The Long Term Care Continuum

Chances are, if you are over 40, you have had an incident with your parents that caused all parties to pause and think about what the future holds as the parent’s age.  Whether discussion centered around what lifestyle changes had to be made to prevent another heart attack or getting more involved in the estate planning and financial affairs of your parents, such events are generally a wake-up call to what lies ahead.  We refer to these changes as a “continuum of care” since generally these changes are gradual and each step requires consideration as to it’s handling.  Note that massive heart attacks and/or strokes are generally exceptions to this continuum, where the person can be functioning fairly normally on his own one day, but after the incident requires substantial care.  However, most changes are more gradual and include help with complicated financial decisions morphing into taking over all bill payments; help with buying groceries changes to arranging for meal preparation; and finally, oversight into doctor visits and medicine administration changes to arranging in-home help and finally, a skilled nursing facility.  Open and frank discussions are your best bet to ensuring needs are met and reducing stress and.  Each person should understand what the other person can, or cannot, contribute toward  care so options can be weighed.  While parents will always see their children as “kids,” if they will share their financial and medical information with their family before a decline ensues, it will likely make matters go more smoothly.  Oftentimes an elder law attorney is your best ally toward expediting such a plan.  As an objective party, we can empathetically and yet honestly outline the costs along the continuum and help ensure all parties involved are on the same page with the expectations.

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