SENIOR SIGNALS: Keeping calm during the COVID-19 crisis

Published on Sunday, 5 April 2020 16:36
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Many of my clients have said when they watch the daily briefings by the Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, gives them a sense of calmness in these difficult times. Even with a recent COVID-19 report showing a rise in the death rate number, Dr. Fauci stated that he was optimistic. Dr. Fauci was optimistic because he noted that we can control and decrease the numbers of those infected with COVID-19 by our actions.

The same is true about trying to reduce your stress and anxiety by knowing you have done everything possible to get your legal and financial affairs in order. Knowing you have chosen the right person to “step into your shoes” if you become incapacitated should give you peace of mind. It will reduce your stress knowing you have chosen the right person or persons to make health care, legal and financial decision for you.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is severely impacting Connecticut and it may get worse in the coming weeks. In these times, it is natural that there is an increase in uncertainty and panic among us. It is important, however, that you remain calm and plan ahead.

Someone who sees seniors’ fears and anxiety on a daily basis is Dr. Margarita Reyes, Bristol Hospital’s geriatric specialist. (We are blessed in the greater Bristol area to have such a compassionate advocate for seniors in Dr. Reyes.) In a recent discussion, Dr. Reyes noted the coronavirus has created hardships for families who are quarantined from their loved ones in long-term care facilities. Because spouses and family members are not able to visit their loved one, it is hard on those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Any change in their daily routine can cause confusion and agitation. Dr. Reyes also noted, with the closing of some adult day care centers, caregivers are shouldering even more care for their family members. Families have complained to her that their loved ones’ behavior has changed. She too has noticed an increase in behavioral issues with her patients who have dementia.

Despite the hardships imposed by the coronavirus, Dr. Reyes believes the current restrictions are necessary to get through this crisis. Dr. Reyes said one positive change the crisis has brought about is the increased use of telemedicine. Dr. Reyes called the use of telemedicine a “God-send” and has enabled her to continue to stay in touch with her patients.

In speaking with many of our clients who are self-isolating, we suggest they use this time to sit down and calmly think about their wishes and estate. As I have mentioned in this column before, it is important to be careful and take precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19. You do not want, however, fear of the virus to paralyze your life. It is vital that you move forward.

Attorney Daniel O. Tully is a partner in the law firm of Kilbourne & Tully, P.C., members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Inc., with offices at 120 Laurel St., Bristol (860) 583-1341.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Sunday, 5 April 2020 16:36. Updated: Sunday, 5 April 2020 16:38.