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What is a Life Care Plan

What is a Life Care Plan

Care is the key word in Life Care Plan. Care is what is needed when a person’s physical condition or mental functioning is reduced to the point where the help of another person is needed. That would be due to disease, dementia, accidents or any condition or event that reduces a person’s ability to function normally and do the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, getting in or out of bed or
toileting. The spouse or other family members provide most of this help in the early stages of physical or mental decline, but at some point it may not be realistic for the family to give that care. Children may  live far away, or the spouse may not be able to cope due to advanced age. Sometimes a healthy spouse gives so much physical and emotional effort that burnout occurs, which means that healthy spouse’s emotional strength is burned up and that spouse’s health also declines. That is where a life care plan is invaluable.

There are law firms around the country that assist families by evaluating the physical, financial, and legal problems facing families with a loved one needing care. The first issues are the physical needs. Does dad need help walking? Can he bathe himself, or is he at risk of falling or not properly bathing? Will he remember to eat if left alone? Or take his medications? Does he change out of soiled clothes? Is either
parent a high risk of falling? Regardless of the problem, the question is how to solve it with a realistic care plan that does not burn out the family caregiver. That care plan is developed by the family with help of an elder care coordinator, who understands the physical and mental issues and who knows the range of solutions to make the elders world safer and manageable. An elder care coordinator will meet with the family in the home and assess the physical layout of the home for safety. For example, the bathroom may need grab bars or a raised toilet to avoid falls.The healthy spouse may lack the strength to assist the sick spouse in getting up or walking so outside help is needed. No matter what the care needs are, they need to be solved with realistic solutions so dad or mom can remain at home. A facility
is a last resort, although assisted living, or adult day care can be a key help.

The second part of the life care plan is the financial. How can the family afford the extra care provided by an outside agency? The answer is a combination of their resources and state and federal programs. That is where the lawyer’s role is vital. Is the elder person a wartime veteran who may qualify for over $27,000 per year of home care? Connecticut has home care programs with Medicaid that can pay almost $72,000 per year for home care services. That is a significant amount of care and can mean the difference between staying at home and being forced into a nursing home. An elder care coordinator helps figure out the companies that can provide the care needed and the most effective use of the caregivers. For example, if a person is being sent back home after rehab at a facility, and will need long term care, it is important to use a company that is approved for Medicaid. That way when Medicare or private pay runs out, the same caregiver can be paid by Medicaid. It is traumatic to have to switch to a new caregiver if the existing caregiver cannot be paid by Medicaid.

The third leg of the life care plan is the legal. What are the eligibility rules to qualify for VA, Connecticut, or federal programs to get the care? What assets can be kept and whose name should they be in? Is there a “caregiver” child who qualifies to have parents assets paid to her without a penalty? The rules are confusing and change from time to time, so knowing those eligibility rules is absolutely critical to
saving assets that a family needs to live on, while getting the long-term care at home paid by Connecticut or by Medicaid. For example, in almost every husband and wife situation, it is possible to save all the family assets and get the “sick” spouse’s care paid for by Medicaid. That way the family has the funds to pay for their living expenses, while receiving significant care for the sick one at home. In some cases it is even possible to get a 24 hour caregiver.

No two situations are the same, which is why a life care plan is a vital component on getting the care needed while preserving all the assets that the law allows. And plans rarely stay the same, because care needs change as time goes by and adjusting to those changed care needs must be done to avoid going to a nursing home. Overall, a life care plan is a vital method assisting families to keep their loved ones at home as long as possible, while preserving some or all of the family assets.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.




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