Embracing the Journey

Free community conference to address estate planning, long-term care finances

David Grooters

A free community education conference will provide information on what seniors and their adult children need to know about estate planning and finances related to long term care.

The second annual Embracing the Journey Conference, entitled Where Do I Start? is set for Tuesday, June 25 from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Webster City Middle School. The event is being planned and hosted by a committee of caregivers.

Doors will open at 4 p.m. and a complimentary meal will be served at 5 p.m., followed by the featured speaker. David A. Grooters, an attorney and certified public accountant with Pappajohn, Shriver, Eide and Nielsen PC of Mason City will be the keynote speaker. Grooters will discuss financial planning for long term care, as well as simple estate planning.

A summary of area resources will be provided and tables with information from a variety sources will be available, including assisting living options, funeral home services, home care services, Hospice services, meal delivery services, nursing facilities, pharmacy services and senior programs and opportunities.

The idea for the program originated with a group of caregivers who have been meeting since 2014. The nurses, social workers and other providers meet to discuss concerns or issues with patients that they have in common.

“Through these meetings, we identified some of the issues are that the patients and families don’t understand end of life issues,” said Denise Helmick, utilization nurse at VDMC. “They don’t understand how the nursing home is paid for, or the services that Hospice can provide.”

Financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney were two other confusing areas for their patients, according to Helmick.

“We thought if we could start educating the community, before people need to know that stuff, or before they are in a crisis situation in a hospital, it may help,” Helmick said. “That’s our goal — to educate the community on some of these hard subjects before they have to deal with them.”

A planning committee was formed to create a program to provide education on some of these tough issues. Members of the committee are Rachel Johnson, branch manager for Gateway Hospice, Clarion; Julie Ashbrook, nurse and Hospice specialist with Kindred Hospice; Anthony Wubben, social worker with Van Diest Medical Center; Denise Helmick, VDMC utilization nurse; Jodi Berns-Lennon, executive director at Windsor Manor; Dawn Trujillo, Hamilton County Public Health; Heather Malloy, UnityPoint and Jodi Harms, Senior Life Solutions at VDMC.

The first Embracing the Journey session was held last October. With concerns about weather, harvest time and scheduling, the committee decided to move the event to June 25.

The conference is an important step to help start the conversation in families, one committee member said.

“These aren’t conversations that we tend to have at the dinner table, but it is the reality of life,” said Rachel Johnson, branch manager for Gateway Hospice, Clarion. “One way or another, we will all leave this world. So having the information and resources before those emotional conversations are being held is important.”

She said often people think that if they pre-plan for situations or gather information, that may make the circumstances happen faster.

“That’s just human nature that people think that way,” she said, “but we all know it’s not true.”

Having information on resources or knowing where to turn for resources, can make many future decisions less difficult, Johnson said.

“I think its like anything. The more information we have about a topic, the more comfortable we are,” she said. “That’s our goal as a committee, being a resource for those individuals to ask those questions and feel more comfortable.”

“I’m so excited about this conference, especially the estate planning,” said Berns-Lennon. “Because often those transitions happen so quickly.

“It’s so important to get that foundation laid down now, so everyone understands,” she said.

For more information, email embracingthejourney@vandiestmc.org or call 832-7725.


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