A Million Tiny Things
My Experience in Caregiving
"Everything I know, I have learned."
               Renée Norman

New Articles

 COVID-19/ Coronavirus What you are NOT hearing...

We are going to address things you are NOT hearing about regarding COVID-19/Coronavirus.  I am not going to repeat what you are hearing and seeing everywhere. 

Please see my section on “Necessary Documents”.  Right now, I want to address the AMD – Advanced Medical Directive, aka Living Will.  The specific area I want to address regarding COVID-19 is the life support section.  I have thought about and seen so many different desires here. 

COVID-19 is putting more people on life support, for longer periods of time.  The “normal” conditions under which people are put on life support for COVID-19 are very different.  There is a section of the population that contracts COVID-19 that do not have a chance without life support.  After being on life support, some recover very well, some recover with manageable conditions, others need amputations and organ transplants to survive, and then there are those that sadly do not survive. 

Previous to Coronavirus, life support was used differently.  The outcome of most patients was able to be determined within a range rather than the outcome of a patient being unknown.  Medical professionals are getting better at determining outcomes of Coronavirus patients, but still there are many unknowns. 

I have my personal desires and non-desires regarding life support, as does each person. 

It is critical you think about your desires and make sure you and your AMD agent talk about this.  I am eternally grateful that my loved ones that I have had to act on their behalf, have made sure I knew what they wanted and did not want.  I have had to re-think my desires and non-desires regarding Covid-19 as opposed to “normal” life support circumstances.  

When I speak on caregiving, we talk about your AMD agents knowing what you truly want and don’t want.  I suggest opening this conversation with your adult children by giving them the option of talking about your wishes or you will tell them all about the night they were conceived! 

You will need to have a backup AMD agent that does not live in your home with you, due to the contagious nature of Coronavirus.  

Having this document is more important than ever with Coronavirus. Also, since you cannot be in the hospital with your loved one, having it official on paper who the medical professionals are allowed to talk with and take directions from is critical. 


High School Graduates,

Ready or Not Here They Go!


Congratulations to all your high school graduates!

In preparing your graduate for their launch into adulthood, whether it is their first “adult” job or college, have you had their “necessary documents” prepared?  Especially due to HIPPA, our 18 year olds need an advanced medical directive (AMD). A Power of Attorney (POA) is also important in times of an emergency, even a non-emergency. While you’re at it, might as well have a Will prepared.

An unmarried, 18-year old, has no legal AMD or POA without those documents. Invoking HIPPA, medical staff can refuse to discuss your 18-year old child’s medical condition with you and not allow you (or anyone) to direct their care. Emergency situations can override HIPPA but it is a grey area. It is much better to be safe rather than sorry. Also, this celebration of adulthood is the excuse to discuss your adult child’s wishes under different medical scenarios.  

Stop and think a minute… if your worst fear came true, as it did with me and my son and you received a call from the police that your child was in an accident… would you want to be able to:

1)      Have the doctors and nurses be allowed by law to discuss your child’s medical condition with you?

2)      Be able to direct your child’s medical care?

3)      Be able to call your medical insurance company and be allowed to discuss your child’s care choices and insurance coverage?

4)      Be able to dispute a medical charge from your child’s medical provider and/or medical insurance company? Even if you cover your 18+ year old child on your medical insurance, are responsible for the bills, and pay the bills, no one can discuss the charges or insurance coverage with you, unless you have an AMD (Advanced Medical Directive aka Living Will) and POA (Power of Attorney).

Do you want the added stress of having your hands tied? Or by taking some time and action now, you can minimize at least part of any stressful path in the future.

If you can’t wait for the next article in which we will talk about low cost options to prepare your documents and some non-emergency uses, Go to Renée’s website; www.AMillionTinyThings.com, www.ReneeNorman.LegalShieldAssociate.com, email:info@AMillionTinyThings.com.

Example: A friend's daughter was studying abroad her spring semester.  Her father was able to sign her tax return as "POA" instead of having to mail her tax return to Europe, have her sign her return and mail it back.


High School Graduates,

The Gift They Need!


Your high school graduate has been accepted to college, your deposit was sent in, they are on Facebook connecting with other students going to their new school and they have picked out their new comforter.  Other graduates are excited about their new jobs, and having their own money. Freedom! With all that freedom, there is also some fear. There should be some fear. Hopefully, it will help keep them alive!

I will not say “if” our graduates will need our help, I will say “when” they need our help, as their parents, will we be able to help them? Last article, I spoke of the need for all 18-year olds to have an Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) and Power of Attorney (POA), and while you’re at it might as well prepare a Will.  

Where do I start, who do I call? We have great lawyers in the Richmond area.  I have worked with several lawyers on different items. On each of my children’s 18th birthdays, we were at our lawyer’s office, signing their first set of adult documents, AMD, POA and Will – Happy Birthday!  I have personally experienced the need for these documents, they are working documents and they were my gift to my children, as well as me!

Here are three options to prepare your documents with which I have experience:

I actually restructured Citibank International Private Banking’s Fiduciary Services years ago (disclaimer, I am not a lawyer). For all of us that need to learn what “Fiduciary Services” mean, in layman’s terms included are Trusts, AMD’s, POA’s and Corporations for personal use. The reason I mention this is the fear of seeing a lawyer! The fear of the cost! Having a basic knowledge of all these documents and even having used them previously, I know how to prepare before seeing a lawyer. Preparing allows you to minimize your time with a lawyer, which reduces your cost. Even though I knew how to prepare, it still cost me about $1,000 for each of my children’s sets of necessary documents. My website has a guide to preparing for drawing up your documents with a lawyer, www.AMillionTinyThings.com.

Personally, I do not like the on-line legal companies that you have to put all your information out onto the internet. However, I do like some of the software programs available. You install the software on your computer and all your personal information stays on your computer. You pay once for the software and you can use it multiple times.  The software I have costs $39. The drawback is, not having any expertise of a lawyer. There is a reason why we pay lawyers!

Another option, now my personal favorite, is pre-paid legal services specifically Legal Shield. For a modest monthly fee - currently $20, their lawyers will prepare your, your spouse’s and your children’s (dependents up to 26 years old) necessary documents. I have had qualified opinions of Legal Shield, and so far I have only heard good comments.  Because of that (full disclosure) I signed up as both a member and associate. Think of all the times you wish you could “have your lawyer write a letter” and stop all the nonsense. Please go to their website to get full information to evaluate if this would be helpful to you, your family and your graduate: www.ReneeNorman.LegalShieldAssociate.com.

Think of all the contracts your child will be given to sign; lease agreements, employment contracts, car insurance, medical insurance, etc. Legal Shield will review documents up to 15 pages as part of your monthly membership fee. I wish I had had Legal Shield many times in my life, especially when my husband was sick with ALS. 

No excuses, you now have some low cost options to prepare your necessary documents!

Renée Norman is the author of, A Million Tiny Things, My Experience in Caregiving. For more information, please go to www.AMillionTinyThings.com, www.ReneeNorman.LegalShieldAssociate.com, email: info@AMillionTinyThings.

Photo taken just after Chris' diagnosis of ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease, October 2007.

Photo taken by Carolyn Evans