About 5 years ago, I became extremely excited to learn about Life Care Planning. To be honest, it was just about the time the Geriatric Care Managers changed their titles to Aging Life Care Managers and I thought that the two things were one and the same â€“ I learned that I was wrong. According to The Life Care Planning Law Firms Association; Life Care Planning is a holistic, elder-centered approach that helps families respond to every challenge caused by chronic illness or disability of an elderly loved one. The goal of Life Care Planning is to promote and maintain the good health, safety, well-being, and quality of life of elders and their families. Elders and their families get access to a wider variety of options for care as well as knowledgeable guidance from a team of compassionate advisors who help them make the right choices about every aspect of their loved one’s well-being. Life Care Planning relies on an inter-disciplinary team that works to identify present and potential future care needs, locate appropriate care, and ensure high-quality care. This approach relies less on crisis-oriented transactions and more on the development of on-going relationships with families. With this in mind, I set out to work with law firms who specialized in elder law to add Life Care Planning to their practice. I was not successful.
The primary objection voiced by Attorneys that I have tried to overcome is this, “People will not pay you for something they aren’t certain they will need.” I have noticed that this truth pops up frequently in life. Let’s talk about Homeowner’s Insurance. I would place a bet that if mortgage companies didn’t require this, a great deal fewer people would own it. Likewise, with car insurance. Smoking is another example, even though the evidence that it can kill you is easily found, many people continue to smoke. In fact, I have coined the phrase “Floating down the river De-nial” as the primary reason people don’t plan.
So, I approached this from another point of view. I have spent decades assisting people who have found themselves in a Long-Term Care crisis find their way out of the crisis. And I gratefully continue to do this. I am the life and care partner of a man who is living with Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia and we co-founded We Are Dementia Strong. I work closely with professionals who serve this same population in numerous ways, including elder law attorneys and geriatric life care managers. What if, instead of calling it Life Care Planning, I called it Herding Cats? Because when you fail to plan, your life becomes a constant activity in herding cats. The problem with this approach is that it is rather insulting and even though it is true-it really doesn’t sell well. The other issue is that as I am so oft heard to sayâ€¦the older I get, the older “OLD” gets. People do not want to think of themselves as older or about becoming incapable of fully caring for themselves.
I believe I have landed on a more palatable solution to the challenge. I am going to create a weekly blog post that takes us all on a journey with Bob and Darlene and their daughter Jill. Bob is caring for Darlene, who is a Person Living with Dementia, at home. Bob himself face multiple health issues. Jill is working and has a family of her own. They are hesitant to jump onboard the Life Care Planning train. We will work with them and learn from them. I hope you will all enjoy the blogs and contribute with your comments. I am looking forward to our journey together.