If you’re looking after an older relative whose health is in decline and you are experiencing chaos, it might be because your plan for elder care is reactive.
What are the most common signs that you’re taking a reactive approach to elder care? We posted this question to Bailey Schiermeyer, a Certified Elder Law Attorney at Elder Law of East Tennessee, a Life Care Planning Law Firm with offices in Knoxville and Johnson City.
Sign 1: You’re surprised by each new emergency.
Many people believe that there’s no way to plan for an older adult’s care. You just have to take each new day as it comes. That’s the ultimate in a reactive elder care mindset, Bailey maintains. “The aging process works in a predictable way,” she explained. “If you have an understanding of this process, you can plan for future care.”
The elder care coordinators in a Life Care Planning Law Firm can assess where a person is today and make accurate predictions for the future, both in the short term and the long run. This helps you see around the corners and be prepared for what’s coming next. “There don’t have to be any surprises,” Bailey added.
Sign 2: You don’t know how you’ll pay for care.
Not knowing where the money will come from to pay for care is another dead giveaway that your plan for elder care is reactive, not proactive. “When people retire, they are usually focused on saving,” she said. “When that first medical crisis occurs and you find yourself spending thousands of dollars each month on care, it can be a real shocker. Some families put off the financial reckoning by saying things like, ‘We're going to get through this summer or this year, and we'll figure it out when we get there.’ That’s reactive.”
Working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm can help ease the pressure, increasing the family’s willingness to face financial facts. “At a Life Care Planning Law Firm, you have people with the expertise to analyze your assets and your resources and help you make predictions for how your funds are going to be utilized over the short term and long term,” Bailey added. “If your loved one needs public benefits to pay for care, you’ll know that up front and the team will help your loved one qualify. You won’t have doubt about where the money will come from. You’ll know.”
Sign 3: You avoid conflict.
Let’s say that your elderly parents aren’t doing so well. You’ve noticed that Dad’s dementia seems to be worsening and Mom is at risk of falling. You and your sibling can both see this. You want to start planning for your parents’ care, but your sibling refuses to discuss it. Or maybe you and your sibling both agree you need to act, but you disagree on what should be done. “This is remarkably common,” Bailey noted. “When families can’t address the conflict in a healthy way, they sweep it under the rug. Everyone pretends the problem doesn’t exist.”
Working with a Life Care Planning Law Firm can assist here, too. An elder care coordinator is uniquely equipped to help families initiate those hard conversations and facilitate them in a way that promotes harmony. “The elder care coordinator is an objective third party who can help sidestep even the most deeply embedded family dysfunction,” Bailey added. “This takes the negative energy out of the conversation, moving everyone closer to a mutually agreeable solution.”
In Part 2 of this article, Bailey discusses two more signs of a reactive elder care plan.