Welcome to the elder law report, I’m Greg McIntyre, the elder law guy and I have my usual support team with me today, Hayden Soloway and Taylor Shelton, and our special guest is Billy Peeler who is with Mike House Senior Consulting Services.
This is an awesome business organization that helps and guides seniors and their families through the unchartered waters of finding the right place to care for their loved one. For many people, they don’t know the answers to these questions. That is where our guest will come in and what we will talk about here.
Before we get to that, Taylor, what is memorial day about?
TS: You’ve put me on the spot. Memorial day is about remembering the fallen veterans that served our country.
GM: That’s true, it is remembering those who have fallen or been injured defending our freedoms and serving our country, so we can sit back and talk on the radio and talk freely, and all that stuff. One way we do that is to display the American flag and eat hot dogs.
As a veteran of the US Navy, I love my brothers and sisters in arms, and appreciate those who are serving now. I am a certified attorney with the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs and qualify veteran seniors for veteran’s aid and attendance. Many veterans could get up to $34,000 dollars a year to help pay for in-home, assisted living or nursing home care if they ever need it.
That is a great benefit many veterans and their families do not know about. We qualify veterans for this benefit on a regular basis.
So, now it’s time for Hayden’s happy place, and I know you love lighthouses?
HS: I do love lighthouses, I will go out of my way to photograph a lighthouse.
GM: Didn’t you live in a lighthouse for a short time?
HS: No, but I spent a lot of time travelling by them, my favorite being Cape Lookout.
Everybody looks at the lighthouses in the gift stores and think, we’ve got eight lighthouses, well no, there are about nineteen and may be more, because you look at some lights that are just utilitarian out on a point, so it goes beyond Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras and the ones we see in the gift stores.
There are some interesting things about lighthouses and Taylor told me something about them.
TS: The United States has more lighthouses than any other country, and Cape Hatteras is the tallest lighthouse in North Carolina at one hundred and ninety six feet.
HS: And do you know which state has the most lighthouses?
HS: Michigan. Think about the lakes and the curvature of the land. They have one hundred and fifteen lighthouses in Michigan. Another interesting fact is that lighthouse keeping was one of the first United States government jobs made available to women. There are still lighthouses being used by the US Coastguard today. You would think with GPS and all the technology we have that they would have fallen out of use. Also, when lighthouses were close together, they had different flash patterns so mariners could count the number of seconds it takes for a rotation and determine the lighthouse and where they were. From 1886 to 1902 the tallest lighthouse that was active in the world was the Statue of Liberty. The newest one is the Charleston light which was completed in 1962 and is triangular. The oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina which has been guiding ships since 1817 was ‘old baldy’ on Bald head Island.
GM: When I was in the Navy I did the light morse code on the ship, and one time I saw this ship or light coming toward us, and I said in morse code, ‘move, we’re an aircraft carrier and we’re coming toward you and will probably run right over you’, and the response was, ‘we’re a lighthouse, so you might want to correct course.’
So, Billy, how are you today?
BP: I’m doing fantastic Greg.
GM: We have known each other for a while, we’ve done some breakfasts and lunches, networking groups and seminars together. That was way back in the beginning when I first started doing seminars, so, you’ve been in the senior care world for quite a while, and have worked for some assisted living facilities?
BP: Yes, I worked for Carillon Assisted living, a great organization. I enjoyed what I did and it set the platform for what I wanted to do with this company, and what I wanted to provide. The biggest issue was, I wanted to help everybody and not cater to just one individual facility because that might not be best for everyone. I wanted to do what I could to guide folks in the right direction for what’s going to suit them the best.
GM: So, you’re someone they can trust to evaluate the care need and help them determine if this is the right fit, this in-home service, or this assisted living service, or this skilled nursing service?
BP: Absolutely. We have two wonderful contracted nurses on staff who will go in and do a physical level assessment, a cognitive level assessment, and then an in-home assessment, because if someone wants to stay home, we want them to be able to do that. We want them to come up with a plan but if that is not an option, we do have ways where we can do the assessments, talk with the doctors, talk with the family to see what the ultimate goal is, and have them provide a plan that way.
GM: That is awesome. I didn’t know about the nurses you have.
BP: Yes, we have two wonderful nurses who have been in nursing for, lord, as long as I can remember, since I was born, because one of them is my mom. She is very knowledgeable, and has been in the nursing field a long time. She’s worked for doctor’s offices, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, so she knows the ropes.
GM: I’m a huge fan of family businesses. So, you guys go in and evaluate a care need, and then what happens? What questions do you think seniors or the families of seniors have when someone has a care need?
BP: Well, there is a couple of things:
Number one, when is the time to make a move?
It’s not always an easy transition or easy conversation to have with your family, with your loved one. That is one way we can come in and scope, and have the conversations with your loved one and the family, because you have some families where the primary caregiver is ready to do something but the family who lives out of town thinks, oh, mom or dad are fine. They think they don’t need any help, you’ve got it under control. They don’t see the everyday care that is involved and what a toll it takes on the caregiver and their family.
GM: A lot of the time, family caregivers will pre-decease the person they are caring for. That is crazy. Why is that?
BP: Because the caregiver gets so worn out. All the time and the energy, the mental state, it all takes a toll on the whole person, not just one side but it takes everything inside of you to care for a loved one.
HS: Caregivers often put aside their own needs to care, which can include delaying checkups and putting off social activities with friends, which brings about one of the things we need for longevity, happiness.
GM: You talk about that a lot.
HS: Well, I am a caregiver. Fortunately I have a brother and sister and it works out well for us but we have a dilemma coming up over a weekend when one wants to be gone for four days. We’re trying to put that together now.
In situations, especially where someone has had to quit their job, and it’s their only income, it effects their quality of life.
GM: Taking care of yourself is important. You must take some time for yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t love the care recipient, your husband or wife, you have to take some time to take care of yourself.
HS: There are things like respite care, and sometimes it is expensive but if you qualify, you can go through care solutions. They can organize some money for a temporary respite so the family can have some time away.
BP: Respite is a great way for the family to get a break. Sometimes even the caregiver and person they’re taking care of just need to be separated for a little bit because you get tired of each other. If you’re the primary caregiver, you’re in there every day, it takes a toll on both of them.
HS: Is respite care a good opportunity for someone who anticipates having to go somewhere to go visit and see what the facility is really like on a day to day basis?
BP: I really can’t tell you how many folks I have moved into a community that just want to test it out, or who are not sure if it’s going to be the right fit. They go in and do a week, or a two week respite to see how they will adjust.
I would say be careful with that because the simple fact is, there is a transition period when someone moves into a community. A lot of time that transition is two to three weeks. So, can you really get the full idea of how that person will adjust during that short amount of time. I would make sure it is worth your time before you do it.
There are a lot of folks out there who would rather do these assisted living communities on a month by month basis. If you can do a month to allow the person to adjust and really see how they will do, give them that instead of just trying a week. That week is going to be your loved one adjusting to the move, so let them settle in, let them get used to the socialization, the activity and the structure of that facility.
I talk about those three things all the time, and even if you have the ability to stay at home and take care of a loved one, really take into consideration other than yourself, the care giver and the care receiver, what other socialization is that person getting? What other types of activities are they doing, and what is the structure because of the old saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
HS: But you can take someone out of a care facility in many cases if they don’t require constant medical care. You can take them to dinner, we take my father out to dinner at least twice a week. When he goes to rehab which he does about every six to eight weeks, and he has to be there a couple of weeks, we try and get him out. He went to the beach last week with my sister and brother.
BP: That’s what it’s all about. As long as you are able to do that and have the means to do that, then why shouldn’t that person stay at home? Then there are some families that have to work, there’s not a chance, especially when you think of alzheimers and dementia to leave someone at home by themselves while you are at work? How safe is that? They’re home alone.
GM: It’s not.
HS: There is certain technology available, such as, I’ve fallen and can’t get up, and the medication dispensers.
BP: Right, and now people are using baby monitors to hear what’s going on at home, or in-home camera systems, which are great things, but I still want to focus on that socialization, activity and structure because that is going to be key, especially in alzheimers, to know the development and progression of the disease.
HS: In my short and abbreviated experience, the things that matter the most, at least to my father, is food and visitors. I would say that for some, there would be bingo and activities like that. You must find out what means the most to your parents, or whoever you’re caring for.
GM: For families needing help in these situations, and there really is a great need, there seems to be no one to call. They’re feeling like there’s a void. In the senior care world, Billy Peeler can be that person to contact. You can be that lighthouse helping to guide them to where they need to go, and steering them away from situations that might be a bad fit. Plus, I see clients on a regular basis who say, they are full over here, they are full over there, where can we go, what can we do? You would be the person to call who can help them find the right place, where there is an open bed or room, or in-home solution. You also evaluate, and decide if can they do private pay or do we need to find a care benefit for them.
BP: I think that’s what is different about us from some of these other companies. We promote the one on one, guide you through the whole process, instead of just finding you somewhere and say, there you go. I want to be able to help everyone, so if it is Medicaid, I want to help educate them on the facilities that accept Medicaid. You know as much as I do, all the changes in Medicaid now, who bills for Personal Care Services and who doesn’t?
GM: We routinely qualify families for Medicaid. Regardless of asset situation, we will find the right benefit whether it be VA or Medicaid.
I want to thank you for coming on the show today. Maybe we can do a follow up on this, say, how seniors and their families can locate the right care facility?
BP: If anyone needs to get in touch with me, our number is 704-473-6149. We are in the process of getting our website up and running, and on Facebook, look up Mike House Senior Consulting Services.
If anyone needs to contact McIntyre Elder Law about anything discussed here, you can call us, if you are listening in the Charlotte to Tryon area on 704-343-6933, or if you are in the Henderson/ Asheville area you can reach us at 828-398-0181.
We are located in Shelby NC, at 123 W. Marion St. We see clients by appointment only in-home, or in one of our meeting locations in Asheville or Charlotte. You can see a video of this show on Facebook at McIntyre elder law, or go to our website at mcelderlaw.com
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street
Shelby, NC 28150