Family Elder Law Expert Blog:
Family Elder Law is pleased to offer the legal blog entitled “The Elder Law Expert’s 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. 

 

Dementia Training For Businesses

Learning how to be more “Dementia Friendly” encompasses lessons such as what dementia is, what the signs of dementia are, and how to communicate with someone who has dementia.  We also were informed as to how not to communicate with someone that has dementia and who to call for help when in need.  In addition, we were taught the 10 common signs of caregiver stress so that we could better identify caregivers in distress. 

Choose the Right Elder Law Attorney

Like most choices in life, it is important to choose wisely when picking an attorney.  However, it is especially critical to select the right Elder Law attorney when one is needed due to the serious nature of issues that confront seniors and their families.  

Are Patients Leaving Hospitals Too Soon?

While most hospital discharges are agreed upon by doctors and their patients, there are some circumstances when there is disagreement about whether it’s time for the patient to leave. Most of those disagreements are with the insurance company or another payer who deems that patient’s time is up (and they will no longer pay.) But sometimes the situation is just the opposite. The patient feels as if he or she is ready to leave, but the doctors say no – they don’t believe that the patient is ready to go. If the patient does, indeed, walk out the door, it will be labeled, “Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA).”

Can Alzheimer's Be Prevented?

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the biggest concerns many of us have as we get older. While you may have been told that all you can do is hope for the best and wait for a pharmaceutical cure, the truth is much more encouraging. Promising research shows that you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias through a combination of simple but effective lifestyle changes.

Too Much Income to Qualify for Medicaid?

Families may find a loved one ineligible for Florida’s Medicaid nursing home program (ICP Medicaid) because he or she receives a certain amount of income.  This post discusses solutions to enable one to become eligible despite having “too much income”.

13 Year Old Girl & Service Dog Win At Supreme Court

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously sided with a 13-year-old Michigan girl with cerebral palsy who had been fighting with school officials for years over whether she could bring her service dog to school with her.

Beware of Non-Attorney Medicaid Planners

Clients of mine were victimized by a local Medicaid planning outfit.

Identifying and Treating Anxiety in Seniors

In a recent article, Hany Abdelaal, President of VNSNY Choice Health Plans, describes late-life anxiety this way. “It’s a pattern familiar to many of us with aging parents: the overwhelming worry or constant nervousness over day-to-day tasks, from taking medications to parking the car. Left untreated, this anxiety-related agitation in the elderly can disrupt sleep and eating, exacerbate chronic medical conditions, and ultimately contribute to a downward spiral of fear and isolation.”

What Has Happened to Long Term Care Insurance?

Over recent years, many people have purchased long term care (LTC) insurance to protect themselves against the rising costs of care in their final years. But lately, policy holders have seen their premiums rise and/or benefits decrease. Two of the largest LTC insurance companies, MetLife and Unum, recently appeared before the Florida insurance commissioner to explain why they asked some of their policy holders to pay double what they paid in premiums the previous year.

Behavior Changes As First Signs of Dementia

There is a new MBI checklist that physicians and research professionals can use to help recognize and measure sharp changes in mood and behavior that may precede the memory and thinking problems of dementia. Eventually, a similar checklist may be used by caregivers and family members to document the nature and extent of symptoms, and measure changes over time.

Advantageous to Have a Medicare Advantage Plan?

A growing number of Medicare beneficiaries receive their care through HMOs and PPOs, known as Medicare Advantage plans. Yet little is known about the size and scope of the provider networks available to them, and participants can face significant expense if treated by an out-of-network provider. A new study from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation looked at Advantage plans in 20 diverse U.S. counties (accounting for 14% of those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans nationwide in 2015) to evaluate how these provider networks are structured.

Prevent Falls by Improving Balance

Researchers at the Mobility and Brain Function Program at the Institute for Aging Research (Harvard Medical School) are concentrating on understanding what causes older adults to fall, which will hopefully lead to development of preventive measures. They have found a direct correlation between balance and reduction of fall risk in older adults.

VA Compensation Benefits for Veterans and Family Members

Veterans compensation is a tax-free benefit paid monthly to a veteran and/or eligible family members because of the veteran’s service-connected disability.

Acute Care for Elders in Hospitals

Fortunately, some hospitals are starting to recognize that elderly patients need special care. A growing number are making changes to better serve an aging community by treating the elderly in separate medical units called Acute Care for Elders (ACEs).

Beware of the Approaching Alzheimer's Tsunami

A recent article describes how we are unprepared for the enormous costs we will soon be facing from a huge from a huge upswing in our aging population and the resulting number of Alzheimer’s patients.

OASIS Study: Are We Over Medicating Our Elderly?

2015 study in JAMA Psychiatry found that elderly patients prescribed antipsychotics had significantly higher mortality rates than previously thought, and that mortality was found to increase as doses increased. In addition, a research article, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Mark Olfson and his colleagues concluded that about 80% of the prescriptions to those over 65 were for atypical antipsychotics concluding that more than three-quarters of elderly patients receiving antipsychotics do not have a psychiatric diagnosis and the likelihood of taking these drugs increases with age.

How Seniors Can Respond to Financial Challenges

Most of us look forward to a retirement filled with leisure and relaxation, but many older Americans are facing financial difficulties that are destroying their retirement dreams. One article I read recently addressed some of seniors’ biggest financial challenges and what they can do to fight back. What follows is a summary of the article.

Necessary Conversations

A few years ago, I wrote an article advising readers to make having their estate planning documents together as part of their New Year’s resolution.  However, after further reflection, I have come to realize that the message of that article wasn’t broad enough.

The Blessing Known As Hospice

Recently one of my clients lost a spouse after a long bout with Alzheimer's and other afflictions.  In discussing her loss, she was overcome with emotion.  She spoke of how incredible hospice personnel had been not only in caring for her spouse but in caring for her.

How Good is Your Power of Attorney & Do You Know?

I firmly believe that it is best to admit when one doesn’t know if a legal document is effective rather than to just assume its effectiveness.  This article focuses on the effectiveness of one document in particular—a Durable Power of Attorney.

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