Victoria Pynchon is a former businesswoman and current writer for the Forbes blog “She Negotiates.” The online forum is usually filled with information about how employees can improve their salary, benefits, and opportunities by conducting proper negotiations. However, earlier this month the writer explained how she was unexpectedly forced to use her negotiation skills in an arena that she had never before considered–long-term health care planning.
Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys know that many area residents similarly remain unfamiliar with all that is involved with providing care for aging loved ones. Many do not give the matter much thought until an emergency or sudden accident forces them to consider it. For Ms. Pynchon the moment came when she learned that her ex-husband, for whom she still had a health care proxy, had suffered heart failure. Her former spouse had only months to live, and his cardiologist suggested that he be transferred to a skilled nursing facility.
The doctor gave the name of a recommended nursing home and then left Ms. Pynchon to do the rest. The negotiation side of her brain was immediately activated. She explained that preparation is the most powerful but least appreciated negotiation strategy–no matter what the context. Ideally, a long-term care plan would be conducted long before the care is actually needed. However, even if on the nursing home doorstep it is important not to walk into the process blind. Ms. Pynchon decided that she did not want to simply accept the hospital’s nursing home recommendation without first understanding what the home was like and what other options were available.
She soon discovered that the recommended home had been cited by federal officials for at least eleven different deficiencies over the past two years. Residents of the home had suffered preventable pressure sores, infections, and other painful complications caused by negligent care. Ms. Pynchon contacted the hospital’s social worker and told them that they should not move her ex-husband to a nursing home without her consent. She then conducted focused research on the costs, quality, and benefits at all nearby facilities before deciding upon an appropriate location.
It is important not to underestimate the likelihood that a loved one will need long-term care. Most studies show that there is at least a 75% chance that one member of aging couples will need to enter a nursing home or receive similar care. Preparation is important. Consider contacting a legal professional to explain how long-term care insurance, Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts, and other planning can ensure that your family is ready when the time comes.
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