It may appear different for everyone, depending on what’s important to you and
your children, but happiness really is only one thing, and the one thing in life that
everyone is looking for?
Most of us look for it out there in the world. We search and search in jobs, houses, money, people, booze, drugs, you name it, and sometimes we search our whole lives but only a few it seems, really find it.
And there’s a really good reason for this, and here it is:
What if happiness is there all along, we’re just searching in the wrong place, or in the wrong direction?
Think about this: When you meet someone and you realize, wow, this is it, what are you feeling? It’s love right? Well where are you feeling it? It’s within you. Do you ever feel love outside of you?
All your feelings are within you right, and because of that, all these feelings are choices. You choose to feel happy or sad, loving, or angry. It’s your decision whether you love someone or hate them. You base your feelings on things external to you but they’re still your feelings.
Some of you will feel empowered by this and some will be offended, angry and hurt by it. Again it’s your decision.
But what is a living legacy and how does it relate to your happiness?
To start with, I need to show you that love and commitment exist. That it does and can happen, even to you? I can show you what it is that gets people 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of love and commitment.
But time is really not a factor in your legacy. A living legacy is all times. It doesn’t matter, it’s not a race, we’re not in a happiness competition with each other.
You have a living legacy whether you know it, want it, or care.
So let’s ask this again. What does happiness entail?
It’s just a decision to be loving and positive no matter what.
We all have our rough days but it’s precisely at those times when we should say to ourselves, “I am going to be loving and stay positive no matter what,” and then say in your mind, “I love you” to whatever situation or person (including yourself) that is causing you to choose a negative path. Then keep saying it until you feel it.
If it seems too hard in that moment, fake it until you feel it.
It’s actually not that difficult. It’s just you making a decision and committing to it. You can do that right?
What is the ‘Why’ of all this? Why should you care?
You should care because underneath it all, we all want to be happy more than anything. No matter what you do in life, your position, family, role, level of success, we all want this thing called happiness, so test it.
Make a decision for one day to be happy and loving no matter what goes on, or what happens during that time.
Here is the one big thing to help with this, because we as humans have, in general
Failed to grasp this:
Stop thinking in terms of wanting to be loved,
and instead think only of being loving.
If we all did this, consistently, it would change the world, rapidly.
This is an example of a Living legacy.
Ted and Terry McIntyre. 50 years of marriage. What’s the Secret?
“What does it take to hold a marriage together for 50 years?”
Mom– “Love, commitment.”
Greg– “And lots of awesome kids.”
Mom– “Who can separate with 5 kids. I think the most important thing is to love the person you’re married to, otherwise you won’t be happy, and commitment. Just make it work.”
Greg– “Dad, do you have any words of wisdom?”
Dad– “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Mom– “Cause there’ll be plenty of big stuff.”
Dad– “There’ll be a lot of that.”
This is my family.
This is what we work for. A lifetime devoted to personal betterment, yes, but also driven by devotion to family. To make a better life for ourselves and our children.
My father is the hardest working man I know.
I remember hearing his alarm clock going off at 4:30am every morning and hearing him roll out of bed and get ready for the day. It was consistent. Like clockwork. His employers could always count on him. We, the family, could always count on him.
Dad (Ted McIntyre) has been retired several years now and has remodeled my home almost single handedly. He is constantly working on other projects. He is very involved in his church and with friends. I always remember this one saying from my Dad: I used to play so much baseball and I would get down when I first started, when I made errors on a play. He’d say, ‘Everybody makes errors once in a while, but you’ve got to get ready for the next play cause the next batters up, the next balls coming.’ He taught me that. Great life lessons happen all the time, throughout life. It really got me ready because that’s very much how life is. Every once in a while we make a mistake, but we have to keep moving forward cause the next plays coming right. A truly great role model for me and my sons.
My mother (Terry McIntyre), is equally hard working and creative. She was my mother and chauffeur when I was growing up, shuttling me endlessly to ball games and practices, and she worked full time as the pastor’s secretary at First Baptist Church in Shelby, NC. She was the queen of school projects, always there to push me forward and beyond. I have to say dad also helped a ton so I guess you would call him the king of school projects.
They’ve been there more than words can say. I followed my Dad’s lead into the Navy. It worked well for him and for me. I followed his lead going to college. Man, was that a great decision! I have tried and sometimes failed to follow his lead as a Christian father, a God fearing man, tirelessly devoted to his wife, children and providing for them no matter what.
I’m different from my parents, we all are, but they provided and continue to provide a great roadmap to follow for how to have a thriving marriage, family and be a decent human being.
That’s their legacy. The legacy that you hang in there with your wife through thick and thin. You support each other. You made it look quite effortless but I know it takes a lot of work. You work hard for your family no matter what. You love your children unconditionally. You try to teach them the right things to do, what you consider the right things. You know what that is!
These are the real legacies we leave our families.
I have been married over 17 years now to my lovely wife, Stefanie. 50 years seems like a long way away. My mom told me yesterday that 25 years would be here before I knew it. She’s right. This life… time flies by so fast.
I wish my parents a Very happy 50th anniversary.
I hope that I can live up to their living legacy of being kind, hard working, Christian folks.
Thank you very much for your wisdom, advice, perseverance through your marriage, and here’s to you both.
I know you are working on your living legacy out there too. I hope we all make it to 50 years of love and commitment and everything else, so choose to have a good life no matter what. It can only get better by doing so.
Bibliography and Resources
The Ultimate truth – Lester levenson
No Attachments No Aversions. The autobiography of a master – Lester Levenson
Love Yourself and let the other person have it your way – Lawrence Crane
The Divine Matrix – Gregg Braden
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street, Shelby
Today, we’re going to look at Lady Bird Deeds, including what they are, what they do, and how they differ from traditional deeds, like regular general warranty deeds or life estates deeds. We’ll also look at how they fit into your estate planning, especially when considering the option of possible Medicaid or protecting against that.
I love these deeds because they can accomplish lots quickly. Why are they called Lady Bird Deeds? They get their name from Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, the commander-in-chief originally responsible for implementing Medicaid.
I’ll be speaking on these deeds as they exist in the legal system of North Carolina because that’s the state where I practice law. However, many other states in the US also use and accept Lady Bird Deeds in much the same way. Let’s start by talking about why they are important to you and your estate plan.
Medicaid can put a lien on your house and take it when you pass if you have to draw on the system at any point to pay for long-term care. We’ve discussed before how 70% of seniors over 65 years of age are going to require some kind of long-term care, whether it’s in-home or at a nursing facility, before we pass. In order to qualify for Medicaid, we have to spend out of our own assets or have in place long-term care insurance and some type of plan to protect our assets. Lady Bird Deeds can help with that and be used to avoid having to give up your home at your passing to pay the lien that Medicaid may place on that house.
Let us compare Lady Bird Deeds to other deeds. There are general warranty deeds or regular fee simple deeds, which is when you pass everything to a grantee or whomever you may appoint. You may have chosen a life estate deed. These have been around for a long time and work a bit differently than a general warranty deed. Life estate deeds allow you to give away a future interest in property. You retain what’s called a life estate or a life interest in that property which allows you to sell or mortgage said life interest.
However, it is a very limited interest. At your passing, whomever you sold that life estate, that deed would automatically be jerked from that person’s possession and passed to whomever the future interest holder may perhaps be a son or daughter. This means life estate deeds are very limited. Also, life estate deeds do count as a transfer of assets and that would stick you with a penalty or prevent you from drawing Medicaid.
You would later have to void that transfer or re-transfer the property back to yourself to be able to qualify for Medicaid. A Lady Bird Deed is really the best of both worlds. This deed allows you to reserve a life interest in a property but it qualifies or defines that life interest as one that is like a fee simple full-ownership interest. You are still allowed to mortgage, sell, or gift the property and extinguish the future interest holder. You can control it fully, but you’ve already named a future interest holder in that Lady Bird Deed, which may be the son or daughter that you want to receive it once you pass.
A Medicaid lien will not attach to the property but because you’ve retained control of it, and it is not a countable asset transfer that will give you a penalty for time to qualify for Medicaid or otherwise deny you eligibility for Medicaid. You can literally give away the home and any surrounding contiguous property, which means property that is not separated by boundaries then go and apply for Medicaid the next day.
This works very well in North Carolina right now.
States such as Georgia and South Carolina, however, do not allow Lady Bird Deeds. At this point in time, they are allowable in North Carolina and this is a very good way, especially in an emergency situation, to transfer assets. There is a possibility in the future that the policy will change but that is always a possibility.
There are other ways to shield property, such as Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, that are more advanced. However, Lady Bird Deeds are a simple way to transfer property and still qualify for Medicaid, while not allowing a Medicaid lien to be placed against your property. So, what should you do? By doing nothing, you risk losing your home that you have worked for. Some people have worked to pay off their home for 30+ years, meaning you have put a lot of time and energy into this property.
You would be losing, essentially, the American dream. Your home is part of that dream. Protect it by getting your property deeds in order. You can do this by using Lady Bird Deeds and other strategies, which can help save your property, but only if you take action.
Remember that a Medicaid look-back period is important in a lot of pre-planning and emergency situations involving a home. The clock is ticking, so contact an elder law attorney. You can visit our website at www.mcelderlaw.com or feel free to contact my office directly at (704) 259-7040. We would be glad to consult with you regarding the best approach to use to keep your hard earned properties, savings, and assets.
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street, Shelby 704-259-7040
Hey this is Greg McIntyre the elder law guy with McIntyre elder law. I’ve been feeling nostalgic this morning. I wrote this while at the beautiful Gardner Webb University, where I come to get a little peace and quiet every once in a while.
The reason I’m here today is I’ve been working on my book called ‘Saving the Farm, a practical guide to the legal maze of aging in America’ which should be finished in the next 2 days, but I wasn’t happy with the front and back covers for the book, so I came here to get some original photos. I went out to Lattimore North Carolina which is where my grandfather Papa Mac and Mama Mac lived on the farm. My grandfather had lived in assisted living for more than a decade.
So I was looking for wide open spaces. I had envisioned the back cover to be a farm with land and rolling hills and I got a great picture. I’ve edited it for everyone getting the newsletter, or you can see it on youtube, or our website, mcelderlaw.com, just click on the tab that says ‘elder law tv’, and you’ll see what the back cover will look like. I photographed a great barn that I’m going to use for the front cover, and applied a black and white filter to convey the mood for ‘Saving the Farm’.
I got nostalgic looking around at that old house thinking about my grandparents and remembering watching the wonderful world of Disney with my grandfather. I’d get up in the morning, smell the pancakes my grandfather made, coming down to the kitchen and eating and playing out by the barn where there were chickens, or going back to a logging operation behind the house. All kinds of memories, so I was a bit nostalgic. I went around for a few hours before I found what I wanted to photograph.
It’s a big leap between a written document and a printed book or ebook formats, so I’m working with a book designer to organize and achieve that. So look out for it, it’s going to be first on Amazon iTunes, and we’ll do a lot more to get it to everyone affiliated with our firm, or who is a client with our firm.
Now I like word origins. The origins of the word ‘Nostalgia’ comes from the Greek word ‘Nostos’, which means ‘return home’ or ‘homecoming’, and then ‘algos’, which means ‘pain’, or ‘ache’ so, return home in pain. That was different than what I thought it would be. The definition for ‘Nostalgia’ says, ‘a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place associated with happy personal connections’.
You’re sentimental when thinking about college days, the grandparents, the kids, your own childhood, or it can be: Something done or presented in order to provoke feelings of nostalgia. An evening of TV nostalgia for instance.
Also there is the German word, ‘Heimweh’, which means ‘homesickness’. In the late 18th century these merged into ‘Nostalgia’, or ‘acute homesickness’.
For me, Nostalgia is just thinking about the past in a sentimental or a good way. What I’m cautioning you not to do, is you don’t want to lament the past in a bad way. That Greek word, ‘Algos’ or ‘pain’, you want to leave that out of your nostalgic thoughts, if you can. You want them to be as enjoyable as possible. You want your kids to be nostalgic about their memories with you. What I’m getting at is this; we want to make sure we plan ahead.
Don’t lament the loss of property because you didn’t plan properly, or knowing that hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent down on a nursing home stay that could have gone to sending your kids to college. You might want to set aside money for that nursing home stay in case it happens, or make sure you’re in with your insurance agent on long term care.
It takes minimal effort to plan ahead, to put in place a General Durable Power of Attorney, so that somebody else can handle your personal business for you. Healthcare Power of Attorney, so that someone can manage life and death healthcare situations. You certainly don’t want to lament that if you don’t have it in place. Seeing an elder law attorney would help you put in place a Ladybird Deed that could save the house right now under North Carolina rules. North Carolina policy could save the house even if you need Medicaid assistance for nursing home or assisted living care. Why wouldn’t you put that in place?
That’s a no brainer. It could save a house worth tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, that you worked so hard for, paid so much for and put so much blood sweat and tears into owning and acquiring. Heaven forbid that you’re incapacitated or incompetent at some time in life, where you don’t have a family member appointed to take care of your personal affairs and your cash. If you’re stuck in that situation where somebody has to pursue Guardianship over you to take over the finances, as well as healthcare decisions, that’s not good. Don’t put your family in that situation. Don’t put them in a situation where all the money is being spent down. Plan ahead for that.
We have Trust Planning that we can do for clients that can send the grandkids to college, and can make sure you have plenty of income going into your senior years, and make sure it’s protected against that spend down if you had a long term care incident or need of a stay. At least it gives you options. At least you’re not subject to the whims of the laws and the wind, whichever way it’s blowing right now in the political climate.
You think the political climate and laws change? Of course they do, and this is a perfect time to talk about it. Tax laws change, Medicaid laws will change, the look back periods change. The word on the street is they will go from 3 years for Assisted Living and 5 years for Nursing Home Medicaid, to a look back period of 5 years for Assisted Living and 7 years for Nursing Home Medicaid. And who knows how long the Ladybird protection deed will be in place? I’ve had people in the know tell me about how they wonder if that is going away soon. I’m surprised they haven’t taken it away already? So get that protection while you can. Get your foundational documents in place while you can. Look at Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts while you can. Don’t let your grandkids be nostalgic about how the old home stead now belongs to someone else, because you failed to plan to protect it and keep it in your family.
Nostalgia’s great for thinking about the right things, about the wonderful world of Disney, Disney was special back in those days. I want to say it was black and white but I know it was in color. It came on maybe at 7 o’clock on Sunday nights. Watching it with the grandparents with the smell of pancakes in the air on a Saturday morning, I can smell them right now. It was so special. Don’t let the kids and grandkids lament or be nostalgic in a way where because of a lack of planning, Johnny and Suzie didn’t get to go to college or have a chance to fulfill their potential.
I’m Greg McIntyre the elder law guy. If you need to talk to me or see me, you can follow me on twitter at lawyergreg or give our firm a call at 704-259-7040. We would be glad to set up that appointment.
So call me, I’ll be glad to talk about putting your foundations in place, putting a Ladybird Deed around the house to protect it. We’ll talk about Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, that’s a really neat trust we draft that can help save your hard earned money and property, not just for you but for future generations.
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street Shelby, NC 28150
Hey this is Greg McIntyre with McIntyre Elder Law helping seniors protect their assets and legacies. It’s been a long week, and I wanted to wrap it up for you by getting into what I’m really hot on right now, which is Guardianships.
I’m so fired up about this and so I focused this episode on Guardianship Nightmares and how you can avoid them. You just have no idea what you are subjecting yourself and your family to, and your hard earned savings that you worked for your entire life, including your home if you do not plan ahead with some basic documents. I’m telling you right now, guardianships are not good things and are not a good place to be.
If you wind up in a guardianship, all assets are frozen. It is nearly impossible to move them or to help yourself or a family member. So let me tell you what I’m talking about.
Let’s explore what types of guardianships there are. Guardianship of the Person Guardianship of the Estate General Guardianship.
‘Guardianship of the Person’ means you are able to make healthcare and other legal decisions for someone okay. But that doesn’t mean manage their money.
‘Guardianship of the Estate’ means you can just manage their money but not make those other legal and healthcare decisions for them.
If you are ‘General Guardian’ you can manage their money and you can manage their healthcare and make other legal decisions.
Now some requirements for ‘Guardianship of the Estate’ or ‘General Guardianship’ are, you have to file annual inventories, keep all receipts for everything you do, and hope you are making all the right moves with the expenditure because even though I know the majority of people are acting in good faith taking care of their family members, you can get flagged for some funky stuff, and I’ll go into that in a little while. You should always petition the clerk for anything, any way you need to spend money is just a safe bet. Petition the clerk ahead of time.
I have seen clerks petition and remove a guardian okay. I have seen them petition to remove a guardian, a family member, a trusted family member who loves either their mother or sister or brother to death, and would never do anything wrong with their money but the clerk petitioned to remove them because they paid tithe. Yes you heard me right, because even if the ward has a history of always paying tithe and is so important to them, even if they are a spiritual being and trust me, you’re still a spiritual being after you are found incompetent and in need of a guardian, but if you’re paying tithe, even a minimal amount of tithe, the clerk can make a big deal out of that, like something crazy is going on because you’re contributing to the church. This is even if that person is a really strong part of the church okay, and a really great fixture at that church, it’s unreal and sad. Again I’m fired up about this because I can’t believe this happens in our society. I cannot believe it. You shouldn’t believe it either, and you should be up in arms about it, I’m telling you, because it’s horrible the way the guardianships are run today.
I have seen birthday gifts, small birthday gifts for family members that the ward, this incompetent, this family member who loves their niece or nephew or whoever, and wants to buy a little something for them. So the guardian says okay we’ll buy a little something for this child on their birthday, and you would not believe how much this is blown out of all proportions. It is made out that the guardian who is the family member, has taken advantage of this ward by buying this birthday gift for this person. And you’re hearing me right, these are actual events I have witnessed take place, so you need to be aware of that.
You need to be aware that those are potential problems and issues. And that’s just talking about small things. When you start getting into larger conveyances or expenditures, even if you’re acting in the best interest or you feel like you are acting in the best interest of your mother, dad, sister or brother, son, or daughter that you’re guardian of, you are going to be looked upon almost as the bad guy. You will be under a really harsh eye by clerks at the clerk’s office who are really going to give you a hard time. And I don’t mean a little bit, I mean a hard time. That’s happening in my community, Cleveland County all the time. I am sure this happens across the state in North Carolina. It’s harsh, it takes no prisoners and it can tear up a family and really really call out your reputation as well.
So you want to try to avoid these Guardianship nightmares. You want to stay the heck away from them, and there are easy ways to do that.
You can avoid them by putting in place Powers of Attorney. Now I don’t like short form Powers of Attorney, but let me tell you why I equate powers of attorney with guardianship. You can put in place ‘General Durable Powers of Attorney’, that’s the same and functions the same as ‘Guardianship of the Estate’, which means you are in charge of the money, and charged with spending it correctly. You still have a fiduciary duty to take care of mom, dad, sister, brother and act in their best interests but you are not under the eye of the state. The state isn’t questioning every move you make which is a huge problem.
For example, let’s say you were in a nursing home, I have seen the state allow a person’s house fall to rot, instead of allowing any money to fix that house up. But they will let the money be spent down every single month, that’s about $5000 to $7000 dollars a month just to the nursing home, so you might as well go write a check for everything you’ve saved your entire life and write it out to the nursing home, and the state feels justified in doing that.
It’s not right, and it’s not okay. I advocate against it every single day. However, a ‘General Durable Power of Attorney’ will help you avoid this situation. It will help keep you out of this situation, and that is what you want, and that is what you need.
Again I’m not a fan of forms because they can easily be modified. Don’t print one off online that would be my advice. Don’t let your entire retirement and assets you saved and worked for your entire life be squandered by putting the state in control of it. Take control, take control now. Put ‘General Durable Powers of Attorney’ in place ahead of time. Ours are 21 to 25 pages for long form ‘Powers of Attorney’ because they really enumerate everything you can do. Our ‘Powers of Attorney’ allow your spouse to make any business decision you can make yourself, so they could just step in. Hell, my wife can’t even modify my cell phone bill because I set it up unless she has a ‘Power of Attorney’ or something like that to do so. It’s the same with Utilities if they’re in the spouse’s name. If you’re aging then go ahead and put your spouse and others on there. Everybody, aging or not, needs to have these in place but you should put multiple people on them.
When Michael Jordan fouls out he needs somebody to come off the bench, so your ‘Attorney in Fact’, the person who is acting as you when you can’t because of a healthcare problem, even if it’s temporary, you know if that person can’t act, you do not want to put the state in place, you just don’t want that. Stay the heck away from that okay. We want to go ahead and put a second person in place, a second trusted family member like a son or daughter. You can go as deep on that bench as you want, 2 or 3 people sitting on the bench ready to come in and fill in for a husband or wife who is your primary ‘Attorney In Fact’.
Now why is that important?
If your primary is suddenly unable to fill in and you have no second, then you are at the mercy of the state. The family would either be stuck and unable to move assets or access accounts, or save their home, or the alternative would be seek guardianship but then the assets are frozen solid.
You’re stuck unless your spouse has a ‘Power of Attorney in place’ and multiple people on them. Let’s say you have early onset Alzheimer’s and you’re in your 60’s to early 70’s, and your wife or husband has a good 20 or 30 years ahead of them. All the money is being spent down, and the spouse is in my office crying because all the money is going away, and you didn’t act ahead of time to put in place the ‘General Durable Power of Attorney’.
I see this situation on a regular weekly basis at least and it’s sad, because then you are looking at a Guardianship to do anything, and the state is going to lock it down. They have no mercy, they do not care that you are going to be destitute if all this money is spent down. That’s where you need the ‘General Durable Power of Attorney’, so let’s put those in place ahead of time. It’s very important.
‘Healthcare Powers of Attorney’ will replace ‘Guardianship of the Person’. Now ‘Guardianship of the Person’ is where you are going to have a court proceeding where a family member will be appointed to make healthcare decisions for you. That isn’t so burdensome and over governed okay. That’s a little more reasonable and gives you a little more leeway to make healthcare decisions, legal decisions in the best interests of the ward.
I like to appoint a quarterback. I look at the huddle as being the family. The quarterback goes and meets up with the family and says hey look, Mom’s in this situation where she needs this healthcare procedure, there is a couple of options here for the procedure, what should we do, let’s take a consensus, let’s work this out. One person is going back to the doctor. Only one. Don’t have the sister or brother flying in from another state, that haven’t seen you for 20 years and all of a sudden they have a different idea of how to care for your mom, and the family has been doing that for the last 5 years okay.
Appoint one person because who is the healthcare facility supposed to listen to? Which son or daughter trumps the other if there are conflicting opinions about healthcare? There probably will be. It puts the doctors, the facility and the administration and staff of a healthcare facility really at a disadvantage to make life and death decisions for that member, and life saving measures, including just general healthcare.
So you can avoid a Guardianship situation or a ‘General Guardianship’ or ‘Guardianship over the Person’ by putting in place ‘Healthcare Powers of Attorney’ ahead of time. Those should be separate documents from the ‘General Durable Powers of Attorney’. We call it ‘Durable’ by the way because it’s survives incapacity, mental incompetence or mental disease, or disability. So when you really need it, it is going to be active. If it doesn’t have that clause in it, it does not survive mental incapacity, mental disability or mental incompetence. So you want to make sure you have that in place.
In closing, Guardianship nightmares exist. They happen every single day. It’s a cold hard process, it’s a process of law and unless you want your estate eaten up by attorneys fees or just spent into the ground with no choice, and a guardian with no choice of what to do, put those 2 documents in place ahead of time.
I’m Greg McIntyre the Elder Law guy with McIntyre Elder Law, helping seniors protect their assets and legacies. I’m fighting for you every single day, as hard as I can, I guarantee it, just ask my clients. If you need to reach me or talk to me, call me at 704-259-7040. Have a great weekend.
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street Shelby, NC 28150
I love doing the elder law report and I was looking at the blogs and we’ve done around 72 shows, somewhere around there, but today’s is especially close to my heart because we are focusing on the Hospice ‘We Honor Veterans’ program. I talked with the Reverend Doctor Terry Floyd and he is a Hospice Veterans Coordinator and Chaplain at Hospice Cleveland County. Terry has been a chaplain at Hospice Cleveland County for 9 years now. We talked about the chaplain services that Hospice provides, and about upcoming events and other things you can participate in that may be very special and relevant to your experience. So without further ado let’s get started.
Life is special, everybody above ground reading this, celebrate your life today because that’s what we’re going to talk about.
So Reverend Rick you’ve been a pastor for 12 years at the same church, and then 9 years with Hospice and now you’ve taken on a new role with the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program.
That’s right, and I’m very excited about the We Honor Veterans program, it gives us a chance to serve our veterans and tell them one last time how much we care, and not only tell them but show them how much we care.
Not just lip service but back that up with actions.
Every soldier has a face, a name, a unique experience, they have had triumphs and victories during their service to our great country and so it gives us the opportunity to serve them as we entrusted them to take care of us, now we want them to trust us and take care of them.
So let’s talk about your general chaplain duties. They’re different from the veterans role you’ve taken on now in addition to your chaplain duties, but you’ve been doing this chaplain thing with Hospice for 9 years and to me that is amazing because this has to wear on you. Hospice is taking care of patients in home, who are not always in the best physical condition and you’re coming in to offer comfort, solace, spiritual relief, not just to the patient but the family as well.
In my experience dealing with Hospice workers who are all amazing, they are ministering and caring as much for the family as they are for the patient who’s getting treatment, and you are probably no different.
Yes and I would add that we go into the home and also into facilities in the counties we serve. We serve Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln Counties and we go in and serve the patients and the families, and you know the question is asked many times, do we serve the patient more or the family, and I think we serve them both really. Depending on the family they may have a different need, what we need to give them so we meet them where they are. We always say they are the captain of the ship.
First, talking about it wearing on you, you’ve been there 9 years, so as an attorney let me relate it to what I know. I have worked as what I like to call a ‘door lawyer’ for a long time before I was an elder lawyer. I dealt with criminal law, civil suites, divorces tearing families apart, using my talents in ways that I was not always proud of, and at the end of the day it was very stressful for me and wore on me. That compiled day after day, year after year and that’s why a lot of times trial attorneys will check out early. They have really high rates of suicide, substance abuse and early death because it’s a stressful job. I had to develop ways to cope, luckily I had a great church family, I have a great wife who supports me and loves me, and I had a reason to really work hard everyday and show up, which was our children.
When I first became an attorney we had 2 children and now 6, so daddies got a reason to go to work. And I’ve whined and complained and moaned and my wife is the kind who is going to tell me to pick myself up by the bootstraps and get out to work. And she should, I need that support. In elder law it’s a little bit different. It’s a feel good area of law for me because I help people and it’s a win-win for the families, which I love about it but it took me a long time to find my way to that path. I had to develop coping mechanisms to deal with my job everyday. I would imagine it is sometimes overwhelming the job you do day in day out with patients?
You’re right, I deal with grief, death and dying everyday, and it’s hard seeing people die, it’s even harder for me to see the heartbroken families. I try to care for that by realizing that God has called me to this vocation, and I call it the sticking stuff and if it wasn’t for that simple element, there have probably been days when I walked away that I would not want to come back. But I love what I do because I don’t see it as a job, I see it as a ministry, and so to make sure I take care of myself and my co-workers and staff because I’m not only charged with the responsibility of taking care of families and patients but also the staff of Hospice Cleveland County. So one of the things I try to do is, I know my day ends mentally when I get into my truck, and my truck is a little loud, I’ve been told it roars the seat of the secretary when I pull into the driveway. So when ever I start the truck up I know my day has ended there and I’m going home.
When I first started Hospice it wasn’t that way. I couldn’t sleep for three weeks because I would see dead faces, and eventually over time that went away. My supervisor she has a coping mechanism, I love it, she says, when I walk in the door and place my keys in a bowl and hear them ringing, then I become a mother and a wife and I separate myself, so we do have to have boundaries so that we don’t burn out but going back to the divine appointment of vocational calling is what my main thrust of moving on is all about.
When you say ‘calling’ that really resonates with me. I feel like what I do is also a calling. I can look back on my life and see everything that lead me to the point I’m at now, so I think that’s great to have a calling, that’s what we all need. What you do is amazing, so how do you offer chaplain services to Hospice patients and families, you go in home right, and how do you make that initial contact with the family?
Well, we always call before we go out, and so when we have permission to go out and visit we walk in, and when I first came to work for Hospice one of the questions during my interview was, ‘what will you do with a family when you first meet them?’
My answer was simple, develop a relationship. So when I walk in I am invited in to holy ground into their home so I tread very carefully and delicately to develop a relationship with folks. And I know this may not make sense to a lot of folks but it’s kind of like going to a mechanic when you pull your car up and a mechanic can listen to what’s going on with that motor and determine a diagnosis of what is going on.
I know some of our patients live long enough we discharge them from our care but also there are some who are not going to be with us long. I don’t have a lot of time in cases so I have to expedite the development of a relationship with these folks and I do that by listening to what I’m saying and I look around their wall to see if they have any religious artifacts sitting around, valuables, if they do if they don’t, I listen to what they are saying, what they’re talking about, where they have no peace, where they have concerns, if they have ambivalence with family. We can’t fix every family but we do our best to pull families together and pull pastors in, and our pastors are great in the community about servicing their people, but to pull everyone together so the person when it comes time to take their last breath, that they have as peaceful and good a death as they can have.
I know it’s strange for us to say, well to have a good death, and that’s hard to talk about but there are deaths that are not so good, but I would have to say that in my time with Hospice I’ve only been around one situation that it was just a different spirit in the room is the best way I can describe it, and it was scary. So, but our nurses do a great job of pain management, they are experts at what they do. Our social workers are fantastic and they’re reaching out, getting to know the patient and with veterans they also do their military checklist to know that veteran. Our grief councilors, cna’s, I’ll tell you our patients love our nurses and cna’s, they’re the ones who keep them out of pain and clean but also new studies are out now that say one of the major concerns at the end of life now is the psychological and spiritual aspects, so we try to offer a balance of taking care of the physical and spiritual and psychosocial of our patients and family.
So sometimes you go in and would you see who needs your services the most, is it the patient or the family members?
Well the patient in most cases has already dealt with their illness and what they are going through and are more realistic than the family, and so depending upon the family, I would say the family mostly but then again if you have a patient who, I had a patient once who cried every time I walked in the door. I felt so bad because the chaplain represents death or dying. When I make a telephone call to follow up with the care giver, first thing I’ve learned to say is everything is okay because they’re going, what’s wrong with mom or what’s wrong with dad, so I try to be very careful in that area.
I bet you have experienced tons of different stories and situations over the last 9 years, are there any without naming names or anything, are there any you could share with us today?
Well, I’ll start off with one, it’s the first one that comes to mind. I met this lady and her family, they didn’t live in the best of conditions but they were the most precious family I ever met. She was lying crossways on her hospital bed. Her pain was controlled but if she moved a lot she was in pain. She invited me to sit on her hospital bed and lean back on a ton of pillows and we sat there or lay there for quite some time just talking, good old down to earth folks and that’s what I am, just an old country boy and we lay there and talked. So I got a call back the next day and went out there and she was actively dying, and on the bed where she was dying she called myself and her husband. She had talked previously about her husband being the close kind gentleman she ever met and how good he was to her, and she proceeded to tell her husband, I want you to meet the chaplain, he’s just like you are, he’s one of the most kind and gentle man I’ve ever known in my life next to you. And I just thought someone lying on their death bed fixing to take their last breath and she died within 4 hours that day, and thought that much of somebody like me. That’s one story that comes to mind.
I just debated telling this one or not, but we had a family who was just great. When I first met him he had a problem with his lip and he slobbered really badly and when I first met him and talked to him about the second or third visit he wanted to make things right with his God and he did and we prayed. But I got to learn that this family loved to talk about flagellation, and his days in high school and it’s okay to laugh, I need some support here. So he liked to talk about that.
Who doesn’t like to talk about that come on, I started that in kindergarten and never stopped.
So anyways it brought them comfort and joy his times in high school and his home, and his mother was a caregiver and would talk about how really bad it was at times, they would laugh until they cried. I was reminded of a country song that says we laughed until we cried. And every time I left that day the social worker and I and the nurse sometimes, we would just shake our heads and laugh about this patient who was dying. He was with us for about a year and a half but he loved to talk about this issue and it brought them so much comfort so we met them where they were.
I’ll share one more to bring it back down a little bit. We had a veteran under our care, passed away not to long ago, and as I walked in he shared with me how Hospice Cleveland County had showed him more respect than anyone over the years for his service to our country. We took him a wreath, a red, white and blue wreath that one of our volunteers makes. We talked and made a connection. We talked about his service, he was a man of faith and here he was in a wheelchair and I started out the door after we had prayed and he saluted me, and myself being a former soldier, I snapped to attention and saluted him. I walked out with tears in my eyes that someone who was on their last leg of this life would salute me and it just brought a camaraderie between the two of us that he started requesting me to come out and visit with him almost every other day. That’s a story that will hold dear in my heart and burn in my mind until the day I’m gone.
That’s a great story, all those are great stories including the funny story right, but in that grim situation, if the family accompanied by the chaplain who is bringing spiritual services there and talking about those issues with the family and peace can also have some comedy, some levity in their lives to cut through, that’s great.
You talked about meeting the family where they are, if the family deals with issues like that by joking, you can go down that path too, you’re a jokester and if they want to be serious you can accommodate that too. You’re very used to rolling with or fitting in situations like that, especially going in to those stressful and intense situations, you’ve got to be.
So yes, let’s talk about the new role, the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program, because that’s where we ended with a veterans story where you took a patriotic wreath out there. It sounds like you’re really making sure those veterans are honored as they might not get that full honor, or feel that from the rest of the citizens, community and family throughout their life, you make sure they feel that when Hospice is involved. Tell me about that, what is the veterans program and does that work differ from your regular chaplain duties?
I think it was about 2010 the national Hospice of Palative care organization started this program ‘We Honor Veterans.’ It’s simply a way to say thank you and let our veterans know they were and are appreciated in this life and when I took on this role I’ve learned that one out of every four deaths is a veteran, so 25% of our 2.4 million deaths each year is a veteran. So we have 680’000 veterans a year who die and so puts us about 1800 a day passing away and leaving us, so those are strong statistics that we deal with and only 33% of our veterans are enrolled in the service which means 67% have a lot of benefits that they may qualify for, such as we talked about before, ‘Aid and Attendance’, or Funeral Rites and Rituals or Grave Markers and things of that nature. They also qualify for back pay and pension but it all depends on the veteran, what war they served in and what era. If it was service connected or not service connected and by those terms I mean by service connected, if their disability or illness was a result of being in the armed force or been in war or something. Non connected means it wasn’t.
We had a patient the other day, our social workers really do a great job to try to get all the help they can for our veterans and families, we found out that one guy was receiving Aid and Attendance but couldn’t receive anymore because his illness was not service connected. So we had done all we could but the Veterans Administration was helping them greatly and I’ve met with Debra Kahn at the VA here on Marion Street in Shelby several times, and they’re there to serve our veterans, and that’s our main resource. If our social workers don’t know, they go there or to an elder lawyer such as yourself.
Debra does a great job helping veterans in Cleveland County, and every county out there will have a representative I believe in their county or should, where veterans and their families can check about benefit programs, things of that nature.
You were speaking about veterans Aid and Attendance. In truth, Aid and Attendance is a life long benefit that if you qualify in a health care crisis, you get paid a check that can be used to pay for in-home care, assisted living care, nursing care, adult day care or any service like that, and for two married veterans it’s up to about $2750 a month, or for a single veteran or if only one of a couple is a veteran it would be $1788 a month for the veteran, and it goes down from there. The spouse of a veteran can qualify, the spouse of a deceased veteran can qualify so that’s a really nice benefit and it’s not advertised because the VA doesn’t have enough resources to get it out there.
And there are so many benefits and what blows my mind is 67% of our veterans are not enrolled or signed up, they may not even know. We had a patient who came under our care a couple of weeks ago and they were veterans and we asked well have you applied, no, why not, and they just didn’t know.
I’ve had people sit down with me in my office and I’ve had to convince them that veterans Aid and Attendance benefits are a good thing and a real thing. They don’t believe it, they’re like, is that benefit really available, can I be eligible for it. What I do is, I’ll pull up somebody off the news, you know there is a 5 minute news piece that CBS news or one of the big news organizations did years back, and I’ll show them in my conference room and say, here I‘ll let these guys tell you about it, and they’re like wow, that’s a real benefit. Yes it is but Debra Kahn and the VA doesn’t have the resources to really broadcast that information throughout the counties and to everyone. That’s one reason I do radio shows like this and events, even speaking to Hospice who’ll listen about everything that veterans could be eligible for, or seniors could be eligible for.
That’s one thing that we’re trying to do is also educate our patients who come under our care and the community. I’d say that taking on the new role in the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program at Hospice Cleveland County that I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great people with the VSO’s which are the Veterans service Organizations, such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I’ve been involved down at the Post 4066 in Shelby and they are just great people willing to help Hospice Cleveland County in any way we can to reach out to the veterans and to make sure they are getting what they need. We are currently working on getting together a veteran to veteran interest group so that we have our volunteer veteran’s going out to visit our veteran patients who all have unique needs, which we talked about earlier in the program. So I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great people and everywhere I go it’s appreciated, so I don’t think you can go wrong talking about veterans.
You know, we want to help all our seniors but you are taking on this role, We Honor Veterans program and implementing that through Hospice. Do other Hospice’s out there in the other counties of North Carolina, do they have a We Honor Veterans program?
They do, not all Hospices have done that. The statistics I saw a little over 100’000 Hospice’s have participated in this but not only Hospice but the funeral services in the Gaston area is actually a level 4 We Honor Veterans. When I came into this we were at a level 1 and I turned in the paperwork two weeks ago for our level 2, so we’re on our level 3 now. What that simply means is, there is some guide lines set up in place that allows Hospice’s and other organizations who become involved in this to stay focused on our veterans and to learn more about the veterans and to do more. For example, I have in obtaining a different level I need to do so many presentations within our staff, within the community, within VSO organizations, I need to stay in contact with our local VA, state Hospice, so there is a lot of footwork in getting out and doing these things to earn the levels. It’s not all about earning a level it’s about caring for our veterans and making sure they get what they need and the honor and respect they deserve so greatly.
You know there may be people out there right now reading this who are wondering how they can get in touch with you, how can I have this gentleman or this program come out and minister to my veteran, the veteran in my life, one who may be suffering from illness right now, who needs to be honored, who needs to be cared for right now, how can someone get in touch with you and your team?
They can just call Hospice Cleveland County at 704-487-4677 and our receptionist will put in touch the person you need to speak with.
Do you have any up coming events?
Yes we do we have a veteran to veteran interest group coming up that’s going to be held on May 24th that’s a Tuesday, we have two separate times, a 10am and 5.30pm and we do this so it’s convenient to working folks but this is a veteran for volunteers, it is specifically for veterans who want to volunteer for veterans because a veteran can have something in common with another veteran and we have already seen a good response from some men and women who are going to be involved in this.
I’d love to see tons of veterans participate in this and other events you have coming up. I really appreciate you talking with me, just digging deep and talking about the seriousness of what you do, and the awesomeness of what you do, and what Hospice does honoring veterans and helping seniors and their families as they go through a healthcare crisis.
I’m the elder law guy, Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law. If you need to contact me my number is 704-259-7040.
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street
We’re going to talk a little today about Veterans issues. We’re going to cover a lot of veteran’s issues on the blog today. We do this quite often, from talking American Legion to Veterans Aid and Attendance to many different aspects of veteran’s lifestyles and care and needs. That’s some of what we’re going to get into today but the main focus is going to be on Veterans Stand Down and caring for homeless veterans and how Veterans Stand Down does just an amazing job and Foothills Veterans Stand Down specifically, catering to counties in western North Carolina. I’m very glad to have Dr Rick Vandett with us today to talk about that.
So let’s just get into Dr Rick, I know there was a Stand Down in Hickory that happened on April 29th.
We call it the Foothills Veterans Stand Down. It was held at the Hickory American Legion Fair Grounds on April 29th, the opening ceremonies started at 9.00 in the morning and went to 3, it was listed to end at 2 but if we hadn’t met the needs of the veteran’s we stayed as long as necessary.
Veteran’s started coming in the gate at 8.30 so we made sure they were in place so we could provide a meaningful opening ceremony. We had local JROTC programs in the area that came together to do a color guard and provide services throughout the event. We had a pledge of allegiance, someone sang the national anthem, and I made some opening remarks and another speaker came in also. We had a key note speech from a former veteran who was homeless and who had been saved through a number of agencies working and helping him, and now he’s trying to pay forward that by helping other veteran’s.
So it was a very moving experience to start with and we provided a myriad of opportunities for the veterans that we can talk about as we go along.
Just in reading about Veteran’s Stand Down or the Veteran’s Stand Down organization nationwide and FVSD (Foothills Veterans Stand Down), a few things stood out to me. First, it’s a great organization, it is not funded by but endorsed by the US department of Veterans Affairs, and there’s an aspect of veterans helping veterans there, as well as community involvement from private organizations and private citizens. At a stand down, you will go to a county, set up and there will be sponsorships for a table so organizations have a chance to come in and set up booths, as well as opportunities for a big celebration and festival where everyone can come out, meet and greet, maybe have some good food, hang out and learn more about how to take care of our vets.
The idea is to provide a bunch of services and opportunities to help all our veteran’s. We focus primarily on homeless and needy veteran’s but the event is open to every single veteran regardless of their economic status because we want people to get involved and just become more aware of the kinds of things that are offered.
A stand down itself refers to the concept of standing down from battle. I was in Vietnam and when you stood down from battle that meant you went back to the rear, had opportunities to have hot showers, meals, clean clothes, stuff like that and just sort of a day or two to recuperate and re-energize.
Over time we have found that especially with the Vietnam era vets, a lot of these people have fallen on hard times, and to me it’s unconscionable to have a homeless veteran. People who have served this country we cannot turn our backs on them, and so the idea of a stand down has evolved to provide a day where we can symbolically do the stand down from battle, where we can provide hot showers, good meals, clothes.
There are lots of other opportunities as well. When a veteran goes to our stand down he’ll register with the VA, and this is not a VA sponsored event. Most stand downs are, but the Hickory area, the Foothills area is all volunteer and community based. So every penny donated goes 100 % to support our veterans. So the veterans will register through the VA, once they come into the exhibit hall, there are medical services provided right there for them to start with, like physicals, check up to see if there’s anything major so referrals can be made. We have shuttles going to the Catawba Valley Community Dental Lab where we have 6 or 7 area dentists who have taken the day off, they have volunteered their time to provide dental services or cleanings, pulling some teeth, doing preliminary x-raying, if there is more substantial things needed, then they can make referrals. We actually have an oral surgeon who was there examining people. If necessary we’ve had a number of veterans who have not had quality dental care cause of their own situations.
You’ve got to take care of your teeth.
That’s one of the things when they go through our medical section, our medical people are checking their teeth as well, and if they need to be referred, the van takes them to the dental lab. We just want to make sure we take care of whatever needs our veterans have.
So that’s what the Foothills Veteran’s Stand Down and the Stand Down organization is about overall in a nut shell. You can go to foothillsstanddown.com it’s a great website, it’s simple, it conveys what you stand for, what you do in western North Carolina and has a link there that say’s ‘get involved’ okay. You can click that link, find out how you can get involved. There’s a form section on the right where you can fill out a volunteer application, agency application, sponsorship, or you can be a t-shirt sponsor.
We talk about veterans on a regular basis, but what we rarely do is for people out there who have not been involved in the military, and I know there are a lot of people who haven’t been, who are really supportive, understand about what it means to serve, what the dangers are to serve, how it affects you, and you spoke about Vietnam era veterans and man, you guys had it rough.
It was difficult, but one of the heart warming things any of us now see is how the troops coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq are being treated by our country. There’s a lot of respect. I have a grandson who served in Afghanistan and he told me the story of coming through the airport and people standing up and applauding him. And that’s wonderful because every single man or woman who serves deserves that kind of respect.
It would probably make a veteran want to cry, just to be happy and overwhelmed.
It most certainly would. But it wasn’t like that coming back from Vietnam. For the Vietnam era vets it wasn’t quite like that. If you look back in history, the Vietnam era, that whole time frame, the 60’s and early 70’s was a very very divisive period of time in our American history. And the Vietnam war was a very divisive war and those of us coming home were seen as symbols of that divisive war. And so there was no standing up and applauding when we came home, which is why today, many Vietnam veterans when meeting each other for the first time will often say ‘Welcome Home’, because no one ever said welcome home to us, we sort of give it to each other, even 50 years later is something special that this group has, a sort of camaraderie among all the Vietnam vets. It was a difficult time for all of us but for any man or woman in a hostile zone it is very very difficult. You don’t think about death because that would just keep you from doing your job.
You went into the Air force is that right?
That’s correct. In 1962 I enlisted in the air force specifically because I did not want to live in pup tents, eat out of mess kits and play around with rifles.
And some how you wound up in the army, living out of pup tents.
Exactly, doing that very thing. I got assigned to Fort Bening Georgia, where I spent two and half years, and at Fort Bening a group was formed that eventually became the 1st Air Cavalry Division that in 1965 went to Vietnam. It was the summer of 1965 we had our first big input of soldiers and marines and sailors into Vietnam and I was part of that group in 1965. I spent 7 months with the 1st Air Cavalry and then the last 5 months with the 1st Infantry Division, as you say living out of pup tents, eating out of mess kits, playing with rifles so I outfoxed myself really well.
But I’m sure you grew from that experience.
I think you could talk to many veterans and you’re a veteran yourself and as you get older you’ll realize that your time in the military colors and shades a lot of what you do with your life, but I think for the Vietnam folks, simply because how history has looked at that particular war and those of us who were involved in it, that one year for most of us colors all of our lives, and I’m 71 years old and that one year still impacts me today.
And now we see our troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and the suicide rates are super high.
One of the things our country is missing I believe Greg is that we don’t have a transition period for people coming back from the battle zone. We train them how to fight but then when they come back, do we train them how to assimilate back into society. Many people do it very easily, many cannot. I also belong to a group that meets, in fact they are meeting right now in Hickory called ‘Veterans Helping Veterans’. We try to reach out to Vietnam veterans, Korea veterans, Afghanistan, Iraq veterans, to help them assimilate because a lot of them as you say are suicidal.
I don’t want to put that label, I think that, yes some are suicidal but I don’t think it starts out that way necessarily. It’s so stressful when you’re on all the time when you’re in a combat zone okay, and you know that, and it’s high stress particularly, and then when you transition out of that and what you’re doing in that zone, it’s a different ball game.
Well PTSD is very real, it is, and some people can adapt and assimilate, others have an awful lot of difficulty and I think we’re missing a piece to help those people. We should be looking for and providing as much help, Stand Down is a small small small way to do it.
This is what I talked about with American Legion and now with Stand Down okay, is the sense of community. I feel like our world war two veterans who also had the same issues right, imagine the stress they were under in world war two marching through Germany, my grandfather that’s what he did, he was infantry, machine gunner, part of a 3 man machine gun group, and you know they’re going through so much stress at that time, but when they came back there was the ticker tape parades for them. Vietnam veterans got left out of that.
You’re right, no sense of closure, and I’m sensing a lot of Iraq and Afghanistan folks coming back there’s that same thing. World war two you got closure because you won the war.
And you had community, and I think for me it’s community, that’s what is lacking right now. The veterans from world war two came back and rolled into American legion and there is still such a huge community of American Legion members, I’m a member of American Legion.
Probably one of the youngest in there.
Yes, and I have my father-in-law over in the western North Carolina district for American Legion, and there is a push to involve younger members, because where are the kids now coming back from Afghanistan? Are they enrolling in the Legion and being welcomed with open arms, all their peers in one community group that they can talk too and associate with, no. There’s the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), there is all these groups created for and by veterans. I just don’t see that with the younger generations.
You’re actually correct, I’m an American Legion member myself and we have talked about the need to go out and find where these young folks are so we can let them know what’s out there because a lot of them do not know, and they often see the American Legion as a bunch of old folks that’s not for them. We have to make it inviting enough and relevant enough for them to give them other options.
I couldn’t agree more, I think that sense of community can save a lot of lives of people coming back, and it was certainly unfair regardless of your feelings on the Vietnam war on either side, the people and the kids that were over there fighting were fighting for our country, doing what they were told and were not treated fairly when they came back.
There’s a line that I often use when I give presentations, regardless of how you feel about the war and I agree, and that line is ‘you don’t have to hate the warrior to hate the war’. However you feel about the war that’s fine but don’t take it out on those men or women who have served.
And then really getting into what Foothills Veterans Stand Down does is, it caters to and provides for homeless veterans. Homeless people anywhere is not a good thing. We are the richest country on planet Earth and we’ve enjoyed so many decades and decades of leading the world economically, and for us to have homeless people on the streets period, is not a good thing. I have been involved with the Cleveland County Rescue Mission and Men’s shelter a number of ways for years and recognize there is a need in any community out there to take care of our homeless. For veterans, people who have signed on the dotted line, on to battle and are putting their lives on the line to die for the rest of us, and their families, and then coming back and really not receiving proper treatment, not getting the welcome, not having the sense of community and because of things that are not there fault like PTSD or other issues they maybe dealing with, or develop as a result of trying to treat yourself for issues like that, through substance abuse, alcohol or anything like that, wind up where they are not viable civilian employees. They don’t fit, they don’t fit in the round hole of society that they come back to and wind up on the street. They especially need help, they deserve help from this country and from every citizen that’s here. Those are my feelings on it.
I agree and as an attorney you have probably had, as you have tried to help needy and homeless people that the government red-tape sometimes gets in the way of providing our veterans help. Our veterans who come back if they have been wounded physically or emotionally or both shouldn’t have to go through reams and reams and miles and miles of red-tape just to get served.
I’m going to say something and it’s going to make some people happy and some people mad. I love the VA, I hate the VA, that’s how I feel about it. I am a VA US department of Affairs certified Attorney to deal with, submit and guide people through benefit planning for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits. This is a lifetime benefit that can be used to help a veteran couple, a single veteran, a spouse of a veteran or widow of a deceased veteran with a monthly paycheck for life that’s hanging out there.
The VA doesn’t advertise it. But it takes I used to say 6 months for those applications to go through. We just had one approved last week where there was a $10,000 back-pay plus $1788 dollars on going every month, to help care for someone with in-home care, that’s a big bonus for that family and to be able to receive that care at home to take care of that aging veteran whose really in bad shape, so those things are great but the problem is it’s not advertised, and it’s somewhat guarded and it now takes more along the lines of 8 months to a year to be approved. On top of that in the presidential race, it’s a political football, the veteran’s issue.
It makes me happy that the veterans issues are being discussed but it makes me angry in the same breath that none of those guys or gals running have ever served in the military. None of them, not one single day, and they’re all blabbing about veterans issues and I just don’t see how they can care to identify. That’s my personal opinion. I’m happy it’s being discussed but it makes me angry they are discussing it and they don’t have to be subject to the veterans health care system which is great in some ways, and even though the personal things that I have dealt with have made me extremely angry with talking about red-tape, it’s hard to get anything done sometimes when you are dealing with a government agency.
You mentioned that many of us veterans don’t know what’s out there and that’s the kind of thing that we try to provide at the Stand Down. A lot of the vendor tables and agency tables are information sharing tables so the veterans will at least know and try and get connected to the various agencies that will provide that support and just get that knowledge, that awareness that’s out there for them.
So if you are a veteran out there or not, and you want to get involved, or you are a civilian who wants to support veterans, or you are an agency or company out there who has an interest and a need to help homeless veterans and to help veterans in general, you can participate. Go to foothillsstanddown.com or call Rick at 828-302-0293. If you want to show your support for Veterans Stand Down and the many veterans out there who are suffering because of what they did for our country, give us a call.
I’ll tell you my own personal experience of being a veteran okay, for the other veterans out there or the people who don’t know, I in no way had it rough okay. I did serve during a war time window during the Gulf War so I am eligible for veterans health care and I was stationed in Chicago and enlisted in 60 degree below wind chill factor in boot camp marching outside, and I was the A-Rock okay. The A-Rock in the Navy, I enlisted in the Navy, I stepped up because we could not in our division which was about 80 men, we could not get it together and find someone with decent rhythm and march us around, so the first week or so was an exploratory process of trying people out. A-Rock is second in command, plus I knew that if you did a good job in boot camp, you could get additional rank coming out of boot camp. But I did not know where I was going to be stationed, I didn’t know what I was going to be doing coming out of there. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of boot camp, I didn’t enjoy at first getting yelled at but that subsided, they still yelled but I knew they were coming from a good place and my drill instructors, my drill sergeants they really cared about me. So in the Navy if you are an A-Rock you can call cadence in a number of different ways. So if I’m marching 80 men, I’m probably going to call cadence and I’m probably going to sing it. I’m from the South so I like to think I have a little bit of soul down there somewhere so that’s how I called cadence. So if we were marching down the street and Great Lakes Illinois is the military base, I might march 80 men something like this:
“One two ehoa hay oh up, day a ho I want to a day a ho up, two a way a ho up, two a ehoa hay a oh up, day a ho a want to a hay a oh up, two a day a hoa up to a want to a ehoa hay a ho up”
Something like that okay, and it would go on and on from there in different ways and we would have plenty of songs we sang and things of that nature but I had a blast in boot camp doing that, being second in command of the division and getting in ridiculous shape, I was skinny when I came out, skinny and with really short hair.
And so I was stationed in San Diego California, well first I went to Memphis to a school for 9 months, then went 3 months to an A school at Virginia Beach and then went to San Diego and one thing I figured out, my dad was in the Navy too, was if you’re in the Navy, you are not probably going to be stationed at a base in Nebraska or somewhere, you’re going to be on the coast, which is alright to me. Then I started getting on aircraft carriers, went around the world, circumnavigated the globe once on the USS Nimitz and then did a middle east tour, both ships were in the middle east, on the Constellation and the most stressful part, you talked about the one year you had in Nam that affected your whole life, I still remember showering with gas masks on in the Gulf because there was a huge threat, a lot of threats coming from Saddam at the time that they were going to send out these missiles and release the poison gas, some kind of biological weapon, so we were walking around the ship and we were on high alert in gas masks. Even taking a shower you had to keep your gas mask on. I haven’t forgotten that.
Anytime you take someone from a normal civilian life and put that same person in a threatening situation of a war zone, that even if it’s one day, one incident, it can color and affect you in many many ways. And I just hope most people understand that and appreciate what veterans do and look for ways to help when they come home.
Because your adrenalin and stress level is just pumping and high all the time, and even then I think that gets heightened to a new level if you’re under fire or if you’re on the ground to another level, and then you come home. It would be hard to know what to do with myself for a while. I think I would need to be re-acclimated.
I think there ought to be some structured ways to make that happen for a lot of people who need that kind of structure, who need to know how to assimilate, to provide education, jobs, that’s one of the things we do at Veterans Helping Veterans in the Hickory area, that will have a lot of people come who are looking for places to work, places to live, and so we can connect them to various agencies to help make that happen.
So can you tell me about some specific instances where veterans Stand Down has helped veterans in our community and how veterans Stand Down specifically helps veterans in western North Carolina.
There are so many vendors that are there that touch other people, but one of them we have is Avalon Farms out of Statesville area, and it’s therapy through animals and horses, things of that nature. And so this person who runs the program had some information and we decided to take a number of veterans, got us some vans, just took them out to the farm, just to see what it was like. We had 3 of our veterans who connected so much with the animals, horses mainly, that they could just put there hands on a horse and almost, not necessarily talk to the horse but emotionally bond. It was like that horse was taking the pressure and the stress away from the veteran onto it’s self so to speak that the veterans have gone back there a number of times and when you get where you feel there are avenues to get rid of the stress, the next step, number one to having a more secure life and a stable life.
Exactly, you mentioned earlier about people who will self medicate sometimes and do that because they don’t know they have other options. I believe in the Yahoo philosophy of life, have you heard of the Yahoo Philosophy of Life, Y-A-H-O-O?
I have not heard of that.
You – Always – Have – Other – Options. That’s what yahoo stands for and we try to get that across. You can have the option of choosing something self destructive, or there is another step you can take. And we deal with people who don’t know what that step is. We try to provide positive steps for them, to get where they want to go takes one step at a time and each step they take they get a little more secure, a little more confidence in themselves because we try to provide a safety net for them so they can succeed. Not everybody succeeds. Some people fall back into bad habits but we have found the homeless apartments to live, we have found jobs, we have been very fortunate with our public transportation area with Greenway Transportation, they volunteer drivers and they volunteer vans to get veterans to places they need to go. The social security office for example. It’s people coming together from agencies that provide help, and our job is to help them understand there is a lot of help out there. Your job for example, a lot of people don’t know what you can provide, as you get the word out and our job at the Stand Down is to help get the word out.
Absolutely. I could talk about this subject all morning. I have been honored to talk with Dr Rick Vandett from Foothills Veterans Stand Down and this has been the elder law report. I’m the elder law guy Greg McIntyre, if you need further information on veterans Aid and Attendance or any estate planning deeds, protecting your assets and legacies, call me on 704-259-7040.
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street, Shelby 704-259-7040
You know I was in the military, I was in the Navy and today I heard I was going to discuss the SHIIP program today, and I thought I might be getting shipped out again and be leaving for another 6 months. That’s not at all what the SHIIP Program is. I talked with Melinda Houser with the Lincoln County Extension Center Service who is a family councilor and coordinator for the SHIIP Program, and also Valerie Spearman who is a volunteer councilor since 2003 with the Lincoln County Extension Service.
These programs exist as I understand it, in all communities in North Carolina, not just Lincoln County. We cover 16 counties and very proud to do so and want to make sure we speak to Lincoln County but also relate that to the rest of western NC as well. So the SHIIP Program, tell me about it.
SHIIP’s been around since 1986 and North Carolina was one of the first states and also a showman for the SHIIP Program cause a lot of states model their program after North Carolina, and it’s one of the top ones, it’s been recognized so many times.
It stands for Senior Health Insurance Information Program.
We have open enrollment beginning October 15th through December 7th and it is full speed ahead, 9 until 3 everyday.
We have a satellite office down in Denver, it’s a Christian ministry. We set up an office down there so we can reach the people in the eastern part of the county. One thing that is so interesting is how much money they have saved citizens of Lincoln County. They’ve saved thousands of dollars. It was over four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000) last year.
Explain it to me. I know it’s insurance, I know it involves seniors and is it health insurance, is it a Medicaid supplement?
It’s strictly prescription drug cost.
What happens is we had 22 I think different plans for North Carolina eligible participants and a lot of times the prescription drug plans will drop a Medication or go up on the cost of the prescription drug plan, so what we do is put in all their medications and try to find the lowest cost prescription drug plan for them for the year. So if your drug costs $500 and your plan has dropped that particular drug, if you didn’t change plans you would be paying $500 dollars for the cost of that particular drug. So we may be able to change it to one that would cost $15 dollars for the cost of that same drug.
And you can do that because you’re plugged into all the information.
Yes, Medicare has an online system for us, so we go online and we give people options, but we do not tell you which plan you should use. We give you the information, and typically focus on the top 3 lowest cost plans for the individual, and we view those with them. A lot of times they may not want to go with a particular plan because each particular drug plan is associated with our pharmacies, and there’s preferred pharmacies and then just your normal pharmacy that covers the Part D plan. If you go to a preferred pharmacy you can save more money. So some people don’t want to change to the particular pharmacy that was with that plan so they may choose to pay a little bit more. Or there may be a plan that has a deductible of $360 dollars that they don’t want so they may pay a little bit more to keep from having to pay that particular deductible, because January, February, March, people don’t have a lot of money cause they spent all their money at Christmas time, so they want a plan that doesn’t hit them up front for the $360 dollars. So they may not always choose the lowest cost plan but we do help them find the plans that will save them the most money.
Another issue that I think is relevant to talk about is, a lot of people think well I’m not sick, I don’t take medication, I don’t need a drug plan, and I say what if you have a heart attack or a stroke tomorrow what are you going to do? And so people don’t and they have to pay a penalty. They have to pay a penalty from now on?
It never goes away and it’s around 3 cents, 3.7 cents I think per day until you take a plan, and that penalty will never go away, the lowest will be added to the lowest premium cost.
So you get penalized, it costs more in an emergency when you need it than from planning ahead right?
If you do not take out a plan, between November and December if you do not select a plan, in January if you suddenly get cancer god forbid, you can’t just go get a plan. You cannot enroll until November of the year then it will be effective for the next year. So it’s not easy to get a plan to help you, it’s better to be preventive. Be proactive towards the cost of your prescription drugs, because when you sign up the plans aren’t that expensive. $18.75 was the lowest cost and we have some that go up to $88 dollars per month but I seldom sign anybody up for those plans. It’s just because the plans that cost more doesn’t mean it’s the best plan for you. Each person is different, if your neighbor is paying $18 dollars and we’re telling you the lowest cost plan for you is $33 dollars, your neighbor is not taking the same medication your taking. Everything is based on the particular drugs you are taking at the particular time, so you maybe paying more than your neighbor or you maybe paying less than your neighbor but you will still be paying less than if you didn’t have a plan.
It sounds like were preaching the same thing. I talk all the time about thinking ahead and how it’s cheaper to have Powers of Attorney in place, General Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will, and maybe some deed planning to protect property against a tragic situation that might happen with healthcare, and it costs much more to do that in an emergency to protect it than it does to plan ahead, it costs a fraction.
You get a lot of people like that who don’t even know there is programs out there for assistance and it’s called the Extra Help Low Income Subsidy. That’s another program we have if someone who comes in and says, well I can’t afford that for my medicine, we look at their assets and if they have any additional benefits. A lot of times people think well I must make too much money or when they look at the cost of their house or things like that but what we look at is the money that they have, and their checking account, and their IRA, if they have a pension fund, and if they qualify for assistance, then they may pay no more than a $1.35 now to $2.65 for their prescription drugs. We have other options for people to look at as well as the actual cost of their medication.
We work closely with social security, DSS, we all combine together as a coordinated program really because a lot of people go to DSS and get on some of their programs and social security and we have an in-line thank goodness with social security and DSS. We work together and are supportive on that. What DSS does is if someone applies for Medicaid and they send them to us, in the past your prescription drugs used to be a part of Medicaid and now it’s not, it’s separated out, once you turn 65 or go on disability you may qualify.
Once you qualify it would be Medicaid.
People who might not qualify for full Medicaid might qualify for assistance with their prescription drugs, they work separately now. If you have what’s called Full Subsidy and Partial Subsidy. Full subsidy would pay for your Medicaid as well as your prescription drug plans, partial would pay for your prescription, it could pay for your part B premium which is $166 dollars this year and it will also pay all your medications. And it may pay 75% of your cost for medication, if you don’t qualify for full or partial subsidy.
This year if you’re an individual and qualified for the partial subsidy, if you didn’t qualify for Medicaid, you’ve an income limit of $1485 dollars a month. Your resource and asset limits are $13640 dollars. That does not include your home or your cars. It just includes your actual money available to you. If you’re a married couple living together, your monthly income is then $2002 dollars and fifty cents. Your assets limit is $27250 dollars. So if you come in to seek help with us and you say you can’t afford your medication, we may then send them to the DSS, or they can talk to someone in social security, or we can fill out the application for them for the low income assistance.
And that’s really important, if you think about the things that are available, but we also have people who are on disability who are aged in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and they have signed up for these programs and it saves them bunches of money, because a lot of these people are married and have children and there is really a financial hardship for them.
So you know people who are trying to pay for food versus medication?
Yes, lots have come in, it’s sad. We’re trying to do everything we can and a lot of times even if people don’t qualify for the assistance, there are other options which are available. Some of the pharmaceutical companies offer assistance on drugs, unfortunately most will not offer assistance if you’re on partial, even so we bend the line and try an find those companies for them. A lot of times I’ll send them back to their doctor, cause the doctors don’t really know what the patient is paying for the medication, and just say look, I can’t afford this medicine is there a program out there that will pay for it, and most of the doctors were aware of this. One in particular is the people who are diabetics. Some of the diabetic insulin shots are covered 100% once you go into the gap, and the doctors know this and can help them with that, paying for their meds and get it covered free for the entire year.
Another is Helping Hands, occasionally you can get Helping Hands to help with your drug costs.
I’ll print out what the actual cost of the drugs are and I’ll say, go to your doctor and let them know what you’re having to pay. Is there another drug out there that might be a lower cost for you that would do the same thing.
Another drug, more generic, something that can do the same job only cheaper. That sounds like a great program and I’m thinking the community in Lincoln County are extremely blessed to have you.
We have 5 councilors and they are all busy and have done a great job, we’re one of the top counties in North Carolina as far as what they have accomplished, reaching people and saving money. There are a few people that can’t be helped, we’ve had one or two with a situation, there’s nothing worse.
I’ve heard of the SHIIP Program but I wasn’t familiar with it in depth, and that’s something we do on the elder law report is bring information that really may not be advertised in the community as much as needed for the public and for seniors.
So you have 5 councilors there and I know the Lincoln County Extension Service is extremely active in the senior community. How many years?
The Part D part started in 2006 that’s when the prescription drug program came into effect was 2006. We’ve been very involved since then.
The sad thing is it changes so much and people don’t know what’s happening, that‘s the reason we have this program to inform people about the drug benefit change.
Any benefits program changes, for instance you just gave a lot of information about a Medicaid Benefits Program. I do Medicaid Crisis Planning for families all the time but it’s a totally separate program okay than what you’re dealing with. Even the word Medicaid can encompass so many different programs it is unreal.
People are embarrassed about that sometimes but they shouldn’t be embarrassed about this.
So let’s talk about that for a second alright. You’re entire life you pay taxes, sometimes up to 45 to 50 cents on the dollar, if you look at property taxes, income taxes, any kind of sales tax you’re paying, and you’re working hard for this money in all types of industry in Cleveland or Lincoln County or somewhere in western North Carolina, or wherever you may be.
So you take that little 45 to 50 cents on the dollar that you’re left with and try and accumulate things during your life and then, this is what I call the middle class trap, because if you’re really super poor you’re going to get benefits, and you understand that I think, you don’t love that but, if you’re rich, you’re going to plan for that, you don’t need it, you’re going to legally protect yourself. But as a hard working middle class American you feel guilty to go access a benefit, that’s what I see many times but they don’t understand that they pay for that benefit, you created it with your tax dollars. Now it may have dwindled because of, not your fault but dwindling social security, those things are misappropriated or re-appropriated by the powers at be all the time, that money is moved around for different reasons. But it should be there for seniors. You created that pot of money by all your hard work and through all that money you were missing in your pay checks all your life. To access these programs, you talked about asset limits for married and single people, I deal with asset limits for people going into a nursing home or assisted living, at that point you’re asked to spend down all the money you worked so hard for, or that little bit of money you were able to scrounge out of your paycheck, before you can access the benefit you paid for, it makes me mad.
That’s their system, that’s the system we struggle with and then on top of that there’s guilt by the people who need to access it because of their hard working mentality and don’t want to freeload right, so they don’t access it .
I’ll probably get hate mail because of this but bring it on.
I try to put people at ease and the way I do that is by saying, hey my mother in law was on Medicaid in South Carolina. I don’t see any stigma to being on Medicaid because a lot of times you can’t live on their social security, for $400-$500 dollars a month, you can’t live on that.
That’s the food versus prescription drugs,
Right, and one thing we have done in the Christian Ministries who told me if you come in and somebody tells you they’re having to choose between medicine and food, we’ll bring you boxes of food up there they keep in the offices to give to them. It’s Lincoln Christian Ministry. We work closely with them so people don’t leave hungry. A guy that I helped, he said you’d be surprised how many ways you can make Ramon noodles.
We have hungry people in our county. We want to help people anyway we can, we’ve tried to work closely with social security, DSS, Christian Ministry, all of the local areas just to find help for people. There’s just so many in need, we’re passionate about this.
One thing I want to mention is Fraud, we emphasize that too and I want to share something with you on this.
Examples of fraud and abuse is happening everywhere, and we’re talking about people being billed by the hospital or by doctors, billing for services, supplies and equipment that were not provided, this can happen. I want to mention you get a Medicare summary that comes in and people need to look at that Medicare summary and see because we’ve had people charged for things that didn’t even happen in a hospital, or go to a doctors office and find things you’re being charged for, and people are human they make mistakes we know that but people need to be aware of that.
Another thing is having fraudsters calling Medicare beneficiaries and asking for their Medicare number, people getting phone calls from people for their information and some people have been robbed for thousands of dollars.
People give their information over the phone, their Medicare number and whatever. People have been taken and in our county, I know that for a fact. I have turned in 3 different fraud cases to the department of insurance, so these people need to be aware of this, it’s happening in our county, it’s happening in all counties because people are out for money for whatever they can get, drug money or whatever.
So this is happening to people and one thing I want you to remember is, don’t give out your Medicare number to anyone who asks, only your doctor or other Medicare providers should need it. Another thing is don’t give your Medicare number to telephone calls I mentioned that, or door to door salespeople.
We have a case happening in Denver City two years ago. Two people came to this lady’s door and said they wanted to talk about her insurance, and this one man detained the lady about insurance, the other went through the house and just robbed her blind. She wasn’t aware of what was going on with it, and then they left and that was it. They took all kinds of things from the house. So, people are not supposed to knock on your door and say I’ve got this particular insurance program I’d like to talk to you about, Medicare or whatever, no, that’s a problem, it shouldn’t happen but it is happening. I want to emphasize this over and over.
I meant to add we have other programs, we have 4H which is youth and leadership and then I do a program on nutrition and other stuff too. I have another organized group ECA (Extension Community Association) and there’ll be lots of projects in the community for different organizations and we teach a lot of different classes.
We did one yesterday on nutrition, and we did a potato garden with herbs, there is all kinds of things going on that you might be interested in. In the meantime we have a grant for this program-ship. I have a grant that I operate every year. It’s proper insurance, it’s not a lot of money but with our supplies we do education programs, we did a Medicare program not long ago, and had about 75 people there. We go to churches and do our programs and do special supplies with this grant money, it’s only about $3000 dollars which isn’t a lot of money for one year so.
Well, I thank you for the noble work you’re doing. I appreciate it, and if anyone wants to get in touch with you to learn more about the Lincoln County Extension Service, you offer much more than the SHIIP program, all kinds of activities and classes and other things that you can get involved in there, and you have raving fans that come there all the time I know, I’ve been interactive with some of them but how can they get in touch with you?
Okay, we have a phone number, it‘s 704-736-8461.
If you don’t live close to downtown Lincoln County or to Denver, there’s a SHIIP number through the North Carolina Department of Insurance, it’s 1-855-408-1212 and they can give you the name and location of the nearest SHIIP office for you, or they can actually answer your questions there too.
Well thank you so much.
Every community has something similar, a 5 year extension service, your senior services SHIIP Program, councilors who you can talk to about how you can save money on your prescription drugs and how they can help you or a loved one.
This has been the elder law report, I’ve had a lot of fun learning today along with you.
I’m Greg McIntyre, the elder law guy and Elder law attorney with McIntyre Elder Law. If you have any other questions or need any other information about this information or other planning services, you can call our office that’s McIntyre Elder Law on 704-259-7040.
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street, Shelby 704-259-7040
What you would do if you had a healthcare issue, who’s going to come in and make life and death decisions for you?
What is this all about?
National Healthcare Decisions Day is a day set aside by healthcare providers to encourage folks to do advanced directives. In our area with the Carolinas healthcare system, any hospital with the tree of life as its logo is participating in National Healthcare Decisions Day. This is an opportunity to have free signings of Healthcare directives, ‘Healthcare Power of Attorney’ and ‘Living Wills.’ Both these are free at various locations in your community, mentioned further on.
First, what are ‘Living Will’s,’ and ‘Healthcare power of Attorney’s,’ and how do they relate to you?
We assume that everybody knows what they are, I deal with them everyday, but I want everyone who’s reading this in case you’re wondering, to know what’s the difference between a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney?
To help me with this delicate subject, I interviewed Len Byers from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
With the Living Will, you say ‘What’ you want done if you can’t wake up, if you can’t get better, or maybe where the dementia has advanced to a place where you might not know yourself or your loved ones.
The Healthcare Power of Attorney answers the ‘Who.’ Who do you want to make decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself?
When I first started, CPR, breathing machines, tube feeding, kidney dialysis, they were just coming on board, prior to that we didn’t have all that stuff… Once you start using those life support interventions, sometimes they work and you don’t need anyone to make decisions, sometimes despite using them there’s no decisions to make because a person moves on, but in a large category people don’t get better and they don’t go on to glory, they’re stuck and someone’s got to make a decision.
And we’ve had it for about 30 years, we’ve been dealing with this almost on a weekly, sometimes it feels like a daily basis, and it boils down to this:
Some families say to us, “We can’t make that decision, we know that this stuff is not working, we know our loved one can’t wake up or get better, but we just can’t make that decision.”
So in those situations if there had been a Living Will by that person that said, “I don’t want to be stuck in this situation,” or if there had been a Healthcare Power of Attorney and someone said, ‘I’ll make that decision for you, that’ll be tough, I’ll hate doing it but to support your wishes I’ll do it,’ if this had been done ahead of time, then we could save a lot of despair and agony on the part of families in these situations.
Does a Living Will help me pass property?
Then why is it called a Will?
A Living Will was originally designed to let us say, ‘I don’t want to be stuck on machines, let me go naturally,’ it’s the decoration of a desire for a natural death.
The biggest confusion about a living will is it’s got nothing to do with property. It’s about healthcare.
It’s about the end of life decision when someone is terminal, incurable, brain death has occurred for instance and you’re being maintained by life support.
In that situation if you want to be continually maintained or not, do you want to put that guilt ridden decision on your spouse, your kids or your grand kids to make for you?
I think I would have a hard time making that decision for my parents and I hope it’s not a bridge I have to cross. For many families and family members, I have to make that decision for their parents, and it’s a very very hard decision to make. I couldn’t imagine it. But while you’re competent, while you’re coherent, while you know what you’re doing and you can make that decision for yourself, this is your opportunity.
It’s an act of love for your loved one, because you’re really protecting them from pretty dangerous territory to be in.
There’s no way around it when death becomes part of our family’s story, it’s a difficult moment in our journey together, and then when our journey’s go separate ways for a while, whenever you introduce having to make a decision that anyone feels like is anything to do with the dying process, it’s really toxic. I mean it’s something that creeps you and really messes your spirit up.
Some people have asked me five or ten years later after some of the situations, did I kill momma or kill daddy by saying let’s not use the life support anymore? And I said, ‘No.’
Whatever was wrong with them physically, whatever illness they had that we couldn’t change, couldn’t undo the damage, that’s what took their life. You just tried to make a decision that was the best way to love them and care for them in a terrible place.
**Decisions mixed with grief are a very dangerous combination for us.**
We just don’t like to have to do it. The only way I can protect my family, or you protect your family is to make sure they know, ‘this is my decision, I want to save you from having to make it and I want to let you know mine.’ And that’s what the Living Will is designed to do a head of time.
We can write this down why we’re thinking about it, while we’re not even at the hospital, we’re not involved with any healthcare issue, we just do it, and that’s why on ‘Decision Day’ we hope people will come in from the community to these sites we have and just do a ‘Living Will’ or a ‘Healthcare Power of Attorney’ while they’re feeling good, everything’s fine and life is normal.
The days will come when we have to deal with this. Sometimes we have to make decisions about it, and if I’ve not made mine, then the people who love me have got to make it, and there in trouble.
30 or so years ago, I didn’t even know a Living Will existed. But what I did know was that we had families at the hospital who had this question put to them.
We say we tried the things we know to try and we don’t think we can make any difference. We can’t save your loved ones life, but we’ve got this breathing machine going and we’ve been shocking the heart repeatably. We want to ask your help in making a decision to take the breathing machine away or stop shocking the heart.
And it’s like if you could imagine what people would look like if you hit them in the belly with a 2X4, it was excruciating and as a chaplain you see that, and you say ‘oh my God, there’s got to be something to do to try to save us from this agony, to get prepared for and get around it if we can.’ And that’s when I heard about Living Wills and that’s when I became a big fan.
Hopefully with ‘Wills’ I can protect my family, you can protect your family, all of our readers can do things to protect their families. Everybody wants to die in their sleep and wake up in heaven and 1 in 5 or 1 in 4 of us will have that wish come true. The rest of us will be involved in hospitals and involved with these life support modalities and decisions will be a part of it.
It’s just grown since that time, it started with people being absolutely blitzed by having to deal with this, with no preparation, no clue about what to do.
Think about how hard it is to make a decision when you’ve got an idea of what the decisions about.
But then think about a decision for a human being you love, precious to you, but you don’t really know what they want you to do, what they would say, and that’s the thing we determined all those years ago, all of us wanted to know, the doctor, the nurse, family, chaplain what does that person in the bed want us to know, by that point we were not ever going to know.
In the 60’s I lost three grand parents. It was a family experience. Two grandfathers died of a long process at home taken care of by the family, with minimal input from doctors and hospital. Grandmother died rather suddenly. But I contrast that picture with the picture that we see today. And there were no decisions to be made, really what we said and what I was told as a teenager was that Gods in charge, he’ll take care of it, all we’ve got to do is trust him, this is life, death is a part of life, and that kind of natural progression under Gods care, that worked.
Nobody had any decisions to make, no one had any burdens to carry forward. Fifteen years later, everybody is carrying burdens, everybody has got these decisions. The wonderful thing about all these life support interventions that we have is that they work.
Really focusing on National Healthcare Decisions Day, getting everyone out there to make those decisions free of charge at places in your community so you can go ahead and put in place that Living Will or Healthcare Power of Attorney.
So let’s contrast that by now talking about the ‘Healthcare Power of Attorney.’
There are people who don’t have a clear cut person so with the Healthcare Power of Attorney, they get to name a friend or a particular member of their family, someone they know, who they have told their wishes, who knows what they want and this person will carry it out.
My associate Hayden mentioned to me recently about her dad who told her what he wants, and she has the authority to carry that out, and in real time. With real decisions it’s hard on a sheet of paper like a Living Will to imagine everything that comes up. But if you have a Healthcare Power of Attorney, you’ve got a person who knows your wishes and can dialogue with the healthcare providers about what makes sense in line with your wishes. There is still some decision making to be done but not like anything as the excruciating stuff we we’ve mentioned previously because she does know what her dad wants.
These situations are some of the hardest one’s we have because then the family gets at each other and we can’t make a decision and we get stuck. Healthcare organizations are the same as any other, you don’t want to run over the feelings and the wishes of people. You don’t want to incur risk, and so sometimes those people that we need to make a decision for with this kind of contention and arguing going on, they just linger.
So there you have it folks. National HealthCare Decisions Day is coming up Thursday April 14th from 10am to 4pm at multiple locations in Cleveland County.
In Shelby go to: Brookdale Assisted Living facility, The Hospital, Neal Senior center,
In Kings Mountain go to: Summit Place, Patricks Senior Center North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
Check the facility offering these services to get the ‘Healthcare Power of Attorney’ and ‘Living Will’ signed in your neighborhood.
What’s the right thing to do for somebody you love?
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street, Shelby 704-259-7040
It has been a crazy week but a good week, we’ve had on the radio show John Jurchack talking about falls and how to avoid them, Don Peeler talking about Crystal Springs, a no step community, we talked with Teepa Snow and Joe Seidel and all of this has been about being healthy at home and staying active.
Our entire theme that we’ve been doing this March has been leading into springtime and getting outside. And so today we are going to talk about getting really active and staying that way.
We’re going to talk ‘Senior Olympics.’
The ‘Senior Games’ brings seniors together to train, strut their stuff, be active and compete just like the regular Olympics. I certainly hope I can stay active enough to participate in the ‘Senior Games’ at some time.
Joining me to help with this is Angela Padgett, who is director of the Leona Neal Senior Center in Shelby NC and helps to organize the ‘Senior Games.’
I have given everyone a brief introduction but it would be great to get down to the real muscle of the Senior Games so please let everyone know who you are and what you do and then we’re going to talk about some raffle tickets.
Good, well I’m Angela Padgett, I’m the senior center director at the council of aging Neal Senior Center in Shelby. I’m also a part of the senior center directors position, I’m the local games coordinator for the Cleveland County Senior Games. I do a hodge podge of things with the senior center.
Before we get into ‘Senior Games’ this morning let’s just be clear. ‘Senior Games is not just Cleveland County, we’re talking in nearly every county aren’t they?
They are in nearly every county in the state. It’s ‘Senior Olympics.’ Each county that participates they have local games, local games coordinators, and those folks that win first place in their divisions, there is a slew of games, if they win in pickle ball, they go on to the state finals in October and play for first place in the championship division, and they can get first place in the state, and we have had people in our area who do that.
It’s a huge event every year. Glory Livingston who is actually my assistant, we go to training every year and we meet these folks you know from other counties, and you’d be surprised, say Cabarras County for instance, they have over 300 participants every year. So it’s a big deal, not only for our county but for the state.
Well how many do we have in Cleveland County?
Right now we have 54 participants that have signed up. Of course the deadline has ended but every now and then we might have somebody who doesn’t have a partner and for exception we will let them come in and play but right now we have 54 participants.
But that is the senior games side, there are two parts to senior games. There are the games, which is the Senior Olympics and then there is the Civil Arts which we just completed. Now Civil Arts side there was 32 participants so for the whole Senior Games, we have had over 80 people participate.
It’s kind of confusing there but there are 2 parts to senior games and again we just finished the civil arts side. The civil arts side is your artists, your writers, your dancers, and we just held the Performing Arts Follies at the senior center last week, and our best in show winner which is the ‘Silver Stars,’ it’s a dance group, they are going to go on to the state finals in October, so it’s a huge deal for our county and a lot of people still don’t know about it.
We want to promote the games.
Absolutely, and if they have got 300 in Cabarras County and we’ve got 54 we need to step it up. Every county should have 300 shouldn’t they?
They should but I’ll tell you Cabarras County secret, and the same in Gaston, they actually allow folks from other counties to come in and play. So they do have more folks simply because they allow other counties to come in. Cleveland County we don’t do that.
We used to, we actually used to combine with Lincoln County but the powers at be at the time decided it would fair to our players if we would let only Cleveland County residents play.
But to be honest with you, you’re right about stepping up, because there are a lot of people in Cleveland County. We’re looking at Boiling Springs and Kings Mountain and Shelby and Casar and we could get 300 people in Cleveland County ourselves if people would come out and participate. But it’s the knowledge in your head of thinking you’re someone over 50, and some people might think, why I can’t do that.
Do you have to be a tiptop Olympic shape athlete?
No you don’t, for instance, if you shoot pool, we have billiards as part of one of our events. You don’t have to be in shape to play pool, you just have to have a keen eye and know what you’re doing. If you’re out there and you’re a good pool player, you could come and play and could go to state with billiards.
Football toss, it’s not hard, you may need to have a good arm but we have a gentleman named Bill Young who is 98 years old, and I talk about him all the time. He was one of our state finalists for pickle ball. 98 years old.
Now you just mentioned the magic word, pickle ball. It looks like a lot of fun. I guess this is on a court about the size of a tennis court, played with a big ping pong paddle and plastic riffle type balls.
It is and you can actually go to certain sporting goods stores who have pickle ball sets, so if you ever decide you want to put something like that in your backyard, or even on your drive way, you can.
But how do you get the pickle to bounce?
I don’t know.
So I have a quiz for everyone. Here it is. 1 In what city and country was the first ‘Olympic Games’ held? 2 What year was the first ‘Olympic Games’ held?
Raffle Tickets The senior center has a raffle coming up. Tell us about the raffle.
It does, a big one. Well we’re very excited in the fact that I don’t believe any non profit in the county has given away this much money.
I think it’s a great opportunity, what are the odds?
1 in 400.
I mean that’s pretty good odds.
Exactly and if folks are interested we’re selling raffle tickets for reverse drawing, the tickets are $100 a piece, with 400 tickets sold, we’re giving away $20’000 dollars.
There are people still selling tickets, I’m still selling tickets, I’ve got 5 left. We’ve got board members selling and if you know anyone who is interested in buying a ticket we do have 50 right now at the senior center.
Why should I buy a ticket, why does this matter? I want to win some money of course but I want to support a good cause.
Well the senior center is a good cause and again folks 50 and over are considered seniors in Cleveland County. Our senior center does a lot for seniors. We promote health and we promote participation, socialization, fellowship and we have a huge services department that if folks are hungry we give them food, if they need meals on wheels we help them get set up for meals on wheels. You’d be surprised at the folks in this area that are hungry, and we help them. If we can’t help them we refer them to someone who can, that’s another part of our services department.
We have a kitchen that we actually run a restaurant out of, to bring money into the senior center, but we need help, we need help to keep our senior center going. We are not a county maintained business, we are a private non-profit.
You have to pay the rent.
We have to pay the rent. We have a building that we owe over 300’000 dollars for that we need to get paid off.
What else could we do if we paid that off?
Good gracious, the sky’s the limit on what we would be able to do. Right now we don’t have funding for home repairs, we used to have funding to send people in to clean folks houses so they could stay in their home and not have to move onto a nurses facility.
We talked about Meals on Wheels also.
Meals on Wheels, and I’m glad you brought that up. Meals on Wheels is very important for our county but unfortunately we have a waiting list for Meals on Wheels. We have over 50 people on the waiting list, that’s 50 people that are hungry that need food, and unfortunately because of our waiting list they can’t get put on right away. And if we were able to pay that building off, there would be no waiting list. It costs $1800 a year to supply one person with a years worth of food.
So one way you could (out there) help do that and help and participate and be eligible to win up to $20’000 is to enter the raffle. It’s $100 per ticket.
And you can buy these tickets with other people if you like. So 4 people can put in to buy a $100 dollar ticket and split the winnings.
So just to finish up, the ‘Senior Olympic Games,’ if anyone wants to participate, who do they contact, where do they come, if they just want to watch, tell me what they do?
We do have a schedule that’s posted online at Nealseniorcenter.org.
The games are going to start opening ceremonies on April 11th at 9.00am at Spangler Stadium at Gardner Webb. They are welcome to come to that. We have games all day long at Gardner Webb and then we move on to Shelby City Park.
If you do have internet and want to come out to watch, go online for a schedule or call me at 704-482-3488 and I’ll be glad to mail you a schedule. You can also come by the senior center and pick a schedule up but we are going to be playing from April 11th on up to April 15th. The majority of the places we will be playing at is Gardner Webb, the Neal Senior Center and Shelby City Park. You can also go to these places, especially Shelby City Park and get a schedule from Mrs Dee Green.
So come on out to play, come on out to watch. It’s important to stay active throughout your life.
Exactly, that’s what it’s all about.
If you want to buy raffle tickets, I need to sell mine so call my office 704-259-7040 for your raffle ticket to win up to $20’000 to support the Neal Senior Center. And just to give the answers to the quiz earlier, the first ‘Olympic Games’ was held in 776 BC, and the marathon is 26 miles 385 yards. That is the distance between Athens Greece and Marathon, and it was to honor the run of Pheidippides (Phillipedes) during a great war (490BC) he was a messenger and he ran for 26 miles 385 yards.
So just a little bit of history you can pick up on the Elder Law blog. I’m Greg McIntyre, get outside and have a great day.
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street, Shelby 704-259-7040
I have a special guest for this blog post today, he is the brains, the developer, and the push behind Crystal Springs Estate, Don Peeler.
To give a little background, two weeks ago I did a radio show with John Jurchack from ‘Healthy at Home.’ We were talking about falls and how to avoid them, and how a fall can sometimes lead a senior to a broken hip or a knock on the head which of course you want to avoid.
Seniors want to stay active as long as possible, and so John and I spoke about the different ways you can avoid those falls, such as using technology for widening doorways or the color of the transition between your carpets, from one room to the other. Even how to deal with that little lip that goes across the doorway that can trip you up and contribute to falls.
Crystal Springs is a no step community that utilizes all these technological advancements and more to help seniors stay active and healthy longer. I’ve known Don for a while and he gave me an entire walk through at one of the units at Crystal Springs that shows all that technology. You can see the video of this walk through if you go to mcelderlaw.com. It is just a real gem, I really encourage you to go to the website and see it.
So I sat down with Don and we talked about Crystal Springs and the technology and community and how one goes about building an active older adult home from the ground up.
To start with it is amazing the services and resources for seniors that are available in Cleveland County NC, and this is part of that. The Neal senior center is a model for senior centers. How to build it, use it, and operate it. Then you have Crystal Springs across the road, and there are several apartment complexes for seniors as well there. So what can you tell us about this community?
Good gracious, we don’t have enough time. The first question is: Where is Crystal Springs?
It’s in Shelby, North Carolina, and I know it is strategically located just across from the Neal Senior Center but as mentioned, Crystal Springs is a little different. How many units have you got over there?
Thirty two. We only have 22 left, so a 54 lot development. I’ll give you a quick synopsis of Crystal Springs. Eight or nine years ago, Libby Hibley?? (14:50) bless her heart, who was then the deputy director of the Neal Senior Center invited me to join there board of directors, having dealt with both of my parents in their later years and their health issues. Libby was aware of that so she invited me to join, and I became very involved in the board of the senior center.
And one thing lead to another. The master plan for the entire senior center development up there, which by the way is located at highway 18 North, which is Grover Street in Shelby, directly at the stop light, what we all know as the Time Warner Cable office, if you turn right if you’re heading North on 18 at the TWC office into the Neal Senior Center, Crystal Springs Estates is located just across the front lawn literally, and behind what we all know as ‘Healthy at Home.’
On the master plan for the senior center was a multi family housing element to compliment not only the senior center but the income sensitive apartments planned for the senior center as well, and she asked me if I would be interested to develop the multi family portion of the master plan.
Which having built 14 developments in Cleveland County at the time, this I had to guess, might help to be my lot in life, to help the seniors with a multi family product which turned out to be Crystal Springs.
They are all no step town homes or patio home units. We have built 4 patio homes so far, we are only going to build 1 more free standing patio home and then we will have 22 town homes left to build.
If for instance you needed a wheel chair for a little while, because maybe you had an injury that required a wheel chair, does the development accommodate for that?
Great point, every doorway in Crystal Springs is at least 3 feet wide, all extra wide doors, no steps, extra wide garages, we have roll in showers in many of our units where you can roll right in, with or without assistance. High ceilings, vaulted ceilings. High efficiency heat pump systems so the power bills don’t kill people. These kind of things. Plenty of light inside them.
When you say no step, there is literally no lip in the floor.
Completely level from the time you get out of your vehicle and enter your unit, kitchen, bedroom, bathrooms, no steps whatsoever.
We are golf cart friendly, Chief Jeff Ledford, at the City of Shelby Police department has endorsed us. They are in and out of the development several times a day. He has no problem with the golf carts as long as we don’t get in the highway with them.
What we have done is custom built the first 32 and look forward to custom building the remaining 22 town homes and the 1 patio home that we are getting ready to start.
Do you have a model home open?
Not any longer, it was sold. We had a buyer that just had to have it, so we sold our model and we’ve been playing catch up ever since then. We have a lot of interest. It’s one of Cleveland Counties best kept secrets we think.
I know about the senior center and the other opportunities in the county, and Crystal Springs being a no step community, when I sit down with clients who are mostly seniors and maybe looking to downsize, you know, I want to get out of this large 2 story house where we raised our kids and we’re not interested in climbing stairs anymore, and I always mention Crystal Springs.
In fact, I have a flat screen television in my conference room, and I’ll pop up that video of the walk through, and I show it to clients to let them know what’s possible. You deserve all the credit for having the vision to do something like that.
I don’t know if it’s a love of labor or a labor of love or which but we’re tickled. The families that are in there now, all get along, everybody seems to really enjoy the lifestyle that it affords them to not have to deal with maintenance, period. No grass to mow, no hedges to trim, we have a home-owners association that takes care of all of that.
It’s $90 a month that’s how much the home-owners association fee is. We collect it annually, a $1080 a year. $90 a month is what it continues to be, and that’s what it was when we started.
And they own that unit, correct?
That’s correct. They are not rentals, they are fee simple deed ownership.
So someone like myself, who is an elder law attorney, could come in and protect that property for the family and make sure it was passed on?
There in lies an issue, because you want to keep it an active older adult community. What if you want your child getting the property and moving in there, what’s your solution for that?
If the original owner passes away, the family can lease the unit but it has to be to an occupant at least 55 years of age and up.
So you have to be 55 plus to live there, no matter who the owner is?
Have to be 55 correct. And what it’s done is maintain a very quiet secure community. It’s just very quiet, very safe and secure.
Let’s just talk about the community aspect, because we can go back to the technology and the no step part which is really helping keep you active longer, living longer and enjoying have a high quality of life at an older age, but the community aspect, there’s got to be a ton from a psychological standpoint, feeling good, having friends, getting up in the morning with purpose, tell me about that.
Well, we have a paved sidewalk around a one point five acre pond at Crystal Springs with a lighted fountain, it’s pretty neat in the evenings, a lot of our owners like to get out and congregate amongst themselves in the evenings when the weather is nice and walk around that pond.
When the last unit is built our sidewalk will make a complete loop through the entire development. We have picnic tables and benches that our owners and their guests like to hang out at around the pond and the fountain. We have 2.9 acres of green space and common areas, including the 1.5 acre pond, which is the way it was planned in the beginning.
As far as security and exercise on any given day when the weather’s decent, you’ll see our owners and their guests out walking around, congregating and just visiting and having a good time.
How do people contact you if they want to take a look at Crystal Springs?
It’s real simple. The phone number is 704-349-0461. We have an office inside the Neal Senior Center that you can visit 5 days a week, Monday through Friday. We have an on-site project manager by the name of Mr Charles Tarlton who you can visit with.
Or go to the senior center. That’s a real advantage. I mean how many neighborhoods out there for seniors, active older adult communities have something like the Neal Senior Center right in their front lawn?
Not many, and that’s what we tell folks, the senior center a lot of people don’t realize is a 32’000 square foot state of the art facility. We’re feeding on any given week 2-500 folks. $5.50, 1 meat 2 vegetables, a drink and desert, cannot be beat anywhere in Cleveland County.
They’ve got a very well stocked library there, reading rooms, exercise rooms, arts, crafts, activities, cards, bridge, there is something going on all the time, and Crystal Springs is right out the front door.
I’m Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law
Call me if you have any questions:
Greg McIntyre Elder Law Attorney McIntyre Elder Law 123 W. Marion Street, Shelby 704-259-7040
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