When it comes to elder law planning, and when I meet with clients, the focus tends to be heavily centered on finances. When retirement accounts are dwindling due to a spouse’s high nursing home bill or a parent’s complex financial management style has left an adult child overwhelmed and confused, it is easy to become focused on Medicaid as the magic solution. However, Medicaid is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.

A few years ago, I worked with the sister caregiver of a client who required long-term care. Due to the brother’s medical diagnoses and young age, his sister struggled to find appropriate care providers and manage his large doctor and prescription bills. I worked closely with our office’s care coordinator, and together we were able to locate an appropriate group home and secure Medicaid approval for him.

While Medicaid would not pay for the group home room and board, the ancillary services provided lowered our client’s health care bills to a manageable monthly cost. We continue to work together to ensure he receives proper care and pays as little out of pocket as possible to meet his unique needs.

Last spring, I began working with a client who, at age 63, was suddenly left managing the household when her husband suffered an unexpected stroke. Neither husband nor wife had reached retirement age, so with almost no monthly income and unknown retirement savings, the wife was left to untangle finances while caring for an ill spouse. By working closely with our office’s attorneys and care coordinators, we created a comprehensive plan to ease the wife’s overwhelming burden. Once we identified an appropriate facility and worked through the long-term care admissions process, we helped her to organize and restructure assets, apply for and secure a Medicaid approval, and preserve all remaining savings so she could continue to live comfortably. We still speak regularly to make sure our elder law planning continues to align with the couple’s needs.

While in many circumstances, Medicaid is part of a family’s comprehensive long-term care plan, it is only a small piece of the puzzle. The measure of success does not come from a Medicaid approval.

Our Public Benefits team finds success in elder law planning by easing clients’ financial burdens and identifying care solutions so that family members can go back to being family members, focus on their relationships, and spend time together.