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HighPoint Law Blog

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Caregivers, Do You Need Help Advocating for Your Loved Ones?

 By Peter J. Gilbert, Esq.

In our office we meet with many family caregivers, they are seeking guidance for family members or themselves. They take on many roles from driving loved ones to appointments, managing their schedules, reviewing health insurance coverage, and making sure the bills get paid to helping them navigate health challenges. That means knowing what they want for care and quality of life, and making sure those wishes are followed. It also includes helping loved ones manage finances and legal matters, and making certain they receive appropriate and high-quality services and treatments when needed.

According to the November 2016 AARP magazine, here are a few important skills a caregiver must possess:

  1. Observation. The slightest shift in a loved one’s ability, health, moods, safety or needs is a sign of a larger problem or health challenge. You need to catch those changes early to make a difference.
  2. Organization. There’s a lot of moving parts in a caregiving plan. Organization is a real challenge. As an advocate, be sure you can easily access all legal documents you need, like power of attorney for finances and health care.
  3. Communication. It’s always an important skill for building relationships, especially with those who help care for your loved ones, like attorneys, aides and doctors. Try to be respectful and set your emotions aside when you’re advocating for a loved one. Listening is just as important as speaking in effective communication.
  4. Hold a Family Meeting. At HighPoint Law Offices, we strongly encourage our clients to hold a Family Meeting to outline their estate plan for loved ones, fiduciaries and the clients’ estate planning team (including financial professionals, accountants, etc.). This ensures that everyone understands the clients’ wishes, as well as their roles and responsibilities.
  5. Questioning. Ask questions! But be prepared and do a lot of work gathering information. Educate yourself about your loved one’s health conditions and financial or legal matters. Take notes you can refer back to later when additional questions arise.
  6. Tenacity. As a loved one’s advocate, you must have their best interests at heart and take the job seriously. Resilience is key, but also make sure you ask for the help you need from siblings or other loved ones. An advocacy team is better than just one advocate and sharing the burden can help minimize the stress of caring for a loved one.

Be sure to join a caregiver’s support group, you’ll benefit from the help and experience of others facing similar challenges. Also, speak with an elder law attorney. After all, what is an elder law attorney but a professional advocate? He or she will have a great deal of experience and insight to share.

For more information on this and other elder law issues, explore our website and contact us at 215-997-9773 to schedule your consultation today!

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