What Is Elder Law or Elder Care Planning?
People often use the terms elder law and elder care interchangeably, but there is a notable difference between the two.
What Is Elder Law?
Elder law is an area of legal practice involving the unique issues facing older people. As people age, their needs change—including their legal needs. Elder law exists to ensure that older people are offered the protections, security, and opportunities that they deserve as respected members of our communities.
Typically, elder law attorneys handle legal areas such as:
- Healthcare Law: Helping clients with healthcare-related issues, including the navigation of insurance policies and claims as well as the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid systems.
- Long-Term Care: The planning for and facilitating of long-term care, and the unique complex of issues that arise in situations where someone requires long-term and/or intensive care.
- Estate Planning: Using tools like wills, trusts, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney to map out a comprehensive plan for your assets and property after your death, as well as a chain of command for decision-making in case you become incapacitated.
- Guardianship: A structure of protection to employ when someone becomes legally incapacitated, which allows a friend, loved one, or appointed professional to take legal responsibility over their decisions to ensure their safety and wellbeing.
- Probate: Helping clients navigate the long, often arduous process of the Court going over a will to ensure all creditors and taxes are paid before distribution to beneficiaries. An elder law attorney can also help you and your loved ones avoid this process.
- Elder Abuse: Investigating, documenting, addressing, and prosecuting instances in which older people are taken advantage of or abused, whether financially, emotionally, physically, or medically.
What is Elder Care?
Elder care, put simply, is providing care for people as they age. Properly approaching elder care requires a case-by-case examination of an older person’s needs, resources, and wishes, as well as those of their family members and spouses (where applicable), or whichever community they have around them.
There are many avenues that can be pursued as part of elder care, including:
- Accessibility and assistance devices
- Rehabilitation facilities (short-term and long-term)
- In-home health aide visits
- In-home healthcare (long-term)
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes and long-term care facilities
However, to older people and their loved ones, it may be difficult to navigate the many different options and providers. There are many agencies out there in the current landscape that specialize in elder care, and new ones are popping up all the time. Visiting Angels, Home Instead, and Bright Star are just a few of the many companies that specialize in at-home-care for seniors.
What Makes Your Practice Unique In Its Offerings To Older People And Their Loved Ones?
My approach as an elder law attorney pulls the concepts and principles of elder care into my practice of elder law.
Often, clients come to us trying to figure out how to navigate, select, provide, and pay for the care method that their older loved one needs. There is a constant fear, both from aging people and their families, of having to “go broke in a nursing home.”
However, I assure my clients that I won’t let that happen to them. There are many solutions and methods that we can employ to prevent them or their loved ones from winding up in a situation like that. By integrating the two central veins of elder law and elder care, Attorney Kimbro Stephens and the Jurist Law Group take a holistic approach to providing the best possible services to older people and their families.
When Do People Usually Start Planning For Long-term Care And Elder-related Issues? When Should Someone Start Planning For These Things?
Unfortunately, as a general rule, people tend to not plan ahead. They get caught up in the moment and live life day-by-day. Both on an individual basis and on a larger cultural basis, we tend to have the mentality of, “That’s not going to happen to me.” People see others suffering for lack of a long-term care plan or a plan for what happens as they age, and they think that’s something that happens to other people, surely, but something that would never happen to them. It’s the same mentality that has people thinking, I won’t ever get run over by a car, so why look both ways when I cross? Or I’m healthy. Other people might get sick, but I won’t. People go through life thinking that nothing unfortunate is ever going to happen to them.
But what happens when Mom and Dad get old? What happens when you get old? We all want to get old, right? It’s better than the alternative.
So, best case scenario, Mom and Dad will get old, and so will you. And as we all get older, we will all eventually need more and more help. This happens to everyone, no matter how strong and independent they may have been earlier in their lives.
Let’s look at a typical scenario.
Jason’s mom has been living life at home during her senior years, enjoying her retirement, and paying her bills. Then, all of a sudden, she falls and breaks her hip. Once she gets into the hospital, she starts to rapidly decline, and Jason realizes that she can’t return home without help.
Jason’s mom is widowed—his dad passed away two years ago. There’s no one else to take care of her or keep an eye on her. Now, as her child, Jason is faced with the issue of providing that care. And who’s going to pay for that? Jason’s mom has been living on social security. She has a house, and maybe she has a retirement account somewhere—but who knows? Jason has no idea what his mom’s finances look like.
Nine out of ten seniors have not properly planned for this situation. If you have done even a little preplanning, have given some pre-thought to your care or your loved ones’ care, maybe even bought long-term care insurance, you are already ahead of most people. But when push comes to shove, that’s still not enough. You can save yourself and your loved ones an enormous amount of stress, suffering, and money by simply putting a plan in place for what will eventually to happen to everyone (in the best-case scenario, in which they are lucky enough to live a nice, long life).
For more information on Elder Law in Arkansas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (501) 550-1114 today.
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