Join me and expert elder law attorney, Ben Neiburger, JD, CPA, as we discuss his book, “Brighter Skies“, which deals with elder law basics — including how to manage caretaker stress during the sickness of a loved one, helping them with their money, and putting together the team to help manage end-of-life issues!
Ben Neiburger is an elder law attorney, with a practice located in Elmhurst, Illinois. Neiburger was raised in Lake County and grew up in Wildwood, Illinois. He studied finance and accounting in college and obtained a CPA. After attending law school, Neiburger worked for a large law firm specializing in employee law. Neiburger switched gears in 2003 and found more meaning in the practice of elder law with his own firm, Generation Law | www.generationlaw.com – (630) 782-1766.
Neiburger has derived great satisfaction in assisting families with aging parents/loved ones. He seeks to help the elderly keep their dignity as they age, while allowing those adult children keep their sanity while helping their aging relatives. The laws affecting the elderly and their concerns are very complex. In the span of his elder law practice, Neiburger has identified 10 best practice areas that families need to address about the care of their aging parents/loved ones. He has condensed this information into a book entitled, “Brighter Skies” (available on amazon.com for $9.95).
The first chapter of “Brighter Skies” addresses the role of the caretaker and caretaker stress. Neiburger stated that a caretaker must take care of themselves first to be able to take care of others. An illustration of this is when a parent on an airplane is instructed to put on their own oxygen mask before placing an oxygen mask on their child. Caretakers are subject to a great deal of stress and need to allocate their energy carefully to care for others. In fact, many family caregivers might best change their role from caregiver to the role of advocate and delegate many of the caregiver tasks to others, if this is feasible.
Chapter 2 of Neiburger’s book focuses on putting together a team to care for the parent/loved one. It is also important to rely on others and accept help from others if it is available. Part of the team also depends on medical care. It is important to have a geriatrician or internist who can also advocate for the patient and family if there are several specialists involved. Another valuable team member is a geriatric care manager. This role is held by a private nurse or social worker who can advocate with institutions or even with the patient or other family members in difficult situations. A care manager can be especially useful where family members live far away from their parent/loved one.
There are other professionals who can be useful to the caretaking team including accountants and financial planners. Accountants can advise on tax implications for the elderly parent/loved ones. Financial planners can help with maximizing income streams. A common financial issue is how to pay for the care of a parent/loved one. There are few government resources to pay for the care of the elderly. Neiburger advises against using Medicaid unless necessary as it is a very difficult system to work with and should only be used as a last resort.