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3 Tips on Crafting a Plan for Aging Clients

  • By Ruthann P. Lacey, P.C.
  • |
  • April 19, 2016

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2030 there will be approximately 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65. That number is more than twice what it was in 2000, and represents nearly 20% of the entire projected 2030 population. Today in the US, one-third of all households are home to one or more persons 60 years old or older.


At the outset of helping a client to create a plan to age in place, the client may be extremely capable and their input will be appropriate and invaluable to you. But as time goes on the following questions become relevant when working with clients who are aging or developing disabilities.

Do aging clients and clients that develop disabilities have good days and bad days?

  • Absolutely.  It is best to be flexible enough to arrange to work with the client on his good days.
  • The attitude and events occurring on days that are not so good should not be taken personally by you or your staff; don’t hold events happening on the bad days against the client.
  • Don’t force decisions on bad days.

Even on good days can aging clients and clients that develop disabilities have better times of day?

  • Absolutely.  Daily events in aging client’s lives can be very much about timing and ritual.
  • Some clients respond better in the morning while others will be at their best midday or afternoon. Arrange a time to work with them when they are at their best.
  • Be thankful for good days and appreciate them for who they really are on those days when they can make good decisions.

Should I be aware that the unanticipated or unexpected may lead to confrontations on either day?

  • Absolutely. The meeting environment should be familiar, and feel safe and unthreatening to your aging client.
  • Anticipate the needs and moods of your aging client and take charge of the situation by providing for them appropriately. A general understanding of the client’s medical condition or diagnosis can be very useful – for example – how can diabetes manifest itself medically and psychologically?
  • Make sure that it is the client’s wishes you are discussing and implementing, and not the wishes of the client’s children who are present at the appointment.

The sheer demographics presented by older Americans needing a place to age is unprecedented. Where are all these individuals going to live? How are they going to be cared for and by whom? 

The primary goal of most persons who want to age in place is to maintain a similar quality of life in the home they spent their life time creating.  What could be a more natural desire? 

Yet when we look at the current economic situation in the U.S., the state of our health care system, and the available support systems, we can appreciate the need for individuals to carefully use their resources to ready themselves to age in place. 

It is imperative that a good flexible plan that focuses on quality of life — including personal needs and healthcare, housing and lifestyle needs, and financial wellbeing — is created early on and maintained throughout one’s lifetime.

Are you just getting by or are you getting better? Get started today!

Author Bio

Ruthann Lacey is an alumna of Trinity College and Emory University School of Law, is licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia and Washington, D.C., and is a Certified Elder Law Attorney. Her practice concentrates on planning for the unique and complex concerns of the elder population, and of children and adults with special needs. Ruthann is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the Special Needs Alliance, a charter member of the Council of Advanced Practitioners, and a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the Georgia Bar Association, and the Atlanta Bar Association. Ruthann has been selected as a “Super Lawyer” every year since 2006; was named one of the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Georgia in 2007, 2009, and 2010; and was included in the “Georgia Trend” selection of Georgia’s Top Attorneys in 2012, all based on surveys of her peers. Ms. Lacey has an AV rating in Martindale-Hubbell, and was included in the 2013 Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers. Ruthann is past chair of the Elder Law Section of the Georgia Bar, serves on the Continuity of Law Practice Committee of the Georgia Bar, belongs to the Fiduciary Law Section of the Georgia Bar Association, and is a Life Fellow with the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia. She is a member of the Elder Law and Small Firm Sections of the Atlanta Bar Association. Ruthann belongs to the DeKalb Estate Planning Council, is a member of the board of Family Initiative Residences, Inc., and is actively involved with several volunteer and charitable organizations. She is a past Director of the National Elder Law Foundation. Ruthann is an active speaker on the local, state and national levels, to both professional and public groups and organizations. Recent engagements include serving as Program Chair for the fifteenth annual Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia Special Needs Trust program; presenting at the 2015 Missouri NAELA Annual Elder Law Symposium; presenting at the 2015 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Annual Convention; presenting with the ICLE Webinar Series; presenting at the 8th Annual Utah Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Medicaid Planning 2011 program; presenting at the 9th Annual Utah Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Medicaid Planning 2012 program; presenting at the Stetson University 2011 Special Needs Trusts - The National Conference; serving as a guest Professor of Law at John Marshall Law School; serving on the faculty of Southern Trust School; presenting at the NAELA Symposium and at NAELA Fundamentals Day; facilitating at the NAELA Advanced Practitioner’s Program; presenting to the Alabama Bar Institute for Continuing Legal Education; the Tennessee Bar Association; Medicaid Irrevocable Qualified Income Trust Training; The Coca-Cola Company; the Financial Planning Association; the Cobb County Bar Association Elder Law Section; Emory University's Senior University; Delta Employees Credit Union; the People’s Law School; the Atlanta Bar Association’s Legal Eagles CLE Series; the Atlanta Special Needs Trust Discussion Group; Georgia State University; the Joint Conference on Law and Aging; the Georgia Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society; Church groups; Civic groups; Alzheimer’s Support Groups; and AARP Chapters. She also has been an Instructor of Estates, Trusts and Wills and Legal Research at the National Center for Paralegal Training, has drafted Elder Law legislation for submission to the Georgia General Assembly, and is an editor and published writer. Among other accomplishments, Ruthann has been published in the Georgia Bar Journal, Family Law Quarterly (a publication of the American Bar Association), Georgia Probate Notes, Exceptional Parent, Money Matters, Inside Money, Senior News, and NAELA News, edited the Medicaid chapters in A Will is Not Enough in Georgia, contributed to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Long-Term Care Planning, and The CPA’s Guide to Long-Term Care Planning, has appeared as a guest on the Clark Howard Show, the Layman’s Lawyer, Money Matters, Inside Money, People to People, Professional Review, and Atlanta Issues, has been mentioned in Consumers Digest, has been cited in Elder Care and Nursing Home Litigation in Georgia, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlanta Journal - Constitution, The Family Connection, and the American Bar Association Journal.