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Why Are Social Workers Vital to Elder Law?


I am often asked what Lori Kayne, the firm’s geriatric social worker, does. Anyone who has dealt with an aging parent understands the benefit of a social worker immediately, but others may not realize what a tremendous resource an experienced professional like Lori is.

Recently Lori was on the phone with one of our prospective clients – a successful, intelligent, well-organized woman. Despite all her accumulated life experience and wisdom, when she found herself in a caregiving role for her mother, she was overwhelmed. What kind of care would be most appropriate for her mother, who had moderate dementia? How could her mother’s limited resources stretch to pay for that care? Where would she find the information she needed to make all the complicated, emotional decisions she was facing? How could she handle all this while working full-time and taking care of her own kids? She finally exclaimed, “I was not prepared for this!”

We hear the same fear and exasperation in the voices of many prospective clients. Sometimes they are planning for a parent’s care, and sometimes they are worried about themselves or their spouse. When it comes to long-term care and end-of-life issues, the stakes can feel awfully high, especially with so much contradictory information out there. In addition, our emotions can get the best of us even when we know, theoretically, what to do. That is why about five years ago, I approached Lori to join my team to help guide families in their journey.

On our team, Lori assesses clients, advocates for their wishes, and educates and supports their families. Lori and I work together to develop a customized plan for each client. Then I can focus on identifying all possible sources of payment for care, assembling all the legal documents needed to protect family assets, and making sure their loved one gets the best care possible. If Medicaid application is part of the plan then we bring in Laura Ocskay, our Medicaid specialist. It’s like the proverbial three-legged stool: you need all the legs in place and working together to hold you up. This multi-disciplinary team approach is called life care planning. To learn more, visit the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association website – or give us a call! The best time to plan is before long term care is needed, so let’s discuss your legal, financial, and care goals, and see how we can help you meet them.

If you have any questions about this post or any other related matters, please feel free to email me at ssiegel@norris-law.com or Lori at lkayne@norris-law.com.

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