Elder Law

| May 9, 2014 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

Elder Law Attorney

Andy: Well, today’s guest comes with a really unique back ground. Her name is Buckley Fricker. And she is an attorney, and she has a background in state law and state planning, but she is also a certified geriatric care manager through The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. And not only that – she comes with a background where her mother was an elder law attorney as well. So, it seems naturally that she felt right into that occupation.

Buckley: She joined The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys in 1988, which was their founding year. So at that time I was still a teenager, but I heard all about it from her, knew something about her cases and how much it was helping people. So, I really was aware for the specific field of elder law and elder care from a very early age. And when I graduated from law school I went and worked with her. And during that time we would have clients come in and they would say: “Well, you now, I have this fancy trust and I can afford some quality of life services for myself, but there isn’t really anybody to hire to pick me up to a museum, or to lunch.” There are home health aides; you can hire home health aides that typically are in a home 8 hours a day or 24 hours a day that help with things like bathing and feeding. But to find someone that’s like the clients daughter, let’s say he lives out of town. They would say: “I just can’t find a service like that.” So, I thought about it and I thought: “Why can’t you find a service like that?” I know lots of stayed home Moms that I went to high school with. They are taking time from their professional careers. They put on the bus in the morning. They get the kid off the bus in the afternoon. And surely they would be interested in doing work with seniors during the day. So, I stayed working in the field of law while I opened my company in 2005, which specifically provides what we call intellectual stimulation for seniors by providing college educated companions, such as stayed home Moms I was talking about, and I do have a lot of retirees who were professional. So, the focus on the business at that time was on companion services – non health care companion services

Andy: And then she launched her company Buckley’s for seniors. It offers geriatric care management services to assist with coordination and oversight at the direction of professional fiduciaries and family members.

Buckley: We take people shopping or to the doctor, if they are not driving anymore and they need us to take them, really anything that an adult would do, if the adult child lived out of the town. In the DC area we have lots of working adult children who can’t do the dentist appointment in the middle of the day on a Tuesday for 3 hours, you know, go pick up their mother, take them to the dentist, bring them back, get back to work, that’s many hours out of their day. So, we are trusted by many families to be there to be there to pick up the parent and take them to the dentist, and let he adult child know how it went and is there any follow up. So, it’s very helpful and continent service for this area at least where lots of busy DC Washington’s as we call them.

Andy: Yeah, I can see that as a very beneficial service. Now this type of thing in terms how is covered through insurance and all that, is probably pretty limited, wouldn’t it?

Buckley: Yes, it’s not covered by any insurance, because is not health care, although having a health home aid also not cover by insurance, even though they are called home health aide. Medic care… regular insurance, any kind of medical insurance does not cover it at all. Some long term care insurance policies will cover care management services, but it’s pretty much going to be out of pocket.

Andy: So, is there, to just touch on that briefly, is there anything that maybe you tell people to prepare for this, because it must be a little bit of a surprise, because as  we only do this once in a way? So, do we prepare for the cost, or do we put money away or how do you advice people on that?

Buckley: Well, I do a lot of speaking to groups and one of the things that I do is that I try to explain what kinds of services are covered under medical care and supplemental insurance and what is not. And I put up fliers and I explain that if you have a home health aide coming into the home 8 hours a day it’s going to be 160 dollars per day in general in our country. And just putting those numbers up in front of them, and that’s not going to be covered by insurance, makes them realize “Oh my God, these are real numbers and I have to think about them.” And I put up what assisted living facilities costs, what nursing homes costs, because again, those are also not covered by medic care.

About 5% of the cost for the nursing home, or the assisted living is considered direct skilled medical care and that’s not going to be covered, but the reset isn’t. And you are looking at an average cost, I believe of about 700 dollars a month for living in a facility that can provide you care. So, the numbers are huge and I try my best to educate people on what to expect dollar wise and I do talk to some about going to see a financial planner and just thinking about these costs. There are lots of financial tools, but they need to be tailored to the individual and really need to have a professional financial planner talk to them about it.

Andy: Buckley also sees part of her role of being something of a facilitator to bring up those hard to discuss topics that might otherwise get brushed under the carpet.

Buckley: I do! I want people to know about the future and what is going to cost, and what it might look like, and what options are available, because on a daily basis I see what it looks like when somebody didn’t do that kind of planning and considering things 20 years earlier. And those cases are really hard. They are basically in a crisis situation by that point. Family members are scrambling to figure out how to fund the care, what kind of care would Mom have wanted if now she has dementia and she can’t tell us. There is a lot of lack of communication, I think, between family members because it is a depressing topic. Nobody really wants to talk about it at the Thanks giving dinner, but it’s still important to talk about that and if you can get past the fact that it’s hard to discuss – “Well, what would happen to me if I had a stroke or I got dementia?”, you might as well do it, because you are going  to be securing that that situation would look as much possible the way you would have wanted to instead of leaving the burden to your family members scrambling around to figure out what you would have wanted.

So, I do explain how getting your advance directed in order…Early! Do it early. You can update them overtime if you want to, you can change them if you want to. But putting those in place is so important and I know firsthand that when people don’t do it causes so many problems and really takes away from the quality of life that they may have had if they had just planed and communicated about it.

Andy: So, is there a particular message that you really like to get put to people? Is that it or there are other things that in terms of people who may not be aware of what you do or the services and just what’s ahead. Hopefully they will contact you before it’s too late.

Buckley: Yes, I wish they would. I’m a certified geriatric care manager through The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers – that is a long title. The website is caremanager.org and you can find a geriatric care manager anywhere on that website, you just put in the zip code and the list will come up.

A lot of people, even though we’ve been around a long time, are not really aware of what geriatric care managers do. So, one important fact is to meet with the care manager in advance of disaster, illness striking and talk to them about blueprint; what are the costs of that in that area; what kinds of places for you to move to; or how do you like the health companies around here And to get from a local prospective what the options are, what the costs are – you can do that. You don’t have to wait until after Dad falls and breaks a leg, which is unfortunately usually when we get the call. So, educating people that we exist is very important. And also letting out of town family members know that a geriatric care manager is the perfect solution to not being close to your elderly loved once.

So, you have baby boomers all over the country and Mom is somewhere else and that’s where she lived forever and she doesn’t want to move – what do you do? Well, get a geriatric care manager, because they will keep you updated, they’ll let you know how things are going, they will keep you informed of options as the situation changes. And again I don’t think people are generally aware that they have that option.

Andy: So, you might say she’s put together an instruction book to help seniors and also to help their children plan for the future. She just wrote the book “Elder care – the road to growing old is not paved”. It’s a comprehensive guide to planning for legal, financial and health care in later life.

Buckley: Yeah, that was my goal. There are a lot of really good books out there that talk about personal stories, and tips on dealing with specific things, like dementia or cancer, and really heart felt books. Gale Sheen had a book out called “Passages and Caregiving” and I’m actually mentioned in that book. It’s wonderful. It’s about palliative car. It’s about her struggles with her husband when he was very ill.

And there are numerous great books out there like that. But what I fount is there wasn’t anything that was a straight forward reference manual, that really just gives the information as clear and as concise as possible, so that people can look things up and then if they feel like it applies to them or it gives them an idea of something to tackle and plan for, than they know and they can go and find the various professionals that they would need depending on what they found in the book. So, it doesn’t have heart felt stories in it – it’s just really a straight reference manual.

Andy: And Buckley says for companies like hers there’s a big advantage when they deal with their customers, who’ve already put together some of the paper work or thought about for some of things that need to be addressed as you get older.

Buckley: We are able to do our job much better, if prior to being ill, or falling, or getting dementia, our clients have executed elder law documents that state: “If something is to happened to me and I become incapacitated in some way, I would like to appoint – my daughter, my son or whoever – as the agent who make decisions for me.” Or in the circumstances of having a trust that they have directed that trustee, which may be a family member, it could be a bank, pay for services like having a care manager, having companions to take somebody out to the museum, to the store, so that the life enhancing services are still there you can actually put in your trust. “I direct that to the extent possible with my health considerations, that whoever is taking care of me will attempt to have mi participate in any of the activities that I enjoyed before becoming ill, or before becoming incapacitated.” And putting those personal desires and wishes in the documents helps everybody. Of course it helps our clients and it helps us to have a direction to provide different services for the client and to say: “Well, they really enjoyed the weekly bridge game.” So, we need to set up some transportation. We need to set up a schedule – make sure we don’t put doctor’s appointments in that time. And continue on with as many activities as possible.

So, having the agent, you know, the person who is going to be in charge of decisions in place, but also having communicated those wishes to that person is so vital.

Andy: And she knows from experience that in many cases people don’t plan ahead. And then when crises occur they come to her to help out.

Buckley: And for the most of the time they are dealing with a crisis that already happened. It is the adults’ children that are coming to me at that point to try to say: “Oh, Mom’s being discharged of the hospital. I don’t know what facility is good. I don’t know how to get the durable medical equipment delivered. What do I do?” Of course we bring into action and make sure everything is worked out and there is a plan in place. But the consultations that I do, yeah it is for those shabby individuals who figured out that they do need a blueprint ahead of time and they’ll come to me and bring the parents, so I can then talk to the elder about what their preferences are, what they want before it happened. And I often had the opportunity to talk to people who say: “Well, I did my state planning documents, so I did those 10 years ago.”

Well, so often they have appointed somebody, especially if they don’t have children, who has passed away and I say: “You’ve got to update the documents” and you should anyway because your choices and life preferences change, relationships and things like that change, between the person who you have appointed and…So, yes – getting to people ahead of time and telling them “Keep things updated, keep communicating with the people that you’ve put in charge. And make sure that you’ve gotten a legal piece and the life planning piece.” I’ve unfortunately come across people who have designated somebody and then there is a crisis and the person who they designated has no idea what the person would have wanted. So, to put somebody in charge of yourself and then not ever have at least one good conversation with them about: “Well, do I want to live at home? Do I want to be in a facility? If I have a terminal illness do I want to be kept alive artificially?” So, you give this power to somebody to somebody and then when you don’t give them the instructions that go along with it, it’s a really big burden.

Andy: Buckley and her firm are in the Washington DC area, but if you don’t live there she says there are other resources you can go to find out the similar services as she offers.

Buckley: But, I would say that the first step, which is not super related, would be to make sure that you have had the advice of an elder law attorney in case you have it. And that website would be The National Academy of Elder Law Attorney. You can do a search by locality and figure out that there is state planner attorneys in elder law. There is a lot of crossover and they generally can create the same documents for you, but for people that are not in a super high, and worried about how to fill in the state taxes an elder law attorney is really going to focus on the kind of quality of life that I was talking about. Making sure that your health care attorney states the wishes that you want and that your trust, if you have a trust is going to specify keeping you active. So, I would recommend making sure that you either talk elder law attorney or has updated your documents recently with an attorney.

And I have a big problem with the online state planning document mills, just because there are so many factors that talking to somebody in person they will patch and say: “Well, then we have to put this in the documents, we have to do this, we have to change the power of attorney this way.’

So, first get everything on papers so that whatever you do want for the future can actually be implemented. And then I would say again the caremanager.org is going to give you the best information in terms of where you are and if you are looking for an errant service, or you are looking for a friendly visitor, or a pet walker for your mother, the geriatric manager in your area is going to know what those resources are and they are going to be able to give your ideas and point in the right direction.

Just doing a search for senior care companion. Well, you are going to get 200 websites on the Google page that almost entirely is going to have to do with home health aide. And if that’s not really what you meant you are not going to be able to find what are you looking for, because there are so many home aid companies out there, that they flood the internet, and they flood it with any search topic, like companion, aid, senior assistance. So, you can’t find those smaller companies that do these kinds of things that my company does just by searching. You’ve got to an individual in your area.

Andy: And if you find yourself in a need of some help right away her first advice is to seek out a geriatric care manager.

Buckley: Find the geriatric care manager. The elder law attorney sometimes knows about these resources, but they are not at the ground level. They are going to make sure that your wishes come to as much as possible through planning documents. And that the geriatric manager is going to be the one to let you know what the resources are for whatever kind of help or assistance you want.

Andy: Her book is all nuts and bolts – very straight forward – called “Elder care – the road to growing old is not paved”. And she says in it she brings some real unique experience and background that is almost impossible to find elsewhere.

Buckley: I’m the only attorney and geriatric care manager in the country, so I do bring a unique prospective of understanding of a much bigger picture, especially with my book. I have covered so much about medic care, and social security, and also about the state planning documents, and also about who can help: home health aide, companions, and geriatric care managers. I talk about assisted living facilities, the different kind, and nursing homes and what they cost, and what pays for them, financial options, like long term care insurance, annuities. So, I do recommend, it’s easy to download from Amazon, looking at it briefly, and going form there with what questions arise once you look at it or getting some quick answers about your questions, because there isn’t anybody else who is approaching it form the two specialized backgrounds that I have.

Andy: Thanks Buckley! Again that’s Buckley Fricker and her book is “Elder care – the road to growing old is not paved”. It is available on Amazon. Again that’s Buckley Fricker. Thanks so much for joining us! And we thank you for listening to Active Seniors HQ – headquarters for active seniors. You have a great day!

 

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