With an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, the market for eldercare-related services is growing. If you’re caring for an aging loved one and you need help, how do you choose when there are so many options?
The Life Care Planning Law Firms Association posed this question to managing attorney, Chris Bratton.
“There’s a service to meet just about every need, but most providers are single-minded in their focus,” Chris admits. “You have geriatric care managers that focus on healthcare issues. You have companies helping seniors fill out Medicaid applications, but by law, aren’t allowed to provide any legal advice, and can’t provide healthcare advocacy. You have elder law and estate planning firms focused on protecting assets and preparing legal documents, but don’t provide financial foresight or healthcare advocacy. Then you have in-home care agencies that just provide physical care and facilities that provide long-term care. But they are each missing the quarterback to manage the situation and provide guidance.”
A service provider’s single-minded focus may seem like a good thing for families, but it creates problems for everyone involved. For example, if an in-home care agency uses up a senior’s assets to keep him in familiar surroundings and then the elder needs assisted living, he may be forced into a bad situation. Once the senior runs out of assets, he may be placed into a shared room in a nursing home without any way to purchase things that could improve his quality of life.
Family caregivers who rely on multiple independent service providers often find themselves faced with the difficult task of coordinating the many services a loved one needs without a clear sense of the interrelated personal, financial, legal, and residential consequences of each decision. That’s why people find working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm such a relief. “Life Care Planning is a holistic model that addresses the big picture,” says Chris. “Care costs money, whether it’s in the home or in a long-term care setting. Where will the money come from? How do we make sure the senior gets quality care? How do we protect the senior’s personal, legal, and financial well-being? It all overlaps, and in order to properly help the client, you have to take a look at all of the factors that are in play with their situation.”
The big picture approach isn’t the only advantage of working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm. Foresight is also critical. “The eldercare journey is one of constant change,” Chris notes. “We develop a legal, financial, and personal care plan that’s appropriate for the client’s condition today but design it in a way that it can be easily revised as the client’s condition changes. Since we don’t know what’s going to happen, we have to be able to adjust.”
Chris believes that our firm’s ability to design big picture Life Care Plans that can be adjusted as the elder’s needs change is one of the reasons so many clients stay with the firm, sometimes for years. “No matter what changes—health, finances, family dynamics—we can change with it. This gives family caregivers less to worry about because they’re confident that their loved ones are getting the right care at the right time.”