Counseling clients facing the prospect of $10,000 per month nursing home costs and other costs of long term care is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the practice of Elder Law. For in addition to knowing substantive law in areas ranging from public benefits to tax planning, the Elder Law practitioner must be aware of community resources such as geriatric care managers, client-centered financial advisors, and excellent providers of long term care services.
That is why I am delighted to announce the launch of a new blog devoted to long term care planning, The Long Term Care Planning Blog is hosted on the Law Professor Blogs Network. As an adjunct law professor at Roger Williams University Law School and a certified elder law attorney (CELA) I will be serving as the blog’s editor. The best part is that nationally known practitioners and other professionals whom I am known or admired for decades have agree to serve as contributing editors, including:
- Maryland elder law and special needs attorney Morris Klein, CELA
- Georgia elder and disability lawyer Victoria Collier, CELA, and co-founder of Lawyers for Wartime Veterans
- Maryland elder and disability lawyer Ron Landsman, a founding member and Fellow of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
- Chicago wills, estates, and planning lawyer Kerry Peck, CELA, and co-author of Alzheimer’s and the Law
- Founder and director of Elder Care Alternatives Certified Geriatric Care Manager, Helene Bergman
- Lawyer and president/CEO of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, Virginia Burke
- Massachusetts elder law, special needs, public benefits and disability lawyer Neal A. Winston, CELA
Some of the topics we’ve covered since our launch include end of life discussions, preparing for the high cost of nursing home stays, the special training and skills required to properly help veterans, benefits for permanently disabled adult children, and what is Elder Law?.
We look forward to covering many more issues related to long term care planning over the coming weeks and months, and invite you to leave feedback and questions using the blog’s comment system, or directly to me or any of our authors via email, which you will find beside our pictures at the bottom of the blog homepage.
You can also sign up to receive new blog posts by email by clicking on “Subscribe” at the top of the blog homepage.
I was privileged to participate recently in a program entitled Planning for the Future: Stewardship, Finances, and End-of-Life Decisions sponsored by St. David’s on-the-Hill in Cranston. The program, moderated by St. David’s pastor, Father Peter Lane, was a full afternoon of programming, the final session of which I co-presented with Donna Palumbo and Mary Biello of the VNA of Rhode Island and Craig W. Carpenter of Carpenter-Jencks Funeral Home.
In his remarks, Craig Carpenter noted that Father Lane and the vestry at St. David’s performed a substantial service to its congregation and to the community (to whom the program was also open) by discussing topics which, in Craig’s apt term, take courage for people to discuss. In my presentation, I provided an overview of advanced directives and particularly the importance of having in place durable powers of attorney for healthcare. I stressed the equal importance of selecting the correct agent and successor agent to act as decision-makers in the event one is unable to make healthcare decisions due to incapacity.
I am always delighted to meet people and share information at gatherings such as this. With the St. David’s on-the-Hill program, I also had the added bonus of learning more about two topics of importance to my clients—hospice care and funeral planning—from highly experienced experts.
Donna and Mary, for example, pointed out that much hospice care is delivered in the home. This is in contrast to the perception which many people have who may be familiar with hospice care which a loved one or friend experienced by the extraordinary professionals at the Philip Hulitar Inpatient Center.
Donna and Mary also pointed out a result of hospice care which I have seen with my clients on a number of occasions. That is, when provided with hospice care at home or in a nursing home, the patient’s condition can improve to a point at which he or she is no longer qualifies for hospice care. This, of course, does not mean that the patient is “cured” of the condition that qualified him or her from hospice care initially. Rather, the intervention of the additional care has prolonged the length and most importantly the quality of the patient’s life. More about the services which Donna, Mary and their team at the VNA offer in hospice and palliative care can be found at www.hospicevnari.org.
As to Craig Carpenter’s portion of the program, if you don’t think that hearing about funeral planning and what occurs at funerals is a riveting topic, you haven’t heard Craig speak. Craig, for example, related the story of discussing with his own father—himself a funeral planner for over a half-century—his father’s desires for his own funeral. It was fascinating to hear Craig talk about assumptions that he had understandably made about certain things his father would want which proved to be incorrect.
Craig’s point was that planning in advance removes those uncertainties (to say nothing of potential conflicts among family members) and makes the entire process what it should be – i.e. in keeping with the desires of the individual who has passed away.
Congratulations to Father Lane and the vestry of St David’s on-the-Hill for a terrific program.