When Dr. Fredericks advised, or rather ordered, me to reduce stress in my law practice, I knew it was a “God send.” For several months I had been thinking about concentrating on Elder Law. Part of the reason for changing to Elder Law was to reduce the stress I experienced in litigation. The other reason was the lack of fulfillment with the existing practice. I wanted a practice that helped people, and one where the clients appreciated me.
I had another reason to look at Elder Law. My family; my parents were blessed with long and healthy lives. My mother passed away in 2003 at age 89. She had a long, happy and healthy life, until the last few years. Mama suffered Alzheimer's disease and it was a horrible experience. This disease robs people of their dignity and enjoyment of life.
We noticed mama was getting forgetful and repeating the same stories. My father, who is still blessed with good health, took care of her until the burden became too great.
Within two years she went from and independent, proud homemaker to where she could no longer cook, or even cut her own food to eat. She loved her kitchen, but did not know what to do in it. Pop took complete care of her.
Her condition became so bad that we were at the end of our ropes and began considering a nursing home. Then the unthinkable happened. She tried to go the bathroom at night and fell breaking her hip. Pop is hard of hearing and could not hear her call for help. How long she lay on the floor until he discovered her, we do not know. Pop was devastated when he found her. He called my brother and his wife, who live nearby for help.
The break caused her severe pain, but they got her in bed. I was called early the next morning. When I arrived, family and friends were waiting for the ambulance. I shall never forget thinking, as the ambulance pulled out of the drive way with my mother that she will never return home. She never did.
From the local hospital, she was transferred to Jackson, where a hip replacement was performed. We knew she would be unable to return home and that she must go into a nursing home. Fortunately, my parents lived in a small community and the nursing home in Carthage could accept her. She died shortly after going into the nursing home which, due to her condition, was a blessing.
I am the lawyer in the family, but I did not know what or how to handle the legal and financial situation. My sister-in-law's mother had passed away a few years earlier and she had dealt with Medicaid and Medicare, so we relied on her. This situation caused me to begin thinking of other people that are in the same situation. How do you find a good nursing home? How do you pay for it? What assistance is available? Where can I get answers?
It is not easy to find correct answers. There is no single place to go. One agency or person can give you a bit of information and others additional information. Even lawyers do not know all the answers.
I decided to look into this area called "Elder Law" to help people find the correct answers to their situation. A lot of false and misleading information is out there. I have devoted myself to finding out all I can about Medicare and Medicaid law, how to locate good nursing homes, how to protect assets, how to plan for the future and when we are "called home", to help probate, or settle the estate.