If you have ever wondered what kind of senior care is best for an elderly family member, you may have found yourself a bit overwhelmed with the different options available.To help you along with this delicate process, our estate planning attorneys in
Independent living facilities or retirement communities offer a very minimal level of care for elderly individuals. Residents typically live in private apartments and have the option of purchasing customized meal packages and participating in planned social outings. This option is best if your loved one is essentially independent and has few health problems but does not wish to live alone.
An in-home health aide is a good option if a senior individual prefers to remain at home, but needs help with some or all activities of daily living. Different levels of care are associated with this option: there are live-in home health aides to assist with all activities, as well as those who visit daily, several times a week, or once weekly to perform specific duties, depending on your elderly loved one’s needs.
Group homes, also called residential care homes, are living facilities where elderly individuals live in a private home with round-the-clock caretakers. Nursing services such as assistance with medications are typically provided as well. Such care is perfect for an elderly loved one who needs a significant amount of assistance, but still wishes to maintain some independence.
The next level of senior care is an assisted living facility. This option is perfect if your loved one cannot safely live alone due to health problems. In an assisted living facility, your senior loved one receives help with all activities of daily living, as well as assistance with medications and meals. Housekeeping services are also provided, and the facility is staffed 24 hours a day in case of emergencies.
Skilled Nursing Facilities
If your senior family member requires skilled care, a nursing home is the best option. Residents at skilled nursing facilities receive housekeeping services, assistance with meals, full-time medical care, and organized activities, depending on the resident’s mental and physical ability. Additionally, most staff members are skilled health professionals, such as RNs and physician’s assistants.
Caring for a family member with age-related dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is often challenging and difficult. If such care is needed, a memory care facility is the ideal solution. Residents at such facilities have structured activities and 24 hour support to ensure both their quality of life and their safety. Additionally, such facilities are secured to prevent residents from accidentally wandering away and sustaining harm.
Hospice care is specifically designed for individuals who are terminally ill and expected to pass away within six to 12 months. Such care is administered at home or in a facility and focuses on palliative measures and patient comfort. Hospice care also centers on helping individuals make the most of their remaining time with their loved ones.
It is wise to check with a lawyer who is familiar with elder law, as he or she may be able to determine which facilities are covered by Medicare. You may even wish to speak to an estate planning attorney who can help you plan ahead for an aging family member.
Stan Lee, the co-creator of numerous iconic superheroes belonging to the Marvel Comics Collection passed away in Los Angeles this past Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Lee’s estate is surrounded by a significant amount of controversy, and estate planning attorneys say there are numerous lessons to be learned from his situation.
Financial predators were allegedly attacking Lee’s estate prior to his death. The value of the estate was estimated at approximately $50 million. Memory, vision and hearing impairments reportedly stopped Lee from combating certain individuals who were allegedly after his fortune. Family members, caregivers and business associates were attempting to help Lee gain control of his assets prior to his death.
Charlie Douglas, a Georgia-based estate planner, said that situations such as Lee’s will occur more frequently in the future, as an increasing number of individuals are now living well into their 90s and may not be able to properly manage their finances due to various age-related problems.
Estate planning typically centers around the distribution of money and assets upon a person’s death, rather than end-of-life planning, yet the latter is vitally important as well: wills only protect a person’s assets after death, but revocable trusts and similar options focus on managing assets as one ages.
Experts recommend something called a “revocable trust” for older clients such as Lee, as this type of trust offers more protection against elder financial abuse.
For example, a “standby revocable disability trust” is a type of trust that allows a successor trustee to manage all the assets in a trust should the owner of the estate become incapacitated or mentally impaired.
This type of a trust may have been beneficial for Lee, as he reportedly had multiple problems with his 67-year-old daughter, JC, with whom he was on bad terms. She was allegedly spending up to $40,000 a month on credit cards and also demanding that alterations be made to a trust that was previously set up for her by Lee.
Lee had also filed a declaration through an attorney that stated “three men with bad intentions” were attempting to obtain control of his money, property and assets. During summer of 2018, an LA court issued a temporary restraining order against one of the three men. Some financial experts and lawyers have pointed to Lee’s situation as a perfect example of financial elder-abuse and how this type of crime is frequently committed by those closest to the person.
Some estate planning attorneys in Orange County believe the most important lesson to be learned from Lee’s dilemmas, both before his death and after, is appropriate trustee selection. Hyman Darling, an estate planner and elder law expert recommends naming a trustee for reasons other than the fact that the person lives closest to the estate owner or is the oldest among all his or her relatives. Charlie Douglas has stated that he believes it is also important to ask clients exactly why they are choosing a certain person as a trustee, and if there is any possibility that person may be influenced by someone else in the future.
Another option that has moved to the forefront of estate planning is the use of a group of co-trustees or an independent, professional trustee to oversee an estate. This is a good protective measure to take against unscrupulous individuals who may be part of the estate owner’s inner circle. Douglas stated that Lee may have been an ideal candidate for this kind of set up, as he only had one daughter and his relationship with her was difficult.
No one wants to feel as if their grown children are inferring that financial documents must be scrutinized because death or mental decline are imminent. However, details regarding estate planning, bank accounts, and general family finances are all things that you should discuss as a family in order to prevent any future problems.
You may find you are hesitant to broach the subject because it might seem as if you are merely inquiring about your inheritance. Nevertheless, it is beneficial to both yourself and your parents to talk about these matters in advance, rather than after a crisis or emergency has occurred. Even if estate planning attorneys are involved, it is important for you to talk to your parents directly about their wishes concerning a broad range of matters, from the distribution of property to end-of-life medical decisions.
A Practical Place to Begin
To start the conversation in a way that will not seem intrusive or demanding, use a third-party story, rather than making a direct reference to your parents. Similarly, instead of asking to read any specific documents, you can simply ask your parents where such items can be found if the need arises. Therefore, consider beginning the conversation with a story about someone whose parents found themselves in a crisis and family members did not know where or how to access vital documents. Even though your parents probably have an estate plan and wills or trusts in place, they are not helpful if you do not know where to find them and have no idea which estate planning attorney prepared the documents.
Property and Real Estate
Having open discussions about property and real estate is also important. Your parents may have real estate listed in a trust for you and your siblings, but confusion may occur if they should become incapacitated or pass away suddenly and you are unaware of the location of such documents. Probate for real estate and property can drag on with seemingly no end in sight if there are any gray areas regarding beneficiaries.
Final Topics to Discuss
End-of-life planning is another important topic that may prove awkward to discuss. Therefore, it may be wise to speak of this aspect after the conversation has been underway for awhile. End-of-life planning involves a variety of aspects, such as a living will. Also called an advance directive, a living will allows your parents to make their own decisions about life support and other medical options in the event they are unable to communicate. You may decide to use another third-party story about individuals who had no living will or power of attorney, and subsequently had decisions made for them that they would not necessarily have made for themselves. This is not intended to frighten your parents, but merely to remind them that they deserve to be part of the decision-making process.
Cognitive decline is perhaps one of the most difficult subjects to discuss. However, individuals in their 80s and 90s often struggle to make financial decisions and are sometimes vulnerable to scams designed to target older individuals. Since there is no easy way to introduce this topic, you may simply wish to offer to help out with your parents’ finances on a regular basis, while they are still clearly the decision-makers. This way, you will notice any signs of failing judgment or confusion and you can intervene. Explain that your goal is not to make decisions for them if there is no need for you to do so, but rather to help out if impaired ability eventually occurs.
Relationship dynamics differ greatly from one family to the next, and therefore there is no exact formula for having the aforementioned discussions. Ultimately, your main goal should be to broach the subject before it is too late. Unfortunately, negative life events often happen without warning, and therefore it is in your best interest to have these conversations when your parents are both mentally and physically well.