Older adults are one of the most vulnerable segments of the population at any time. COVID-19 has exacerbated the risks to their health and lifestyle. In these times, seniors face greater isolation, delays or interruptions in medical care, fear of interacting with care professionals who may carry the virus, and prolonged separation from loved ones.
When it comes to providing seniors with holistic care–whether during a pandemic or otherwise–a joint effort can make all the difference. Power partners (legal professionals, wealth advisors, home care agencies, and geriatric care managers) can team up to address the various concerns seniors have surrounding their estate, finances, and safety needs at home.
Elder Law Attorneys
The practice area of elder law encompasses all issues that affect older people (generally those over 60). There are three main areas of focus in elder law:
- Estate planning
- Disability and long-term care
How elder law attorneys can work with other professionals to provide holistic care:
Elder law attorneys often work particularly closely with wealth advisors. For instance, elder law attorneys can build on a financial planner’s organization of a client’s finances to advise on issues like:
- Continuing Care Retirement Community contracts
- Family Agreements
- Rules that help those who qualify for Medicaid
These attorneys are also experienced in life and retirement planning–they may need to refer to home care agencies or GCMs to help with living arrangements. When there are concerns about a client’s decision-making capacity, an elder law attorney may want to connect with a GCM, who can either conduct an evaluation themselves or oversee connecting the client with another medical professional.
Wealth advisors can help with seniors’ unique retirement and savings needs.
During the pandemic, a wealth advisor can talk to seniors about how challenging times may impact the way they manage their money. For instance, during the pandemic, a financial advisor should enlighten seniors about the CARES Act, which means they don’t have to take out the required minimum distributions for 2020. An advisor can also highlight the importance of revisiting estate plans and consulting individual tax advisors this year.
How wealth advisors can work with other professionals to provide holistic care:
Wealth advisors can work with those providing daily care (home care agencies or GCMs) by giving them direction on their client’s daily financial needs.
Wealth advisors can also help when a client is suffering from financial abuse. The vast majority of this type of abuse is not reported to authorities. According to a New York state study, for every documented case of elder financial exploitation, 44 went unreported. Depending on the state your client lives in, new laws allow wealth advisors to put temporary holds on disbursements from the accounts of specific clients when financial exploitation is believed to have occured.
Home care agencies hire caregivers to provide seniors with the support they need for the basic activities of daily living.
Home Care Assistance (HCA) has one of the largest caregiver networks in North America and goes beyond what most home care agencies offer because of the team that supports the client and their family members. Our Client Care Managers ensure that the caregivers follow the Care Plans we’ve designed specifically for a given client. Caregivers are trained in the company’s proprietary Balanced Care Method to promote a healthy mind, body and spirit in our clients so that they live their best lives possible wherever they call home. Moreover, we hire expert caregivers and match them to clients, in a way that both minimizes infection and also pairs the client with the best caregiver for their needs and wants.
How home care agencies can work with other professionals to provide holistic care:
Caregivers have intimate knowledge of what happens within their clients’ lives since they are with them on a day-to-day basis. This places them in a prime position to observe any issues their clients might be having. This is especially true now, when families are caregiving from a distance, and social distancing is recommended.
A Home Care Liaison can connect their client with the power partner they need for the issue they’re experiencing. HCA, in particular, cultivates a large network of trusted professionals to access when they need to make referrals.
What’s more: Caregivers are already in their client’s home to help facilitate communication with other professionals via online platforms like Zoom.
Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs)
The profession was born when the growing problem of long-distance caring for elderly relatives was reported on by the New York Times in 1983. A GCM (also referred to as an Aging Life Care Professional) has education and experience related to aging and disability. This means they could have a background in a profession like:
- Social work
- Occupational therapy
A GCM will be found improving the quality of life of their client and supporting their families through:
- Assessment and monitoring
- Planning and problem solving
- Education and advocacy
- Family caregiver coaching
In practice, a GCM may help seniors by advocating for and documenting their life plan, helping with daily money management, attending MD appointments, performing neuro-cognitive workups and diagnosis, providing memory care, and helping to resolve conflict with families.
How GCMs can work with other professionals to provide holistic care:
Other professionals may want to refer their clients to GCMs in many circumstances. For example, referrals to GCMs are appropriate when there are issues beyond your expertise, the client or family needs information about community services, members of a family disagree about next steps, or the client or family needs unbiased information.
Power partnerships are necessary to facilitate quality holistic care to our clients. It is in challenging times, where seniors are even more vulnerable, that we need the expertise and specialization of each partner to contribute to our clients’ care. Together, we can offer our clients not only health, but also greater quality of life.