How can I get my Parents the Help They Need?
There are numerous challenges involved in getting older. One of the most common challenges is the increased need for assistance with daily activities that come with advanced old age. Of course, not everyone will need such assistance, some people escape many problems through their genetic makeup, hard work, or simply good luck. But statistics show that 52% of people over age 65 will need some type of long-term care services during their lives. Long-term care involves services designed to meet the personal and health care needs of an individual, with the goal of allowing the person to live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities without assistance.
Whether or not cost is an issue, refusing to plan for the increasing need for assistance later in life can accelerate the feared loss of independence and burden family members (children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews) who may become overwhelmed as caretaking responsibilities increase from assisting with tasks such as paying bills or food shopping to providing more personal type of assistance such as bathing.
One way to protect yourself, or a family member who may be in need of assistance, is to work with an elder law attorney to prepare a life care plan.
The Earlier You Start the Process the Better
Working with a competent New Jersey elder law attorney is an important first step. Typically, elder law attorneys will have an expertise in estate planning, as well as be well-versed in Medicaid planning and other elder law matters and can help you develop a life care plan. The attorney will be helpful whether your relative has a large estate or is living on a fixed income. In either case, your loved one will need to make plans not only for distribution of assets after death, but preparations for his or her own potential incapacity, which usually includes preparing for Medicaid eligibility, as well as family education, care advocacy, and support services. Accompanying your parent to the initial legal consultation may be reassuring. Also, having your loved one consider options and make his or her own decisions will make the future less frightening and more under his or her personal control.
Ask Questions and Listen Carefully
Many people fear being dependent and find the idea of not having control over their lives not only frustrating, but terrifying, and as a result delay planning until a crisis is upon them. It is important to find out whether this is true in the case of your parent. By asking the right questions you can find out why your loved one does not want to address planning. Is he or she concerned about the loss of control, lack of privacy, possible abuse, or becoming destitute. These are valid concerns that must be addressed. Dismissing such concerns out of hand never works. It just produces more anxiety.
The Importance of Giving Your Loved One Choices
No one likes to feel deprived of options. Once again, the sooner you have a realistic discussion, the better. Some of the choices are hard but it’s helpful to realize that the earlier you have the discussion, the more options there are likely to be. Once someone becomes completely incapacitated, either through physical ailments or dementia, the planning options are reduced and your parent’s ability to participate and control the process is diminished. Having a plan and a team in place in the event of the loss of independence and getting to know the people you will be relying on can be reassuring.
Have an Elder Law Attorney Be Part of the Discussions
Matters involving such complex and intense feelings are not resolved all at once. If you introduce your loved one to a compassionate, knowledgeable elder law attorney early on in the process, that third party becomes a trusted advisor who can help you and your loved one navigate the difficult waters ahead. Contact us today.
Posted in: Elder Law