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Lifestyle planning for seniors requires dedicated knowledge of the complexities involved with the ever changing legislative nature of government agencies and health care administration. Fortunately, our professionals are highly educated and credentialed in the financial planning field, and have developed a significant emphasis in the area of senior care needs. Long-Term Care is a profession in and of itself, and it requires the interaction of multiple disciplines, such as, health care, law, insurance, and financial planning. Our skillful professionals are accustomed to working through those complexities along with other trusted advisors to develop a best course of action to solve each client's individualized needs.
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Whatever your plans are, don't wait until it's too late to plan for your estate and long-term care needs
Comprehensive Financial Planning
Public Benefit Consulting
Veteran's Benefits and Medicaid
Home Health & Senior Retirement Community Placement
Geriatric Care Coordination
Medicare Insurance Advisory
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Our staff has experience developing plans and courses of action for seniors in need of transferring wealth (Asset Protection), to qualify for public benefit resources like the Medicaid programs and Aid and Attendance through the Veterans Administration, which are the two primary resources available to seniors in need of income to offset significant out-of-pocket medical expenditures.
As we get older, the issues and options we face grow more complex and confusing. Managing medical issues, finances, living arrangements and how to maintain quality of life requires thorough planning. Too often, seniors or their families turn to an elder law firm at the point of crisis when incapacity, illness, housing or mobility concerns require immediate action.
Even the most specialized of elder law attorney's recognize that seniors and there families arrive at their doorsteps, after the fact, once most planning options are no longer of use; sometimes leading to more creative and costly techniques.
Long-Term Care Planning once thought of as pre-need planning involving insurances and estate planning, is now being dubbed life care planning, and is a relationship with a professional in the field of elder affairs, the family, and the aging individual. The professional could be a financial advisor who has earned an advanced credential(s) in the senior demographic or an elder law attorney. Either can provide the support, guidance, and direction throughout the aging process. The planning process itself provides an anticipatory approach to the health, safety, well-being, and quality of life of seniors and their families. It not only provides legal assistance with estate, disability, and public benefit assistance, but can also aid in the design and fulfillment of a tactical financial plan. An exemplary practice, boutique in it's offerings, will likely be one that specializes in what is being called life care planning, and will employee a full time care coordinator. A care coordinator will be a licensed health care practitioner that will provide assistance with social and medical concerns that arise due to aging. Life care planning can offer peace of mind to aging individuals allowing them to maintain as much independence and dignity as possible, so they do not have to rely solely on their children or families in their golden years. The care coordinator can assist seniors by performing in-home assessments and coordinating with families and discharge planners to provide the best quality care in the most appropriate settings. The care coordinator can also provide information to families so the families can effectively advocate for their loved ones in the health care system. The goal of life care planning is to assist seniors and their families throughout all phases of the long-term care continuum, whether the senior is at home or in a facility setting. By striking the delicate balance between the seniors needs, the family budget, and the families time constraints and capabilities, the care coordinator aids the planning process in designing a care continuum relevant to the global effort.
Life care planning can be particularly instrumental when seniors are trying or wanting to remain at home. As people age, almost all will reach a point when they or their families must decide whether it is safe for them to continue living at home, and potentially alone. This pivotal decision can occur suddenly because of a medical event such as a stroke or fall, or due to either spouses passing. A less revealing need can come on gradually because of the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's, or even the physical limitations of arthritis. In some circumstances, assistance such as ongoing medication management, patient physician consolidation and coordination, or providing handicapped changes to a senior's home such as shower and bath equipment or simply changing flooring can aid a senior in remaining safe and independent at home for as long as possible. In other cases, in-home care is appropriate, or facility care may be required if it is no longer safe for the senior to remain at home. A Care Coordinator can assistance with a myriad of health and ability concerns aiding the senior and their families through the maze of social and medical decisions saving them from costly and often overlapping and unnecessary services.
When an elderly relative begins to show signs that they need help with their activities of daily living, and the family wants to avoid institutionalized care, they can allow the elderly relative to remain at home where they are comfortable and familiar with the surroundings. If this is the case, then the family basically has two choices: afford a home bound agency, or handle the care giving themselves. Both of these options can be acceptable solutions and both can present pitfalls and challenges. Life care planning can help the senior's family assess and weigh the benefits of all options within the long-term care spectrum, such as a combination of different types of in-home services, senior day care, and independent, assisted and skilled communities. Working with a life care planning organization who has both the financial, legal, and health care knowledge and skills internally allows the appropriate plan of care to be developed simultaneously with the family and the senior's economics in mind from the onset.
Life Care Planning is very beneficial while seniors are still at home, making fragmented services easier to access and typically once coordinated much more affordable. The Care Coordinator can provide stress relief and assistance to families of seniors who are hospitalized, with little if any understanding of what can come next. A life care coordinator can assist a family with discharge planning when the senior is leaving the hospital. Often a senior goes to the hospital and is treated for an acute health care need, and the family isn't prepared for the outcome or on-going prognosis. The senior is often not well enough to go home and needs additional care. A hospital discharge planner is assigned to help the senior find placement. Often, this process happens quickly with little to no family involvement, with an outcome that often conflicts with the family. Fortunately, A life care coordinator is familiar with the family, the senior and the families abilities to meet their relatives needs, or not, and can intervene on behalf of the family for a better outcome. Because of the relationship with the family, the care coordinator can work with both the family and the hospital discharge planner to find intermediate care for the senior. A life care coordinator will also work with the family after discharge to be certain that the chosen care is effective. For many, a hospital discharge is one of the most stressful events that can occur. A discharge often happens in just a matter of days, and the process and care options are not fully explained. This is where the experience of a life care planner comes in.
Life care planning doesn't just end once an appropriate level of care has been determined. Everyone's care and financial needs change with time, and with seniors those changes can come about quickly when they already have impaired health conditions. So, life care planning maintains an ongoing relationship the family. The planning allows families and their relatives to stay in contact with the care coordinator who reports to the advisor when changes occur so that the initial plan can be reviewed and revised.
Life care planning also involves advocating on a senior's behalf. For example, a crisis like a fall can occur. This type of experience is often one of the first eye opening situations, and can leave a family shocked and feeling helpless. The medical system reacts quickly, and many seniors and their family members are left confused. A life care coordinator will provide information on what is occurring in the health care system and what to expect. They will also be involved with the direction or re-direction of the ongoing support systems, from the potential hospital discharge, to the selection of acute rehabilitation inpatient or outpatient, to the selection and relocation of the senior who may be moving home with companion services or to a long-term care community.
Life care planners can not only deliver traditional elder law advisory, but through the aid of their care coordinator can also assist the senior and the senior's family with the financial aspects of aging. In most instances people are concerned with the cost of caring for a person with a chronic illness. Having first reviewed the person for care and then the assets with which to work with, a life care planning organization can develop the care needs adequately to meet the families budget however great or small those resources are. In a concerted effort they will assist in either financial planning or asset protection and planning for public benefits. Life care planning is a value added supplement to any family concerned with their loved ones care and financial condition.
Author: Tyler G. Harrelson, CES, CLTC, CFS
The care coordinator specializes in assisting older persons and their families to attain and maintain the highest quality of life given their individual circumstances.