When we discuss Life Care Planning, we talk about the elder care continuum, which is a timeline on which the individual is moving toward the end of their life. The ideal for all of us is to age in place. That means the elder who lives in their own home, independently and successfully with no assistance needed, until they pass away. Some people have the good fortune to depart life in this manner, but many do not. Instead, they may have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, or suffered a disabling stroke, or become frail, or otherwise have found themselves moving down the elder care continuum. They find that they need assistance with activities of daily living. That means they need to plan for their long-term care needs.
What does life care planning mean? I describe Life Care Planning as our discovering the elder’s place on the elder care continuum and then figuring out what we need to do to identify, access, and pay for good care for the individual, both now and in the future. That is not as easy as it sounds, but for an elder centered law practice, it is the essence of what we do. To put it another way, we help older people manage their chronic illnesses. Seniors need to get good care when and where they need it, and they need to know how to pay for it. As an elder centered law practice, we will include in our engagement agreements with the client a paragraph that says that we will not knowingly take a position that harms an elder and it is our goal to improve the quality of life for those elders we serve. By entering into this agreement with us, you expressly authorize us to act in your best interests at all times.
Our team consists of an Elder Law Attorney and an Elder Care Coordinator. What is an Elder Care Coordinator? An Elder Care Coordinator is a professional, who specializes in assisting older people and their families to attain the highest quality of life given their circumstances. An Elder Care Coordinator will:
o Help clients and families identify care problems and assist in solving them.
o Assist families in identifying and arranging in-home help or other services.
o Coordinate with medical and health providers.
o Provide support, guidance, and advocacy during a crisis.
o Help with coordinating transfer and transportation of an older person to or from a retirement complex, assisted care living facility, or nursing home.
o Provide education.
o Offer counseling and support.
As a part of the Life Care Plan, the Elder Care Coordinator helps seniors and their families with their long-term care concerns. Your Elder Care Coordinator functions as the point of contact for the family and assists in coordinating services to help you take care of your loved one.
Your Elder Care Coordinator has extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of resources in the community. As families begin their journey through the long-term care system, it is helpful for them to have a supportive and knowledgeable advocate to accompany them along the way.
An example from our practice will show you the importance of the Elder Care Coordinator. One of the duties of the Elder Care Coordinator is to visit our clients on a regular basis wherever they are living. During a recent visit to a nursing home to see one of our clients the Elder Care Coordinator noticed that a client was acting in a strange manner, not at all like they had in the past. She went to the nurse to see if they were aware of anything that would have caused a change in that individual’s behavior. She was told that there was nothing. She then contacted the family to see if they noticed anything unusual. Again nothing. But, she was persistent. To make a long story short, the Elder Care Coordinator was able to determine that the nursing home had two patients with the same exact name, residing on the same floor and they were both being taken care of by the same nurses. I am sure that by now you can guess what happened. Our client was given the medication that was supposed to go to the other individual with the same name. The Elder Care Coordinator sprung into action. She had the other individual moved to another floor where they would be taken care of by different nurses and arranged to change the way the names were recorded in the files and on its computer so that this mixup would not happen again. I can only imagine what would have happened if this would have been permitted to continue the way it was without the advocacy of the Elder Care Coordinator.
Life Care Planning is an innovative approach to elder law that helps families respond to all of the challenges presented by long life, illness and disability. Peace of mind for the elderly and their families is the goal of every Life Care Plan.
Michael D. Weinraub, Esq., CELA, is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the A.B.A. approved National Elder Law Foundation.
Michael D. Weinraub, P.C. is a holistic elder law practice that helps families plan for, pay for, and coordinate the long-term care of elderly loved ones. We work with senior citizens and their families who are overwhelme