, entertainment feeds, etc., to get your daily dose of information rather than buying a newspaper or magazine. With one look at your smart phone, you can keep an eye on trends, news, and even provide your opinion. This saves time but misses the point of really focusing in on the article you are reading.

I remember the days of when I would spend Sunday mornings, lazing around the house, drinking my coffee and reading through my newspaper and favorite magazines. The internet has changed that, and it’s a personal preference on how a person wants to get their information and communicate with people. For me, though, Twitter, doesn’t really have a purpose. I want to read and contemplate what I am reading rather than just taking a “quick view” of something or giving an opinion that is limited to how many characters I can type.

Growing Basil Indoors

If you love basil, there is nothing more pleasant than the aroma of a fresh basil plant when walking by the plant. We grew it outdoors for the first time last year and the patio just smelled great. As winter approached, we thought it was a good idea to try and grow it indoors to get that same great fragrance and have fresh basil on hand for cooking. So, if you like basil, and want to grow it indoors without starting it from seed, here are the easy steps:

Start with the Cuttings

1. Take a cutting from your existing basil plant. Take maybe three to five leaves from one stem. Make sure it is not flowering.
2. Place the cutting in a glass of water so it can form roots. Keep the water clean. You may need to change it in about a week.

Wait for Roots

3. After about two weeks, roots will have formed on the cutting. Once the roots are about 1 to 1½ inches long, plant them directly into a container with damp soil.
4. Keep the soil well drained and moist and in a location that gives the plant five to six hours of sun or light per day.
5. Once the basil leaves have grown to the size you want, you can cut them off the plant by cutting the stem right above where the two large leaves meet. Also, if the plant begins flowering, pinch off the flowers and let the plant concentrate on growing the leaves. Once you cut the leaves, you can wash them and use them, or wash and dry them and put them in a plastic bag in the freezer.
That’s it. Very easy and worthwhile.

Shorts, Black Socks and Dress Shoes

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, the one dress style that I hated the most was when my dad or his male friends, or even our male neighbors, would mow the lawn or do yard work wearing shorts, black socks and black dress shoes. I could never understand the fashion statement and I would cringe when I saw my dad wearing such an outfit. He wasn’t a nerd or anything, but boy when I saw him dressed like that, I just wanted to hide from the embarrassment of it all. Well, fast forward to 2018. A few months ago, my husband comes out of the bedroom because he’s going to mow the lawn and do some yard work. What is he wearing? You guessed it. Shorts, black socks and black shoes. My first thought was “I married my dad.” I of course shrieked with disdain and said “You’re not going out in public dressed like that are you?” He said “Of course I am.” I was just as embarrassed a few months ago as I was years ago.
I’m sure everyone has that one fashion combination that, when seen, causes cringes. One only hopes that it is just a fad and it will go away. For me, what my father started, my husband carried forward. I’m doomed to either learn to like the style, ignore it or cherish it as a worthy characteristic in the two loves of my life.

The Different Levels of Elder Care Facilities

Whether you are thinking about moving to an elder care residential facility or worrying about moving a loved one to a facility, researching is the key. The research process can be long and stressful, so here are some helpful definitions to get you started.

  •  Independent Living

    This is a type of senior living where a person lives in an apartment-type complex. The complex has security and usually offers its residents transportation, group activities, and cafeteria style eating. Health care services are minimal. Laundry services can also be included.

  • Assisted Living

    This is also apartment-style living with group activities, food services and security. But this type of facility also provides basic health services. Skilled nursing (a level of care provided by trained persons such as RNs, physical therapists, etc.) is usually not included. Laundry services are usually included along with assistance in bathing and dressing.

  • Skilled Nursing Facility

    This is also known as a nursing home or a convalescent home where residents receive 24/7 care by licensed professionals. Housekeeping and laundry services are usually included, as well as bathing and dressing assistance.

One popular and emerging type of elder facility is the Continuing Care Retirement Community. A typical community of this type includes several residential complexes. A person in declining health can live in the independent living section of the complex, then as his/her health deteriorates, the elder can move to a different residence in the same complex that provides more and higher levels of health care assistance.

The Importance of Kitchen Tested Recipes

Recipes Galore

There are millions of recipes on the Internet and in cookbooks. Most come with pictures that look beautiful and enticing enough to make you want to try it out. But, before you go out and buy the ingredients and put all your time and energy into a new meal, appetizer or dessert, make sure it has been kitchen tested.

My Experience with Untested Recipes

It’s easy to cut and paste a bunch of recipes into a website or publish a book of recipes in order to get the sale. It’s a lot harder for the authors to verify that they have tried the recipes before they published them. About 10 years ago, I bought a book by a couple of award winning cooks. I thought I had a goldmine of meals and desserts. The pictures made the finished products look so good and the recipes were easy to follow. However, the finished products didn’t look anything like the pictures and, to boot, they just didn’t taste good. Recently, I took a recipe for a simple loaf of bread off the Internet. I haven’t made bread in a long time and when the recipe didn’t call for proofing the yeast, I thought something might be wrong. Since it had been a while since I made bread, I wondered whether someone discovered a different proofing process. Nope. The bread should have been proofed the old-fashioned way – sitting in sugar and water until it bubbled. High school home economics 101.

So, before you print a recipe off the Internet or buy a cookbook, make sure the author has actually made the darn thing.

Medicaid for Parents Going Into Assisted Living

What is Medicaid?

Medicaid (not Medicare) is a federal/state health program for the needy and low-income. The rules are state-by-state and many of us are now looking at Medicaid for our parents that have little to no assets and who need to be in either assisted living or full time nursing care.

Each State has Different Medicaid Rules

The Medicaid rules in all states are very detailed and hard to follow. But, safe to say that there are two eligibility requirements – income and assets. There are assets that are counted by Medicaid and assets that are exempt. For instance, in Michigan, a person can own only $2,000.00 in assets to be eligible for Medicaid, and a person’s primary residence is exempt – not counted – in the total assets. If the assets exceed the minimum, a person must personally pay for the assisted living or nursing care until the assets reach that level.

Income levels are another eligibility requirement. Most, if not all of a person’s income, is paid directly to the assisted or nursing care facility. Again, the requirements go by state.
The cost of assisted living and nursing care facilities also vary by type and by state. The costs can be $4,000.00 per month and up, depending on where you live, the type of facility and the level of nursing care needed by the ailing person. The best thing to do is, when it is getting harder for a family to take care of an ailing person on their own, begin to check out some of the facilities for cleanliness, level of care, cost and waiting time. Some of the better facilities have a waiting list and, if you will need Medicaid, only a certain number of beds may be allocated to Medicaid patients. Don’t wait until the last minute, especially if you can do your research now.

Medicaid Recovery after Death

If you are able to qualify for Medicaid, there is another caveat that you must watch out for after death, and that is Medicaid recovery. States are required to seek recovery from a person’s estate for payments made by Medicaid. Some states seek repayment in an aggressive manner, but some states don’t make a big effort in the recovery process. In any case, remember that it is the person’s estate from which Medicaid can seek recovery. So, if there is nothing in the estate – nothing that needs to go to probate court – there is no recovery to seek. One of the main items of recovery is a person’s primary residence. If the spouse is no longer living, or if there is no spouse, and the house isn’t deeded to another person at the time of death of the Medicaid recipient, the house will most likely go to probate court and the state could file a claim to recoup its money. In these instances, it is best to put someone else’s name on the deed. Many states call the deed different names – transfer on death deed, beneficiary deed, ladybird deed, etc. With these types of transfers, upon death, then the house automatically goes to the other person listed on the deed. This avoids the house going into probate, and consequently, avoids a recovery claim by Medicaid.

I Love Pinterest Because I Can’t Visualize

I Don’t Have the Creativity Gene and Pinterest Helps

Pinterest is information overload and it intimidated me at first. But it is the greatest thing in the world if you can’t visualize, like me. If you know what you want, but can’t describe it or can’t draw it, Pinterest is wonderful. The best of the best ideas are on this website and it helps me find exactly what I am looking for. For instance, I had yellow in one of the bathrooms that couldn’t be changed. I didn’t know what colors worked with yellow, so I got onto Pinterest and searched yellow bathrooms. Low and behold, there were a ton of other colors that went well with the yellow, but when I saw the pictures of yellow and gray bathrooms, that was it! I was consumed by all the pictures and ideas by putting yellow and gray together. Those were the bathroom colors I wanted.  Yes, I could have gone through 10 or 12 magazines to find the right colors and ideas for the bathroom. But Pinterest made it so easy and there was so many more choices. Now, I’m not getting paid for saying this, and no one asked me to give a good rating to the website.  I honestly wanted to let people know that this is a great website for ideas, especially if you don’t quite know what you want, or can’t see what you want in your own mind.

Downsizing for Lifestyle – Don’t Become One Big Storage Bin

Moving to a Smaller Home

Downsizing is not the easiest decision to make. Many people consider the financial aspects of a smaller home. Not me. My motivation was that I just got tired of cleaning a big house where only two people lived.

Sorting Through Years of Storage

When we reached semi-retirement, we found a house about five hours away. The house was about half the size of our then-current house. I was responsible for packing everything up and sending it off to our new two bedroom house. What I realized when I was packing was that our house had turned into one giant storage facility. Every room was filled with furniture, clothes, paperwork, toys and dishes that we had not used in several years. Every closet was filled. Every cupboard was loaded to the max (I mean, why did I need 10 plastic beverage containers?) Everything was in “storage.” There was no need to hang onto those items, except for the sentimental value some of the items brought me when I looked at them and thought about the memories. But I had no choice. I was moving to a much smaller house which required less cleaning. (My biggest pet peeve is spending one day every weekend dusting and vacuuming and washing floors. When I was younger, this only took a couple of hours each week, but as I have gotten older, over time the couple of hours lengthened to a full day.

Half of Half is All You Need

In cleaning out the old house, I figured I could only take half my stuff to the new house. So, I muddled through and began pitching things, giving stuff to the neighbors and holding a couple of garage sales. I unloaded about half our old house and packed up the rest for the big move. Little did I know that I packed too much. The moving boxes filled our new basement from floor to ceiling. We didn’t have enough room to even begin unpacking. So, again, I had to throw things away, give stuff to the neighbors and hold garage sales. The expense of moving boxes only to have to give away the contents drove me crazy. But we did it and finally found the balance between our household items and our “storage.”

In the end, my recommendation when moving to a home half the size of your old home, you can only take about 1/4 of your stuff. So, downsize in the old home while you can. I will admit that we had about a dozen boxes that we put in the basement at the new house. Eight years later – we still haven’t looked in those boxes. That tells me that we really didn’t need all that stuff from our old house. We are just fine with what we have.

What Happened to Face to Face Talk?

Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 – Before the Internet

The Beatles, or the Fab Four as I so affectionately remember them, has their entire remastered catalog out in the public and it went on sale in 2009.  I remember playing Revolution 9 when the whole “Paul is dead” theory was rampant throughout the US. We played the song backward at “Number 9 Number 9 Number 9” and absolutely and positively thought we heard “turn me on dead man” and that this was a clue to Paul McCartney’s premature death. We sleuths were putting two and two together and were convinced between the Number 9 clue and the Abbey Road album, where Paul is walking across the street barefoot, that our idol was truly dead, and that an imposter was playing Paul. Conspiracy theories ran rampant back then. My friends and I would sit around camp fires, sit in our pajamas in each other’s basements at pj parties and just debate about the whole death theory (Why would someone make it up? How could they get the album to play backward? What about the license plate on Abbey Road? Didn’t you hear the car crash on that song?)

Wondering How We Would Debate it Now

That was before the internet. Face-to-face discussions about issues that affected our lives. I just wonder what it would be like if the whole “Paul McCartney is dead” theory happened now, with the internet, rather than back in the 1960’s.