Form 602 & Why Seniors Become Frail
Last updated 11/9/2021 at 8:45pm | View PDF
What is a Form 602 and why is it important to have it completed before moving to assisted living?
A Form 602 (better known as a Physicians Report) is a state-mandated report that needs to be filled out by the primary doctor. It asks questions about primary diagnosis, dementia diagnosis, allergies, and a plethora of other important items that caregivers in the assisted living facility need to know before they can create a care plan, or even accept the resident. It is basically the doctor saying, “This is my patient and here are my patient’s needs.” It contains a current list of medications and results of a TB test or a recent chest x-ray that determines if the lungs are free of TB.
It is quite extensive and will take a while for the doctor to fill out the form, so make sure you do it ahead of time. Once you get it completed, keep it with your power of attorney and will if you should ever need to use it. Unless you have a change in condition, the forms are good for six months to a year. If you need a blank copy of Form 602, you can download it from the web or contact me and I will email or mail a copy to you.
Currently, with fires in Three Rivers, if seniors need to temporarily relocate to a skilled nursing facility, they would not be able to do so without a Form 602 completed by their doctor. Being prepared with a fully filled out 602 Form is a great way to get prepared even if you are not currently considering a move to an assisted living facility.
The doctor said that my mother is frail from living at home alone. What does frail mean, and can it be reversed?
Many seniors living in their own home become frail due to lack of exercise and proper nutrition. COVID has not helped this matter at all. With the swift closing of senior centers, churches, gyms etc., routines of exercise and walking came to a screeching stop. Seniors closed themselves off in their homes, where the extent of their exercise is a trip to the kitchen or living room, and then to the bedroom. There are not many steps to keep their bodies and bones strong.
Frailty develops over time, and seniors do not notice the incremental changes in their bodies. It includes the feeling of exhaustion, slow walking speed, low physical activity, weakness in grip strength and unintentional weight loss (10 pounds in a year). Your mother may be experiencing frequent falls, decreased libido, mood disturbances, incontinence, lack of muscle strength and depression. If allowed to continue and with no intervention early on, it can lead to "failure to thrive" and ultimately death.
The good news is that the sooner you intervene, the better chance you have of reversing its course. Talk with her primary care doctor to establish a course of action. Exercise is the primary treatment and has had the most positive effect in reversal of frailty. Physical therapy may be needed at first, and your doctor can help to get that started. There are senior exercise videos that she can do in her home. The most well-known are sit-and-fit exercises, Tai Chi and senior yoga. These will help her to renew her strength, balance and endurance.
Nutrition is another key factor in reversing the effects of frailty. Speak with a dietitian or nutritionist to find a diet that provides the key nutrients she needs. As we get older, we need more nutrients in our body. Without the energy to cook and shop for healthy foods, seniors tend to eat something easy to prepare, but not filled with the nutrition they need.
Depression is evident in frailty. Get your mother back to being social and enjoying others company. Social engagements will improve mental and physical health and give her a reason to look forward to a new day. As COVID restrictions are starting to lift and opportunities to socialize start to become available, encourage her to seek out senior-friendly events like church and walking around the mall with friends. The sooner you act, the better.
Frailty can be reversed, but effort must be made to make those changes as soon as possible. Sometimes it takes a family member to encourage the issue. Make a date with her to participate in exercise and good nutrition together. Once it starts to become a routine in your mother’s life again, then incorporate her friends and/or neighbors to join her.
Kimberly Jensen has been working with Quail Park as a Senior Resource Advocate for over ten years and has helped hundreds of families find solutions to their senior problems. If you have a question, you can send it to her at KimberlyJ@QPCypress.com or call (559) 737-7443.