Help for Kinship Caregivers

Many of our wonderful clients are “third party custodians”- often grandparents, aunts, or uncles who are (sometimes unexpectedly) raising little ones with the informal consent of one or both biological parents.

Third party custodians are often referred to as kinship caregivers.  (We also refer to them as “heroes.”)

Kinship caregivers sometimes encounter challenges when enrolling children in school, seeking medical treatment, filing taxes, or securing health care insurance.

If you have questions about formalizing your authority to act as a legal custodian of a child, let us know.

We can help.

Home for the Holidays?

Planning travels to see family in the coming weeks?

In between cookie baking and movie marathons, many clients have shared that these visits are a good time to take stock of any changes in an elder loved one’s health, appearance, or environment.

If you notice changes during your visit, try to gently assess the circumstances while you’re together to determine if help is needed.

We’re here to serve as an elder law resource, but we’re also happy to serve as “connectors” to other community resources for your family.

Safe travels and warm wishes during your holiday season . . .

Thankful for the “Helpers”

In this season of Thanksgiving, it occurs to us that we regularly have the privilege of working with and knowing some pretty selfless and incredible “helpers” in our community.

Our clients are grandparents, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and dear friends who care for vulnerable children, enable elders to remain in their homes, serve as legal guardians, and support people with disabilities (while still encouraging their autonomy.)

It’s very possible that YOU are one of these people.

If so, we want you to know that we see you. We are grateful for you.Your efforts are not invisible. They are, in fact, life-changing.

We are thankful for your hands that help.

Wishing you and yours a lovely and peaceful Thanksgiving…

Independence and Autonomy: Supported Decision-Making for People with Disabilities

Although we regularly assist families with adult guardianship proceedings, our first line of inquiry is always how we can best encourage the independence and autonomy of a person with a disability.

Supported Decision-Making (SDM) is a way that some people with disabilities (or any of us, really) can use available supports to make their own choices and direct their own lives.

In SDM, the person with a disability chooses a group of people (“supporters”) who help the person make decisions. The person with a disability, however, makes the final decision.

The relationship between the person and his or her supporters can be written in a Supported Decision-Making Agreement. The agreement can then be used to show other people (like schools, doctors, or service providers), who can be involved in the decision-making process. It also helps to make sure that the person’s supporters are all on the same page about how to best support them.

SDM can be used alone or even in the context of a guardianship, where another person is appointed by a court to help.

Questions about Supported Decision-Making or guardianships?

We can help.

A Word about Ethics and Elders

Are you a kinship caregiver providing care to a senior family  member or friend?

It’s normal for families to have a myriad of questions about issues such as long term care, estate/Medicaid planning and guardianship when they first enlist the services of an elder law attorney.

One important ethical consideration for families to understand is that elder law advocates must clearly set forth who the actual client is. Depending on the circumstances, the client may be the se­nior, the caregiver, or even both (the family).

This delineation is very important because it will inevitably affect the way that an attorney can interact with involved parties. Keep in mind that, under the vast majority of circumstances, an attorney can’t share information about his or her client with another party without the client’s (preferably written) permission to do so. That said, the attorney may still be able to accept information from you without providing information to you.

This can be a delicate proposition for parties on both ends of the phone, but we always do our best to respect a senior client’s right to client confidentiality and self-determination while recognizing that, as time passes, roles can change.

 

 

 

Elder Mediation

Elder law attorneys regularly have a unique vantage point into the reality that, even the healthiest and most functional of family roles and relationships can become very complicated very quickly when an elder loved one starts needing additional care.

As needs and long-held roles within a family change, many of our clients benefit from learning new ways of coping with evolving relationships and new realities.

In many cases, elder mediation can be a helpful and empowering tool. Mediation provides an opportunity for the elder and all involved members of a family to participate in thoughtful and collaborative decision making. It can provide a valuable opportunity for family members to attack the issues at hand instead of each other.

Once the family has settled on a plan, then we can often help by drafting the documents needed to put that plan into action.

A core value of our practice is the dignity, autonomy, integrity, and protection of elders and their families. So give us a call if you have questions about elder mediation, supported decision making, or long term care planning on behalf of an elder loved one.

We can help.

News/Community Involvement

As an extension of her law practice, Stasia regularly performs at musical events benefitting local organizations who support elders and individuals with special needs.

“Pam’s Party: A Joy’s House Open House” will be held on the evening of Thursday, July 27th @ 6:30pm at Joy’s House in Broad Ripple Village. It’s a celebration to honor caregivers and Guest/potential new Guests.

This open house is free to attend, but you may wish to bring cash for supper and activities, which will be available for purchase.

Hope to see you there!

 

March is Disability Awareness Month

Did you know that slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population is represented by adults and kids with disabilities?

March is Disability Awareness Month in Indiana and we’re especially appreciative of this year’s campaign theme- “I’m Not Your Inspiration.”

Often, people with disabilities who are successful, athletic, employed, or simply good neighbors are put in the spotlight as inspiration to others.   This year’s campaign theme emphasizes that people with disabilities are people first-people who want to be fully included in their communities, just like everyone else.

You can learn more about Disability Awareness Month here.

Questions about planning for your loved one with disabilities?

We can help.

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The Wisdom of the Aged (and why we love what we do.)

One of the best things about elder law is that it gives us the opportunity to forge relationships (and learn valuable lessons) from some very wise elders.

While some of our conversations do center around planning for the eventuality of illness, death, or loss, an equal amount of time is often devoted to the legacies of love, connection, accomplishment, and meaning.

We learn so much in the process of helping.

We love this quote from this recent New York Times article:

” A paradox of old age is that older people have a greater sense of well-being than younger ones — not because they’re unreservedly blissful, but because they accept a mixture of happiness and sadness in their lives, and leverage this mixture when events come their way. They waste less time on anger, stress and worry.”

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Speaking of Grief . . .

Much of our practice is devoted to elder care planning, estate planning, probate, and guardianships.  This means that we are regularly invited into tender conversations about transitions, grief, and loss.

We are well-equipped to help with the legal implications that accompany these transitions.  But we are also grateful to be able to offer other resources to families.

Have you ever wondered what to say to a person who is grieving?

Therapist, Brooke Randolph, LMHC, recently shared this blog post with us, which offers some practical insights into ways that you can support a friend or loved one who is grieving.

No one is intended to navigate these types of hardships alone and, while a team of loved ones might provide emotional and spiritual support and nourishment, a thoughtfully assembled group of professionals can help too.

Showing up for a friend who is grieving is vitally important, even if you’re not quite sure what to say.

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