June 22, 2018

Caring for an Elderly Loved One: Long-Term

by Jessica Roshon, Law Office of Richard T. Taps

At some point in life, almost every family faces long-term care issues. Whether it is a parent, grandparent, in-law or sibling, there is a good chance that someone will need in-home help or care in a nursing home.

For most families, navigating long-term care is a challenging venture filled with questions and uncertainties of where to start or what to ask.

For individuals and families experiencing this transition, it is a good idea to have the right people and knowledge on your side.

The first step for many people is finding a facility into which their loved one can move. From staying at home to finding an assisted living facility or nursing home, the options can be overwhelming. Contacting the Franklin County Office on Aging or Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging can be good places to start. You can also utilize online resources such as Medicare.gov and the Ohio Long-term Care Consumer Guide. Private care managers and life care planners can also be a valuable resource for families who can afford such services.

If the loved one needs to move into a long-term care facility, take the time to visit the facility and learn about the nursing staff, social activities, cost and admission procedures, etc. Many facilities offer a respite stay so that the individual can spend a weekend and get a feel for the environment.

Another important step is seeking knowledgeable legal counsel. Whether the discussion focuses on updating estate planning documents such as financial powers of attorney and health care directives, planning to protect assets for the healthy spouse or the individual’s children, or qualifying for government benefits such as VA or Medicaid, it is important to find an attorney who understands the intricacies of the process. Estate planning documents are not necessarily one-size-fits all, and there may be assistance programs you did not know about. Professionals in the field are equipped with information that can be helpful to the family at a stressful time.

A final tip is to keep your loved one’s feelings and intentions in mind. It can be easy to get caught up in the processes and procedures and forget that your loved one may have a strong opinion about a particular issue. Involve them in conversations about their placement and what is important to them. Their happiness and quality of life is more important than anything else.