Scared, Stressed and Exhausted: What I Learned from My Elder Law Experience

Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by Mark R. Friedman

Recently, I had to take a family member to the hospital for what turned out to be a long-term stay.  From there, my family member was transferred to in-patient rehabilitative care, for an even longer stay.

Eventually, my family member was discharged and returned home.  Many of my clients experience a similar sequence of events, except that often, instead of going home, their family members are transferred into nursing homes or other long term care facilities.  I didn’t experience that.  But nonetheless, this experience made me realize how important it is to have a professional advisor to guide you.

This series of events was completely unexpected, and we were not prepared for it.  My family member was scared and in pain, and I was stressed and exhausted.  Under these conditions, it’s very difficult to make a rational, calm decision.

As an elder law attorney, part of my job is to view my clients’ situations through a clinical lens and make a logical assessment based on my legal knowledge.  But what this situation drove home, is that when you’re on the other side of the table, facing fear, stress and uncertainty, it’s very hard to perform that logical analysis and evaluate your options.  I’ve seen this plenty of times, people making rash decisions when they’re scared and upset.  But I now realize how easy it is to make a rash decision when you’re thrust unprepared into a difficult situation.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that the advantages of working with an elder law attorney or other professional advisor are two-fold.  First, we have knowledge that you probably don’t, about Medicaid regulations, healthcare laws, trusts and estate planning considerations, etc.  Second (and this is what I just realized), we can view your situation through a distance.  We can advise you and help you analyze your options.  And we can do it in a way that may be difficult to do when you’re scared, stressed and exhausted.


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Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.