Facts about Rajiv Nagaich
Since taking his oath as a Washington attorney in November 2002, Rajiv Nagaich has dedicated his time and efforts to establish a highly specialized elder law and care management company. This decision did not come about by chance or coincidence; rather, it was a deliberate decision he made before even going to law school. After all, who could better empathize with those who seek help caring for a loved one than a man who has walked the walk of caring for aged and incapacitated family members?
- Masters in Tax Law (LLM), University of Washington
- J.D., Seattle University School of Law
- B. Com., Business, Government College, Chandigarh, India
- Insurance Sales and Management, 1989 – 2005
- Elder Law Attorney, 2002 to present, concentrating in the area of long-term care planning
- Board Member, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and NAELA’s Practice Development and Practice Management Special Interest Group
- Board Member, Center for Medicare Advocacy Inc, Washington DC.
- Advisory Board Member, Elder Law, John Marshall Law School Chicago IL.
- Member, Washington State Bar Association Elder Law Section, Pierce County Bar Association, and South King County Bar Association Guardianship and Elder Law Section
- Continuing education instructor and community speaker on estate planning and elder law issues
- Founder, Washington Elder Care, a not-for-profit corporation
- Host of “Aging Options” a weekly radio digest on AM 770 in Seattle
Rajiv Nagaich consider it an honor and a privilege to help older adults create better outcomes during retirement. Read on to find out what stoked his passion for this work.
When Rajiv Nagaich first met Jamie, his wife, she was a children’s therapist in Yakima, Washington. As Rajiv got to know her better, he discovered that Jamie’s father, Bill, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the last year of his 40-year career with the U.S. Postal Service.
As Rajiv got to know Jamie, he learned of the attempts her mother, Vivian, was making to keep Bill home. Vivian had been told by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) that there was no help to be had if Bill desired to stay home. According to this official, Vivian would need to move Bill into a nursing home if he needed help.
After struggling to keep Bill home for a year or two, financial pressures coupled with the pressures of managing his care and the care of the household made it impossible for Vivian to continue living in their home. She sold the house and moved with Bill to a mobile home. The move was stressful for Bill, who had started to wander. Eventually, the demands of care became overwhelming and Bill had to be moved to a skilled care nursing home.
As time went on, Jamie and Rajiv became close and she invited him to meet her family in Spokane. It was during that visit that Rajiv was for the first time exposed to life in a nursing home. It was a shocking experience to say the least.
Rajiv had heard stories about old folks’ homes, but he had never seen one in India. All his grandparents had taken their last breath at home surrounded by loved ones.
The moment Rajiv walked through the nursing home door, the smell alone was enough to make him want to turn around and walk back. Bill was unshaved and smelled bad. Jamie went out and asked for a nurse to change him. After visiting for a while, we left. Jamie was in tears and Rajiv was lost in his thoughts. This is not how the richest nation in the world should be treating its elders, he thought. There has to be a better way.
Unfortunately, as Rajiv soon discovered, there is nothing unusual about Bill’s story. In fact, it’s a very ordinary story. Bill was moved to a nursing home when Vivian was perfectly willing to take care of him at home. The system had told her she had no way to get help at home. With limited means and in no physical condition to manage the demands of care on her own, what else was she to do?
Bill’s story lit Rajiv’s fire for elder law. It made him want to devote his life to helping families navigate the system so they can avoid the fate that befalls so many elders. If former president Ronald Reagan can live out his final years at home, so can you.
Later on, when Vivian was diagnosed with kidney cancer, Rajiv was determined to give her story a different ending. He found a Geriatric Care Coordinator to help them plan her care. Fortunately, they were able to avoid the nursing home and Vivian lived with Rajiv and Jamie for eleven years before her death. Rajiv is grateful for this experience.
Today, he considers it a privilege to help families rewrite the final chapters of their elders’ life stories.
Rajiv Shares His Experience
In 1990, my wife, Jamie, and I visited her parents, Bill and Vivian, in Spokane, Washington. At the time, Bill was a resident of a long-term care facility. It was then and there that I was introduced to the shockingly ugly side of our nation’s elder care system. I am from India, so the concept of nursing homes was quite foreign to me, although I had heard stories of “old folks” homes in the United States, where the elderly were sent by family members and left to die. My experience in that facility came close to confirming the many stories I had been told. When Jamie and I walked into the nursing home, I could not believe my eyes. I saw elderly people in all sorts of desperate conditions. Jamie’s father was unkempt and in poor physical condition and health. When he saw Jamie, Bill broke into a wide grin and tried to say something, but he was unable to speak. The smell in the room was unbearable and Jamie asked the aides to change him. Afterwards, Jamie and I returned to Bill’s room, where she held his hand while tears streamed down her face. We stayed for a while, but eventually had to leave. When we started to go, Bill wanted to come with us. Seeing Bill like this broke Jamie’s heart, and it broke my spirit.
The drive back to Seattle was the quietest drive Jamie and I have ever had together. I remember telling her that if what I saw in Spokane was what retirement in the United States looked like, then I did not want to stay here. I would rather move back to India, where I remember seeing my grandparents take their last breaths while sleeping on the same pillows they had always slept on, surrounded by loved ones. What was the point of living in America, the land that boasts the highest standard of living, if we deliver the poorest quality of life to those who can no longer take care of themselves? In my heart, I knew that there had to be a better way.
Jamie and I moved Bill to a skilled nursing facility near our home and invited Vivian to live with us. The day I took my last law school exam was also the day that Bill took his last breath. At the nursing home, I spent that whole night with him holding his hand. Jamie could not be there with me since we had two young children at home. It was strange for me to witness the absence of Bill’s family members at this important time in his life; even so, I could understand why they were absent. Two of Bill’s daughters lived out of town and had made frequent visits to see him until the last few days, while another daughter found it too difficult to deal with the situation and thus chose not to stay. That being said, I was happy to have shared the time I had with Bill, even if I never really knew him as a whole person. I hope my presence comforted him during his last moments.
In applying the lessons I learned caring for Bill and Vivian and with the goal of using my legal training, health care knowledge, and business background, my staff and I have been able to provide our clients with the ability to create an atmosphere where their incapacitated family members can have the highest possible quality of life and to assist the family in dealing with the situation without being stressed or laden with guilt. We invite you to work with us in developing a plan for your loved one.