Keeping Her Parents Together

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Sharon M., like many adult children, was concerned about her parents remaining together in the family home, since they were already having considerable difficulty managing without assistance.

After hearing about the new area of elder law called ‘life care planning’ from a family friend, the Ellicott City resident recently contacted LifeCare Advisors at the Law Office of Larry A. Blosser, P.A.

She believed her parents would qualify as candidates since her father, Edward, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and tends to wander away unless constantly supervised. His need for constant supervision and gradually declining ability to perform household chores had been causing considerable stress for his wife, Rita, who with her fairly good heath, took on responsibility for all of the driving, shopping, cooking and cleaning.

Before beginning the process with the LifeCare Advisors, Sharon learned that while life care planning focuses on quality of life and keeping the seniors in control of their aging process, estate planning focuses on planning for death through the preparation of legal documents.

Once Larry explained this difference to Sharon, he described the life care planning process, which begins with a detailed questionnaire that gives the advisors important information (including the couple’s living situation, wishes, and concerns) to later be discussed in detail. Additionally, a nurse/care coordinator will visit the couple’s home to assess their current status and project future healthcare needs.

The firm will then draft a preliminary life care plan for the family, guided by the couple’s wishes and with special attention to their healthcare and psycho-social needs. Based on the couple’s goals and objectives of staying together and living in their own home, the plan will provide suggestions to address immediate concerns, as well as potential “what ifs.” For example, the plan may suggest an adult day program for Edward or regular visits from home companions to provide respite for Rita.

The methods of obtaining and paying for the options including personal assets or Medicaid will also be addressed and the family will be informed of other less-known resources such as government programs that provide financial assistance for aging-in-place home modifications and community groups that offer support services. Once the plan is presented, it is revised to reflect client comments. Then it is ready for implementation in stages (based on changes in the couple’s life), with the care coordinator conducting regular visits and acting as the client advocate and family resource as needed when questions or concerns arise.

After Sharon discussed this process with Larry, she knew life care planning would make her parents feel good about being in control of their future, and would give her peace of mind, since she’ll never have to wonder, “What would my parents want?”

Posted in: Elder Law, Money & Legal

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