This was the title of a webinar presented recently by Kate Granigan, CEO of LifeCare Advocates, and Steven Cohen, Esq., elder law attorney with Pabian and Russell. Kate and Steve collaborated to present important legal and care considerations that the care managers and attorneys in their respective practices have learned and have had reinforced during the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Included are considerations of the “new” and “now” normal of what was and is needed to help clients and families navigate care and decisions during the Stay at Home Advisory, implementation of telemedicine, and limitations to visitation to elder loved ones at home and in care facilities, among many other elements of life affected by the pandemic.  The presentation was timely to share new information and considerations as we in New England emerge from the full grip of the initial phase of the pandemic but understand that a resurgence may happen before a vaccine becomes widely available, and/or need to manage the needs of loved ones in an area of the country that is currently battling the virus. Kate and Steve take a proactive approach, discussing what CAN be done to prepare in an environment when loss of control is a common feeling.

The presentation began by focusing on 4 aspects of care planning: Environment, Health and Well-Being, Nutrition, and Engagement.  These areas of care were considered not only in light of the limitations and challenges during COVID-19, but how to best adapt currently and for the future to ensure safety and well-being as much as possible currently and in a future that remains uncertain and unknown. Many individuals, families and providers in responding to the immediate crisis of the pandemic had to cope with shortages of supplies and necessities, lack of connection to loved ones, and remote medical care.   Individuals, society, and providers have all now had experience with the pandemic and most have adapted to the “now normal” and will be able to pivot quickly and efficiently in the future as needed.

Information was also provided on legal aspects of planning.  Steve provided education and guidance about legal planning documents such as Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Medical Directives, Wills and Trusts. The importance of these legal documents cannot be overstated in “normal times”, and are even more important and impactful when trying to navigate a stressed health care system as during the COVID-19 pandemic.   The questions that people like solo agers and caregivers should ask themselves and plan for were also reviewed to be sure that their and/or their loved ones’ care and legal needs are met.

As Aging Life Care Professionals, we at LifeCare Advocates learned and continue to learn a tremendous amount while supporting our clients and their families during these challenging times.  Our advocacy, support, professional objective perspective, and knowledge of resources was challenged by and  invaluable in the guidance of our clients, and we encourage you to listen to this webinar and consider the planning topics presented to ease any transitions in life.