By Bob Mannor, CELA
There’s a lot to love about the Life Care Planning approach to elder law, but the thing I like best is that it’s the only approach that is truly holistic.
Dealing with the declining health of an older relative can be confusing for family caregivers. Everybody has their opinions about what you should do, and some of those opinions are more informed than others. Your uncle might be convinced that he knows what you should do based on what happened with Aunt Susie twenty years ago. Your brother might be certain that he knows what’s best based on a conversation he overheard at the barber shop. Some advice might be coming from people with professional training, such as the social worker at the hospital, a case manager at the rehab facility, or a nurse at the skilled nursing facility.
Though opinions from professionals are certainly more reliable than those you’ll find elsewhere, their advice is still incomplete because it’s limited to their perspective. They’re not able to see the big picture. A professional is going to say, "The last twenty people I saw solved the problem this way.” That’s important information, but it’s not enough. When you’re getting advice from different professionals who can’t see the big picture, the burden is on you to connect the dots.
This is a much bigger burden than it looks.
Life Care Planning relieves this burden because it’s not focused on solving just one of the problems the client may have. It’s not just about getting veterans benefits or just about qualifying for Medicaid or just about securing a guardianship. When you work with individual professionals who are each approaching the problem from their own silo, you get a partial solution. This impacts quality of life for everyone.
In contrast, a Life Care Plan gives you a big picture perspective. Life Care Planning addresses all your loved one’s needs in concert. It gives you a single point of access to meet those needs, without running from one professional to the next, and without having to connect the dots on your own.
One of my clients, a veteran, had a type of dementia that could make him verbally and physically aggressive. He was a big man—about 6’4’—and he could be imposing. He was living in a long-term care facility and his aggressiveness was creating problems. Before the family came to us, they had talked to the social worker at the facility. They had talked the doctor. Both suggested drugging the man into zombiehood.
When the family came to us, they were at the end of their rope. Our elder care coordinator met with the family, spending about three hours with them to find out what was going on. Nobody ever does that in a less holistic planning setting. During the meeting, one of the family members happened to mention that their loved one always calmed down when he watched old western movies. It worked 100% of the time. Our elder care coordinator gave that tip to the staff at the long-term care facility and the problem was solved. Any time the man started getting loud or aggressive, staff members would put in a Western movie. It worked like a charm. Nobody would have ever picked up on that if they hadn't spent that time with the family talking to them.
That’s the kind of miracle you get when you have a Life Care Plan.
Bob Mannor is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and founder of Mannor Law Group, a Life Care Planning Law Firm in Grand Blanc Twp, Michigan.