Guys and their Moms

Political Reporter Paul Singer filed an opinion piece in yesterday’s USA Today  about the challenges of providing care for our aging parents.  As Mr. Singer pointed out, this topic has replaced  jobs, dates, cars, real estate and kids as the subject that Baby  Boomers most frequently talk about when we get together with our peers.

In identifying the proper caregivers for his Mom, Mr. Singer said this was the fifth time that he and is wife had to address issues related to finding care for a senior.  Most people only confront the issue once or twice, and it is almost always in atime of crisis.  Mr. Singer was humbled and amazed each time to experience the compassion and extra help from acquaintances, and even strangers, who empathized with the plight of a guy trying to take care of his mom.

As Mr. Singer correctly points out, the kindness of strangers is not a “system.”  One of those strangers did direct him to eldercare.gov, which lists a plethora of available resources across the country.  But a big piece is missing from this, and other web-based services for dealing with this issue.  How do you know which resources you need when?   How do I know if mom needs memory care, or would be fine in assisted living?  Will the legal documents dad was foresighted enough to prepare in his 60s allow us to assist him now that he needs it in his 90s, or should I believe the lovely lady from my church who says that I’d better get a guardianship?  And what about the person who made a presentation at my husband’s care community who said he could get me some money from the VA if I moved our savings to an annuity.

I am proud to be a member of the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association  (lcplfa.org)  We are a group of law firms committed to a holistic approach to helping our clients find, get and pay for the care that they need for their parents and themselves.  As all of us who talk about this at the water cooler know, it isn’t just finding the right place for mom and dad, it’s figuring out how to pay for it, holding accountable the providers of that care to make sure they do what they are required to do, and  making sure we have the right legal documents in place. Then, we have to make sure the system we’ve put in place continues to work as the senior’s situation changes.  All of the firms following this practice model include human services professionals (and sometimes other professionals such as benefits specialists and Medicare advocates), who work along side the attorney to develop, implement and manage a plan that addresses all of these needs.

Like Mr. Singer, I was first acquainted with the confusing maze of elder care when we needed it for my grandmother.  And while I found that resource lists and advice can be helpful, and there is no substitute for empathy,  what we really need is to put an expert in charge of the logistics, so that we can continue to be a guy (or gal) who cares about Mom.

 

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