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.
The online world is rife with scams, and the number of people in the online world makes it a target rich environment for scammers. Seniors and near seniors should be aware of some of the more common attacks aimed to gain access to your money as well as identity. If you have social media accounts, email, or shop online, you are being targeted by scam artists. Here is what you need to know about some of the most common online scams.
The findings from a ten-year study by the Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) reports of a link between hearing loss and health risks. The risks include a 50 percent greater risk of dementia, a 40 percent greater risk of developing depression and nearly a 30 percent higher risk for unintended falls.
30 years ago, Congress put in place protections for the savings of married couples using Medicaid. These protections prevent husbands and wives from bankrupting themselves trying to fund care for their loved ones. They originally required states to allow spouses of nursing home residents to maintain a certain amount of both income and assets; in 2014, this protection was extended to married couples whether the care is provided in an institution or at home.
There are three distinct living phases associated with a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). The first is independent living when a resident enters into the community with few if any disabilities requiring limited assistance. In this phase of independent living, community residents typically take advantage of the broad range of social, physical, and intellectual offerings. The second phase is assisted living, which includes long-term personal senior care support services that include help with activities of daily living like medication management, bathing, meals, dressing, and transportation. The third phase is nursing home care, also known as a skilled nursing facility. This third phase addresses a resident's requirement for 24-hour monitoring and medical assistance in the case of serious injury or severe illness. Nursing home care locations within the CCRC are usually located near an associated hospital if the need arises for acute care or hospitalization. The linked three phases of a CCRC provide a continuum of care so that a resident can spend the rest of their days moving between the levels of care as needed.
An increasing number of older Americans are turning to suicide particularly when they live in long term care facilities, assisted living, and continuing care retirement communities. Experts agree that this late-life suicide trend is generally under-recognized, under-documented, and poised to grow. The highest rates are among men aged 85 and older, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54 percent of those elder Americans who commit suicide do not have any known mental health conditions. Suicide attempts by the elderly are likely to result in death as older adults: plan carefully, use more deadly methods, and are less likely to be discovered or "rescued," and less likely to recover from an unsuccessful attempt due to their physical frailty.
The silver tsunami of Americans has inspired the technology industry. There are continuous developments and implementations of inventive digital Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that transform the lives of aging adults as well as their caregivers. Each new tech development cycle strives to provide a product that is more robust while increasing its ease of use. Keeping up with digital advancements and trends can make a profound difference in a senior's life.
Jim’s mother Gwen decided, on her own, that it was time to move into an assisted-living facility. Gwen’s arthritis had worsened to the point where she couldn’t dress herself, she struggled to get in and out of the shower, and she was lonely living by herself.
Many seniors who are financially stable and choosing to age in place already have a “smart” home employing the sorts of technology that can prolong their independent living circumstances. Family caregivers are freer to move about their daily lives knowing they can check remotely on their loved one and that the loved one has a set of controls at their disposal to monitor their environment. Some of these seniors are also tracked directly by medical staff that can assess if any of the patient's medical vital signs are outside of a safe range. While corporate competition for senior market dollars has made many of these devices within reasonable price points, Medicare is attempting to catch up to the market demand for the use of these products and include them as refundable medical expenses. Private enterprise and public policy are not in synch.
Your Aunt Linda has created a trust and she would like you to be her trustee. You want to help, but you’re concerned about all that responsibility. You would be managing Aunt Linda’s property for her and for others whom she names as beneficiaries. You might be paying her bills and taxes, overseeing bank accounts, making investments, collecting rent or unpaid debts, getting insurance if needed, and doing whatever else the trust directs you to do. People named as trustees are considered in law as “fiduciaries.” “Fiduciary” stems from the Latin for “trust.” To merit that trust, you must act in Aunt Linda’s best interests, to the highest ethical standards of good faith and honesty.
Having practiced in the Elder Law field for more than a decade and a half, I have drafted and helped enforce many medical directives for clients and their families over that span. However, nothing was as impactful to my practice, and how I utilize these documents for clients, as was the hospitalization and eventual passing of my mother. When you are using these very documents in “real time” for your loved one, you are desperately aware of their practical importance.
Age comes with wisdom. Unfortunately, it also comes with some forgetfulness. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep the brain sharp, small daily habits which can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
According to NerdWallet, more than half of Americans apply for social security before reaching their full retirement age, and more than 30 percent of those apply for benefits at 62 years of age. Americans file early for benefits even though researchers claim it would be better to wait to claim their social security benefits. It DOES matter when you opt-in to take your social security benefit. Between the age of 62 and full retirement, your benefits increase by about 7 percent each year and additionally 8 percent each year between your full retirement age and 70. These percentages reflect an actuary adjustment to ensure those Americans who opt for a larger check for shorter periods do not receive less than those receiving smaller checks for more extended periods.
Your grandfather Arthur can no longer make decisions on his own. A court appoints you to be Arthur’s guardian of property, to help Arthur manage his money. You become Arthur’s “fiduciary.” The law now requires you to act to a high standard of good faith and honesty.
Powerful “power of attorney” (POA) documents are essential, if there ever comes a time when you or your elder become unable to manage your finances or make health-care decisions.
When people think of estate planning, the document most people think of is a Last Will & Testament (often simply referred to as a Will). One of the crucial needs for adults, regardless of age, is to perform some basic estate planning. This article briefly addresses the importance of a durable power of attorney and advanced directives for financial and medical affairs.
As a board-certified expert in Elder Law, I take pride in the medical directives that our firm drafts, reviews, and executes with clients and their families. In fact, many years of planning, as well as the first-hand experience of utilizing such documents before my mother’s passing, have shaped these very documents that protect an enhanced quality of life while advocating for patients.
Like most choices in life, it is important to choose wisely when selecting an attorney. However, it is especially critical to find the right Elder Law attorney when one is needed due to the serious nature of issues that may confront Seniors and their families.
One of my roles as an advocate and a board-certified expert in elder law is to dispel Medicaid myths that continue to confuse clients and their families. In fact, it is a very rewarding experience to comfort a family that is terrified about the future and let them know that they can forget about the misguided information they previously received.