Family Elder Law Expert Blog

Family Elder Law is pleased to offer the legal blog entitled “The Family Elder Law Expert Blog,” authored by Jason A. Penrod, B.C.S., CELA. Jason is board certified as an Elder Law Expert by the Florida Bar and the National Elder Law Foundation. He is also the founder of Family Elder Law with offices in Lake Wales, Lakeland, and Sebring, Florida. The blog addresses legal issues of particular interest to our readers. In addition, the blog will answer individual questions from the readership on a wide range of topics.

Family Elder Law Expert Blog


Laid Off? Should You Take Your Social Security Benefits Early?

Friday, September 25th, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic creates risk scenarios for Americans well beyond becoming infected with COVID-19. If you are close to retirement age and recently lost your job, there is a good chance you may not find work again. The Great Recession (2007-2009) saw workers aged 62 and more were about half as likely to become re-employed compared to those in the age group of 25 – 34. The Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago finds, more than four out of ten jobs lost during the pandemic may never come back, pushing many pre-retirees into early retirement. For many, this means an unexpected shortage of cash. As retirement can last a long time, you should proceed with caution about finding ways to supplement cash flow if you have lost your job.

Newly Issued Guidance for Nursing Home Visitation

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Revised guidance for nursing home visitation has been issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). It is now possible to have visitation with nursing home residents for reasons other than urgent end-of-life scenarios and, in some instances, may include physical touch. Additionally, communal activities and dining are permissible as long as the social distancing rule of 6 feet of separation, and other precautions are observed. Encouraging outdoor visits is desirable as long as the weather permits. Indoor visits are permissible if no new cases were identified in the previous two weeks, and the facility adheres to the core principles of resident and staff testing, screening, proper hygiene, social distancing, and facility cleaning. 

Turning 18 and Powers of Attorney

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

When your child turns 18 (in most states), it might be hard to imagine that little child who once needed you for everything has now become – overnight – an adult. Now your child is free to vote, marry, apply for a credit card, make medical and financial decisions, sign contracts, and live independently. No wonder the law calls this coming of age “emancipation.”

Silver Linings During the Pandemic

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Record unemployment rates related to COVID-19 business closures have hurt business owners and their workers, many of whom are 50 years and older. Though workers of all ages have felt the effects of unemployment or reduced working hours, older workers will fare worse upon re-entering the workforce. Research shows the recession of 2008 found that those adults age 62 or more were the least likely group to re-enter the workforce, and it is most likely as the employment situation stabilizes the same will hold in 2020. Ageism plays a role when employers have huge swaths of potential employees from which to choose.

When is Disinheriting a Child a Mistake?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

Most parents choose to treat their children equally when it comes to inheriting property or money. But sometimes, parents intentionally choose to not leave anything to a child, and the reasons for doing so may vary. One reason could be that a child who is more financially successful than the others and the parent doesn’t feel it’s necessary to leave anything. Another reason may be a desire to prevent a child with special needs from losing government benefits. Or a parent may not want to leave an inheritance to an irresponsible or drug-dependent child for fear the inheritance will be wasted.

5 Facts About Dementia Caregiving

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Dementia, in particular, the prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease in the American population, is creating difficult caregiving experiences for the family members who are primarily responsible for providing care. Even though you understand your loved one's dementia behaviors are a symptom of the disease and not intentional or personally targeted to you, coping with them is often emotionally, financially, and physically challenging. Psychology Today reports caregivers routinely say, "Nobody really understands how hard caring for a loved one with dementia is!"

Top 10 Myths About Risks for Alzheimer's Disease

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

Polling shows that the number one worry for Americans as they age is memory loss, outpacing fears of insufficient monies, and loneliness. The most prevalent among all dementia is Alzheimer's disease. According to the Alzheimer's Association Facts and Figures Report, Alzheimer's accounts for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of diagnosed dementia cases. Projections for increasing numbers of Alzheimer's patients in the coming decades is cause for concern. However, in this digital age where disinformation is in abundance, Right At Home has identified ten persistent myths about Alzheimer's that should be dispelled for clarity's sake and because worry increases stress levels, which is bad for the brain.

Medicare & Medicaid Have Many Regulatory Changes Due to COVID-19

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Nursing homes, one of the smallest population sets in the US, account for the largest demographic percentage of COVID-19 deaths. Statistics vary, but most accept that elder Americans in nursing homes account for at least 40 percent of all US coronavirus deaths. This tragic statistic is, in part, attributed to older peoples' less robust immune systems and to nursing home environments that are not aggressively addressing concerns that will reduce residents' exposure to COVID-19.

Isolation is Leading to Self-Neglect by Seniors

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Because of the coronavirus, our elder population is experiencing isolation from their family and extended community interaction, increasing the likelihood of neglect. With the flu season fast on approach this isolation and the possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19, older Americans will likely continue living 2020 in mostly solitary circumstances. Rising instances of loneliness can give way to clinical depression and foster feelings of hopelessness.

Telemedicine Is Rapidly Changing & Evolving

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Telemedicine is the digital information distribution of healthcare-related services. Not long-ago telemedicine was an innovative practice, primarily a supplement to hospitals' information strategy managing patient care and their data more efficiently. During the coronavirus pandemic and its associated urgent healthcare needs, hospitals and medical offices are making telehealth capabilities more available than ever before. Long-distance patient and clinician contact, advice, reminders, care, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions have become the norm.

Seniors More Lonely Due to COVID-19

Thursday, August 27th, 2020 cites there is an increase in what is known as “the loneliness epidemic” which, aside from the context of heartbreaking emotional sadness, has real physical consequences as well. People struggling with loneliness tend to live shorter lives because being lonely increases the risk of heart disease, hypertension, depression, obesity, digestive problems, sleep problems, anxiety, dementia, and other health conditions. Right at home, reports studies show loneliness is as bad as morbid obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day with some experts estimating loneliness can shorten a life span by 50 percent.

Inheritances and Medicaid: Be Careful & Plan Beforehand

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Mistakes can be made when it comes to inheritances and Medicaid. Those mistakes can be costly.

Living Alone Increases Your Risk of Dementia

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

Living arrangements for aging Americans are decidedly leaning towards aging in place. Nearly all older adults prefer to age in the comfort of their long time homes and familiar community surroundings. Aging in place often means living alone. Pew Research findings show that older people are more likely to live alone in the United States than in any other country worldwide. This preference of living solo, however, comes with hidden danger. Research from Science Times reports that living alone in your fifties and sixties increases the likelihood of dementia by thirty percent.

New Scam Opportunities Due to COVID-19

Friday, August 21st, 2020

The advent of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has given rise to many new internet and telephone, text, and even in-person scams. Many of the scam artists will pose as well-known and trusted sources of authority using malicious links that may look or sound like they are official. To be clear, the World Health Organization’s uniform resource locater (URL) is, and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention URL is When looking for local information, be sure to search online for official government offices and websites to ensure you are getting valid data. No government agency is going to phone or text your number to ask for bank account information, nor will they come to your door, ostensibly providing testing kits and cures for a fee. If you feel you have been a victim or nearly a victim of fraud, contact the US Department of Justice web page or the US Department of Justice’s National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 to relate your experience.

Advances in Alzheimer's & ALS Research

Monday, August 17th, 2020

Good news on the health front is so welcome these days. Now there is some, for the huge numbers of people suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia and ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Researchers have found links between those two dread illnesses, and the new understanding is showing promising results in the laboratory using drugs and genetic alteration.

Finding a Continuing Care Retirement Community "CCRC"

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) are gaining in popularity across the United States. Sometimes referred to as life plan communities, the goal is to provide a long-term care option for older residents. These residents prefer to live in the same community, though in different phase locations, during their aging process. In essence, it is a continuum of care that will see you through your pre-planned stages of older life.

Finding a COVID-19 Vaccine for Seniors is a Challenge

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Older Americans, the most at risk of COVID-19, are the least likely demographic to respond well to a vaccine. A vaccine shot works by fooling the body into believing it has been infected with a virus, thereby prompting its immune system to fight the intruding pathogen by making antibodies. Unfortunately, as we age, antibody production weakens, part of the process known as immunosenescence. A compromised immune system makes older adults more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. The Wall Street Journal reports that 90 percent of flu deaths in the US every year are people over the age of 65.

Airline Travel During COVID-19 Pandemic

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

Americans are becoming more apt to travel by plane as new and better protocols addressing safety in the prevention of coronavirus transmission are put into place. Airports, airline personnel, and TSA agents are handling a huge increase in the number of airline passengers, according to the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). Numbers have risen from 80,000 passengers a day in mid-April to nearly 755,000 on July 12 though this is still substantially below the 2.6 million in the previous year. While some airlines are still limiting the number of travelers per flight to maintain social distancing, others like United Airlines and American Airlines have recently lifted their passenger capacity constraints.

Keeping Your Estate Plan Current

Friday, August 7th, 2020

You should check your estate planning documents every so often, to make sure they’re still good, especially with big life changes like births, marriages, divorces, and moving to another state. Children grow up, marriages dissolve, property gets sold, residences change. That’s why we recommend that you consult us for an estate-plan check-up every five years or so.

Veterans Benefits Planning--More Important Than Ever

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

The COVID-19 virus is not going away as many had hoped. And studies have shown it is deadlier for those over the age of 65. Individuals living in senior living communities, such as independent living, assisted living, memory care, and nursing homes have the highest risk of becoming infected and possibly dying from the virus or a secondary illness, such as pneumonia, after being weakened from the virus. For many families, providing long term care for a loved one in the home has become an even bigger priority than normal. In-home care can be costly, which makes the Aid and Attendance Benefit provided by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs of critical importance to help pay for such care.


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