The Facts About Unpaid Eldercare

Life Care Planning Law Firms make life immeasurably easier for the millions of Americans providing unpaid care to elderly loved ones.

Unpaid caregivers are the unsung heroes of our society. Their contributions go largely unrecognized and uncelebrated. How many people are unpaid caregivers? The 2015-16 American Time Use Survey offers insight:

·         The majority (56 percent) of eldercare workers are women.

·         Nearly one quarter (24 percent) of people providing eldercare are between the ages of 55 to 64 years of age and are close to becoming seniors themselves.

·         A significant number of eldercare providers (17 percent) who are parents do not have the support of a spouse or partner in the household.

How does working with a Life Care Planning Law Firms help caregivers? “Even though the elder is officially our ‘client,’ family caregivers really benefit the most from our services,” said Shana Seigel, attorney and partner at Wanderpolo & Seigel, a Life Care Planning Law Firm that has been serving families in northern New Jersey for more than fifteen years. “The majority of family caregivers are struggling. They don’t know what services their loved one needs, let alone what’s available in their community. And they don’t have time to figure it out on their own because they’re too busy providing care on top of all their other responsibilities.”

Life Care Planning Law Firms employ elder care coordinators who serve as care managers for elderly clients. Care coordinators help caregivers assess needs, direct them to the appropriate services, help them advocate for quality care, and guide them through tricky transitions created by changes in physical and mental health.

In a Life Care Planning Law Firm, attorneys and elder care coordinators work together to develop an initial plan for the elder’s legal, financial, and personal well-being. “We are looking at the needs of the elder, the spouse if there is one, and family caregivers,” Shana said. “This helps caregivers avoid common financial mistakes—like depleting all the assets of the ‘sick’ spouse or waiting too long to get outside help.”

Elder care coordinators can also diffuse conflict between family members by serving as an objective third party. “We had one case where a son was planning for his elderly mother,” recalled Lori Kayne, a social worker and care coordinator at Wanderpolo & Seigel. “He wanted to put her in a long-term care setting that would eliminate her fall risk. His mom had full capacity and resented what she perceived as her son’s attempt to limit her freedom. They were constantly at odds.”

Lori talked to each of them about their perspectives, eventually bridging the gap of misunderstanding. “They were able to listen to each other’s concerns in a facilitated environment,” she noted. “Eventually, we were able to put a plan in place that they could both agree on. They both know that if something happens, they can call me and I’ll help them through it.”

For many families, the best part about working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm is the emotional support. “Caregiving can be a lonely business,” said Lori. “I’m here to remind them to take care of themselves and to call me whenever they need help. Caregivers who don’t ask for help will end up burning out or getting sick themselves.”

“We have many caregiver spouses who will call Lori just to unload,” added Shana. “It’s a much-needed release for them and Lori is the only person who understands. She lets them know that they are entitled to the feelings they are having. She’s part therapist—and just about everyone needs that.”