Observations by Rachel Sanks

Archive for the ‘Caregiving’ Category

Five ways to ensure that a advance directive will be followed

In Caregiving on August 20, 2013 at 7:29 am

Eldercare Advice Blog

Dear Dr. CC,

As you know, both my parents are former clients of your law practice.  I learned from them that it is important to have advanced directives prepared ‘just in case’ I might need one.  So, I have one (made my husband get one, too).  We are concerned, though, that even though we have them they might go unrecorded or get ignored.  How do we guard against this happening?

Your estate plan fan,

Margo Hagan

Dear Margo,

You have asked a question that surprisingly seldom gets asked.  There are a number of things you can do to help ensure the likelihood that your advance directive (AD) will be followed when – and if- the time comes.  Here’s how:

  1. Be sure to share copies of your AD with all your healthcare providers and those who hold your healthcare power of attorney/ health care decision maker/ health care proxy.
  2. Communicate with…

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In Caregiving, Geekery on March 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

I am re-blogging this from the blog about my “other” life as a storyteller – I think it functions as a great metaphor for how you can make something wonderful with the basic tools around you.

Sometimes as a caregiver you feel trapped. You wish that you had more experience, or special knowledge, that will help qualify you for the task at hand. But nothing qualifies you more than wanting  to find the answer to the problem of the day — many times that desire alone will push you into spaces where new solutions are developed. In fact, frequently new solutions are developed by those kinds of situations.

Obviously, innovation through need or desire is the best case scenario — but it happens more than you might think. So, for those of you sitting at the bottom of well maybe a lovely video will brighten your day.


Rachel Sanks

Pretendy Fun-Time Games!

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NYS Article 81 | The Road to Guardianship

In Caregiving on February 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm
Seal of New York.

Seal of New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obligatory Disclaimer:

Let’s start here, I’m not a lawyer. What I’m going to be talking about in this blog post involves legal concepts of Guardianship that I’ve begun to familiarize myself with as a lay person. The information that I’ve found is specific to New York State Law. If you have questions, I encourage you to do some research and consult an actual lawyer for advice.

Okay, now that that bit of business is out of the way – let’s talk. Caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on the person being cared for there is a range of needs that a person who requires care might have. Some of these are very basic things like reminders, and some can be very complex.

Because of the particular situation in my household, it seems like filing an Article 81 – Petition for Guardianship of my mother seems to be the best long term choice for my family. To be completely honest, I have stressed about filing this thing for over a year, it means being legally and financially responsible for my mother – including filing an annual accounting of her income. It also means officially declaring that my mother is not capable of caring for herself – which carries with it its own boatload of emotional meaning.

Filing for guardianship is a Big Deal – note the capital ‘b’ and ‘d’. There are a lot of other steps a caregiver can take which are both easier and less permanent:

  • Health Care Proxy – This form is available online and at most hospitals, basically it designates another person to be responsible for making health care decisions.
  • Power of Attorney – While you can go to lawyer to get one of these made for you, there are a lot of  pre-made Power of Attorney forms you can purchase online from places like Bloomberg which will also work.
  • Representative Payee  – If you are caring for someone who cannot manage for themselves and they are receiving some kind of Social Security Pension, you can have yourself declared a “Representative Payee” and have the money sent to you in order to manage their care.

In New York, there are these laws called the “Mental Health Hygiene Laws” and the basic idea seems to be allowing the incapacitated person as much freedom as their capability can allow. So before you start filing for Guardianship, make sure you try these easier steps first and see if you can manage the situation using these tools before taking the plunge.

Should you find that guardianship is something that would ultimately need,  there are certain factors that make the process a lot easier. For instance, can the person you are caring for can attend court and agree to designate you their guardian? – If so, than your petition is likely to go a lot smoother. Can you afford to go to an Elder care attorney? – If so, it is likely to save you a great deal of time and research.

However, if you don’t have a barrel of cash hidden away for a rainy day — you can still call your local courthouse and ask for help and assistance. In New York County, they have a special phone number set up specifically for people who are filing for guardianship that have questions. More and More courts are trying to make it easier for non-lawyers to avail themselves of the right forms and paperwork to complete these kinds of needed steps. Use the internet and find out what resources are available to you — you might be surprised at what you find.

Either way, I wish you the best of luck.

– RachelSanks

Prescription Eyeglasses without Breaking the Bank

In Caregiving on March 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm
A bifocal corrective eyeglass lens

A bifocal corrective eyeglass lens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother, who despite impressive accomplishments in speech recovery, still has a hard time doing many day to day tasks that involve both complex explanation and strangers. So when she pointed at her new eyeglass prescription and asked, “When?”My thought was to go to that local chain retailer of prescription eyeglasses.

The store was well-lit when we entered. My mother, seeing the oversized 50% Off (select frames) signed pointed and nodded approvingly. There where a couple of things that sign failed to mention:

  • The 50% would be applied to frames only.
  • There where only two pairs of frames in the entire store that was less than $100.
  • The cost of the prescription lenses (bifocals) and coatings like anti-glare, and scratch resistant would be another couple of hundred dollars.

Bottomline: $370.oo (plus tax) for plastic frames with bifocals and anti-glare.

Also See: Lenscrafters Fail.

Later that evening I resolved to research the situation. Cursory browsing of the internet revealed that others had stumbled onto the same question. One of the first things I found was a letter to The Gothamist asking the same questions I had.

Gothamist’s suggestions:

Warby Parker Home Try On

Warby Parker Home Try On (Photo credit: Ben Adamson)

A little more research showed a couple of articles from BusinessWeek, and the New York  Times last year remarking on a prescription eyeglass company called, Warby Parker. Warby Parker is apparently innovating in the prescription eyeware industry by selling glasses online – and getting people to actually buy them. Following the model of internet sales companies like Zappos, Warby Parker puts an emphasis on customer service, low cost, and low risk allowing customers to have ‘At-Home Try-Ons’.


So, on the basis of the word of some reputable sources I scheduled an appointment to go into a local Warby Parker store in my area. Unfortunately the earliest opening they had (they only do in-store by appointment) available was about a month out – and they don’t do bifocals yet. Popular place, bleh.

39dollarglasses by contrast, has been in business for ten years, I couldn’t figure out the online ordering system, but calling the 800 number was a breeze. And, the customer service lady, Andrea, was incredibly helpful.

I ordered a pair of bifocals with plastic frames just like my mother wanted. I may have measured her PD (Pupil distance) eight times, and we are expecting the shipment in a couple of days. I’ll let you know how it goes.



The glasses arrived fairly quickly and were a complete hit! We ordered a second back up pair as well. Go Team.


Nancy Roman

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