When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease, my family felt lost trying to determine the best plan of care for her and who should provide it. We were totally overwhelmed by the long term care planning that was needed and the financial, medical, and legal decisions we had to make.
The magnitude of the decisions and the pressure of trying not to make mistakes for someone we all loved so much impacted each of us differently. That made it even more challenging to talk through the different opinions on what the best choice would be.
Everyone was on edge and no one could agree. We needed someone outside the family to hold our hands and guide us through the stressful decision-making.
We needed someone who was knowledgeable about the options and cared about finding the best outcome, but didn’t have the personal bias and emotions of a family member.
Consulting with an eldercare advocate for expert advice
The advocate listened to my mother-in-law’s needs and our concerns. She did an in-depth assessment and then used a database of more than 9,000 providers to identify local care providers that best fit my mother-in-law’s needs. She also created a detailed plan of care that helped us understand what to expect throughout the process.
In addition to all this, one of the best parts of the program is that eldercare advocates can negotiate discounts with long-term care providers – the savings can really add up.
Using an elder law attorney for essential documents
When planning for long-term care, you also need to think about documenting the person’s wishes for medical care and financial issues. Even though you might not want to think about these things, it’s better to be prepared for a time when they may not be able to communicate their plans to you.
That’s why it’s helpful to work with an elder law attorney to make sure all the necessary legal documents are in place. These include:
Health care power of attorney
This is a document that designates someone to make medical decisions on behalf of the patient. This decision-making power is limited to times when the patient is unable to make decisions on their own.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that helps protect the privacy of patients. Doctors, hospitals and insurance companies are required to follow HIPAA rules.
This means they can only share medical information with the patient or the patient’s chosen representative, stated in this document.
Also known as an advance directive, a living will details a patient’s wishes for end-of-life care.
The living will goes into effect when a person is in an end-of-life situation – permanently unconscious or when a medical provider decides a patient is no longer able to make his or her own healthcare decisions.
Durable power of attorney
This document names someone to manage the patient’s affairs beyond just medical care. It allows access to financial accounts and gives the person decision-making authority.
Last will and testament
A will outlines final directions for who will receive a person’s assets, real estate and personal property when they die. The will also identifies a person (executor) to carry out these orders and a person (guardian) to care for any children under the age of 18.
Because elder law attorneys handle long term care planning all the time, they can use their experience to help you navigate the legal ins-and-outs of stressful decisions. Their guidance throughout the process will give you and your family peace of mind that you’re making good choices.
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Limitations and exclusions apply. Insurance products are underwritten by ARAG Insurance Company of Des Moines, Iowa, GuideOne® Mutual Insurance Company of West Des Moines, Iowa or GuideOne Specialty Mutual Insurance Company of West Des Moines, Iowa. Service products are provided by ARAG Services, LLC. This material is for illustrative purposes only and is not a contract. For terms, benefits or exclusions, call 800-758-2860.