The Importance of A Life Care Plan
As our parents age, we all know that at some point extra help may be needed to stay at home. That extra help may be from family, neighbors, or paid workers. There are issues of care, safety, socialization, nutrition, and medications to be addressed. There are Connecticut, federal, and VA programs potentially available to help. There are legal requirements and planning documents necessary to navigate the numerous rules and laws. It is a puzzle of interconnecting pieces, and is actually harder than that 1000 piece puzzle you struggled to put together as a child.
A life care plan is an approach to solving that puzzle, pulling together the health need for care, the need for socialization, the family dynamics, the financial assets of the family, the government programs available for home care, the financial requirements to qualify and satisfying the rules and laws that govern those programs. In short, a life care plan describes how a team with a lawyer, a social worker or geriatric care manager, state program and Medicaid coordinator, and veteran’s benefits coordinator work together with the family to meet the elder’s medical, long term care, legal and emotional needs during long term illness or incapacity, until the end of life.
Benefits to the family are lessening the burdens of caregiving, relief from anxiety about paying for care, guidance with legal, health care and long term care decisions for the rest of the elder’s life, confidence that comes from having a plan for ongoing care as the elder’s condition progresses, security for the well spouse, and peace of mind because the right to quality care is protected.
The elder benefits in receiving the right care sooner, preserving independence as long as possible, aging with dignity, and with the security of knowing that there is a team in place dedicated to managing quality of life.
Some signs that life care planning should be undertaken are:
- Primary care giver is suffering from burnout, frustration, quilt or confusion.
- Family members are confused and unsure about care options.
- Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other chronic condition.
- The elder is ill without family members nearby.
- A catastrophic event such as a fall, medication mistake, stroke, or heart attack.
- Children are worried about parents’ behavior, or debilitating diagnosis.
- The elder is hospitalized and the family has been told that returning home is not an option.
- Family members have found the elder wandering, malnourished, dehydrated, or unable to proved self care.
- The elders are expressing worries about paying for long term care in the future.
If faced with such situations, a life care plan is a logical way to pull together the pieces of the puzzle to gain the peace of mind that mom and dad are taken care in the best possible way.