John Mitchell was more than just an elder law attorney; he was a confidant to families during their most vulnerable moments. He was known for his keen eye and compassionate nature. When the Anderson family approached him to draft end-of-life planning paperwork for their mother, Jane, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, John noticed more than just legal needs.

Jane, a former school principal, had always been fiercely independent. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was a bitter pill for her to swallow, not just because of the disease but because of her inherent fear of becoming a burden to her children. The Andersons, comprising Jane’s two sons and a daughter, were pragmatic. They understood the importance of getting legalities in place, ensuring their mother’s wishes were honored. But during the meetings, John noticed subtle signs: the siblings’ hushed conversations about care routines, their evident fatigue, and Jane’s occasional moments of deep confusion.

As an experienced attorney, John had encountered numerous families dealing with Alzheimer’s. While the Andersons had the legal side of things covered, he recognized the unspoken, overwhelming challenges they faced in day-to-day care, along with hushed tones of concern about making the right decisions. Drawing on his experience, John knew it was important to introduce the family to an Aging Life Care Manager® early in the process of their legal meetings.

During an afternoon consultation, when Jane, her husband, and the kids were all present to sign documents, he broached the subject. “The legalities are just one facet of this journey. Managing Alzheimer’s requires a comprehensive approach. Have you considered working with an Aging Life Care Manager?”

The term was new to the Andersons. As John delved deeper, explaining the role and significance of care management, the siblings exchanged thoughtful glances. The idea of a professional guiding them through the maze of care decisions, offering tailored recommendations, seemed like a beacon of hope.

John asked if he could make an introduction and have a care manager reach out to them. He asked if he could share some details of the care situation and the family’s needs from his perspective and they agreed that was fine since he assured her that a care manager is a professional who also maintains confidentiality. John reached out to me to tell me about the family, what the current care situation looked like, and the concerns he had noticed when the family was with him for appointments.

I was happy to be able to help John’s client and family and agreed to reach out to them. I spoke with Jane’s husband, and we scheduled a time that I could meet with them. The whole family asked to be present for the initial meeting and I was happy to meet all of them. I met them at their family home and found a pleasant family who all wanted the best for their beloved wife and mother. I told them the process would begin with a detailed assessment of Jane’s condition, considering physical, mental, and spiritual needs, along with emotional well-being. From there I would provide recommendations and the family would make the care decisions. I was also available to help them carry out the decisions. Regular home visits would help keep tabs on potential care changes that were needed. The family agreed to utilize my services and together we began the process of caring for Jane.

We were able to find many solutions that fit Jane’s need for engagement, in addition to the needs she had medically. From music to art, we found activities which helped her reconnect with parts of her past and offered her moments of clarity and joy. For the siblings, we established a structured care routine so everyone knew when it was their turn to handle something, when they would be free to manage their own care and have a break.

Home care was an important part of Jane’s care and I worked with a local home care agency to send in a set of lovely caregivers to take care of the day-to-day tasks. I would stop by unscheduled to make sure that everything was in order and would talk with the home care agency if there were any concerns.

I accompanied Jane to physician appointments and made sure that the whole family was included in the communication afterwards. I shared Alzheimer’s support groups, offering them a platform to share, learn, and gain emotional strength from others navigating similar challenges. This work ensured Jane’s care was cohesive, with everyone from family members to healthcare providers staying on the same page.

The whole family often remarked how my guidance turned their overwhelming challenge into a manageable journey. The synergy between John’s legal guidance an my care management offered the family a holistic support system, ensuring both Jane’s wishes and well-being were addressed with utmost respect and diligence.

Months later, John received a heartfelt letter from the Andersons, expressing their profound gratitude. It read, “While we approached you for legal guidance, you offered us much more. Your recommendation of an Aging Life Care Manager not only ensured our mother’s well-being but also offered us a renewed perspective. Today, we navigate this journey with hope, clarity, and the assurance of being supported at every step.”

Whether you are an Elder Law Attorney in our community, or a family member worried about the care of their loved one, reach out so we can discuss how working with a care manager will lighten the load and make sure that the whole family’s needs are cared for.