Making the decision to take a loved one out of their home and put them into the long-term care system is often one of the toughest families must make. When at-home living is no longer an option, nursing homes and assisted living facilities can provide much needed care that helps both the elderly and their family. Choosing to make the move is not only an emotional decision but one that requires a great deal of planning. Often, the person who needs the care doesn’t want to leave, leaving all parties uncomfortable and struggling with how to move forward.
Seniors cite some common fears of long term care facilities as ranging from losing independence or not having control over their daily routine to worrying that they won’t be given the best care and that the cost will be a drain on their finances. One particularly grim tale out of Maricopa County in Arizona shows just how much that fear and anxiety can affect a family.
CNN reported in early July that 92-year old Anna Mae Blessing was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing her 72-year old son, Thomas, who wanted to put her in an assisted living facility. Blessing had been living with her son and his girlfriend for about six months before the incident occurred. Court documents state that, “As the suspect was being escorted from the residence, she made a spontaneous statement to the effect of ‘You took my life, so I’m taking yours.’”
While this case is an extreme example of a senior not wanting to be placed in a facility, the fear and anger associated with being moved unwillingly is not uncommon. On some level, Blessing must have believed that a jail cell would be preferable to the facility her son wanted to move her to. But this change doesn’t have to be nearly as bad, scary, or expensive as it’s made out to be – especially if you consult with an Elder Law Attorney or Life Care Planner.
A qualified and experienced Elder Law Attorney can give advice about wills, trusts, and powers of attorney; guardianships (known as interdictions in Louisiana); financing long-term care (including Medicaid and VA benefits); and, special needs planning. Some give advice about social security benefits, elder abuse and disability law as well. Other Elder Law Attorneys may even go so far as to assist in locating the appropriate type of care, coordinating private and public resources to finance the cost of care, and working to ensure the client’s right to quality care. In some practices, those last few services will fall under the responsibility of a Life Care Coordinator.
A Life Care Coordinator works closely with the client and their family to help them navigate the long-term care and special needs systems and to act as their advocate to ensure they are receiving appropriate services. An LCC provides the client with a care assessment to identify parameters of care and capacity. They assist the family with gathering and sorting important documents necessary for long-term care or special needs planning purposes. They will also translate the “legal-speak” and “financial speak” into “care speak” to the client and their family. And most importantly, an LCC is knowledgeable about care options in the community to assist clients and families with transitions in long-term care living arrangements and programs available for assistance with special needs family members.
Help is out there for seniors and their families who are looking into the move from home to a long-term care facility. An Elder Law practice with attorneys and other professionals who are well versed in the legal, financial, and emotional complexities of this major transition can make a world of difference. You don’t have to go it alone; find a person or team you trust to show you all the options and give you the peace of mind you deserve.
The information provided is not intended to be legal advice and does not constitute any attorney/client relationship. You should consult with an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Ms. Melancon is an attorney with Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC with offices in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, LA. The primary focus of her practice is estate planning, probate, special needs planning, and elder law. For more information or to attend an upcoming estate planning seminar, call her office at (225) 744-0027.