Aretha Frankin died without will 18 months ago -before COVID-19. Now older people both famous and out of the spotlight are dying in a pandemic not seen since 1917. According to Aretha’s ‘lawyer, Ms. Frankin was aware she needed to take care of this but ” never got around to it”. This left her estate liable for potentially millions of dollars of taxes and attorney fees and a drawn-out timeline for her 4 sons to inherit the proceeds from her estate.
Franklin was, as many have said, ” a force of nature” and a woman who would be hard to sway. But care managers specialize in working with VIP clients and the rich and famous. These clients are often uber difficult to work with- entitled, narcissistic equally hard to sway. Aretha Franklin’s attorney might have convinced her that she needed to work with him to protect her family and her estate before she died.
You as a care manager may have to take a more urgent approach by yourself or with the client’s attorney because the stakes are so much higher as
now elders are likely to die with this virus rampaging throughout the world, striking the people with comorbidity, like people over 65, the hardest
Most geriatric care managers work with the wealthy top 10% if they want to survive as a business as Medicare does not cover long term care. Only the top 10%, like Aretha Frankin, can afford it. But what comes from being a good care manager is knowledge of death. End of Life care is one of their jobs. Making sure their client has all their legal documents ahead of time is critical at this minute. With COVID-19 that clock runs on speed.
Right now with 80% of all the people in the US dying of COVID-19 elders, these documents- one a living will- are ana important job of the geriatric manager, as death
may be shrouded and waiting around the corner for many of your clients
Once the COVID-19 is known with an elderly client, the care manager who has added “end of life services” to their agency, is often the one who will initiate and guide advance care planning discussions. The problem with COVID-19 is that the onset of the disease can be rapid. As difficult as these discussions may be, the burden on the family is significantly lessened if decisions about advance care planning are made before the client’s condition worsens.
Hopefully, this has already been done but many people put it off for fear of death. A recent study found that less than 50% of severely or terminally ill patients had an advance directive in their medical record.
Advance directives are legal documents that allow clients to make decisions about their health care and finances in advance of when they are not mentally or physically able to do so. These documents must be signed, dated, and witnessed naming another person to make decisions for you.
Your job as a care manager is the make sure your older client has these documents before they have COVID-19:
- A durable power for an attorney for healthcare
- A living will
- A do not resuscitate order DNR (efforts to restart the heart after it has stopped
If the client does not have these legal documents and wishes to create them, the Geriatric Care Manager will suggest that the documents be put in place with the oversight and consultation of an elder law attorney.
But During Covid-19 could rush an elderly client towards death like a mammoth mudslide sweeping them into a hospital where no one can enter, even the family.
Care Managers play a big role in the end of life issues. They are their navigators through all five stages of dying, which is the time before COVID-19 could be long before palliative care or hospice are called. But in this plauge’s reign, there is little time to plan so the five stages of death are on steroids. So, talk to your clients now before they get into a screaming ambulance to the hospital where no one can follow the including you and may never return.
Proactive discussions and legal planning now can help to reduce the risk of dying like Frankin leaving the legacy of her music, a soundtrack to her life but a family both shattered and at war with each other. The COVID-19 clients you see now could be in this position and their families will be left with no rituals no funeral no advanced directives and only hopefully a zoom family meeting to say their last words. Good legal guidance can also help clients make better decisions, avoids all this other legal horror on top of the torturous death of coronavirus. Making a will or a trust now will save the family from adding to the burden of a lonely painful death.
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