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  • Michael J. Greenberg

Reflections on Social Work

We celebrated Social Work Month throughout March.  I was so happy to be able to join some of my friends and colleagues at The Bristal at York Avenue on the Upper East Side last week to celebrate the many contributions of Social Workers.  

You might not know that Trusts and Estates and Elder law attorneys partner quite frequently with Social Workers.  For example, I work with Social Workers to identify whether a person's home or a facility might be the most appropriate place for them.  If a person is not able to age in place at home, deciding between independent living, assisted living, or a nursing home is something Social Workers can help with.  

When making these types of important life-changing decisions, you have to consider a person's current level of care needs and near-term and long-term needs as well as the associated costs.  For example, is it better to be in an assisted living that has an associated memory wing or nursing home if your parent will need a higher level of care? Is the new facility able to accept Medicaid funding or only private pay? Is there a long-term care insurance policy that will pay for the care?  

Social Workers typically come into our lives at the most stressful times.  After my father was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, I participated in a support group run by a Social Worker for children of those with Alzheimer’s run by the New York City chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  I found some comfort in seeing that I was not alone in dealing with the emotional burden of seeing my brilliant father lose his faculties and going from the one who was being cared for to the caregiver.  If you are experiencing a challenge in your family - whether dealing with a new disease diagnosis, the burden of being a caregiver, or the recent death of a family member - a support group run by a Social Worker can likely provide some perspective and help you meet others dealing with the same hardships.

If you or a loved one was discharged from the hospital to a rehabilitation center or longer-term residence, you probably worked with a Social Worker to determine appropriate placement.  For example, my family worked with a Social Worker to secure my father’s placement at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx for Hospice in his final days.  In addition, Social Workers can facilitate finding appropriate residential placement for Special Needs children or siblings.  They can help those who need assistance arranging doctors appointments, transportation, and the many facets of daily life.  This is especially important for those who do not have relatives or close friends who live nearby.  

Last year, I gained accreditation to provide Continuing Education credits for Social Workers.  My courses focus on teaching Social Workers about additional legal resources to offer their clients, especially around affording long-term care and allowing individuals to retain some of this independence as their cognition deteriorates.  If you or a friend would like to receive my emails to learn when I will next offer a course for Continuing Education credit for Social Workers, you can sign up at the bottom of my website (

If you are going through a challenging time where you need to reevaluate your estate planning and long-term care plan - or would like me to put you in touch with some exceptional Social Workers - please reach out.


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