As LI’s older population grows, so does the need for elder care services


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The aging population on Long Island and elsewhere continues to increase, experts say. With these demographics comes a growing need for services for older adults. This includes legal, health, residential and other services.

This topic was the focus of “Our Aging Population: The Future of Elder Care on Long Island,” one of two panels of this year’s Health Care Forum, a Long Island Business News online event.

The panel was moderated by Regina Jankowski, the editor of Long Island Business News.

Expert panelists included Jennifer Cona, the founder and managing partner of Cona Elder Law with Long Island offices in Melville and Port Jefferson Station; Kim Kranz, the president of Home Care and Good Shepherd Hospice for Catholic Health with an office in Farmingdale; and Ashley Petito, the director of Social Services at Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community located in South Setauket.

The lively conversation ranged from estate planning to independent living to considerations for hospice    and more. And advanced planning, according to experts, can go a long way.

“The best time to start with an elder law attorney is before a crisis hits,” Cona said.

Still, that’s easier said than done, as crises, by nature, are unpredictable. And the need for an elder attorney can vary from person to person. Some people, Cona said, start working with an elder attorney when contemplating retirement or when there’s a health concern.

“What I see in my practice is that people will come in with a preconceived notion of what they need based on what another family member or a neighbor did,” Cona said. “But that may not be right for them.”

Planning in advance is also important when it comes to determining whether to age in place, settle into an assisted living community or another kind of living arrangement.

“Do the planning ahead of time and not in that crisis situation because it really gives you the opportunity to make those decisions without some of the emotions that can go with it,” Petito said.

Key to this kind of planning is fostering as much independence as possible, Petito said.

“It’s so important to continue encouraging that sense of Independence, even when we move into a facility because it helps to maintain and sometimes even improve someone’s quality of life,” Petito said.

In the case of advanced illness, when a person is not improving but wants to be as independent as possible and surrounded by loved ones, some may want to consider hospice care. This is a conversation to raise with a physician, Kranz said.

“We are having these conversations a little bit more in advance,” Kranz said, adding that these discussions are centered around “difficult conversations.”

Kranz pointed out that “making our wishes known is so important,” adding “we don’t want to get into a crisis” and say “I don’t know what mom wants. Should she not be able to make these decisions for herself?”

To see this conversation in full, click here, and scroll to the Replay tab.


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