Are you, your family members or clients struggling to meet the needs of an elderly loved one during a chronic illness or disability? Then it may be time to consider preparing for a life care plan. A life care plan takes into consideration your loved one’s various needs, including the priorities and safety and comfort of your loved one.
It helps to alleviate stress and empower the caregivers, fostering peace of mind for you and your family. A life care plan also coordinates all medical services, helps you figure out how to pay for the necessary care, both now and later, and making sure there is proper legal protection so that the assets stay where they belong – with your family.
Very few people want to even think about end-of-life planning, much less actually begin the process. However, the simple answer to “when to begin” is now. This is true for a few reasons: anything can happen when you aren’t ready for it, beginning the discussion now while everyone is of sound mind and body makes for better decision-making, and you aren’t under the gun to make decisions.
One of the most tragic things that can happen is realizing that a family member needs long-term care or other assistance now – when you are forced to scramble to get information and make decisions. For healthcare and financial reasons, beginning the discussion and sitting down with a life-care planning team consisting of an Elder Law attorney and Elder Care Coordinator, who will work to understand your family’s unique needs is a good idea.
5 Warning Signs Your Family May Need Help and 5 Benefits to Creating One
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5 Warning Signs
- The primary caregiver is suffering from burnout, ill health, frustration, guilt or confusion.
- Family members are confused about care options, what to do next, where to get help and how to pay for long term care.
- The elder is ill or disabled which is causing mobility issues and the children live out of town.
- The elder was recently diagnosed with an illness such as cancer, Alzheimer’s or other chronic condition, has suffered a serious medical event, or has been hospitalized and returning home is no longer an option.
- Normal effects of aging including depression, forgetfulness, and less energy
5 Benefits to having a Life Care Plan
- Freedom from the burdens of caregiving and guidance with the ongoing care as the elder’s condition progresses.
- Relief from anxiety about paying for care.
- Peace of mind knowing the right to quality care is protected and the right care will be provided sooner.
- The ability to preserve their independence for as long as possible and to age with dignity.
- The security of knowing that you have an advocate dedicated to maximizing quality of life.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Create a Life Care Plan?
That being said, some families opt for procrastination. If your family falls into this category, you are in good company. Perhaps knowing there may be some trigger points along the way will give you a heads up when it’s time to reconsider waiting. These include:
- Your family member’s health has taken a sharp turn for the worse. Your mom has been living alone for a long time and getting by. You didn’t want to rock the boat by discussing what happens when she begins to have more bad days than good. However, when that day arrive, you need to take action. If your elderly loved one has suffered a health setback, such as a stroke or even just more pain than usual, it’s time to think about a life care plan. If you’re getting concerned that they may need extensive care in the near future, planning is a wise decision.
- A diagnosis is certain. Many older people tend to sweep aches and pains under the rug. They don’t talk about them for fear that a visit to a doctor can quickly turn a concern into a full-fledged problem. If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease or a disease that causes long-term debilitation, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or cancer, consider a life care plan. Proper planning will ease your mind and help you prepare for future needs.
- You are growing increasingly worried about the cost of elder care. This is the number one reason why many people turn to a professional elder law attorney and elder care coordinator. Fiscally prudent people know that it makes sense to spend a little on a plan today in an effort to save a lot tomorrow. This is especially true when you believe your loved one will need significant financial assets to pay for care in the future.
- You can’t be there to help as much as your loved one needs you to be. Work, families, everyday life responsibilities get in the way of allowing us to be there 100 percent for our aging loved ones. If your family simply cannot handle all the care that must be provided, start working with a life care planner right away. It’s never too late to put a plan in place that will ease your mind when you can’t be there yourself.
At the end of the day, you want your relative to receive the highest level of care while their dignity is maintained. Planning ahead is the very best way to ensure their wishes can be followed. By getting your elderly loved one involved in the conversation, you can actually show your respect for their opinions and let them know you will do your best to take care of them as time goes on.
Starting as soon as possible gives you the most amount of breathing room to make wise decisions.
Bratton Law’s life care planning team, elder law attorney Charles Bratton and certified social worker Anne Markel-Crozier, will meet with you to fully understand your family’s situation and work with you to create a care plan that effectively coordinates all of the various legal and health components. Call our office at 856-857-6007 to get started.