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Why You Should Consider Having a Life Care Manager

| April 11, 2019
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Many of us would not attempt to navigate purchasing a home without the advice and guidance of a realtor. Fewer would consider walking into a courtroom without the expertise of a lawyer, and many Americans have come to rely on wealth advisors/financial planners to help them manage their wealth and safeguard their financial well-being. So too, when it comes to estate planning, we should consider having a Life Care Manager be part of our team.

Every couple should create an estate plan which encompasses their wills, trusts and Financial and Medical Power of Attorney.  Typically, a couple will name each other as the executor, trustee and Agent of their Power of attorney.  However, in the event unexpected medical diagnosis or catastrophic accident, the couple should name a successor medical power of attorney.  The successor will take the part of the partner who has died or is unable to fulfill their obligations to the other.  Many times, a Life Care Manager is chosen to take on this role and be the voice to advocate for care and interact with the doctors and physicians, to explain difficult medical terms and be a knowledgeable sounding board for the surviving spouse. 

A Life Care Manager, willing to take on this responsibility should be a fiduciary.  This is simply found out by asking them.  A fiduciary keeps the client’s needs first and has a reporting responsibility in terms of “undue experience” or “financial abuse. The following is a question and answer session with Alice P. Paxton, CSA, of Paladin Life Care (Defending Your Interests, Advocating Your Life). Based in Arlington, Virginia, Paxton is the CEO and Managing Director of Paladin Life Care. 

How should someone select a geriatric care manager?

A Life Care Manager (formerly known as a geriatric care manager) may be known and referred by the couple’s estate planning attorney or wealth planner. A Life Care Manager may also be found through a list-serv service with the Aging Life Care Association, National Guardianship Association or the American Association of Daily Money Managers.

Once a Life Care Manager has agreed that they are willing to take on this responsibility for the couple, a meeting should be set up to get to know one another.  Never accept simply an agreement to be named in the documents.  Remember, you are asking this person to be your medical advocate when you will be most vulnerable, physically and mentally. 

The face-to-face meeting assures you are comfortable with this person and allows you to experience “Did they listen to me?”  Strong communication skills are important.  Your Life Care Manager should be comfortable slowing down a hurried doctor to get them to explain the diagnosis, treatment options, and procedures plainly to the patient. They must have strong attention to detail so they can maintain an accurate record of doctor’s visits, medications, and treatment an individual is receiving.

The couple should be fearless in asking questions and knowing the answers they want. An example of questions that can indicate the veracity of the Life Care Manager are:

  1. Do these certifications include ethical values?
  2. Is the Life Care Manager insured, do they have liability insurance?
  3. Has this person gone through a background check, how recently?
  4. Do they have experience in opening claims with public and private resources such as Medicare/Medicaid or Long Term Care Insurance?

What certifications does the life care manager possess?

Certifications are an excellent indication that Life Care Manager will be able to advocate on your behalf and identifying their capabilities.  Certifications require additional education, ongoing Continuous Educational Units (CEUs) as well as ethical requirements.

Some Certifications to be considered are:

  1. Registered Nurse – with at least 10 years of experience, and other certifications in their field;
  2. Life Care Manager – Member of the Aging Life Care Association. This Association has requirements for membership;
  3. Society of Certified Senior Advisors (Membership and certification require testing and Continuing Educational Units.)
  4. National Guardianship Association (Membership does not require certification, however, to be a Certified National Guardian does require testing and CEUs which include ethical questions.)

What services can someone expect?

Once the Power of Attorney is enacted, your Life Care Manager will advocate for you with the medical profession and help you understand your options.  They will explain confusing medication terms and conditions to help you make the most informed decisions about what you want in your life.  They will learn what resources you need and provide vetted contractors and provide oversight. They will be able to complete paperwork for Long Term Care Insurance Claims; and, complete paperwork to become the Representative Payee for government Medicare payments if needed.

How can people avoid unscrupulous providers? 

It almost goes without saying that the experience of the Life Care Manager is a good indicator of their ability to deal with complex medical conditions or chronic illness, as well as providing oversight to new situations that have developed.  

While medicine will continue to improve the quality of life for millions, there is a dual threat to ensuring positive patient outcomes in health care. For all of the advancements in treatments, therapies and the delivery of health care in general, it is undeniable that the system has become significantly more complex and harder to navigate than ever before.

Studies continually show health care outcomes are better when the patient is a proactive member of their health care team and individuals identify being involved in the decision making about their care as a top priority. Having a Successor Medical Power of Attorney is a proactive choice.

There are four key risk factors that increase the likelihood a senior will become a victim of financial exploitation.

  1. First, individuals living with dementia are at a substantially increased risk compared to their peers who do not have dementia;
  2. The second factor which increases the risk of exploitation is living with family.
  3. seniors who are isolated or are regularly lonely are also at an increased risk of being financially exploited.
  4. Finally, seniors who have functional limitations or chronic health conditions, or are generally in poor physical health are also at an increased risk for financial exploitation

Investment adviser representative and registered representative of, and securities and investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC).

EBW is not a subsidiary of nor controlled by Voya Financial Advisors.

Neither Voya Financial Advisors nor its representatives offer tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.

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