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Our Attorneys
From left to right: 

Helen Mesoloras, Janna Dutton, Kathryn Casey, Hanny Pei.  


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Did you know there is an estimated 90 million family caregivers in the US alone?


Rosalyn Carter said it best: "There are only four kinds of people in the world - those who have been family caregivers, those who are  currently family caregivers, those who will be family caregivers and those who will need family caregivers".


Many family members do not recognize they are a caregiver because it is 'part of their role as a spouse, child, nephew, etc.' Family caregiving is done by many people with compassion, love, and, even personal sacrifice.


The range of family caregiving is huge. Examples of being a family caregiver include:

  • Making check-in telephone calls.
  • Taking your loved one to the doctor, shopping, etc.
  • Scheduling appointments, picking up groceries, medications, etc.
  • Helping with monthly paperwork, such as bill paying, etc.
  • Being a Power of Attorney or Guardian.
  • Living with them (or them with you).
  • Monitoring care if your loved one lives in a formal care setting, and much more.

.....The bottom line, if you think at least once a day about how an older family member, or a family member who has a disability, is doing, you are, in some way, a family caregiver.


All of us at Dutton & Casey, thank the family caregivers who we are assisting today, those we have assisted, and those who we will assist, for all you do! 


According to many sources, including our experience, one of the most important and first steps in being a family caregiver involves talking with your loved one about medical and finances.


While not always easy to do, it is critical in planning for the future. After having the knowledge about their choices, documents are needed to allow you to carry out their wishes. 


Dealing with Medical Care:

As we know, medical science has greatly improved and can often keep us alive in situations that previously would have caused death. Innovations, such as feeding tubes, ventilators, and other means, can be associated with the diminished ability to make one's own healthcare decisions. The court can appoint a guardian to make health care decisions but this can be expensive, time-consuming and emotionally difficult The need for a guardianship to make healthcare, and financial decisions, can often be avoided with Advanced Directives.


Two important documents related to health care are the Power of Attorney for Health Care and the Living Will.  A Power of Attorney for Health Care, names a surrogate decision maker who can act during temporary or permanent periods of time when you can not make them, and a Living Will addresses end of life care.


Dealing with Finances:

The Power of Attorney for Property and the Last Will and Testament concern financial related matters.


The Power of Attorney for Property is a separate document from the Power of Health Care and grants the agent authority over the principal's financial and property related matters. It is important to know that this document may be customized to an individual's personal situation, such as limiting the agent's authority to certain types of transactions or to grant additional authority, such as the power to make gifts from the principal's assets or engage in estate planning.


 A Last Will and Testament should not be confused with a Living Will. A Last Will and Testament only takes effect at death and deals predominantly with the administration of financial matters after death, including the distribution of assets.


read more


article on the Role of an Agent Under the Power of Attorney for Property 


One of the times an Agent under the Power of Attorney for Healthcare often acts is during end-of-life care.


For many years, Illinois had a Do-Not-Resuscitate document, which is a medical order. On March 14, 2013, the Illinois Department of Public Health  released a  revised version of its "IDPH Uniform Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Advance Directive." The updated form is subtitled "Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment" (POLST) This form represents a widely recognized best practice that documents medical orders for life-extending treatments for seriously ill patients. POLST is now in use in 38 states with adoptions by Illinois and Indiana in 2013. It is intended to promote more patient-centered conversations between physicians/other healthcare professionals and the patient or legal surrogate.


learn more.  


The United States Department on Health and Human Services announced a tool designed to access  your claims or personal health information that is maintained by your doctors, hospitals, health plans, and others.


The Blue Button signifies that the patient can get easy, secure, electronic access to your own health information in a format you can use. As Americans, we each have the legal right to see and get a copy of our own health information held by doctors, hospitals and others that provide health care services for us. But, many of us don't, either because we don't know we can, or because we're not sure what to do with it. Until recently,  most medical information was stored in paper files, so it wasn't very easy to access or use. All of that is changing as America's health care system rapidly goes digital.


learn more.


This resource has been mentioned before but, because of the importance, we are sharing it again.


On August 28, 2009, the Illinois Premise Alert Program Act (PAP) became law in Illinois. This is a safety program that supports individuals living with disabilities, as well as police and paramedics responding to calls at a specific address. This program requires 911 call centers to maintain a database of information about individuals with special needs when requested by families, caregivers, or the individuals themselves.


The program assists local police departments in identifying individuals who have special needs, which will enable responding police officers and paramedics to have additional information at their disposal in the event of an emergency.


For more information on the Premise Alert Program, call the non-emergency police department phone number in the city where you live. 


Every fall, people with Medicare have an Open Enrollment  Period (October 15-December 7) to enroll in or change their Part D prescription or Medicare Advantage plans.


During this period, insurance agents want to sell their plans, but Medicare has some clear rules that agents must follow.


Here are a few examples of what Medicare's rules prohibit insurance agents from doing:

  • Agents may not cold call or visit your home without your permission. In other words, the beneficiary should initiate the first contact with an agent.
  • Agents may not enroll beneficiaries in a plan without the beneficiary's consent and knowledge of what they are being enrolled into.
  • Agents may not provide meals at marketing events, and agents may not provide gifts of over $15. (This rule is in place to prohibit agents from using meals or gifts to entice beneficiaries into a certain plan.)

learn more


  -Author: Jason Echols, Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator, Illinois SMP Program at AgeOptions. 


learn more about the SMP Program


Legal Ability Planning - How to Prepare For and Prosper in Adulthood

Adequate legal planning for living with a disability, whether your own or your loved one's, involves more than writing a will. It requires legal documents designed for living. Attend this session, led by an attorney practicing disability and elder law, as she discusses important topics, including health care planning and coverage, financial and health care surrogate decision-making, long term care, and other important planning tools designed to protect your physical, mental, and financial health, or that of someone you care about, during life

Presenter: Janna Dutton, JD

Date:  Thursday, November 14, 2013

Time:  6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Location:  Jewish Community and Family Services, 5150 West Golf, Skokie, IL

Continuing Education: 2 credit hours for Illinois Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Nurses.

Registration: There is no charge to attend. However, advanced registration is required. click here to register

Appointments with our attorneys are available in
Arlington Heights, Chicago, Skokie and Vernon Hills, Illinois.