July 07, 2015

What to Do When a Loved One is Ill/Disabled

Source: NYSUT Social Services
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  1. Health insurance

1      Keep a list of all medications in a secure

2      Gather information including policy numbers and SS# for Medicare recipients

3      Check to see if individual carries any other policies pertaining to health insurance such as:

Catastrophe Major medical insurance

Long Term Care Insurance

Disability Insurance

Life Insurance Policies

All of the above policies are offered to members through NYSUT Member Benefits Trust and you can determine the status by calling 1-800-626- 8101.  Premiums on some policies may be suspended when one is ill.

  1. Debt

1 – Keep track of any outstanding bills/payments

2 - Ensure all savings/checking account information is readily available

3 - Pay attention to credit card payments

4 - Rent and mortgage payments

  1. Advance Directives: 

    Many times individuals have advance directives files with their physician. It is important to keep a copy of each document in a personal file.

1 - Guardianship

2 - Power of Attorney

3 - Will

NYSUT Legal services plan can assist in securing these documents

  1. Health Care Proxy: 

    The New York Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint someone you trust - for example, a family member or close friend - to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions yourself. By appointing a health care agent, you can make sure that health care providers follow your wishes.

    Everyone over the age of 18 needs to appoint a health care agent. There are two situations in which a health care agent will be needed:

    Temporary inability to make health care decisions – no matter what your age is. For example, you are having an outpatient surgical procedure and are under general anesthesia. Something unexpected happens and a health care decision needs to be made. If you have a health care agent, since you are temporarily unable to make your own decisions, the health care agent may make the decision. Otherwise, the surgery would have to be stopped, and you would have to become fully conscious after the general anesthesia. You would then have to make the decision and the surgery would have to be done again. This means scheduling a second surgery, going through the pre-operative procedure all over again, and undergoing the risks of general anesthesia again. This could all be prevented if you had a health care agent who could make the decision for you. Once you become conscious again, the health care agent would no longer have any authority to act;

    Permanent inability to make health care decisions – this would arise if you were comatose from a terminal illness, in a persistent vegetative state, suffered from an illness that left you unable to communicate or, if elderly, suffered from senile dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Under these circumstances you would obviously be unable to make your own health care decisions. If you don't have a health care agent, all appropriate medical treatments will be provided to you. If you have appointed a health care agent, your health care agent can be your voice and make your health care decisions according to your own wishes, or your best interests.

New York State Department of Health - Health Care Proxy Form Information:


  1. Living Will / Advance Health Care Directive

    This form lets you give specific instructions about any aspect of your health care. Choices are provided for you to express your wishes regarding the provision, withholding, or withdrawal of treatment to keep you alive, as well as the provision of  pain relief. Space is provided for you to add to the choices you have made or for you to write out any additional wishes. This form also lets you express an intention to donate your bodily organs and tissues following your death. Lastly, this form lets you designate a physician to have primary responsibility for your health care.

    Living wills for your specific state may be found here.

  1. Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST): 

Honoring patient preferences is a critical element in providing quality end-of-life care. To enable physicians and other health care providers to discuss and convey a patient's wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other life-sustaining treatment, the Department of Health has approved a physician order form (DOH-5003), the Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) that can be used statewide by health care providers and facilities. The form can be used to issue any orders for life-sustaining treatment for general hospital inpatients and nursing home residents. In the community, the form can be used to issue a non-hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or Do Not Intubate (DNI) order, and in certain circumstances, orders concerning other life-sustaining treatment.

MOLST was created by the Community-Wide End of Life Palliative Care Initiative to provide a single document that would function as an actionable medical order and could transition with a patient through all health care settings. It is intended that the form will be transported with patients between different health care settings in order that their wishes for life-sustaining treatment and CPR will be clearly indicated.

The Department updated the MOLST form in June of 2010 to make it more user-friendly and to align the form with the recently enacted Family Health Care Decisions Act (Chapter 8 of the Laws of 2010). Under the Family Health Care Decisions Act, the rules concerning medical orders issued based on the consent of surrogates have changed. Please consult with legal counsel or the appropriate official in your health care facility prior to using this form to record orders issued based on the consent of a surrogate. Note that the rules for decisions by health care agents based on health care proxies have not changed.

PLEASE NOTE: This form has NOT yet been approved by the Office of Mental Health or the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities for use as a non-hospital DNR/DNI form for persons with mental retardation or developmental disabilities or persons with mental illness who are incapable of making their own health care decisions or who have a guardian of the person appointed pursuant to Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law or Article 17-A of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act.

MOLST FORM: http://www.health.state.ny.us/professionals/patients/patient_rights/molst/

  1. NYSUT Social Services: 

    Contact NYSUT Social Services for all your questions and concerns regarding any part of the process.  They are very helpful in taking you through the steps of managing the paperwork, but also provide support and guidance.  They can be contacted at 1-800-342-9810, ext. 6206 or socsvcs@nysutmail.org


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