By Beth Donner

When the time for caregiving is necessary, it can become crucial to build a team of supportive professionals. Given the wide range of need in addressing long-term care, having a variety of people you can look to for reliable support can prove beneficial.

When needs go beyond just family and friends, it’s important to know what types of professionals can meet your needs. It’s also critically important to seek guidance from licensed professionals that have proven to be trustworthy.

Here’s a sampling of credentialed professionals that can offer assistance:

 Elder Law Attorney: An elder law attorney is a specific type of estate planning attorney that is knowledgeable in Medicaid planning and Veterans’ benefits and can offer valuable guidance on obtaining these types of benefits. The attorney will provide legal advocacy and help you address general estate planning issues with regards to a will or powers of attorney and offers counsel regarding incapacity with health care decision-making documents.

 Financial/Insurance Advisers: Financial planners and insurance agents can assist with a variety of financial, investment, insurance, retirement and estate planning issues. In addition to the obvious, they can provide valuable guidance with the topics of life insurance, annuities, long-term care insurance, beneficiary designations and re-titling of assets at the attorney’s directive. It’s in your best interest to make sure your financial/insurance adviser works closely with the attorney to ensure your assets are titled and allocated accurately. If a financial/insurance adviser seems averse to becoming part of this planning team, it might be a warning sign.

 Geriatric Care Manager: A care manager, and especially one who specializes in the area of geriatrics, can provide a holistic approach to caring for older adults. Their thoughtful guidance can lead a family through actions and decisions to ensure quality of care. They can provide assistance and insight in the areas of housing, home health care services, medical management, communication between multiple parties involved in decision making, social activities, federal and state entitlements and safety issues. They are well versed in tailoring a customized care plan for the person in need.

Although they may not be professionally licensed, it can be just as important to seek services that provide general community support. These are businesses and individuals that provide assistance with nutrition, transportation, residential maintenance and adaptation, shopping, laundry, paying bills and direct patient care, etc. The number and variety of community services now available to our aging population is growing exponentially and will continue to do so as baby boomers continue to age.

As with any professional you hire, you’ll want to do your research before making a decision to employ one. Ask for references from each professional and make sure you understand how they are paid. Obviously, you should feel comfortable with the person whose services you are retaining, and they should be willing to speak with you directly about the services they offer. Many will provide a no-obligation/no-cost consultation. Remember, you are hiring someone to help you plan for your future – and there’s little more important than that.