By: Carol Applegate, Attorney, Applegate & Dillman Elder Law

I was in Chicago at a conference with numerous other attorneys sitting around a large table (Pre-COVID)  discussing how we all could improve the care for our aging clients.  Many of them turned to me and said,  “Carol, you are really ahead of this game because you are a nurse.”  By that time I had put my nursing career on pause and was forging ahead with a legal career. 

I sat back and thought, “Why would my nursing background make such a difference?”  As we talked, I realized that much of what I was doing for my clients came naturally and as a result of my medical background.  I thought then, “I should really make this a part of my practice and business model!” That is really when I started the Life Care Planning process for my clients.

Life Care is more than completing legal documents or filing for a guardianship.  It is really caring for the client emotionally, financially and legally.  It is caring for the whole person and family.  It is being that advocate to make sure that the family and loved ones are supported throughout the aging process.  And that process can be rocky – one full of fear, anxiety, deep emotions, anger and uncertainty. I have heard this more than once from my aging clients and their families, “I don’t even know where to begin or what to ask.”  Clients are totally overwhelmed as their care needs change. .

So how does being a nurse help in this process?  Many of my clients will say.  “Well,  if you are a nurse then I know you care, we can trust you.  You know what we are going through. “  As we have seen during the pandemic, nurses ARE caring people.  We have sat at the bedsides of very ill and dying patients.  We have been in the room when the Dr. tells the patient they have a terminal disease and will need months of treatment.  We are there in emergency situations where we must think and act quickly.   We have handled difficult family situations and had to problem solve in an instance -a task that is not always easy.  We are not shocked or surprised when the unexpected happens

Those are all reasons that I wanted nurses on my legal staff.  They have added a dimension to this law firm that no other can fulfill, especially when helping families with an aging or disabled loved one.  Our nurses are there at care conferences or visits to our clients’ homes.   When a crisis occurs, they are the first ones on the scene.  They know the medical system and help families navigate this complicated  steps to getting care.  Our nurses on staff and care coordinators  have been an emotional support to struggling families.  They have become an integral part of the family as they face challenges and make decisions.  They are vital to this process.

As we honor our Nurses this week, I want to send a special thank you to every nurse and especially those who have either worked in our office or worked in facilities that care for our clients. The nurses that have touched or assisted our clients in their difficult journeys of growing older are special people.  You need to be commended for your hard work and caring attitude.  Even though you may not hear it enough, you are appreciated by all of those lives that you have touched.  You  are especially appreciated and loved by me.  Thank you. 

 I would be remiss if I did not mention that at Applegate & Dillman, we have Elder Care Coordinators who have a social work or long-term care background.  They are valued members of our team, who do similar work to the nurses on staff. A big thank you to them, as well. 

As we work our way out of this pandemic, please know that Applegate & Dillman is here to assist.  Our nurses, attorneys and staff will give you that personal touch that your families need now and in the future. 

Please join me today in thanking a nurse and recognizing the hard work they do each and every day.