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Elder law attorneys have long played the role of helping clients pay for nursing home care through the use of the Medicaid program. While this is important work, particularly when spouses are concerned about becoming impoverished by the health care needs of the sick spouse, elder law attorneys focusing on Life Care Planning can do so much more for families facing long term care.

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Navigating the health care system and determining what care is needed to preserve capabilities is a daunting task. Many seniors prefer to stay at home as long as possible. Evaluating and controlling manageable risks and insuring that the appropriate level of care is provided can often extend the time that a senior can stay in the home. Spending some resources on necessary care can ultimately achieve a cost savings in preventing further deterioration. Sometimes families are afraid to spend money on care because they are concerned that the future will bring the need for expensive care in facilities and they want to make sure that their limited resources continue to be available for the rest of the seniors’ lives and beyond. Life Care Planning involves considering the future needs and funding sources which could be available for crises so that families are able to make good decisions about needed care presently.

Plans usually involve utilizing private funds and considering governmental benefits which may add to the resources available to pay for care. The governmental resources can include VA benefits as well as Medicaid to augment private funding. Augmenting care in this way helps insure the best care for the longest time for the senior. It may also maximize funds that will be available for the next generation, but providing good care to the senior is always the foremost concern.

Once the plan is in place, a Life Care Planning attorney and staff (which includes care coordinators who have a medical background) help advocate for the best care for the senior, whatever the setting. A nurse advocate can help identify care problems and assist in solving them. It is important that families facing chronic care for the elderly are aware that this type of assistance exists.