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Aging Wisely December 2015 - Aging Wisely

Getting Organized with an Exit Strategy in 2016

Linda Chamberlain, Florida Medicaid Elder Law Attorney

Linda’s Words of Wisdom blog

I can’t plan for 2016 but……I can get organized.

There is no way I could have predicted, thank goodness, the major events in my life over the last five years.  My mother passed away with ovarian cancer, two of my sons got married, we had our first grandchild, my 91 year old Dad got remarried and moved, and one of my best friends died.

I keep a crystal ball in my office.  I often tell clients I meet with it’s not working today.  We will quickly look over at it and see right through it, it tells us nothing.  I’m actually glad about that because there are many events you simply cannot plan for and the anxiety of worrying about them happening is often worse than the actual event.

What I have realized over the last five years is that I can be more organized, and need to be more organized, to be prepared for what life brings my way.  I am tackling the piles of paperwork, documenting the many passwords and websites I use, and physically and electronically filing my documents and paperwork.  This is not a task that is complete in a day or week, and to be honest I am still working on it.

When my friend died I was truly amazed with the time he had taken getting organized and planning for his death.  While many of us glibly will state we are doing it and that we are prepared, in reality I find most people will not complete what is required while they are living. Many of us prefer instead to avoid thinking about it and leave many required tasks to our surviving loved ones.  It is easy to say “if” I die when there’s no doubt about it, it’s really “when” I die.

Getting Organized

Aging Wisely has developed a simple tool to help you start organizing your exit strategy.  We call it our questionnaire.  We have found clients appreciate our help completing and getting their information together.  The questionnaire takes you step by step through your personal information.  It helps you start thinking about “who” may help you. It reminds you of assets you may have to manage, and helps you evaluate your monthly income and expenses, so you will know what you have to spend on a monthly basis.  All information you need to get organized for your future as well as illness or your death.

Exit Strategy

I have to admit, I get tired of hearing about planning for my death.  I do like the idea of organizing my Exit Strategy – something about saying that makes me sort of smile.  I am going to tackle my Exit Strategy this year and get organized.  It will be useful for living and eliminate much stress I bring upon myself not being able to find things when I need them.  There will be many tips to share through the process, stay tuned.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions and comments regarding getting organized at  

Exit Strategy Workshop (aka What You Should Do Before You Get Sick)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

1:00pm – 2:30pm

Aging Wisely office, 1180 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33756

RSVP: 727.447.5845

Please join us for a free workshop focused on organizing your affairs, what decisions you need to make and how you may want to make them, categorizing and documenting your wishes, and tips and tricks on “really” getting it done.  A free organizational tool will be provided to all attendees. You will not want to miss it!  Limited to first 20 attendees.   

I look forward to you joining me on this journey throughout 2016.    Please stop back and check out my blog (you can sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates!) and as always, feel free to email me at


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Florida Healthcare Surrogate Designation: Update Alert!


Florida Healthcare Surrogate Designation

Florida Healthcare Surrogate Designation Changes

by Linda Chamberlain

You can now authorize your health care surrogate designee to receive your protected health information (PHI) and/or delegate decision making authority even if you are not incapacitated. This provides your surrogate immediate access to your health care information and allows them to assist you with your health care decisions.

If you have been to the hospital in the last year you know that most of the time your primary care physician no longer comes to the hospital to see you. Most hospitals have “hospitalists” on their staff. A hospitalist is a dedicated in-patient physician who works exclusively in a hospital, and the hospitalist sees you daily while you are a patient admitted to the hospital.

The hospitalist does not know you, may not have easy access to your medical records or advance directives (Health Care Surrogate Designation and Living Will), and may not realize they are allowed to speak with your spouse, child, family member or friend about your medical circumstances. This often leads to frustration when your surrogate hears repeatedly, “No, we are unable to disclose this information.”

The new Florida Health Care Surrogate Designation provides authorization for your surrogate to access medical information immediately. Previously, you, as the patient, had to be determined incapacitated by two doctors before your surrogate could access any health information or help you make your medical decisions.

Will the new Florida Healthcare Surrogate Designation be available free at the hospital?

Please note the Advance Directives provided to you to sign upon admission to the hospital do not provide this authorization (yet). All the “free” health care surrogate documents I could find online still require a determination of incapacity prior to authorizing the surrogate access to medical information. You will need to contact your attorney to update your Health Care Surrogate Designation.

Is it worth the $$$ to get an up-to-date Florida Health Care Surrogate Designation?

The simple answer is “Yes!” Many of us have several doctors examining us, making diagnoses, and taking care of us.  Keeping track of your medical records, test results, etc. is your responsibility (NOT your doctors’). When you’re not feeling well it is often difficult to remember to keep all of your information organized and to collect your medical documentation. With the new Health Care Surrogate Designation, your surrogate can now assist you with these tasks as well as make the telephone calls to obtain necessary information and updates, coordinate the information between your health care providers, and access your protected health care information.

***For those of you with minor children the new Florida legislation provides parents and/or legal guardians the authority to designate a person in advance of their absence to consent to essential as well as non-emergency treatment of the minor.

For the latest updates for aging wisely and well, sign up for our newsletter! If you have specific questions or want to learn more about healthcare advocacy services contact us online or at 727-447-5845.

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Best of Aging Wisely Advice 2015


aging wisely advice from 2015

In case you missed them, here are some of our top Aging Wisely advice posts from the past year. As always, we covered an array of news related to caregiving, Medicare and eldercare issues as well as general aging wisely advice and resources. We try to answer questions clients and families frequently ask, and share the wisdom of our expert Aging Life Care Professionals™. In the coming year, we plan to bring you the best aging wisely advice and tips to help take more control of your health and well-being!

What do you want to know in 2016? Please leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page! The Aging Wisely site is for you!

Finding the Right Gifts for Older Loved Ones

Our most read page for 2015 is our Gifts for Seniors page. This page has been consistently popular for many years, and we’ve updated it and added a special gift coupon for our users. We also do seasonal and special needs posts to cover a whole range of options. Linda’s Holiday Gift Ideas have already been incredibly popular…they’re the Oprah’s picks for your older friends (and really good for most any age)! Other popular gift posts include: Gifts for Caregivers and People Facing Illness, Mother’s Day Gift Ideas and Gifts for Older Fathers.

Respite Care: Breaks for Caregivers

What Will Respite Care Cost?” was our second most popular post in 2015. This is great news to us as we strive to support caregivers and ensure they get the help they need. Another popular post was “Caregiver Breaks: Do You Know Your Options for Respite?“. If this topic interests you, our EasyLiving team has put together a great checklist to help caregivers prepare for respite care. Use this checklist for a successful respite care experience.

Aging Wisely Advice on Hospital Discharge Planning

There’s been a lot of focus in the medical community about the problem of hospital readmissions for the elderly. Older adults tend to have multiple medical conditions and medications and are prone to complications after hospitalizations or surgeries. Therefore, a post-discharge plan for an older adult needs to be more comprehensive than a simple list of what to take and what to avoid. Many families still find the hospitalization and discharge process overwhelming. Two popular tools we created to help families with the transition are: the Hospital Discharge Planning Checklist for Families and Stroke Rehabilitation and Planning.

Other Popular Resources and Aging Wisely Advice

Eldercare Tools: The Florida Durable Power of Attorney

Sundowner’s Syndrome in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

A Daughter’s Experiences in Eldercare: Detailing a client’s two very different experiences caring for aging parents

What is Medicare 2016 Going to Cost Me?

To get the latest and greatest from our experts on these topics and more, sign up for our monthly newsletter!

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