When a loved one is in need of any type of elder care, it helps to have experienced professionals to help navigate the frequently difficult process. In one of our guardianship matters in Pinellas County, a unique situation arose that threatened to harm to an elderly woman. However, our Care Coordinator provided a calming solution. In this situation, the elderly woman lives in a local assisted living facility. She has a long history of mental illness, now further compounded by the onset of dementia. Complicating matters, a family member recently returned to her life and made attempts to manipulate both her medical care and her finances. We were retained to file a guardianship proceeding to make sure the elder was protected from this exploitation. If you want more history, see the previous post on transitioning a guardianship to an emergency temporary guardianship.
Upon the commencement of the guardianship proceeding, the coercive family member scared the elderly woman into not speaking to anyone involved in the guardianship. In a Florida guardianship, an examining committee of three (3) experts in mental health are required to meet with the alleged incapacitated person in order to report to the court the mental status of the alleged incapacitated person. The court will review the examining committee's report and will thereafter make a determination on the necessity and scope of the guardianship.
Here, the refusal of the elderly woman to speak to the committee, egged on by the coercive family member, combined with further evidence of attempts at financial exploitation required the court to appoint our client as “Emergency Temporary Guardian” in order to prevent the exploitation. However, once our client was appointed Emergency Temporary Guardian, the Court still required the reports of the examining committee, which had been impossible to obtain to that date. This is where assistance of our care coordinator, Gloria Centonze, who greatly helped the guardianship process.
First, What is a Care Coordinator?
A care coordinator in an elder law firm is basically in-house medical and care advocacy for the elderly. Many life care planning law firms, such as ours, employ a medical advocate to help their clients, and their families, get better medical care for their loved ones. Navigating the health care system is not easy but a care coordinator will have a medical advocacy background, such as working in nursing or social work, to help the family as a care advocate. Gloria, our care coordinator, has worked in the long-term care industry locally for almost 40 years and she is a great resource to our clients.
Board Certified Elder Law Attorney Rep DeLoach and Care Coordinator Gloria at the "2020 Delivered with Heart Award" ceremony.
How Did Our Care Coordinator Assist this Guardianship?
In our situation, getting the assistance of our care coordinator made a world of difference in the guardianship and in getting the elder good care. Here, Gloria met with the alleged incapacitated person in the assisted living facility and built a relationship with her. The elderly woman has cognitive issues but she trusted that Gloria was there to help her - which she was. In the end, with Gloria's assistance, the dler allowed the examining committee into her room at the assisted living facility. Gloria was literally there holding the elder's hand so she would not feel intimidated or lash out. Gloria was given great credit in the examining committee member's report for her assistance. While a guardianship is typically something taken as a last resort, Gloria's assistance will help make sure the elder is not exploited further by the coercive family member.
Why should our office assist with your Guardianship case?
We offer help for your elder in many ways. We do Medicaid and asset protection planning, wills and trusts and guardianship and elder advocacy, but one of the things that sets us apart is having an in-house care advocate to help the elderly, and their family, navigate the health care system.