Planning is the Key to Avoiding Costly Mistakes During an Emergency
By Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd.
"Here are some important numbers you may want to remember, today, nearly 56 million Americans are 65 and older," stated professional fiduciary and certified elder law Attorney RJ Connelly III. "It is projected that by 2060, that number will grow to 94.7 million, meaning one in four Americans will be at or over retirement age. And as we grow older, our bodies begin to break down, some of us slower than others, but it is inevitable. Millions struggle daily with challenges such as chronic diseases, experiencing falls, physical inactivity, oral health concerns, and behavioral health issues—all of which can severely impact the quality of life. Given that, it only makes sense to plan for an emergency."
The reality is none of us genuinely wants to think about the potential for accidents or illness due to aging. Although these things can happen at any age, we are less likely to fully recover physically, emotionally, and financially from such incidents later in life.
"Without advanced planning, if you or an aging parent is involved in a serious accident or injury, or an illness and are discharged from the hospital with ongoing care needs, the family is placed in a very stressful situation," said Attorney Connelly. "In most cases, a discharge from a hospital after a debilitating injury or illness leaves little time to determine the best option. Hence, the advice to plan."
"I advise all of our estate planning clients to prepare for such an event and have a strategy in place should it be needed," said Attorney Connelly. "For instance, Medicaid planning can examine your financial resources and determine the need for government benefits and other solutions. This ensures you have answers and are ready for such a medical emergency."
Research Long-Term Care Services
"I remember having a family in my office from New London, Connecticut, and discussing the final draft of the estate plan," stated Attorney Connelly. "The oldest son was shocked when he found out that his parents had done their homework and had a list of nursing facilities they wanted to be placed in should it be needed. His argument to them was that they were 'too young', but honestly, no one is ever 'too young'. Our office has represented individuals who needed long-term care early in life due to an accident. Preparation is the key."
For aging parents, allowing them to know what amenities and services retirement communities have can offer them a level of peace and comfort. Some facilities also offer transition into memory care if that becomes necessary.
"For families looking for comparison shopping for loved ones, so to speak, I direct them to the website Caring.com," said Attorney Connelly. "This comprehensive resource offers national information and guidance for living options and caregivers. After doing this, I suggest they speak with their parents or loved ones about the pros and cons of the various choices. Most people want to stay home for as long as possible, so in-home care is also an option."
"When it comes to caregiving services for older adults and families, I direct them to the website Eldercare Locator, a service provided by U.S. Administration on Aging. This site provides information on local agencies should a care manager be an option."
This website has the experience and expertise to coordinate the many elements involved in elder care, including:
Many care managers work hourly and can do things like pick up prescriptions, accompany a loved one to doctors’ appointments, and coordinate communication with long-distance family members and other important people in the individual's life.
Another website to visit is Aging Life Care Association. Attorney Connelly stated that this site offers a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges.
"It's also imperative that the loved ones get their legal documents in order while still healthy. Once they're in a medical crisis, urgency may limit their options for care and cause a greater financial burden to the entire family. But remember, it's never too late to reach out for professional guidance. Making informed decisions is hard when stressed and upset about a loved one, so planning is key. Preparation gives you more control over the future and provides peace of mind for everyone."