If you really want to understand what ElderCare is all about, talk to someone like Jeanette Johnson. In 1990, her husband, a Navy veteran of 24 years, passed away. In 2001, she suffered two strokes within 20 days. While many might have given up, the self-described “stubborn” Mrs. Johnson persevered.
She rebuilt her physical strength, learned to speak again and fought off considerable challenges to retain control of her life and surroundings.
“I might have trouble talking,” she said, “but I don’t have trouble thinking.”
Mrs. Johnson, age 87, now lives in an assisted living facility in Roswell. She is enjoying life: the “good people” who live around her, the supportive staff who monitor her medications and otherwise help her maintain the strict regimen required since her strokes; and her favorite pastime: bingo. She takes comfort in the fact that her financial and legal affairs are in order and, in particular, that she decided to purchase a long-term care insurance policy after her husband’s death.
I don’t know where I’d live without the monthly check I receive from my long-term care insurance,” she says. “My family is scattered and can’t afford to help much. Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care provided in an assisted living facility, and I am not currently entitled to VA (Veterans Administration) benefits for long-term care.
Mrs. Johnson is proof that it takes a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to provide comprehensive Eldercare. Her “team” of Eldercare advisors helps her navigate the maze of financial, legal and medical issues that profoundly impact her life on a daily basis.
When she needed a more stimulating living environment, her Geriatric Care Manager helped her find a more appropriate assisted living facility. She also schedules Mrs. Johnson’s doctors’ appointments and explains her physicians’ orders to the assisted living facility’s staff.
More than a financial transaction, selling the family home is often fraught with emotion for the elderly. It is often made more difficult by a child who doesn’t want to sell. “It was tough to sell, but it was too costly to maintain. It was the right thing to do.”
Here Mrs. Johnson relied on the counsel of her ElderCare Attorney. She oversaw the legal aspects of the sale of the home. She then prepared Mrs. Johnson’s last will and testament, set up a living trust, and helped her execute necessary “advanced directives” to provide direction to physicians on how to proceed in the event of a medical crisis.
At the hub of Mrs. Johnson’s team of ElderCare specialists is her CPA ElderCare Advisor. The two meet monthly to attend to her personal finances — everything from paying bills to ensuring she is receiving the financial benefits to which she is entitled. They also review her investment portfolio, which was restructured by her Certified Financial Planner to deliver the income she will need in coming years.
“Things aren’t like they used to be,” Mrs. Johnson mused. “You can’t depend on family to take care of you. After my husband’s death and then my strokes, my world was in chaos. So many things were happening and everything had to be taken care of right away. Everybody around me was trying to tell me what to do, but no one really knew. I was stubborn enough to wait before I did anything. I found the right help — and it made all the difference.”
By Phillip G. Sanders, MBA, MSHA, CPA
Georgia ElderCare Advisors, LLC