Creating a Life Care Plan

Creating a Life Care Plan is a relatively new way to face the many challenges that come with people living longer and those with a disability. After all, growing older can be a tumultuous and confusing time, but by having a plan in place, it will help make the transitions easier. In case you’ve never actually heard of such a plan before, we will:

  • Define what it is, 
  • The type of services it includes, 
  • When the right time to create such a plan is, 
  • Who makes good candidates for this plan, and finally,
  • We’ll look at the benefits that having such a plan provides. 

So what is a Life Care Plan exactly? Well, a life care plan helps to define, organize, prioritize and mobilize every aspect of care for an elder loved one. It can include asset-focused services provided by elder law firms which help seniors qualify for benefits, while preserving things like family wealth for as long as possible; and a Life Care Plan also includes necessities for things like care coordination and other ways of family support. 

The goal of such a plan is to both promote and maintain the health, safety, well-being and quality of life for seniors, and every Life Care Plan is designed to achieve three things in particular:

  • Making sure proper care is provided to the elder, whether at home or in a care center, in order to maintain the quality of life that he or she wants.
  • Locating both public and private sources to help pay for long-term care while resolving any issues that were created by a high cost of care.
  • And finally, it offers the peace of mind that comes from the right choices being made to make sure that those we love are safe and getting the proper care they need, while managing and preserving family resources.

The types of services that these plans provide depend on the individual needs of the person and families involved, but most include legal services, care coordination, client advocacy, and Medicare and insurance support. They may have all of those services or a few of them. You can discuss each of these services with an elder lawyer who will better be able to point you in the direction of the answers you’re looking for.

You might be wondering when is the exact right time to make use of such a plan, and the answer is simple: the right time is usually immediately following any event that leaves you uncertain about the future well-being of your loved one. Examples, such as those listed below, can be a red flag that an elder’s health is getting worse, even if it could be months or even years before any such long-term care outside the home is required.

  • They receive a diagnosis of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or some other chronic illness or condition
  • A catastrophic event, like a fall, mishap with medication, a fire, accident at home or a car wreck
  • You’ve discovered your loved one has been wandering off, is malnourished, dehydrated or simply unable to care for him or herself because of functional limitations.
  • A medical event, like a stroke, heart attack, or aneurism
  • Burnout of the primary caregiver

While you could wait until the person’s needs are immediate to create a Care Plan, doing so leaves you, your family, and your loved one at a disadvantage. Making one beforehand can be a big help, as:

  • It helps to get your loved one the care that he or she needs right now, which can bring relief for caregivers.
  • It gets you plugged into a network of community services and resources
  • It increases the chances of your loved one being able to age at home, which can increase dignity and independence.
  • It gets all legal and financial affairs in order.
  • It enables the family to avoid asset protection crisis when your loved one makes the transition to long-term care outside the house.
  • It helps to empower you with a support network that assists in dealing with every legal, healthcare and long-term care transition your loved one will face for the rest of their lives.

Life Care Plans are often right for the following people:

  • Senior individuals who are dealing with effects from aging, chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke, or dementia, or any disabilities from accidents or illness.
  • Cognitively, emotionally, or developmentally disabled persons, regardless of age.
  • Those people of any age who have been permanently disabled due to accident or illness.

Finally, let’s look at the benefits a Life Care Plan provides:

  • The senior or disabled loved one gets the proper care faster. They can have as much independence as possible for as long as possible, and they will have the ability to age with dignity because a plan for them is in place.
  • Families receive help in getting the right care and resources, guidance with legal, health care and long-term decisions as the senior’s condition progresses, and security due to the spouse and dependents being provided for.
  • A Life Care Plan provides reassurance that the elder will enjoy the best quality of life he or she can until the end.

If you have any questions or concerns about anything above, please be sure to speak with an elder law attorney.