Medical, Financial and Legal Professionals

Professionals - Home Care AdministratorProfessionals who are degreed, licensed, certified and experienced are beneficial to guiding post retirees and elders in maintaining a good quality of life and planning for their future. As we age and get older, more medical personnel beyond our Internist crop up as we seek out more specialists: Cardiologist, Neurologist, Pulmonologist, Oncologist… get the “gist”? Elder years do trigger some diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other conditions can progress such as Diabetes, Parkinson, Heart Disease and some Cancers. So, it is important to seek out the medical professionals needed to treat and manage specific health issues.

Most adults tend to have a doctor and have at least met with a financial planner or routinely seek financial expertise. Financial planning for the last 15-20 years of life is so important now that we typically live into our eighties, nineties and beyond. No one wants to outlive their money so putting together and routinely reviewing one’s financial plan is critical to maintain a standard of living. Risk and assets need to be studied.  A plan B should also be developed.

Elder Law Attorneys are very useful in looking at the “big picture” and will pull things together in terms of finances should governmental benefits are needed.  Your Elder Law Attorney and Financial Planner are usually in contact with each other for a better outcome. Certainly if costly Long Term Care becomes a necessity, your attorney will know how to best apply for either Medicaid or Veteran’s Benefits (Aid & Attendance) and how to safeguard assets in an individualized Trust. Additionally, your Elder Law Attorney will also draw up, with you, a Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Surrogate, and Living Will and guide you through these personal decisions.

Geriatric Care Manager, Home Care Company, Placement Counselor

Since it may “take a village” to oversee and coordinate an Elder’s well-being, a family member may not be able, trained or have the time top o do it themselves. A Geriatric Care Manager, usually a Registered Nurse or MSW Social Worker is the person who pulls it all together. A GCM is like the conductor of your elderly loved one’s orchestra. They communicate with the senior, family and professionals as needed. They will go to doctor appointments with your aging parent and report back to the adult sons and daughters. After meeting, gaining an extensive history, creating a Care Plan the GCM will make routine scheduled visits to monitor the Care Plan and make changes as needed. This is especially helpful when family members live out of state.  They are the “go to” person for the whole family.

Should a parent need some extra help with personal care (ADLs), routine household chores, shopping, cooking or transportation, and then it is time to bring an aide into the home. Safety and well-being are critical. Whether it is a few hours a few days a week or daily full time assistance, having a hired caregiver enhances the person’s overall situation, gives respite time to the spouse or family caregiver and peace of mind to everyone concerned. Your parent may in fact have Long Term Care Insurance for just this need.

Should your elder loved one wish to be in an Independent or Assisted community, or is unable to remain at home, needing more services or either Memory (Dementia) or Nursing Home Care,  then it is time to look into Senior Residences. A Placement Counselor will meet with your parent and decipher what “level of care” is needed, budgets, locations etc. and then take your parent to visit some Residences.  Their fee is paid by the selected Residence.

Hospice and Guardianship

When a loved one is so ill that it is unlikely they will recover, Hospice/Palliative Care is a very good option. Hospice care is where the person is – home, hospital or facility. There are many services available to your parent and the family. It is also covered through Medicare A.

If your parent feels he or she can no longer manage their affairs or their own care, they may elect to have someone, familiar or professional to be their (voluntary) guardian. When a person is deemed legally to be incompetent to manage their own life, then a Judge (court) will appoint a professional guardian.

Basics but not Limited

Professionals are important additions to family care. They have experience in specific fields and know the laws and resources to best help a family. Above are some of the basic types of professionals you may call upon as needed or who may become long term advisors.  Certainly there are other trained personnel who will come in and out of your loved one’s life. Many types of Therapists, Nurses, and Nutritionists etc. will be added as needed. Planning is important; it is what many of us do throughout our adult years. Each stage of life has its challenges and rewards. Older age is at a later stage and may very well be accompanied by a host of concerned and talented professionals who enhance both the challenges and the rewards.