Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our Parents, Ourselves: Family Crisis

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
The Elder Law attorney who is practicing today often works with families in crisis. Mom or Dad has just received the dreaded “D” diagnosis (dementia). The family is struggling to cope with a home situation that is deteriorating rapidly. No one can afford to quit their job and become Mom’s full time caregiver, but the cost of bringing in care is beyond the family budget. Often the first place the family goes after visiting the physician is to the attorney. The family has been told to “get things in order” so that they can assist Mom with her business affairs and her health care decisions.

In my legal toolbox, I can offer people a few things. I can help with legal documents, such as powers of attorney, if the parent who needs them is still competent. If they are no longer competent, I can explain what a conservatorship  is, and how you go about creating one. Believe it or not, many of the children who call me have no idea as to whether their parent has created a will, trust, or powers of attorney. If the parent has dementia, they may no longer remember this fact, and they certainly don’t remember who the attorney was who helped them years ago. But beyond my legal toolbox, I can offer the family resources. My office can refer to geriatric care managers, companies that assist with placement, companies that provide in-home care, people who can help move Mom into the facility, or to her daughter’s home. One very helpful resource is Dementia Whisperers, a company that can help the family understand and communicate with the family member who has dementia. This will relieve much of the stress involved in coping with this difficult condition.

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