Adult Illness, Alzheimer's and Dementia, Asset Protection, Elder Law, estate planning, Long Term Care, Medicaid
Is It Too Late To Right the Ship?
By Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Rick Law of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law. LEL is a multi-generation firm serving seniors and their families in Aurora, IL just West of Chicago off of the I-88 tollway. An all too familiar phone call came into our office the other day: “My mom is elderly and ailing, and my siblings and I need advice on how to help her. Our folks have a decent monthly income and assets, but the nursing home costs are three times that much! Nobody made any plans for this. My parents never expected to live this long. We don’t know what to do. I can’t have them live with me. Help me, please!” Nobody enjoys the feelings of hopelessness and impending doom brought upon by this kind of situation. But “We don’t know what to do!” is just the beginning of the journey for the concerned family. Often we get this phone call from the child or spouse caretaker because the person in need of care isn’t ready to admit yet that they need help. We can’t force a parent to get assistance, but we can be the “voice of authority,” to tell them when it’s time to start letting go and facing reality. It is our job as elder law attorneys to help our senior clients–and those who love them–make those tough end-of-life and long-term care decisions The call from the kids has several possible motives, and more specifically, several underlying emotions:
- Love and responsibility: to provide the best care for mom or dad with the least destruction of their assets during their lives.
- Seeking relief: the need to lift the care and cost burden off the caregiver, who may be the caller himself or another loved one.
- Fear of loss: the desire to conserve the benefits of the parental assets, either during the parents’ lives or at the time of their deaths.
- Greed: the desire to get access to the parents’ assets so the assets will not be “lost.”
- Confusion: Looking for a source of care and comfort at a time of great emotional and financial stress.
- Guilt: for not being able to do more for a needy parent, spouse, or other loved one.
- Shame: one man recently said to us, “I just can’t believe that I have to put the love of my life in a nursing home.”
- Anger: “Why did my parents not plan better?” “Why me? My siblings never help me take care of dad.” “I wish he would just die.”
- Frustration: over conflict with declining parents.
- Self-preservation: worry about how much of their own limited resources must be used to provide parental care.