Those who recall Rime of the Ancient Mariner remember the lines "Water, Water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink." To some extent, dealing with the questions families have and the information that's "out there" is just as daunting. That's why lawyers become life care planners. We know you struggle with questions like:
How can I make sure Mom, or Dad, or my disabled child or sibling, gets the right care at the right time?
How can I find, get and pay for good care?
- Does your loved one have a healthy (or healthier) spouse whose financial needs at home must be considered in light of the ill elder’s medical condition? In other words, how do we protect the spouse who's still at home?
- Has your loved one been diagnosed with a mentally or physically debilitating disorder such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke or a decline in functional capacity? If so, how do you handle the changes in routine necessary for your loved one to safely age in place? How do you plan for the future?
- Is your loved one isolated? Sometimes this is due to the death of a spouse. Other times, it may happen because family members either live too far away or are too busy to provide adequate care.
- Is your loved one about to be admitted to an assisted living facility, a nursing home or currently receiving in-home care?
- Does your loved one have a variety of healthcare providers and need coordination and advocacy for quality care?
- Does your loved one seem unusually concerned about costs of medication and services, indicating he or she may be having financial troubles or that he or she may not be making wise decisions to protect his or her health?
- Does your loved one have assets that are sufficient to finance a short stay in a care facility but not enough for an extended stay?
- The Life Care Plan places special emphasis on issues surrounding long life. There are three principal goals of the Life Care Plan that we help you develop and implement: First, We help make sure that you or your loved one gets good care, whether that care is at home or outside the traditional home setting such as a nursing home. This is the most important of all goals. Your Life Care Plan is focused first on the health and well-being of you and your loved one throughout the long-term care continuum. Second, we help you make decisions relating to your long-term care and special needs. For most of our clients and their families, it is a blessing and a relief to know that they always have a source of knowledgeable, objective advice -- or, maybe, just to have someone to assure that things will turn out all right for them. Third, if you or your loved one are facing long-term care outside the home, whether that it is imminent or anticipated, we help you access such care and qualify for public benefits such as Medicaid to help pay for it.
A "Life Care Plan is a dynamic document based on standards and an assessment of where you are and where you are going. It is an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs, for individuals with special needs. A Life Care Plan may be an interdisciplinary document, a nursing document or, as here (since we are an Elder "law" firm), a guide to identifying legal problems (such as incapacity and eligibility for government benefits that fund long-term care), and how those legal problems will be addressed. Typically, in our office, a Life Care Plan is the legal corollary to what the health care community calls the Chronic Care Model.
- Meeting the elder's immediate health care and long-term care needs.
- Making sure the elder/family is making good health care and long-term care decisions.
- Helping the elder/family sort through the maze of their long-term care options including residential options.
- Identifying and accessing public benefits and resources to pay for care should the elder meet the qualifying criteria.
- Help with asset management, including the burden of home ownership and personal property.
- Providing the entire family the peace of mind that comes from knowing their loved one is monitored by a team that combines legal and financial expertise with specialized knowledge of the elders’ physical, mental and emotional health.
- Ensuring the highest level of independence the elder can achieve, while ensuring safety.
Like any other plan, our goal in life care planning is to help you map out the right path and get headed in the right direction. We work to help make sure that you or your loved one is budgeting for continued independence and has access to good care, whether that care is at home or outside the traditional home setting such as a nursing home. This is the most important of all goals. Your Life Care Plan is focused first on the health and well-being of you and your loved one. We help you make decisions relating to your long-term care and special needs. For most of our clients and their families, it is a blessing and a relief to know that they always have a source of knowledgeable, objective advice -- or, maybe, just to have someone to assure that things will turn out all right for them. If you or your loved one are facing long-term care outside the home, whether that it is imminent or anticipated, we help you access such care and qualify for public benefits such as Medicaid to help pay for it. Your Life Care Plan will help you answer several questions:How can I get the good care I need, whether at home, in a residential community, or in a nursing home? How will financial and health care decisions be made for me if I cannot make them for myself? If I can't take care of myself, what is going to happen to my spouse? Do I have to spend all of my money on the nursing home? How can I protect my assets to take care of my spouse, to ensure I get good care in the nursing home, or to leave to my children?
A Life Care Plan helps you and your loved one answer other questions as well: How do I assure my financial security as I get older? What public benefits am I entitled to? Should I rely on Medicaid or other government benefits to help pay for my care? How do I apply for benefits? What are the Medicaid Planning Basics? What types of insurance do I need? Should I buy long-term care insurance? Should I join a Medicare HMO? How should I distribute my assets? Can I save taxes and avoid probate? How do I provide for family members with special needs?
A Life Care Plan, depending upon the services our client elects, therefore usually includes both elder law and elder care assessment and management services. Not all of our clients and families need a Life Care Plan, but it is the most popular service we offer.
If you are interested in Life Care Planning, let us know. We can work with an independent geriatric care manager (also called aging life care professionals) to make sure you get the right care at the right time.
As your Life Care Plan expands, it may (or may not) be necessary to bring in other professionals, such as nurses, financial consultants and so on, to address particular needs you may be facing. If that is necessary, we will work with you and your current health care providers to identify and hire professionals in the community who can help you.
Caregiving isn't easy. Take heart though because help is available. There are groups such as the Alzheimer's Association that provide support and there are many resources such as the following: "As a caregiving situation unfolds, everyone involved tends to focus on logistical issues - what needs to be done when and by whom. Perhaps these matters come to mind first because they seem to affect the status quo most. Each new task has the potential to shake up lifestyles and daily routines - especially for the caregiver and the care recipient, but also for their immediate family (including spouses, siblings, and children) and anyone else on the caregiving team." Quote from And Thou Shalt Honor: The Caregiver's Companion. The paperback is available online for $15.95, plus shipping. It is also sold in bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, etc